Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Doug Ford Stands by Tory Candidate under Fire for Past Comments

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Doug Ford Stands by Tory Candidate under Fire for Past Comments

Article excerpt

Doug Ford won't drop controversial candidate

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TORONTO - Ontario's Progressive Conservative leader is standing by a candidate who distanced himself from past comments that are being described as misogynistic, racist and homophobic.

Doug Ford said Andrew Lawton is a "good candidate" who acknowledged his remarks weren't right.

"He has come out and said some of his comments weren't appropriate," Ford said. "I'll accept that and we're happy to have Andrew on as one of the candidates and, again, we have a big tent."

Lawton said years of struggling with mental illness were to blame for what he described as past "failings."

In a statement posted on Twitter, he said his battle with an unspecified mental illness spanned from 2005 to 2013.

"Simply put, I was reckless in almost all areas of my life: financially, socially, sexually, and vocationally," said Lawton, who is running in the riding of London West. "There are significant chunks of this period that I do not remember."

During that time, Lawton said he continued to be active on social media, "posting things that are so far removed from who I am and what I stand for that I can't even fathom my frame of mind in writing them."

Lawton said in his statement that he sought treatment in 2011, and called on voters to show him compassion and to not judge him by past mistakes.

Critics have accused Lawton of expressing openly misogynistic, racist and homophobic views on social media posts and in his various jobs as a talk radio host and contributor to far-right Rebel Media.

The London Free Press reported that the comments include responding to a poll in 2015 that found homophobia was a concern for London's gay community by writing on Facebook, "number of sexual orientation-motivated hate crimes in Canada per year: 185. …

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