BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau said Thursday (Nov. 9) her party continues to condemn any “hateful rhetoric including minimization of the Holocaust” after the firing of her deputy leader.
Furstenau dismissed Sanjiv Gandhi after he had liked a social media post comparing provincial health officer Bonnie Henry to the infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, then dismissed suggestions the incident will diminish her party’s reputation.
“I think our reputation should be based on the work that we have done, the evidence-based work we have done in (the legislature), on the platform and policies that we bring forward to, which are rooted in addressing the realities of the challenges that we face today, which no other political parties seem to be taking seriously,” she said.
She made these comments during her weekly media availability after firing Gandhi Wednesday evening. She said people will recognize the BC Greens immediately took actions.
“(He’s) no longer deputy leader and he submitted his resignation as candidate (for Vancouver-Renfrew),” Furstenau said. “We cannot tolerate that (rhetoric), as per my statement.”
Today, I was made aware of Dr. Sanjiv Gandhi, deputy leader, liking a tweet with an inappropriate comparison between our provincial health officer and Mengele. I find this unacceptable and I have removed Dr. Gandhi as deputy leader and accepted his resignation as a candidate.— Sonia Furstenau (@SoniaFurstenau) November 9, 2023
Gandhi specifically liked a tweet on Sept. 13 from a user @plebeianwinguy, who endorsed a letter and urged Gandhi to read it out when he “runs against @adriandix and the horried @bcndp and by #QueenBonnie ‘Mengele’ Henry.”
Gandhi said in a statement issued on X, formerly known as Twitter, he was sorry for the harm that he caused, noting that he accidentally liked the offending third-party post with the reference to Mengele.
“Realizing my mistake, I have ‘unliked’ that third party tweet,” Gandhi said. “As the subject of considerable racism in my own life, I know that words matter, and I do not condone the belittling or demonization of any group of people for any reason, including those based on race or religion.”
Gandhi had become the party’s second deputy leader in early January, alongside Lisa Gunderson. He assumed that post after having served as chief of pediatric cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at B.C. Children’s Hospital and as clinical professor of surgery at UBC School of Medicine.
Furstenau said the party has a “mechanism for vetting its candidates” in acknowledging that she was not directly involved in the vetting, while deferring questions about the vetting to the party.
“The party will continue to monitor and if action is needed, like it was needed last night, it will be taken,” Furstenau said.
Gandhi’s action drew widespread condemnation.
Post-Secondary Education Minister Selina Robinson, who is Jewish, called the incident “absolutely outrageous” in a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“(The) @BCGreens are demonstrating some true colours here and I am so disappointed and disturbed that they would even go here,” she wrote.
Health Minister Adrian Dix also denounced the incident.
“I think the disrespectful comments that are made, I think they will be seen by the people of B.C. as they are seen by me, as unacceptable, in some cases is revolting,” Dix said. “So I think it was appropriate for the Green Party to drop their deputy party leader.” Dix also denounced a social media post which called him a “charlatan eugenicist.” Gandhi had liked the post as well.
Known as the Angel of Death, Mengele served from May 1943 to January 1945 as doctor at the concentration camp in Auschwitz, where the Nazis killed a million Jews as part of the Holocaust along with other groups. Mengele selected inmates for extermination and also performed gruesome human experiments on inmates but escaped justice, dying in Brazil in 1979 at the age of 67.