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Candidates from Wildrose and PC explain comments
Julia Parrish, ctvedmonton.ca
Published Tuesday, April 17, 2012 8:38PM MDT
Candidates campaigning under the both the Wildrose and PC banners were explaining comments recently, after recordings of two candidates came to light, one Wildrose candidate was quoted saying he had an advantage, because he is Caucasian.
Dr. Ron Leech, who was a senior leader of a Calgary church for 30 years -- a congregation of over 500 members representing over 47 nations of the world, is a Wildrose candidate for Calgary-Greenway.
Leech was recorded saying during an interview with Fairchild Radio in Calgary on Sunday: "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."
When asked about Leech's comment, Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said she wasn't concerned about the comments.
"I'm not concerned about them," Smith said. "I think every candidate puts forward their best argument for why they should be the person who can best represent the community.
"I know that Dr. Leech runs a private school which has a large number of people from different cultural communities. He has a very ethnically diverse riding. He's made great friendships and in roads with many of the leaders in different cultural communities there, so I think he was perhaps probably commenting on his own ability, having been involved at the school and been involved with the communities as long as he had, to be able to do outreach across different cultural communities."
Progressive Conservative Leader Alison Redford said she was surprised to hear the comments.
"I heard the comments, I was surprised to hear the comments," Redford said. "It's not something the Progressive Conservative Party believes."
However, a candidate for her party is also in hot water over comments he's made, PC candidate for Calgary-McCall Muhammad Rasheed was recently quoted saying: "This riding is very demographic, very different. People like to see someone like them in the Legislative Assembly."
Rasheed clarified his statement to CTV News Tuesday, and said he meant voters in his riding shared his political viewpoint.
"What I mean, ‘like them' meant people living in this riding, hardworking people that share conservatism," Rasheed said.
Liberal Leader Raj Sherman weighed into the fray Tuesday, and condemned the comments, calling them sad and tragic.
"[It's] very shameful of anybody who is running for public office or for any Albertan to make," Sherman said. "Frankly [the comments] are racist.
"The leader must apologize."
The New Democratic Party Leader, called for calm over the comments, and said he believes the quote reflects 'ethnic politics' in some communities, but stopped short of calling them racist.
"Given the way the debate has been going these last couple of days, we need to cut people a little slack, calm down a little bit," NDP Leader Brian Mason said. "In my view it represents the reality in ethnic politics, but I'm not prepared to say it has racial overtones."
CTV News has learned the Wildrose Leader has cancelled a live interview with CTV, as well as with three other Edmonton media outlets.
NDP Leader Brian Mason said he believes Smith is hiding, while other political experts say she is playing a front runner race, going under the radar.
Smith said the cancellations came about as a scheduling issue, while other Wildrose party members say Edmonton and rural areas are now in play and Smith will focus her time on that.
With files from Kevin Armstrong
Wildrose candidate for Calgary-Greenway Dr. Ron Leech, and PC candidate for Calgary-McCall Muhammad Rasheed defended earlier comments Tuesday, April 17.
Controversial quote from Wildrose candidate for Calgary Greenway Ron Leech