Will a Mi’kmaw candidate’s past on social media threaten a Liberal stronghold in Nova Scotia?

For 20 years, Cape Breton has been a Liberal stronghold.

The Sydney-Victoria riding, which sits on the northern part of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, became free after Mark Eyking decided to retire.

Mi’kmaq rights advocate Jaime Battiste stepped up to pick up where Eyking left off.

But could recent revelations of past behavior throw a wrench into the only Indigenous candidate on election night?

The riding is home to two of the largest First Nations in the province – Eskasoni, and Membertou.

Battiste lives in Eskasoni.

He has a law degree, served on the national youth council of the Assembly of First Nations, was named a national Aboriginal role model in 2005 and is involved in Treaty education in the province.

“And I think having a diverse perspective helps and I think that the more diverse perspectives we have in Canada as our prime minister has always said diversity strengthens this country,” he said.

But in early October, the 40 year old candidate made headlines when the Toronto Sun exposed his sexist and homophobic social media posts dating back to 2012.

One likened men’s tennis to gay porn.

In another, Battiste wrote, “cleaning, folding, cooking, feeling like an epic fail that I haven’t found a woman who can stand me long enough to do this for me.”

Battiste has since apologized and the Liberals are keeping him on the ballot.

“You need to overcome these things in your life and you need to own up to them and say you can do better,” he told APTN News. “And that I plan to do better and if the voters see fit to put me in as a candidate that I will do better.”

Community members who have collaborated with Battiste in the past, support him.

“One of the core values of the Mi’kmaq people has always been the ability to forgive and to understand that people grow and change throughout their entire lives from the moment they are born to the moment that they die,” said Darren Googoo from Membertou.

“That I forgive Jaime for those words and I think a lot of women will because that’s not the kind of man that he is and I think he was at a vulnerable state during that time in his life,” said Eskasoni member Chakira Young.

The Conservative candidate said Battiste has to own the comments.

“He wasn’t a child, he made those comments, he’s the one whose going to have to answer them not me,” he said.

Orrell served in provincial politics for eight years.

Before that he was a physiotherapist.

He said the Tories will improve healthcare.

“As a federal elected member, we can bring more to the table, we can make sure that the health care transfers remain the same or are increased,” he said.

NDP candidate Jodie McDavid is an educator and business owner who says her party will turn promises into action.

“So we’ve made a lot of commitments to do things like honor the UNDRIP principles, to look at truth and reconciliation and not just look at what those items are but to do an action plan,” said McDavid.

For the Greens, Lois Foster said she has worked in health care for more than 30 years and has seen patients who couldn’t afford medication.

“Our plan as the green party is to have a universal health care program, pharma care program would benefit all people of all ages,” she said.

Battiste will find out on Monday whether voters forgive him.


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