NDP Kelowna-Mission candidate Dayleen Van Ryswyk has quit over controversial comments she made about aboriginal people and the French language on an on-line community forum four years ago.
NDP leader Adrian Dix called the comments “unacceptable” and said he had accepted Van Ryswyk’s resignation.
“Earlier today, I was made aware of unacceptable comments made by Kelowna-Mission NDP candidate Dayleen van Ryswyk. I have accepted Ms. Van Ryswyk’s resignation. A new BC NDP candidate will be announced shortly,” said Dix in a one-line statement posted on the NDP’s website late Tuesday morning.
Earlier in the day, just hours after the election writ was dropped for the May 14 provincial vote, the Liberals publicly called on Dix to turf Van Ryswyk as an NDP candidate over the comments she posted on an online Castanet community forum in 2009 and 2010.
Transportation Minister Mary Polak demanded the Kelowna businesswoman be “fired” for saying aboriginal people were being given handouts, the non-aboriginal community has paid native people back “a thousand fold” and its was time for the current generation to stop paying for mistakes of the past.
Calling Van Ryswyk’s comments “hateful,” Polak said they were unacceptable to British Columbians.
“Clearly, these remarks are not becoming of a potential member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia,” said Polak. “Adrian Dix should never have signed her nomination papers with these kinds of beliefs, but now that he has, he has no choice but to immediately fire her.”
Under forum thread titled Strip Them Of The Status Card, in which the first comment (from another writer) complains about a non-aboriginal person using an aboriginal person’s status card to buy goods without paying tax, Van Ryswyk replied: “OMG. Status cards…don’t even get me started.”
In a post the next day she wrote: “It’s not the status cards, it’s the fact that we have been paying out of the nose for generations for something that isn’t our doing. If their ancestors sold out too cheap it’s not my fault and I shouldn’t have to be paying for any mistake, or whatever you want to call it, from my hard-earned money.
“My husband’s parents lived during the war in Holland when the Germans came and told them to get out. They lost everything. Are they getting a paycheck every month or huge lump sum every year tax-free? No. They got nothing but work in a concentration camp.
“It’s time our generation stopped paying for the mistakes of the past. Let us all be one people, the same. Race, creed, colour or gender shouldn’t matter anymore in this day and age. Enough is enough already.”
The following day she continued and, while admitting “incredible” wrongs were committed to aboriginal people in Canada, “you could have almost any race, group or ethnic people tell you horrible, haunting stories of what happened to them.”
Van Ryswyk said native people receive “handouts” from the government and she believes non-natives have “paid our debt a thousand fold.”
“There are a lot of things to be proud of, stop dwelling in the past. Because, like the economy, the gravy train bubble will eventually burst.”
As for French, VanRyswyk wrote a year later on the same forum that she was “getting sick of having French stuffed down my throat.”
Speaking about the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver winter Olympics in February 2010, she wrote: “This isn’t Quebec, it’s Western Canada. We speak English here. So does the majority of Canada. I’m offended that (the) French is spoken first. Why can’t we celebrate Canada’s diverse cultures, everyone, not just natives!”
An attempt to ask Van Ryswyk about her comments was redirected by her campaign office to the NDP’s central election communications department. There was no immediate comment just Dix’s one-line statement later in the morning. Van Ryswyk was said to in be transit and was not available Tuesday morning. Later, she refused to speak with a television reporter as she left the campaign office. At one point, her campaign manager Liz Wood is seen asking the reporter and cameraman to leave and then puts her hand over the lens of the camera in an attempt to stop the filming of Van Ryswyk.
Van Ryswyk, a Rutland-area businesswoman who has has been waging a longstanding battle with the provincial Ministry of Transportation over the road access to her business off Highway 33, was trying to unseat Liberal incumbent MLA and Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson in Kelowna-Mission.