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| ||09 05 08
|Bennett should apologize for offensive election ad, grand chief says|
Last Updated: Thursday, May 7, 2009 | 5:24 PM PT
First Nations leaders in B.C. say this ad, placed by B.C. Liberal candidate Bill Bennett in an East Kootaney newspaper, is a slight at his native opponent, NDP candidate Troy Sebastian. (Kootenay Advertiser)
The president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs wants a B.C. Liberal candidate in the East Kootenays to apologize for a campaign ad Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says is a backhanded slap at First Nations and his NDP opponent ? a member of the Ktunaxa First Nation.
?All he has to do is to issue a statement saying that it was not his intent to offend First Nations or aboriginal people and that he would issue a public apology,? Phillip said Thursday.
Bill Bennett placed the ad in a free weekly newspaper as part of his candidacy for the May 12 provincial election. The ad reads, ?You want someone who pays taxes and is concerned about how the money is being spent,? underneath a photo of Bennett and his family and a slogan that reads, ?He's one of us.?
Bennett defended his choice of words Thursday.
?I would not have ever seen how anyone would ever see that as racist,? he told CBC News. ?I am an ordinary guy. I work. I pay taxes. I recreate on the weekend doing things that people in the Kootenays like to do.?
When asked if the ad was intended as a slight against First Nations people who live on Indian reserves and are legally exempt from paying some taxes, Bennett said, ?That's not the way it was intended.?
'Backhanded slap' was intentional: grand chief
But that's not what Phillip and other aboriginal leaders in B.C. or the NDP think.
?There is no question in my mind, and in the mind of many native people I have spoken to, that this is a backhanded slap against First Nations people,? Phillip told CBC News on Thursday morning.
Phillip said he was not surprised by the comments because Bennett had a reputation for ?bombastic and bizarre behaviour? and was not known as a defender of First Nations rights.
Bennett was forced to step down from a junior cabinet post in 2007 after admitting he sent an email full of profanities to a constituent.
Bennett's chief rival in the Kootenay East riding is NDP candidate Troy Sebastian, a member of the Ktunaxa First Nation who lives on the Saint Mary's Indian Reserve.
Sebastian said the ad indicates Bennett is desperate to hold onto the seat he has won twice before ? most recently in 2005 by just over 700 votes.
?What I see it as is just another sign that the wheels have fallen off the Liberal campaign,? said Sebastian. ?It shows the Liberal candidate is arrogant and completely out of touch with people in the community.?
| ||09 05 08
|Minister?s ad a ?slap? at aboriginals|
Send-a-taxpayer-to-Victoria message circulates in riding in which NDP candidate is a native
BY DOUG WARD, CANWEST NEWS SERVICEMAY 7, 2009
The B.C. Liberal candidate in Kootenay East is being criticized for a campaign advertisement one aboriginal leader says is a ?back-handed slap? at aboriginals and at his NDP opponent who is a member of a Cranbrook-area first nations community.
The ad placed by the Bill Bennett campaign in the Kootenay News Advertiser this week reads: ?You want someone who pays taxes and is concerned about how the money is being spent.?
Bennett?s NDP rival, Troy Sebastian, 32, is a member of the Ktunaxa First Nation. He is a manager and negotiator for the St. Mary?s Indian Band and lives on its reserve.
The ad, which contains a photo of Bennett and his family, also says of the B.C. Liberal incumbent candidate: ?He?s one of us.?
Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said Thursday, ?there is no doubt the ad is a back-handed slap towards aboriginal people.?
Phillip said Bennett?s ad is a slight at those aboriginals who are exempt, under the Indian Act, from taxation because they live and work on reserves.
The aboriginal leader said Bennett is also ?insinuating? that first nations people are incapable of understanding the administration of government.
?The image that he is attempting to give ? and he?s quite proud of it ? is that ?I?m Kootenay Bill, I?m a good old boy, I go hunting and fishing.? ?
Bennett could not be reached at his campaign office Thursday.
Sebastian declined to say whether he believed the Bennett ad was directed at his own first nations status. ?You can ask him [Bennett] that. But it raises a lot of questions.?
Sebastian added: ?I know that a lot of voters find it desperate. It?s the lowest-common-denominator approach to politics.?
The NDP candidate said the ad is ?certainly not in the spirit of the reconciliation with first nations that Premier [Gordon] Campbell has been talking about.?
The proposed recognition and reconciliation act would change the way the provincial government deals with aboriginal title.
Campaigning in Quesnel, Campbell said he had not seen the ad, but he believes Bennett was just trying to connect with local voters.
?I can tell you Bill has been saying he?s Kootenay Bill the whole time. I think he?s been trying to connect directly with people throughout his community. I think it?s great to have first nations people running for office ? for the NDP or for us,? Campbell said, pointing out the Liberals have an aboriginal candidate in Marion Wright, who?s running in North Island.
Asked if he thought Bennett?s ad might anger local voters, Campbell said he hopes not.
?I hope it doesn?t. I know that Bill has spent most of his time in his campaign pointing out that he understands the Kootenays,? Campbell said. ?He works for rural British Columbia and I do think he?s trying to create that connection.?
Sebastian said the ad shows the ?wheels have fallen off the B.C. Liberal campaign here.?
Aboriginal leader Phillip said the Bennett ad could stem from the Liberals? fear of losing small-c conservative voters to Wilf Hanni, the leader of the B.C. Conservative party, who is also running in Kootenay East.
