The NDP’s star candidate for a northern B.C. riding is apologizing over insensitive comments he made about an Indigenous BC Liberal candidate in a neighbouring district.
“He’s not well-liked — he’s Haida — in his own community,” Cullen said.
“The guy’s going to get bedrock 20 per cent. Like, his name is Kinkles,” he added, referring to Jones Jr.’s nickname.
The comments, made before an all-candidates debate at the Smithers District Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, were recorded on Zoom.
“Those comments were really disrespectful,” said BC Liberal Skeena candidate and Haisla member Ellis Ross.
“They hurt Roy Jones Jr., they hurt his family, they hurt his community, and they basically hurt any minority who has ever experienced those kinds of comments. And what hurt more was the NDP’s silence on this. Such hypocrisy.”
Global News has requested comment from Jones Jr.
DISGUSTING.NDP claim to be indigenous allies and champions of reconciliation but this is the worst I’ve ever heard. Roy Jones jr is a good man and a good friend. The NDP division strategy should not be allowed in our native and non native communities https://t.co/dCk6DohOoh
— Ellis Ross (@ellisbross) October 17, 2020
Cullen has since apologized for the comments.
“I unreservedly apologize, they were inappropriate. I’ve since spoken with Roy and apologized to him and spoken with other Haida leadership,” he said.
“It was wrong, what I said. I take it back entirely.”
Global News has requested comment from BC NDP Leader John Horgan.
On Saturday evening, Council of the Haida Nation president Gaagwiis (Jason Alsop), issued a statement on Twitter supporting Cullen.
"Nathan Cullen has worked hard over the years to represent all of the people of the North Coast with respect. Mr Cullen has established a good relationship with the Haida Nation and his recent comments do not warrant his resignation or an apology to the Haida Nation." — Gaagwiis
— CHN (@CHN_HaidaNation) October 18, 2020
“Nathan Cullen has worked hard over the years to represent all of the people of the North Coast with respect,” he wrote.
“Mr. Cullen has established a good relationship with the Haida Nation and his recent comments do not warrant his resignation or an apology to the Haida Nation.”
It is not the first time Cullen has faced campaign controversy on Indigenous issues.
The former MP was selected as the Stikine candidate over Annita McPhee, an Indigenous woman, despite the BC NDP’s own policy that requires the selection of a candidate from an equity-seeking group when a white, male incumbent over the age of 40 retires.
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