We saw this last week, didn’t we? A candidate’s inappropriate comments about Aboriginals coming back to haunt them on the campaign trail? Well, it happened again today in the blink of an eye, but today’s culprit was Metis-born Andre Forbes, the former Liberal candidate in the riding of Manicouagan, possibly the best riding name in Canada. (But I am open to other possibilities.)
And you heard correctly: FORMER Liberal candidate. Ignatieff wasted no time in moving to rid his fragile Quebec campaign of even the whiff of controversy by informing Forbes he was out of the running as a Liberal. This story broke and closed in a matter of hours: I first saw the news late this morning that there were speculations about inappropriate comments made by a rural Liberal candidate in Quebec that were unearthed by the NDP; by noon Ignatieff was on camera saying it would be looked into and action taken if necessary; by 3:30 Forbes was out.
Judge. Jury. Executioner. Ignatieff. Which is more than I can say for Gilles Duceppe, who continues to stick by his formerly beleaguered candidate Mr. Levesque. But that has since blown over, until today when the similarities reminded everyone. Which is too bad for Mr. Levesque in a way, who was no doubt happy to have it behind him in the national media.
But the nature of the complaint against Forbes is worth looking into, especially considering that in the case of Mr. Levesque, an apology was made and accepted by those wronged, and by Bloc Leader Mr. Duceppe. But this time around, neither Ignatieff nor the Liberal Party of Canada appear to be listening. Or even want to. Mr. Forbes made some unfortunately racist comments in 2002 and 2009 about the laziness of Aboriginal Canadians, and the inherent problems of providing Aboriginals with too much free money and too easy access to provincial and federal land rights.
Regarding the comments, he shouldn’t have made them – that’s obvious. And for their part, the Liberal Party should have looked into this previously because, as the NDP point out, Forbes is not a NEW candidate, but has been the party nominee in Manicougan for years.
But I come back to the same question I had late last week: when do harmful comments trump your credentials? Was it right for the Liberals to move so quickly to remove Mr. Forbes as a candidate given the good he must have done to earn this riding nomination?
Because unlike Mr. Levesque, Mr. Forbes has been tossed out with the dirty water.