Offensive Facebook post by Okanagan Conservative riding association sparks outrage

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

Original story: 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 Facebook introduction to the post, written by an unnamed member of the the riding association on the Okanagan Conservatives page.

“This is what happens when you have a cabinet based on affirmative action,” reads the post above the story.

Fuhr then 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.

He said he 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 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.

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

Later that night Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has responded on Twitter to the derided post on the Okanagan Conservatives page.

“These comments are completely unacceptable,” he wrote. “Happy to see that some members of the Conservatives have realized that. Canadians know that diversity is our strength, and we will always champion that.”

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


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Lakestone community unveiled in Lake Country

Mayor Baker, MLA Norm Letnick and MP Stephen Fuhr joined in the ceremonial opening

Update: Structure fire reported in Kelowna industrial area put out

A structure fire was reported just after 3:30 p.m. off Sexsmith Road

Kelowna e-scooter company foils downtown robberies

OGO Scooters staff helped return stolen property three times in 1st week of operations

Olympian brings women empowerment in sports to Kelowna

Two-time medalist Natalie Spooner joined the Girls Rock the Rink event

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Showers to start weekend, sun returning soon

Environment Canada forecasts rain on Saturday and the heat returning next week

July showers wash out half of the Okanagan’s cherry crop

Cherry growers say this is the worst season they’ve seen in decades

Hespeler had connection to Mennonite migration

Home in Summerland was built in 1907, moved when the highway was changed

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

COLUMN: Looking back to a time of optimism

The first lunar landing 50 years ago was a time to celebrate dreams and accomplishments

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

Letter: Definition issues raised about being Canadian

To the editor: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to comment on U.S.… Continue reading

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Most Read