Liberal candidate Karen Wang resigns from Burnaby South byelection following WeChat post singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

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VANCOUVER—The Liberal candidate running against NDP leader Jagmeet Singh in the Burnaby South byelection has resigned following a Star Vancouver report on her post on the Chinese social media app WeChat that urged people to vote for her, the “only Chinese candidate,” and not “Singh of Indian descent.

In a statement released Wednesday morning, Karen Wang apologized to Singh, saying “my choice of words wasn’t well-considered and didn’t reflect my intent.”

She said she has been proud to call Burnaby South home since arriving in Canada as a newcomer 20 years ago, and has deep respect for the NDP party leader.

“After consideration with my supporters, I have decided to step aside as the Liberal candidate in the Burnaby South byelection. 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 Saturday, Wang used WeChat to urge supporters to vote for her in a post, translated from Chinese, part of which said: “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 byelection is the NDP candidate Singh of Indian descent!”

Singh, who is vying for his first seat in the House of Commons, is Canada’s first non-white federal party leader. The other candidates in the Feb. 25 byelection are Conservative Jay Shin and People’s Party of Canada’s Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson.

Read more:

Liberal candidate’s WeChat post draws criticism for singling out race of byelection opponent Jagmeet Singh

Wang used the term “hua yi” to refer to people of the Chinese diaspora and used the term “yin yi” to refer to people of India’s diaspora.

When StarMetro asked about the post on Tuesday, Wang said her intent “was to stress the importance of people of all different backgrounds getting involved in this important byelection. The phrasing should have been different and it will be taken down.”

On Wednesday, Braeden Caley, senior director of communications with the Liberal Party of Canada, said Wang’s comments are not aligned with the party’s values.

“The Liberal Party has accepted her resignation as the Liberal candidate in the Burnaby South byelection,” Caley said in a statement. “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. The Liberal Party has a clear commitment to positive politics and support for Canadian diversity, and the same is always expected of our candidates.”

When asked by email whether the Liberals would nominate a new candidate in the riding, Caley said: “We’ll have more to discuss on that in due course.”

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment and referred questions about Wang to the Liberal Party.

In Ottawa, NDP MP Nathan Cullen called Wang’s social media post “the worst kind of politics there is.” He said noted her comment about Singh’s ethnicity comes after Shin, the Conservative candidate in Burnaby South, disparaged the NDP Leader for his past as a criminal defence lawyer.

“It’s brutal,” said Cullen, who represents the northwestern B.C. riding of Skeena-Bulkley Valley. “It should be a warning to the Liberals and Conservatives that this stuff can’t come out in the general election.”

Cullen added that Trudeau’s silence on Wang’s post is “troubling” and pointed out that “she resigned, he didn’t fire her.”

“I’m trying to imagine if a Conservative candidate had said this, how Mr. Trudeau would have been on the front page of your paper, saying we’ve got to unite, not divide,” he said.

“They screened and vetted her and it took her quitting to end instead of Mr. Trudeau being a little bit more courageous in his leadership.”

With files from Jeremy Nuttall and Joanna Chiu.

Melanie Green is a Vancouver-based reporter covering food, culture and policy. Follow her on Twitter: @mdgmedia.

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Conservative MP Tony Clement resigns Commons duties over sexting scandal

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Longtime Conservative MP Tony Clement is resigning his post as his party’s justice critic after admitting to sharing sexually explicit images and a video with an individual online.

« Over the last three weeks, I have shared sexually explicit images and a video of myself to someone who I believed was a consenting female recipient. The recipient was, in fact, an individual or party who targeted me for the purpose of financial extortion, » Clement said in a statement.

« The RCMP are currently investigating the matter to determine the identity of the party responsible for the extortion attempt. »

Clement, who has twice vied for the leadership of the federal party and served in senior cabinet positions in the former Conservative government, said in a statement late Tuesday he will be resigning his position on a number of Commons committees.

« I recognize now that I have gone down a wrong path and have exercised very poor judgment. First and foremost, I apologize to my family for the needless pain and humiliation my actions have caused, » he said in the statement.

