June 10, 2008 · Updated 5:30 PM
Like a fuse dipped in water, a controversy involving Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes has fizzled out.
On Jan. 25, Liberal MP Anita Neville called for the resignation of Mayes as chair of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, after his response to a joke he received via e-mail in October was made public.
The joke attempted to make fun of bureaucrats by featuring a First Nations man who spoke broken English and was referred to as Tonto and chief.
In a response to the e-mail, Mayes wrote: Good joke.
The Union of BC Indian Chiefs responded to the publicity by calling for an apology or Mayes resignation. Mayes later termed the joke completely inappropriate, but did not apologize for his response.
At the first meeting of the aboriginal affairs committee following the controversy, the joke was not mentioned.
Mr. Mayes sent out a memorandum saying that his remarks were taken out of context or misinterpreted. He was not going to raise it at committee unless it was raised by someone else, said Neville Friday. Its not an apology, its an explanation. At this point Im not going to pursue it any further.
Asked if shes satisfied, Neville remarked: Im not satisfied with what he said, I think he should have issued an outright apology, but Im not prepared to make an issue of it... All I can say is, Mr. Mayes should have known better when he made those comments.
Leon Nelson, chief of the Adams Lake Band, said its not uncommon for politicians to face criticism.
Ive worked with Colin on a couple of issues I found him to be easy to work with and genuine in listening to what some of the aboriginal issues are. But just like any public figure, you have to be cautious what you say and do.