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Liberal candidate resigns after WeChat post about Jagmeet Singh's "Indian descent"

Karen Wang urged people to vote for her, the "only Chinese candidate" in the Burnaby South byelection.

by Tamara Khandaker
Jan 16 2019, 8:01pm

A Liberal candidate in the riding of Burnaby South has resigned amid backlash to comments she made, urging people to vote for her as the “only Chinese candidate” over NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, who she identified as being of “Indian descent.”

Karen Wang, a daycare operator who has lived in the riding for 20 years, used the Chinese social media app WeChat to reach supporters, writing, “If we can increase the voting rate, as the only Chinese candidate in this riding, if I can garner 16,000 votes, I will easily win the byelection, control the election race and make history! My opponent in this by election is the NDP candidate Singh of indian descent,” StarMetro Vancouver reported.

In a statement, Wang apologized to Singh and said her choice of words in the original post, which made reference to Singh being of Indian descent, “wasn’t well considered and didn’t reflect [her] intent.”

“After consideration with my supporters, I have decided to step aside as the Liberal candidate,” she said “I believe in the progress that Justin Trudeau and the Liberal team are making for British Columbians and all Canadians, and I do not wish for any of my comments to be a distraction in that work.”

On Tuesday, Wang said the post was meant to highlight “the importance of people of all backgrounds getting involved in this important by election,” but conceded that it should’ve been phrased differently.

Singh, a former criminal defense attorney and former deputy leader of the Ontario NDP, is Canada’s first non-white party leader and is running for a seat in the House of Commons for the first time.

Braeden Caley, senior director of communications for the Liberal Party of Canada, said Wang’s comments “are not in line with the values” of the party, and that the party had accepted her resignation.

“Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada have always stood for the full and equal participation of all Canadians in our democracy, regardless of their background,” said the statement. “The Liberal Party has a clear commitment to positive politics and support for Canadian diversity, and the same is always expected of our candidates.”

It’s unclear if the Liberals will find another candidate to replace Wong in the byelection scheduled for Feb. 25.

Cover image: Karen Wang (left), via Facebook, and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh being interviewed while door knocking for his byelection campaign, in Burnaby, B.C., on Saturday January 12, 2019. Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press