BURNABY (NEWS 1130) – There’s been another bizarre twist to the federal by-election in Burnaby South. The now-former Libral candidate who resigned over racially insensitive comments now says she wants to withdraw her resignation.
Karen Wang wants back in the race. In an unusual development, she is asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to giver her a second chance, saying she is not a racist.
It comes a day after she stepped down over an online post in which she tried to sway voters by singling out the ethnicity of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, who is also running in the by-election.
Wang stepped aside on Wednesday after reportedly singling out Singh’s ethnicity in an online post.
Wang’s hopes are quickly being being dashed. The Liberals have issued a statement, saying her comments are not aligned with the party. “The Liberal Party has accepted her resignation as a candidate and she will not represent the Liberal Party in the Burnaby South by-election.”
Statement from the Liberals:
“recent online comments by Karen Wang are not aligned with the values of the Liberal Party of Canada. The Liberal Party has accepted her resignation as a candidate and she will not represent the Liberal Party in the Burnaby South by-election” #cdnpoli
— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) January 17, 2019
“What she said goes so much against Justin Trudeau’s personal brand and the brand that he’s tried to create for the Liberal Party,” University of the Fraser Valley Political Scientist Hamish Telford said.
The comments posted online in recent days reportedly note Singh’s cultural background. Wang had said her choice of words wasn’t well-considered and didn’t reflect her intent.
While she “sincerely” apologizes to Singh, and says she has deep respect for him as the leader of the NDP, Telford isn’t sure there’s anything Wang could do to put pressure on Trudeau.
“I think it’s almost certainly a no,” he says. “I did notice in the news last night that Jagmeet Singh said that she did not reach out to him personally to apologize — that might help. But I still don’t think that would sway the prime minister.”
He says the only fact that might be on her side is the timing.
“We’re already into the by-election campaign and the Liberals don’t have a candidate. Can they find another candidate in very short order? Are they going to go without a candidate? Or, and I think this is Mrs. Wang’s only hope, is that they decide ‘well we’ve got to have a candidate and there really isn’t anybody else so we have to go back to her.’ But I don’t think that’s likely.”
In terms of whether Wang’s recent comments may negatively impact the Liberals going into the federal election later this year, Telford says it’ll “probably blowover.”
“However, this is yet but another example of a candidate for election getting in trouble on social media, in this case for something that was said very recently. In other cases, it’s for things that people have tweeted or put on Facebook in the distant past.”
Wang reportedly wrote on Chinese social media platform WeChat that she was the “only” Chinese candidate in the riding, rather than Singh, who she identified as “of Indian descent.”
Telford believes more people will be exposed for inappropriate social media commentary as we get into the swing of a full election.
– With files from Cormac MacSweeney and the Canadian Press