(EJNews) – Watch out Calgary voters – Ward 1 Candidate (and incumbant) Ward Sutherland made a racist remark about Jewish people during the debate on Oct. 11, 2017. Watch the video here where he refers to “Johnny Jew” from New York when discussing public art. It’s a cautionary note for us all to pay attention to who we elect for public office.
During the debate Ward 1 candidates were asked to discuss issues they are passionate about. The candidates discussed Calgary Flames, secondary suites, bike lanes, the removal of fluoridation from our water as well as art projects on city infrastructure.
— Robson Fletcher (@CBCFletch) October 12, 2017
Sutherland discussed the selection of artists for public art projects as a contentious issue. He said, “And when they were looking at it (past art projects), they’re going well ‘Johnny Jew from New York, he’s the best artist, so we’re going to use him and not even look at it.'”
When Sutherland’s comments were labeled racist, he explained them away saying that he had said “Johnny Choo from New York” not “Johnny Jew.”
Rabbi Mark Glickman of Temple B’nai Tikvah watched the video Thursday morning and told media, “It sure sounded like Johnny Jew.”
“If he said Johnny Choo, I don’t know what that means,” said Glickman.
The Rabbi went on to say that “‘Johnny Jew’ is not a very widely used term, but it is an anti-Semitic canard and language like that has no place in civilized political discourse. I would hope the Calgary community would have no tolerance for such language and Calgary voters will take that into consideration when they decide who they’re going to vote for.”
Martin Sampson, director of communications at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs agreed. “The unfortunate comment made by City Councillor Ward Sutherland, if we understood it correctly, is unbecoming an elected official,” said Sampson.
“Whatever the intent of the comment, it was an inappropriate use of language that perpetuates stereotypes and as such is unacceptable. We hope that Mr. Sutherland will apologize and be more mindful of his language in future.”
Ward 1 Candidate Cam Khan, who was sitting beside Sutherland at the debate, told the Calgary Herald that the comments were racist and inappropriate. “It was a racist comment,” he said. “If he’s saying racist comments, he’s not qualified for this position.”
Cole Christensen is also vying for the Ward 1 seat and attended Wednesday’s debate. He told media, “The remarks made by the incumbent councillor at last night’s Ward 1 debate are reprehensible.”
Five people are running for the ward 1 seat including Sutherland, Khan, Christensen, Chris Blatch and Coral Bliss Taylor.