News / Calgary

Wildrose candidate apologizes after racial remarks cause furor

Critics lashed out Tuesday at comments made by a Calgary Wildrose candidate alleging that being Caucasian gives him an advantage.

Ron Leech, who is challenging incumbent Progressive Conservative candidate Manmeet Bhullar in the riding of Calgary-Greenway, made the comments over the weekend on local multi-cultural radio station CHKF-FM. Leech apologized later Tuesday.

“I think as a Caucasian I have an advantage,” Leech is heard saying on recorded audio in response to a question of whether he was at a disadvantage in the ethnically diverse riding.

“As a Caucasian, I believe that I can speak to all the community.”

Speaking to Metro Tuesday afternoon Bhullar, who is Sikh, deemed the comments “very sad.”

“I am not surprised by this continuing level of disgusting discussion from him,” he said.

In a statement, Leech apologized for the remarks, noting he had made them spur of the moment.

“What I was trying to say, which didn’t come out that way and I apologize . . . is that it’s not a disadvantage for me to be Caucasian to represent the diverse cultures of my riding,” he said.

Bhullar, meanwhile, took specific issue with a response from Wildrose leader Danielle Smith, who, after Leech's comments were read to her said she was not concerned.

Premier Alison Redford said she was surprised at Leech's remarks and said it wasn't something that would be tolerated in her Progressive Conservative party.

“I think those are inappropriate comments and I know they don't reflect my views. I don't think they reflect the views of our party and I don't believe that they're current with what Albertans are thinking these days either,” Redford said in Calgary.

- with files from Canadian Press

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