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Former staffer suing Nova Scotia premier’s office for firing over social media post

HALIFAX — A former political adviser fired by the Nova Scotia premier’s office last fall over a post on her social media that was characterized as antisemitic is suing for wrongful dismissal.

Nargis DeMolitor filed a statement of claim in Nova Scotia Supreme Court this week alleging her firing over a post about the Israel-Hamas war, which was determined to have resulted from a hack by another person, was “harsh, high-handed and callous.”

“Specifically, the defendants terminated Ms. DeMolitor, a Muslim and a woman of colour, based on antisemitic comments she did not make,” states the court document. Demolitor, who worked for Labour Minister Jill Balser, was fired by Nicole LaFosse Parker, the premier’s chief of staff, on Oct. 18.

According to the statement of claim, the post on X — formerly know as Twitter — was made by a Progressive Conservative Party member who “admitted to the act” following an investigation by the premier’s office and after being confronted by party members. It says that the member had previously been hired to manage DeMolitor’s social media accounts, although that job ended and the passwords were changed “on or about April 18, 2023.”

The post has been deleted but it was provided to the media by the Opposition Liberals last October. It read: “Israel must stop being the Nazis of 21st century. Killing innocent Palestinians for political gain is inhumane and dictatorial. Free Palestine Now.”

It also contained a photo of protesters with a sign reading: “Ethnic Cleansing + Genocide, sound familiar?” At the bottom of the sign is a drawing of a Nazi swastika.

At the time, Houston told reporters at the legislature that an internal investigation determined the post resulted from unauthorized access to the account, the result of a provincial employee sharing their social media login information with an “individual outside of government.”

He called it a “breach of trust” and told reporters that the “individual” no longer worked for the province, adding that there was “no place for hate in the PC Party or in Nova Scotia.”

“Ms. DeMolitor understood this to mean, and the fact is, that Premier Houston was implying that Ms. DeMolitor is a hateful, antisemitic individual,” says the court document.

As a result of comments made by the premier and others, the 69-year-old DeMolitor says her personal and professional reputation has been damaged along with her ability to find work. It has left her worried for her safety after she received harassing phone calls and knocks at her door by strangers meant to “threaten her.”

“She is now reluctant to leave her own home … due to the acute discomfort she now feels in social settings and in large crowds,” the claim says. “The treatment accorded to Ms. DeMolitor demonstrates a gross violation of Nova Scotia’s Human Rights Act.”

The allegations contained in the statement of claim have not been tested in court, and Houston’s office is denying any wrongdoing.

“The premier’s office disputes the allegations made in the notice of action and will vigorously defend this matter through the courts,” Catherine Klimek, the premier’s spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement Thursday.

DeMolitor is seeking total damages of at least $276,791 along with “special damages” related to out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a consequence of her wrongful dismissal.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2024.

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press

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