Sunday, 24 April 2011
Andre Forbes - EX-LIBERAL Candidate for Manicougan
In early April, news broke, via the New Democrat Party (NDP), that a Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) Candidate had racist links in his past as well as quotes of racial slurs. This Candidate’s name was Andre Forbes, who was seeking to represent Manicougan. The NDP had shown proof that the Liberal Candidate had ties to the formation of a White Supremist Group as well as direct quotes of him referring to First Nations people as ‘Featherheads.’ I was not impressed whatsoever when I, along with my fellow executive members of the LPC’s Aboriginal Peoples Commission, learned of this. I posted news articles of it on my facebook, on my twitter account, and did emails like crazy calling for this person’s removal. In fact, majority of us on the APC, by majority I mean those who responded quickly on the subject, called for his removal.
To our elation, the LPC had removed this person, it its strongest ability, from being a candidate for the LPC. We received word of this as we were all emailing the Party’s main office to do something about it – low and behold Michael Ignatieff, LPC party leader, was already doing so. I believe he did what was the proper thing to do – he made sure the claims were true before removing the individual. I say this because in times of elections, all parties like to pull dirt up that may not be completely factual – thus their priority must be to examine the truth behind the claim. Ignatieff and the LPC did this and once the NDP claim was confirmed, denounced it and removed him.
Ignatieff himself said, when approached about it by journalists while in Quebec campaigning, that “the reported remarks of this candidate are utterly unacceptable…they do not reflect Liberal values” (APTN National News).
Thus Forbes’ name was quickly removed from the LPC list of Candidates and he was told he no longer could run as a Liberal Candidate. The problem that has arisen now is that some claim he is still a Liberal Candidate. This is entirely untrue. The fact is that this situation came about after all candidate names had been given to Elections Canada – effectively locking them in as a Candidate. This also brought forth Ballots being printed with the names and their ‘party affiliation’ on it. Thus, when the remarks about Forbes were released all the LPC could do was remove the Individual as an endorsed Candidate by the party – which IT EFFECTIVELY DID. However, because Elections Canada had already input Forbes’ name, he will still be on the ballot with the word Liberal next to him. This cannot be changed and is the exact same thing that has occurred to other Candidates – such as the Conservative Toronto-Centre Candidate who the party removed support for (he was still on the ballot as the CPC Candidate), or the Green Party Candidate who made rape comments on facebook (he will still be on the ballot as the Candidate) – whether or not these individuals choose to continue to run in the election or not.
The problem here comes down to the unwillingness of Elections Canada to remove the names etc. As well as the unwillingness of the Candidate to not run at all. Forbes, in the end, has a personal choice in whether he will continue to run or not – and as far as I know he said he would – AS AN INDEPENDENT. Thus he is no longer an endorsed candidate of the Liberal Party of Canada – if he had been, I would have torn up my membership and resigned from the National Executive of the Party – My Community comes before my Political Membership – always will and will never change!
Another problem is the fact that the LPC is divided by region – in other words the National executive is made up of sub-regional executives, such as Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, etc. Thus, many candidates put forth also relate to the specific regional organization and its possible strength – and it is no secret that the Federal Liberal Party of Canada (Quebec) are not that developed compared to their counterparts in the east coast and Ontario. I in no way am justifying the actions of Forbes but simply try to remind people that miscalculations happen and sometimes people who are screened make it in unfortunately – humans have the ability to make mistakes; the question becomes whether or not those in charge deal with it, or not, once they find out, which the LPC and Ignatieff did.
In conclusion I would like to congratulate Ignatieff for dealing with this quickly – to have already been dealing with it before the Aboriginal wing of the party could jump on it was mind boggling for me – usually doesn’t happen in Canadian politics, lol. Ignatieff took action and removed support for Forbes once the information was deemed to be correct, The fact is the LPC is offering some strong commitments that relate to Indigenous Education and Health, which is a good step forward (I will talk further about this in another post). However, I would like to remind the NDP that they ‘are calling the kettle black’ as they had their own people who have done similar thing – Bev Desjarnais, for an example (Past M.P of Churchill). The NDP never acted on her comments, it wasn’t until she came out against Same-Sex marriage that they kicked her out of the party. Furthermore, the CPC has consistently ignored calls for some of their MP’s to resign or gfive an apology for racial remarks about indigenous people. Chuck Strahl and John Duncan have both been known to make racist remarks about Indigenous people in the past, and yet Harper made them both act as the Indian Affairs Minister! Furthermore, Pierre Poilievre, after the government issued the historic apology for Residential School abuses – June of 2008, told media that “native people need to learn the value of hard work more than they need compensation” (CTV.ca). Although he did actually issue an apology, it he did not say he felt he was wrong about what he stated – and has continued to serve as Stephen Harper’s right hand mean in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Perhaps one day all parties will act like Ignatieff did on this and, instead of dancing around it, take swift action – I am happy to live in the world of optimism on this, if all of us begin to speak out and ‘rise up.’