Don Davies of the NDP has offered an apology for comments he made against a Filipino Canadian woman challenging him in Vancouver Kingsway in the September 20, 2021 federal election.
The seasoned politician made the gesture as Liberal incumbents rushed to defend partymate Virginia Bremner.
Bremner, for her part, says Davies should apologize to the community.
One of Bremner’s supporters was Vancouver Centre's Hedy Fry, the longest serving female member of Parliament and stalwart of the Liberal Party of Canada.
“Hey @VirginiaBremner,” Fry posted on Twitter on August 23, “don't let the NDP or anyone call you a 2nd rate or a token Canadian.”
“You are a Liberal candidate, we think your voice matters, we think you belong #diversityisourstrength. You go girl! You roar!” Fry wrote.
Harjit Sajjan has been the country’s minister of defence since Liberals won government in 2015.
He thanked Bremner for putting her name forward in Vancouver Kingsway.
Sajjan, who is seeking another term in Vancouver South, wrote on Twitter on August 22 that the “uphill battle for people of colour- especially women- to occupy space in Canadian institutions never stops”.
“You got this,” Sajjan told Bremner.
It all started when Davies told the Straight in an interview that Bremner does not have the right to represent Vancouver Kingsway.
Davies lumped Bremner with Francisco ‘Jojo’ Quimpo, a Filipino Canadian who ran against him under the Conservative Party in 2015.
The NDP politician said that “these people” were neither residents of the riding nor were they nominated by local members of their parties.
Davies was also asked about the practice by political parties of choosing candidates from ethnic groups and then running them in what appear to be unwinnable ridings.
Davies responded that there are elements of “exploitation” as well as “opportunism” here.
“And…to me when a party…essentially appoints a candidate that has no connection with the community, and they have no sort of mandate from their fellow community members, that to me speaks more of exploitation than a genuine sense of trying to reflect the diversity in the community,” Davies said.
When sought for comment, Bremner told the Straight that Davies is engaging in “divisive, nasty politics”.
“He should be focusing on telling the community how after 14 years he’s going to finally deliver something meaningful for Vancouver Kingsway,” she said about the four-term NDP MP.
“And you know, I’m also disturbed by his satement because I can only assume that what Mr. Davies is really saying is that women and particularly women of colour should not be invited to participate in the political system we have in this country,” Bremner said.
“It’s clear that he’s out of touch with real progressive values,” she continued.
The Straight published the story online on August 22.
On the same day, Davies took to Twitter and addressed Bremner with a statement.
“I have the utmost respect for your lived experience as a racialized woman and proud member of the Filipino community,” Davies wrote.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to represent this incredible, multicultural riding and cherish the full participation and inclusion of everyone in politics,” he continued.
“However, my comments in the article did not reflect that, and I offer my sincere apology for the hurt this has caused,” Davies stated.
Meanwhile, Sukh Dhaliwal, who is the Liberal incumbent in Surrey—Newton, wrote on Twitter that Davies’ comments against Bremner were “shameful”.
“Despite differences on policy, I've always respected @DonDavies as a parliamentarian,” Dhaliwal posted on August 23.
“But his comments on @VirginiaBremner 's candidacy are beyond offensive,” the Liberal politician stated.
Dhaliwal added that referring to Bremner and others as “these people” is equivalent to “shocking blatant racism”.
Joyce Murray, a federal Liberal who has represented Vancouver Quadra since 2008, also waded in.
On August 23, Murray wrote on Twitter: “Virginia keep going, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
Bremner has not accepted Davies’ apology.
“After much reflection I feel @dondavies apology is not mine to accept,” Bremner wrote on Twitter.
The political neophyte added: “He should apologize to the entire community.”
Davies has held Vancouver Kingsway since 2008, and is going for a fifth term in the September 20 election.