The leader of the NDP, along with the candidate at the heart of the issue, are both apologizing after insensitive comments made by Nathan Cullen Thursday (Oct. 15).

Cullen, a former federal NDP MP, is running for the MLA spot in the Stikine riding during the Oct. 24 provincial election. His comments about Roy Jones Jr. Cheexial, the BC Liberals candidate for the neighbouring North Coast riding, sparked criticism on Saturday after his comments at an all-candidates debate.

“He’s not well-liked — he’s Haida — in his own community,” said Cullen, referring to Cheexial. “The guy’s going to get bedrock 20 per cent.”

Cullen then went on to make fun of Cheexial nickname.

On Saturday, Cullen responded to a BC Liberals staff member’s tweet criticizing his comments.

“I apologize unreservedly for my comments and have done so personally to Roy. I need to, and will, do better,” Cullen tweeted.

During a campaign stop in the Vancouver Island’s Courtenay-Comox riding Sunday, NDP Leader John Horgan addressed comments made by Cullen during an all-candidates forum in Smithers.

“I spoke with Nathan yesterday, I expressed my disappointment in his comments. As I said, what you say privately, you should be able to say publicly. There’s great remorse, Nathan has great remorse, but he has represented the area as a Member of Parliament for over 15 years, the people in the region know his heart, and I am confident that no one will work harder than Nathan to make up for his mis-speaking.”

When asked if there will be any additional actions by the party, Horgan said there would not be.

“The repercussions are that Nathan is feeling devastated by this on a personal level. I believe no one will work harder than Nathan now, to rebuild the trust with those who may have started to question that. I’m understanding in the region, 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 mis-speaking.”

This is not the first time Cullen’s campaign has come under fire. The NDP was criticized for choosing him over Tahltan Central Government president Annita McPhee, who had said the party was going back on their equity policy.

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@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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