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Liberals Face Calls to ‘Denounce’ and ‘Dump’ Candidate For Racist Remark Against Jagmeet Singh

Justin Trudeau is being urged to take action against Liberal candidate Karen Wang – including by his own allies

Editor’s Note: Following publication of this story, Karen Wang resigned as the Liberal candidate for Burnaby South. This story has been updated.


Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are facing calls to “denounce” and “dump” their candidate in the high-profile by-election set for Burnaby South.

On Tuesday, StarMetro Vancouver reported Liberal candidate Karen Wang published a message on the Chinese-language social media platform WeChat asking the local Chinese-Canadian community to unite behind her and vote against NDP leader Jagmeet Singh because he is “of Indian descent.”

According to StarMetro:

Translated from Chinese, part of Wang’s post read: “If we can increase the voting rate, as the only Chinese candidate in this riding, if I can garner 16,000 votes I will easily win the byelection, control the election race and make history! My opponent in this byelection is the NDP candidate Singh of Indian descent!”

In a statement, Wang claimed “the intent was to stress the importance of people of all different backgrounds getting involved in this important byelection,” and said she would remove the message from WeChat.

Judging by reaction on social media, that explanation might not be sufficient as voices across the political spectrum called on Prime Minister Trudeau to set an example and “denounce” Wang’s campaign tactics exploiting race:

Meanwhile, others voices called for the Liberals to immediately “dump” Wang as a candidate – notably including one of Trudeau’s former economic advisors:

One reason why taking action against these kinds of campaign tactics is important is that it can serve to embolden right-wing parties that routinely use xenophobia to appeal to stir up their supporters.

People’s Party leader Maxime Bernier has already moved to exploit the controversy, issuing a series of tweets Wednesday morning railing against “multiculturalism” and pointing to the incident as evidence of Trudeau’s hypocrisy.

Update: Karen Wang resigned as the Liberal candidate for Burnaby South Wednesday morning.

In a statement, Wang apologized for making comments about Signh’s “cultural background,” adding her “choice of words wasn’t well considered and didn’t reflect my intent.”

Wang said she has “deep respect for (Singh) as the leader of his party and for his public service – and I would never want to diminish that in any way.”

In a separate statement, the Liberal Party of Canada said Wang’s comments are “not aligned” with the party’s values.

 

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