Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Pallister blasts racist remarks by Tory insider

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WRONG, unacceptable and abhorrent.

Those were the words Opposition Leader Brian Pallister used Thursday to describe racist comments made last week by the former president of his political party's youth wing.

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"I've spent a long time in my life advocating and fighting for aboriginal rights and for aboriginal people," Pallister said. "So has the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba.

"To believe that we're going to get anywhere as a province if we don't stand shoulder to shoulder with one another is a mistake."

Pallister's comments came as several members of the aboriginal community considered asking Winnipeg police to investigate Braydon Mazurkiewich for allegedly committing a hate crime, a spokeswoman for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said.

Mazurkiewich made online comments last week following a Federal Court decision on claims made by several First Nations on the former Kapyong Barracks on Kenaston Boulevard in Winnipeg.

Mazurkiewich said on Twitter and Facebook he was upset about a planned urban reserve on the former base that was designed for the "hard-working men and women of the military, not free-loading Indians.''

Within hours, PC party president Ryan Matthews had requested and received Mazurkiewich's resignation.

"It was dealt with in the constitutionally correct way for the party, a respectful way, and I think it sent a powerful and clear message, because it was dealt with so effectively and so quickly, that this is just not acceptable conduct for people who take, whether volunteers or not, who take positions of office within the Progressive Conservatives of Manitoba," Pallister said.

Pallister declined to offer an apology as leader on behalf of the party because he said Mazurkiewich was speaking as an individual and not for the party. He also declined to immediately strip Mazurkiewich of his party membership as such an action would have to be made by the party following proper channels.

"On a personal level, it deeply distresses me that people think the way that his comments reflected."

Mazurkiewich issued an apology for his comments though an online news site via Twitter Wednesday night.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 21, 2012 A3

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