Liberal candidate in Burnaby South steps down, apologizes to Singh
Published Wednesday, January 16, 2019 1:10PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 16, 2019 9:44PM EST
OTTAWA – The federal Liberal candidate running in the Burnaby South byelection against NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has stepped aside, and apologized for a comment she made about her opponent.
As reported by StarMetro Vancouver, Karen Wang sought support from the Chinese community by writing on the China-based social media platform WeChat that she was the only Chinese candidate in the running for the seat, while Singh was “of Indian descent.”
After coming under fire for invoking race, Wang issued a statement saying she would withdraw as the Liberal candidate.
"In trying to speak about my own story and the importance of people of all different backgrounds getting involved in this important byelection, I made comments online that also referenced Jagmeet Singh's cultural background. My choice of words wasn't well-considered and didn't reflect my intent, and for that, I sincerely apologize to Mr. Singh," Wang, a daycare owner, said in a statement.
Only the candidate for a few weeks, Wang -- who ran unsuccessfully for the B.C. Liberals during the 2017 provincial election -- said that she decided to step aside after speaking with her supporters. In the statement she said she didn't want her comments to be "a distraction," from the work the party and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is doing.
The Liberal Party has accepted Wang’s resignation, saying that her recent online comments "are not aligned with the values of the Liberal Party of Canada."
"Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada have always stood for the full and equal participation of all Canadians in our democracy, regardless of their background. The Liberal Party has a clear commitment to positive politics and support for Canadian diversity, and the same is always expected of our candidates," Liberal Party spokesperson Braeden Caley told CTVNews.ca in an emailed statement.
On CTV's Power Play, former NDP leader Tom Mulcair said there was no question that Wang had to go.
"Of course she's saying that she’s the one who stepped down, we'll give her that ability to at least claim that. I think that it's probably true that she was told by the Liberal Party that she was no longer the candidate," Mulcair said.
He called her post "unbelievable" and said it has discredited the Liberal brand in the riding, likely to Singh's benefit.
"I don't see how anybody else could move in and I think that Mr. Singh's got this one," Mulcair said.
In a tweet, Conservative MP Michelle Rempel called Wang's appeal to vote for her based on her race, "racism plain and simple," and in a later press conference in Burnaby said the Conservative Party had previously rejected Wang as a candidate.
She framed the race as now a two-way campaign between the NDP and Conservatives.
The byelection in this riding is scheduled for Feb. 25. Trudeau had been criticized from both the NDP and Conservatives for dragging his feet in calling the election after the seat was vacated by an NDP MP in September.
It was not immediately clear whether or not the Liberals will put forward another candidate to replace Wang, or whether Singh will be facing off against the remaining candidates: Conservative hopeful and corporate lawyer Jay Shin; and People’s Party candidate and outspoken talk-show host Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson.
According to Elections Canada, the list of candidates will be final on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
Here is the full statement from @karenxbwang: "My choice of words wasn't well-considered and didn't reflect my intent, and for that, I sincerely apologize to Mr. Singh. I have deep respect for him as the leader of his party and for his public service." #cdnpoli #lpc pic.twitter.com/fVmBvS8vCa— Rachel Aiello (@rachaiello) January 16, 2019