Alberta UCP hopeful Brian Jean has come under fire for a social media post about seeking the party nomination in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche.
“Jason Kenney’s people don’t want it to be me. They are pushing a Nigerian economist who lives in Fort McMurray,” the since-amended post from the former Wildrose leader read.
The candidate Jean’s post referred to, Joshua Gogo, said that Jean was trying to undermine his credibility by implying Gogo was not Albertan.
“My wife and I have spent our entire professional careers here. We love Fort McMurray, and we are proud to call it home. If he so chooses, Brian Jean can try to make this election one about my ethnicity,” he wrote in part on Facebook.
“I will stay focused on showing people from Fort McMurray to Lac La Biche and everywhere in between that I am here to work for them and to provide the stable representation our area deserves.”
Jean has apologized for the post, saying a campaign volunteer made the post and the comment was quickly removed.
“I then called and texted Joshua Gogo and made a total and unreserved apology for the inappropriate comment. Not checking the work of the volunteer was an oversight on my part,” Jean said in a statement.
Black Conservative group doubtful post was an ‘oversight’
The Alberta chapter of the Association of Black Conservatives says it’s extremely disappointing to see comments from Jean–or his team–about his rival’s ethnicity.
The group also doubts whether the post was “an oversight”, as Jean called it.
“An oversight is a spelling mistake, not a statement which chooses to imply Dr. Gogo isn’t Albertan or worse still, isn’t Canadian,” the ABC said in a statement posted to Twitter.
ABC Response to Brian Jean's Comments About Dr. Joshua Gogo. pic.twitter.com/HBxUfoD1tp
— Association of Black Conservatives (@abc_national) November 14, 2021
“Statements like this are harmful and imply Albertans of various ethnicities are not real Albertans. Immigrants who choose to call Alberta and Canada home are just as Canadian as the next person.”
The ABC says at a time when there is a strong need for diverse voices in politics, comments like these can discourage people of color from participating.
Comments, while retracted, will likely still hurt Jean, political scientist says
Political scientist Keith Brownsey says whether it was Jean who posted the comments to Facebook or a campaign aide, Jean is still responsible for what goes on his social media accounts.
“I’m offended by it and I’ve studied politics like this for 45 years or so. And I think it will hurt him.”
Brownsey says the comment could hurt the whole UCP if Jean does go on to become leader. He doesn’t think it will stop jean from getting nominated or winning the by-election.
“But it’s sullied now. There’s a stain on it. And I think we all need to understand that it has broader implications than just the nomination contest in Fort Mac. It’s way bigger than that,” said Brownsey.
He says it will stay with Jean regardless of where he goes in his political career.
“This doesn’t go away,” he said.