News

Controversy fades

Indianola resident and Trillium School founder Kelly Asadorian opened her garden to residents and visitors for Saturday’s fund-raising tour. She was one of four people to open their private gardens, along with Persephone Farm. - Annie Tietje/Staff Photo
Indianola resident and Trillium School founder Kelly Asadorian opened her garden to residents and visitors for Saturday’s fund-raising tour. She was one of four people to open their private gardens, along with Persephone Farm.
— image credit: Annie Tietje/Staff Photo

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. “It’s not an apology, it’s an explanation. At this point I’m not going to pursue it any further.”

Asked if she’s satisfied, Neville remarked: “I’m not satisfied with what he said, I think he should have issued an outright apology, but I’m 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 it’s not uncommon for politicians to face criticism.

“I’ve 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.”

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Aug 29 edition online now. Browse the archives.