Clement is married.

« I also apologize to my colleagues and my constituents for letting them down. I am committed to seeking the help and treatment I need in my personal life to make sure this will not happen again while also continuing to discharge my duties as a Member of Parliament. »

The scandal is a blow to Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who had tapped Clement to serve as the party’s justice critic in the House — an important role, given the many changes to legislation Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has tabled in recent months.

In a follow-up statement sent shortly after Clement released his statement, Scheer said he had accepted Clement’s resignation from his party duties.

« While I’m greatly disappointed with Mr. Clement’s actions, I am encouraged that he has decided to seek help and I wish him all the best in doing so, » Scheer said.

Lisa Raitt, the deputy leader of the Conservative Party, will assume the justice role effective immediately, Scheer said.

Clement is also a member of the top secret national security and intelligence committee — a special joint parliamentary committee composed of MPs and senators that oversees the work of the country’s intelligence agencies, including the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Communications Security Establishment, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canada Border Services Agency.

Clement was an early adopter of social media as a tool for political communication in Canada. He is a well-known presence on a variety of platforms and he follows tens of thousands of people on Twitter and the image-sharing app Instagram, often liking posts from acquaintances and strangers alike. He is known for both personal and private posts on the networking sites.

The Parry Sound-Muskoka MP was first elected to the House of Commons in 2004 after making the jump from provincial politics. Stephen Harper picked Clement for a number of senior cabinet positions in his government, including president of the Treasury Board and minister of industry.

The U.K.-born Clement was elected to Queen’s Park in 1995. He held a number of cabinet portfolios under former Ontario premier Mike Harris, including minister of health, before the ruling PCs were voted out of office in 2003.

In 2006, he placed third in the leadership race, ultimately placing behind Harper and auto parts mogul Belinda Stronach.

He dropped out of the 2016 leadership race after three short months, having failed to raise enough money to continue his efforts.

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Brampton integrity commissioner resigns, citing relationship with Patrick Brown

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Brampton integrity commissioner, Guy Giorno, has issued his resignation to the city clerk.

Giorno, who once served as former prime minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, issued his resignation letter on Oct. 23, citing the election of Patrick Brown as mayor the day before as his reason for doing so.

Guy Giorno he is the “first integrity commissioner in Canada to resign to avoid the perception of conflict following an election result.”
Guy Giorno he is the “first integrity commissioner in Canada to resign to avoid the perception of conflict following an election result.”  (Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press file photo)

The resignation letter was first revealed by the CBC’s Mike Crawley in a tweet on Monday (Nov. 5) night. The Brampton Guardian independently verified it’s authenticity.

“ I have known Mr. Patrick Brown for decades and it is a matter of record that we have worked with each other in past. This places me and the new Council (in) an unusual position — one that was never in the contemplation of City Council, me, or, I daresay, Mr. Brown, when I was originally appointed to office,” wrote Giorno in his resignation letter.

“Perception is important. Public confidence in the Integrity Commissioner’s objectivity is essential. Therefore, as long as I am Integrity Commissioner, I will use my authority under subsection 223.3(3) of the Municipal Act to delegate to delegate to another person my powers and duties related to any matters involving Mr. Brown,”

“This is an interim solution that is by no means satisfactory in the long term,” continued the letter, adding he was issuing his resignation as of Feb. 28, 2019 or when the newly elected Brampton council hires a replacement if before that date.

Giorno added in his letter this was a first in Canadian history.

“While this step makes me the first integrity commissioner in Canada to resign to avoid the perception of conflict following an election result, it is the responsible and ethical imperative,” he wrote.

A partner at law firm Fasken Martineau, Giorno serves as integrity commissioner for other area municipalities and regions including Orangeville and Dufferin County.

He did not reveal the nature or details of his relationship with Brown, or why his resignation was required following the mayor-elect’s election in the letter.

Giorno previously served as chief of staff for both former Ontario premier Mike Harris and former prime minister Stephen Harper. Brown served as an MP in Harper’s government, and worked with Giorno.

