Calgary NDP candidate demands Conservative incumbnet drop out of campaign
Calgary Centre MP Lee Richardson has found some controversy injected into his reelection bid as NDP candidate Tyler Kinch has called for his resignation over some comments he made to Fast Forward magazine.
Earlier this month, Richardson gave an interview to Fast Forward concerning a rash of recent shootings in Calgary.
“Particularly in big cities, we’ve got people that have grown up in a different culture,” Richardson said. “And they don’t have the same background in terms of the stable communities we had 20, 30 years ago in our cities… and don’t have the same respect for authority or people’s person or property.”
“Canada accepts so many refugees, for example,” he noted. “These are people that have had a very difficult life from whence they came. If you’ve been in a refugee camp, then you live day-to-day. And those are troubled people. They come here and, well, it’s easy to take advantage of people that are trying to help.”
"Talk to the police. Look at who’s committing these crimes. They’re not the kid that grew up next door,” he concluded.
When hearing of Richardson's remarks, Kinch was certainly outraged enough for an NDP candidate, saying he "should resign out of this election for those comments.”
"Crime comes from everywhere, and there are many immigrants in our country that contribute to our society in great ways,” said Kinch. “I don’t think those comments are productive, and I don’t think those comments should come out of an MP’s mouth.”
Certainly, Kinch is right. Immigration very much is the backbone of modern Canadian society, and will only continue to be.
But it seems that Kinch is being fairly selective in his outrage. After all, one need not look much further than Green candidate Natalie Odd's comments regarding the matter.
“There definitely are people from other cultures involved in crime in our cities,” Odd said. “However, we cannot ignore that poverty and exposure to domestic violence… are huge determining factors in people becoming involved in crime. That crosses all cultures.”
And therein lies the rub. Odd notes essentially that Canadian law enforcement needs to also address the contributing factors to crime. And in a country that admits 30,000 refugees annually, it isn't at all unfair to ask if the conditions in most refugee camps -- notorious for their impoverished and overcrowded conditions -- could be a contributing factor to a life of crime, particularly for those who may have grown up in said camps? Perhaps even disproportionately?
Of course it's fair to ask.
But Natalie Odd's resignation from the race in Calgary-Centre isn't likely to make Kinch's bid to win election significantly easier. Better to oppose his opponent of being politically incorrect at best, racist at worst, and see if Kinch can't significant;y improve his odds of winning.
For his own part, Richardson seems to understand how unsavoury his comments truly are.
"That is not my intention. If I misspoke, I apologize to you for that,” Richardson lamented, noting that he only meant to refer to a "small minority" of immigrants.
Richardson also noted that he had based his comments partially on anecdotal evidence collected from his constituents. “What their comments are based on is probably anecdotal — what they read in the newspapers,” he said. "We see anecdotally — and through our experiences here — the differences from the Alberta that I grew up in. And that’s the same in a lot of big cities across the country. That’s really all I was trying to say…. I regret having said that yesterday.”
Some sources, such as Cam Stewart, a former cop and now cross-cultural consultant, note that most criminals in Calgary are "mainstream caucasian Canadians". But in a city where one in four residents is an immigrant, it raises significant questions about what "mainstream" really is.
Not to mention broader questions about what kinds of crime one is talking about. There is, after all, a huge difference between a gang- or drug-related shooting and a kid shoplifting a candybar from the corner store.
(Stewart also talks about the "rise of hate groups" in Calgary, yet seems to overlook the fact that Calgary's Aryan Guard recently had to offer financial enticements to get white supremacists from across the country to move to Calgary. Cleary, hate groups are not on the rise in Alberta.)
In terms of basic political correctness Richardson's comments certainly do seem ill-advised. But at the end of the day, the questions raised do remain legitimate.
If we're going to point to poverty in Canada as a root cause of crime, we have to consider that the poverty and desperation experienced in a refugee camp may be a root cause of crime -- particularly violent crime -- as well.
Kinch's outrage may potentially work wonders for his campaign, but it may only serve to cloud the real issue at hand.