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

Mugshots Cafe: renovated and reopened

The Fernie-favourite once again has its doors open to the public

Pick all your apples and save the bears

As summer ends, bears become more active looking for food

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

B.C. Premier announces fall election

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka reacts to election announcement

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Four more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 31 active cases in isolation in the health region

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

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

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Totem pole considered cultural appropriation removed from Nelson’s Hume School

The pole had also become rotted and was seen as dangerous to students

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

Most Read