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Canada Horgan disappointed but standing by Cullen over comments about Haida Liberal candidate

07:15  19 october  2020
07:15  19 october  2020 Source:   globalnews.ca

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Nathan Cullen wearing a suit and tie: Nathan Cullen. © THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand Nathan Cullen.

BC NDP Leader John Horgan says he's spoken to Nathan Cullen about disparraging comments the Stikine candidate made about a BC Liberal in a neighbouring riding.

"I expressed my disappointment with his comments -- as I said, what you say privately you should be able to say publicly," John Horgan said Sunday.

Cullen was recorded on Zoom ahead of an all-candidates debate earlier this week making fun of Roy Jones Jr., BC Liberal candidate for the North Coast.

Read more: ‘Disrespectful’: NDP’s Nathan Cullen apologizes over comments about Haida Liberal candidate

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“He’s not well liked — he’s Haida — in his own community,” Cullen said.

“The guy’s going to get bedrock 20 per cent. Like, his name is Kinkles,” he added, referring to Jones Jr.’s nickname.

Cullen has since apologized "unreservedly" and said he's spoken to Jones Jr. personally.

Global News has requested comment from Jones Jr.

"Nathan has great remorse, but he has represented the area as a member of parliament for over 15 years, the people of the area know his heart and I'm confident no one will work harder than Nathan for his misspeaking," Horgan said.

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Asked what consequences Cullen could face for the comments, Horgan the candidate will have to work to rebuild trust.

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"I think the repercussions are Nathan is feeling devastated by this on a personal level," he said.

"I'm understanding in the region the people are standing behind him, the Haida Nation is standing behind him, as are other Indigenous groups throughout the territory, and I know Nathan will be working hard, hard hard to make up for his misspeaking."

Late Saturday Council of the Haida Nation president Gaagwiis (Jason Alsop) issued a statement supporting Cullen.

“Nathan Cullen has worked hard over the years to represent all of the people of the North Coast with respect,” he wrote.

“Mr. Cullen has established a good relationship with the Haida Nation and his recent comments do not warrant his resignation or an apology to the Haida Nation.”

READ MORE: BC NDP election hopeful calling on party to apply gender mandate, block Nathan Cullen from consideration

On Sunday, BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson attacked Horgan for not confronting Cullen's comments earlier.

"Where's John Horgan when one of his most prominent white male MLA candidates is caught making mocking remarks about an Indigenous person?" he asked.

"Where's John Horgan, when his hand-picked friend who pushed out a highly qualified Aboriginal woman makes a fool of himself with racist remarks?

It is not the first time Cullen has faced criticism over Indigenous issues in the campaign.

He was nominated in the riding over an Annita McPhee, an Indigenous woman, despite a party rule which is meant to prioritize women and people of colour in ridings where white men retire.

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