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Singh says no place for racism following Liberal candidate's resignation

Last Updated Jan 16, 2019 at 11:06 pm PDT

FILE: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh listens while responding to questions after a three-day NDP caucus national strategy session in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday September 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh responded to racially-charged comments by now former Liberal candidate Karen Wang

Singh says there is no place for racism and 'divisive' politics in Canada

Singh responds to speculation that Liberals could want him to win the riding

BURNABY (NEWS 1130) — Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh says its time to focus on what matters in the Burnaby-South by-election, now that his Liberal rival Karen Wang stepped down after posting racially-charged comments online.

Singh was campaigning in Metrotown on Wednesday, the same day Karen Wang bowed out of the race. Wang reportedly reached out to would-be supporters on WeChat claiming she’s the only Chinese candidate and pointing out Singh’s heritage is Indian.

RELATED: Liberal candidate resigns following controversial social media post

“To be honest with you, I did not expect race to be a concern. This is one of the most diverse communities in Canada, and one of the things we are so happy to see is that people really celebrate that,” he says. “If you grow up in a community like Burnaby, and many communities across Canada, people are proud of the fact that they have friends from different communities, that they get to enjoy the richness of the diversity of this land, of this community, and that’s something people are proud of.

“I never expected that, in any way, to be a weakness. I always consider that to be a strength and something we’re all proud of.”

RELATED: Liberals, NDP played ‘political games’ with Burnaby-South riding: political scientist

Singh says there’s no place in Canadian politics for racism, suggesting that Canada doesn’t want to follow the trend of current politics in the United States.

“I am concerned with divisive politics. I am concerned with politics that divide communities, that pit one against another,” he says. “I feel like there’s too much of that.”

He says he hasn’t spoken to Wang directly yet, but he has seen her comments and accepts her apology.

“I think that she did the right thing and she responded in a way that was very respectful, and I appreciate that,” he says.

RELATED: For NDP’s Jagmeet Singh, the pressure rises as the votes draw closer

He adds that he’s confident he will do well in the riding because of his commitments to issues, like affordable housing and health care, and hopes to shift the focus of his campaign to those issues.

The Liberals have not said yet if they plan to run another candidate, but they have until Feb. 4 to file the paperwork.

Pundits suggest Liberals could want Singh to win riding

When asked about speculation by some pundits that Liberals could want him to win because they don’t see him as a strong competitor in the federal election, Singh responded that the Liberals are afraid of how he would challenge them in parliament.

“I don’t subscribe to that at all. I don’t believe in that suggestion,” he says. “I know that Liberals are afraid of the questions that we’re going to ask, because we know Conservatives aren’t going to stand up in the house and demand action on the housing crisis.”

Conservatives rejected Wang as a candidate

Members of the Conservative Party of Canada are saying Wang sought a nomination from their party for the upcoming election, but she was denied.

MP Michelle Remple said this during a press conference Wednesday after it was announced that Wang had stepped down.

Remple didn’t say, however, why Wang was not permitted to run for the party.

She was joined at the press conference by Conservative candidate Jay Shin, who will be taking on Singh in the upcoming election.

The by-election will be held on Feb. 25, 2019.