Offensive Facebook post by Okanagan Conservative riding sparks outrage

Post taken down after Conservative MP in neighbouring riding condemns it and demands removal

Kelowna’s two MPs don’t agree on much these days, but Liberal Stephen Fuhr and Conservative Dan Albas have both spoken out about a Facebook post by the Kelowna-Lake Country Conservative riding association targeting Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.

RELATED: Kelowna area MP’s clash on Twitter

The post, which has now been taken down, shared an Ottawa Citizen news story about a December 2017 Canadian Forces flight to Greece and Latvia where several non-government civilian VIPs were described as being drunk and Sajjan’s response to questions about the flight.

But it was not the story that upset the two MPs and members of the Kelowna Indo-Canadian community who spoke with the Capital News, it was the comment added to the post by an unnamed member of the the riding association.

“This is what happens when you have a cabinet based on affirmative action,” says the comment above a photo of Sajjan, a Sikh who wears a turban.

“I am not OK with what this implies,” wrote Fuhr in response. And, he publicly asked Albas via social media if, as an Okanagan Conservative, he was comfortable with the comment.

Albas said Thursday he was not. He said he was unaware of the post until Fuhr brought it to his attention and acted immediately it taken down.

He said he immediately contacted the president of the Kelowna-Lake Country Conservative riding association to express his concern and apologized directly to Sajjan for the post, even though it did not come from his Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola Conservative riding association.

“This is clearly not something I agree with,” he said of the comment added to the Facebook post.

In a Twitter response to Fuhr, Albas said: “Stephen, although there is much that we may disagree about, on this point I am in full agreement with you. This FB post came from another (riding association) and I have asked that it be removed. Although I did not authorize it, I would like to apologize to @HarjitSajjan.”

“Political debate and discussions should always be about policy and not personal attacks. Minister Sajjan has served our country honourably in many capacities and was undeserving of the comments that were posted.”

Sajjan is a decorated former Canadian soldier who has been recognized for his leadership of Canadian forces in Afghanistan prior to entering politics.

It was not only Fuhr who was upset by the post.

Kelowna Coun. Mohini Singh, whose mother is a Sikh and whose father is Hindu, expressed outrage, labelling the comment as “racism,” and saying it had no place in Canadian politics.

“This is U.S.-style politics,” said Singh. “This is so wrong.”

She said she talked to others in the community and they too were upset when they heard about the Facebook post.

Singh said from a local perspective, Kelowna has made great strides to be an inclusive city and “does not need headlines like this.”

“(The news story) has nothing to do with Harjit Sajjan being a Sikh or being a Canadian,” said Singh. “It’s shocking.”

Paramjit Singh Patara, vice-president of the Okanagan Sikh Temple stopped short of calling the comment racist, but said he too was outraged.

“We don’t need this type of Trump-style politics in Canada,” he said referencing U.S. President Donald Trump and the divisive rhetoric he regularly uses,” said Patara.

“I don’t want to use the word (racism) but it does not smell good.”

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. salmon farms challenge activists’ demands for site closures

News reporting also unfair, inaccurate and distorted

City of Port Alberni applies for grant funding for Quay to Quay pathway

Pathway connecting Harbour Quay and Victoria Quay could come with a $7 million price tag

Food trucks find space at Clutesi Haven Marina in Port Alberni

‘Food truck pod’ is a partnership between city, port authority and Tseshaht First Nation

Guest choreographer takes the ice with Mount Arrowsmith skaters

Mount Arrowsmith skating season is underway, with COVID-19 protocols in place

RCMP investigating after tires slashed in Port Alberni neighbourhood

RCMP are looking for anyone with information or video surveillance

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Search suspended for Indigenous elder last seen mushroom picking in northwest B.C.

Mushroom picker Thomas (Tommy) Dennis has been missing since Sept. 16

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

‘Bonnie’ and ‘Henry’ among latest litter of service dog puppies

B.C. Alberta Guide Dogs names two pups after provincial health officer

Most Read