New comments from Wildrose candidate emerge online
Published Friday, April 20, 2012 12:44PM MDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 6:05AM MDT
A new video has surfaced of an interview with Wildrose candidate Ron Leech in which he is once again talking about having the advantage because he is Caucasian.
On Friday, an interview with Leech from an ethnic television station appeared on YouTube.
"I believe that for the people of Calgary-Greenway they need a change. They need someone who has a passion for their community, someone who will represent their community and I believe that as a Caucasian I have an advantage that for the Punjabi community I am able to speak for the whole community and to lift the community up in our region. I believe I have a voice and I believe that the community has my ear and I want the community to know that. That I'm attentive to their needs. I've been studying about their culture about their religion so that I can be better at understanding their special needs but I recognize that there are many needs in this community and in the Punjabi community and I believe I can help those needs," said Calgary-Greenway candidate, Ron Leech.
Leech went on to say "I believe when I come to our community here I am very concerned that the Punjabi community have not been esteemed, lifted up. When a Punjabi leader speaks for the Punjabi, the Punjabi are listening but when a Caucasian speaks on their behalf everybody is listening."
This is the second time that Leech has made similar comments.
On Sunday, he spoke to a Calgary radio station and said, "I think, as a Caucasian, I have an advantage. When different community leaders such as a Sikh leader or a Muslim leader speaks they really speak to their own people in many ways. As a Caucasian I believe that I can speak to all the community."
Leech has since apologized for the comments he made on Sunday and said that that wasn't what he meant. "I have a real heart for the people and to serve in the community and I apologize of something was said that seems to indicate anything different that my intent, which is to let you know, I have a great love for all the nations."
Meanwhile, Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith spoke at a news conference in Calgary on Friday, reiterating that the Wildrose party is not racist.
Smith also said that Ron Leech's campaign manager is an Iranian immigrant and that if she found any evidence of Leech being racist, she would fire him.
Another Wildrose candidate, Allan Hunsperger from Edmonton was also under fire for commetns he wrote in an online blog in June 2011 that homosexuals would ‘burn in a lake of fire'.
Referencing Lady Gaga's popular song "Born this Way," Hunsperger and his wife blogged "…if you die the way you were born then you will suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire, hell, a place of eternal suffering."
Civic leaders in the province have also weighed in on the controversial comments.
Earlier in the week, Mayor Nenshi called out the Wildrose leader on Twitter and asked that she take a firmer stance against the intolerance issues.
Nenshi said in an online interview that "I am really quite disappointed in some of the intolerant remarks we've heard in the last few days from Wildrose candidates and I'm particularly disappointed in Danielle Smith's lack of leadership on this issue."
On Thursday, Nenshi said that Leech's apology isn't enough.
"The candidate has not clarified his comments. He hasn't actually said, No, I don't really think that ethnic people can only speak for their own communities and what is even more disappointing is that the party leader seems to say this is a freedom of speech issue and won't just simply standup and say, I don't believe in intolerance. It's not that hard and I don't understand why we haven't heard that."
Nenshi's reactions to the comments were mirrored by Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel.
"I think everybody has a right to their own opinions, but when you're in government and you're making decisions about the future of my children or my grandchildren or your children, I think there's a standard which we all need to accept that is vitally important to the equality and opportunity in our province."
Following the comments, and amid some calls for the two candidates to step down, Danielle Smith initially said she wasn't concerned.
She also says that she would hold her candidates accountable but refused to elaborate.
The other major leaders are campaigning in Edmonton on Friday while Alberta Party leader Glenn Taylor is in Hinton and Edson.