Hanni has been a sharp critic of the recognition and reconciliation act, which has sparked controversy in many Interior ridings.
?I don?t think there is any question that this is a unique experience for the B.C. Liberals to have the vote split on the right,? said Phillip.
This isn?t the first time Bennett, the minister of tourism, culture and the arts, has found himself at the centre of a controversy.
Earlier in the campaign, Bennett?s supporters put out a poster promising voters a free beer if they came to a Liberal event.
After questions were raised about whether the free alcohol would contravene the Elections Act, Bennett said there would be no free drinks.
Bennett was also forced to resign as minister of state for mines in 2007 after the revelation of a vitriolic e-mail he sent to the president of the Fernie Rod and Gun Club.
| ||09 04 20
|This will be one of the very few ridings in B.C. that the NDP steals back from the Liberals.|
This is one of those Interior ridings where the carbon tax is still extremely unpopular and the Liberals are seen as a big-city party.
I don't think that Troy Sebastien will get substantially more votes than Erda Walsh did, but I don't think he'll have to. Wilf Hanni will take away just enough votes to take Bennett down.
I'm not a big believer in the Conservatives opening up a huge split on the right, but this is one of those ridings where it will happen at a level high enough to deliver the riding to the NDP.
| ||09 04 11
|Gotta figure that Hanni will be good for 7-10% of the vote. In that case its an NDP win.|
| ||09 04 08
|This one will be too close to call, but I'm tentatively predicting NDP. The riding is usually a pretty close one that leaned BC Liberal, but this year there are new factors.|
There are three factors that could make this one really close.
The new redistricting now adds the St. Mary's Native Band into the region. The NDP Candidate, Troy Sebastien, has been deeply involved in those native issues. If he can GOTV with the natives, then he'll see a boost in his normal numbers. The last stat showed 340 registered residents there. However, those are only the registered number of band people and this number may indeed be higher. Still, I see no reason why these are not Sebastien's voters. That is of course, if he can convince these voters not to vote over Campbell's new native right's law that was quelled, an issue bound to come up here since Hanni is running.
I'm not sure how popular Troy is, but I know many Dippers felt wrong voting for Erda Walsh because of resentment towards the NDP in the 90's. So Troy will probably benefit from the residual of her not running.
Finally, the biggest factor of all, is BC Conservative Hanni running. This guy pulled off in 1996 20% support for BC Reform here. If he can do even half that this time around, Bill Bennett will be in deep, deep trouble. Considering the BC Conservatives are polling at 7% in the interior, this is a very real possibility. I would dare to say BC Conservative support is even higher in this area, where local news actually does give coverage to the activties of the BC Conservative party. Remember, Cranbrook was one of the original hotbeds of the Reform movement (many Socons in Cranbrook), and Conservatives here are not all that loyal to the ?BC Liberal? brand. In fact, with all the anger over them ignoring rural areas, this area may have the greatest number of angry party loyalists than anywhere else. In fact, I have heard that Bill Bennett is running without even mentioning his party name now, because the brand is becoming toxic in this riding.
Side note: Rumour has it Bill Bennett's outburst that lost him his cabinet seat actually INCREASED his support in the area. So don't think that will be a significant issue for voters here come election time.
| ||09 03 31
|I see Hanni has changed his mind, and is now running here, in his home riding, a-la 1996. With the potential split, I change my prediction to TCTC, leaning NDP.|
| ||09 03 09
|If there was a uniform swing in every riding of 2 percent to the NDP from the Liberals, this would be the NDP's 43rd seat (ie the one that would win them the election) since there are quite a few close victories for both Liberal and NDP. The NDP have won the seat fairly often as well 66-75 and 86-2001 and have almost always scored close to or above 40%(except in 01). Should be fairly close.|
| ||09 02 20
|I used to live in this riding. The NDP victories in the past have, by and large, been the result of vote-splitting on the right (Liberal-SoCred, then Liberal-Reform). With Hanni running in a different riding, no other strong candidate on the right this time around, and the incumbency advantage, I believe Bennett should be able to keep this one.|
| ||09 02 10
|The NDP's number one target in the Interior has to be Kootenay East, or more specifically Kootenay East's incumbent, Campbell cabmin Bill Bennett. When Bennett got his start in politics, he presumably had to begin every conversation explaining how he wasn't related to those other Bennetts. No longer. Two stints in cabinet (prompted, needless to say, by his status as the last government member left standing in the Kootenays) and an unfortunate habit for committing his feelings to text have given the entire province the opportunity to enjoy Bennett's unique brand of hyperpartisan snark where before knowledge of his charm was restricted to Kootenay-dwellers. The NDP have selected Troy Sebastian as their candidate, apparently because his Ktunaxa background helped him meet the party's controversial affirmative action policy. While without a high profile in the riding's communities, he can't be anything but an improvement on the party's candidate last time out, Glen Clark-era doormat Erda Walsh. But this campaign probably won't even be about him, or Gordon Campbell, or Carole James... it will probably turn more into a referendum on Bennett. Way too close to call, and ought to be a hoot of a race to watch.|
| ||09 01 31
|This is the home riding of B.C. Conservative Party leader Wilf Hanni, and his party is promising a much more high-profile campaign this time around. |
In 1996 Hanni took 22% of the vote here as a candidate for the B.C. Reform Party, splitting the right-wing vote and handing a narrow victory to the NDP candidate Erda Walsh. This time around, who knows?