“I have known Guy since I was 15,” Brown told the Guardian. “I have worked with him in both provincial and federal governments. He has hosted events on my behalf and I consider him a friend. I respect his decision. It was the right choice.”

Correction — Nov. 6, 2018: This article was edited from a previous version that misspelled the name of the law firm Fasken Martineau.

Graeme Frisque is a reporter with The Mississauga News and Brampton Guardian

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Tech expert resigns from advisory panel on Sidewalk Toronto over data ownership concerns

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A member of an expert panel guiding Waterfront Toronto on Sidewalk Labs’ “smart city” proposal has resigned in large part because she wants to see the city, rather than a private company, control potentially valuable data linked to the project.

On Thursday, tech entrepreneur Saadia Muzaffar became the second member to recently resign from the advisory panel, formed in late April to assist Waterfront Toronto with how best to deal with data privacy issues, digital systems, as well as ethical and safety issues around the use of technology in its Sidewalk Toronto plan — a partnership with Manhattan-based Sidewalk Labs, an urban innovation firm and sister company of Google.

Muzaffar, a founder of TechGirls Canada, a hub promoting women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), resigned her position on the panel amid her concerns that financial benefits stemming from the project will all go to a U.S. company — Sidewalk Labs — rather than local innovators or the general public.

In her resignation letter, she blasted Waterfront Toronto, a corporation representing the city, province and federal governments, for showing “apathy and an utter lack of leadership” on the Sidewalk Toronto project.

“The most recent public roundtable in August displayed a blatant disregard for resident concerns about data and digital infrastructure,” she said in her letter. Muzaffar said she wants to see the data around Sidewalk Toronto end up in the hands of the City of Toronto.

“There is nothing innovative about city-building that disenfranchises its residents in insidious ways and robs valuable earnings out of public budgets,” she said in the letter.

In a telephone interview Thursday, Muzaffar said she feels that Waterfront Toronto’s responsibility to the public as guardian in the Sidewalk plan is being undermined by Sidewalk Labs, whose duty is to their shareholders and profits.

“Sidewalk is a vendor. You can’t design public policy with a vendor,” she told the Star.

Muzaffar, a “tech activist” and co-founder of Tech Reset, a “pro-growth, pro-innovation group” that monitors how urban data is collected and turned into a commodity, is the second member to step down from the advisory panel, which originally included 15 leading experts in Canada on digital technology, privacy and governance.

Two members of Waterfront Toronto’s senior leadership also resigned recently amid tensions surrounding Sidewalk Toronto.

Muzaffar said when she first came on the panel she was “open minded” about the process, but has since been turned off by Waterfront Toronto’s “anti-democratic” public engagement process regarding Sidewalk Toronto.

Dan Levitan, a spokesperson for Sidewalk Labs, said Thursday that the “panel is independent from (Sidewalk) and the resignation of a long-standing critic of the project is not a surprise. But we take seriously questions about data and expect in the months ahead to present and consult with the public on a comprehensive plan for data collection, use, and governance.”

Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa where he is Canada research chair in internet and e-commerce law, said the panel’s work will continue.

“We are committed to helping shape the future of data and digital policy in Canada, and I will be working with Waterfront Toronto and my fellow panel members to make sure that (the panel) can achieve what it set out to do, namely to provide expert advice on emerging issues related to privacy and data ownership,” Geist said in a statement.

Added Michael Nobrega, acting CEO of Waterfront Toronto: “we are unwavering in our commitment to serving the public interest and look forward to receiving the advice of the panel.”

He went on to say, “we are also well supported by external privacy and legal experts.”

In May, Sidewalk Labs released a responsible data use policy framework, including a promise to make data collected as part of the project “open and accessible” without breaching privacy.

In terms of data stewardship, Sidewalk says it continues to explore “conventional approaches to data ownership in cities, the responsibilities that come with “owning” data, the technological and economic advantages of storing data in Canada, and innovative models of governing urban data, such as establishing a non-profit data trust.

Donovan Vincent is a housing reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @donovanvincent

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