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'Yeah, he was stupid': Calgary mayor responds to Trudeau controversy

Last Updated Sep 19, 2019 at 2:45 pm MDT

(Tom Ross - 660 NEWS)

Naheed Nenshi said it was "sucker punch" when he saw the first photo Wednesday night

Calgary's mayor said it serves as a painful reminder for minorities that they struggle to feel respected

Nenshi hopes it serves as a moment of education, and bemoans racism taking charge in the political sphere

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — He has already taken aim at anti-immigrant sentiment in the federal election campaign, and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is calling it out again in the wake of the Justin Trudeau brown and blackface controversy.

“When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker punch,” Nenshi said on Thursday outside the Council Chambers in City Hall.

Nenshi was exasperated as he said this makes him and other minorities ask an uncomfortable question yet again.

“When is this ever going to end? You work so hard. You go to school. You know you have to be just a little bit better than the next person because you have to prove just a little bit more. You succeed, you go on in your career — maybe you even become the mayor. Then you’re reminded, in the worst possible way, that people you respect, people you admire, people who are allies in the battle with you, still need a little bit of education.”

On Sept. 12, in announcing a campaign calling on federal parties to take a focus on local issues, Nenshi spent a lot of time talking about the derision of immigrants in the political sphere and hoped that one day the election would be about ideas.

“Someday I will be proven correct,” Nenshi said at the time, with a smile.

But Nenshi had to take an even more principled stance this time in the wake of the revelations concerning the Liberal Party leader, adding that it points to a wider problem.

“This is wrong because it’s wrong as human beings. This is stuff that we cannot stand for. This is also wrong because it’s bad for our country.”

Nenshi said he has faced much of this racism himself, and moving forward voters should be judging politicians on the totality of their record.

“So it is, in fact, fair for the Prime Minister to say ‘look, I was stupid’, and yeah, he was stupid in doing all of this. But I have also spent my time in this role fighting for the rights of everyone, that is a fair statement. It is an equally fair statement for others to question other political leaders in saying, well it’s not just that you did something stupid 15 years ago or you made a speech in parliament — it’s the totality of your record since then.”

Nenshi added that racist thoughts have plagued politics in the last year and a half, and wants a real conversation to start over the erosion of Canada’s traditional values of multiculturalism and pluralism.

“We don’t have the luxury anymore to indulge ourselves in this kind of craven division in our political environment.”