Friday, February 2, 2007

Colin Mayes and his board:support me or just go away

i can almost see a conservative going bye bye in this riding come the next election .... perhaps this is the good thing of being plagued with mayes as mp; eyes have opened up not only to the riding association but to the public!!! and / or to the rest of the riding! as in the past election, mayes did not do so well here in salmon arm (where he was once the mayor) in comparison to the rest of the candidates. so keep tripping mayes, we will shut the door behind you!

Controversy erupts over joke
Salmon Arm Observer Jan 31 2007

Okanagan-Shuswap MP: Colin Mayes says calls for his resignation are a partisan smear.

For Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes, a controversy about a joke he received is an example of politics at its worst.

The joke, sent to him by e-mail in October last year from a Vernon member of the Conservatives, attempted to make fun of bureaucrats by featuring a First Nations man who spoke broken English and was referred to as “chief” and “Tonto.”

Mayes responded to the e-mail by writing, “Good joke.”

The e-mail and Mayes’ response to it were made public last week, sparking a small storm of controversy.

Mayes chairs the parliamentary Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

After hearing of Mayes’ e-mail response, Anita Neville, a Liberal member of his committee, called for Mayes to step down as chair of the committee and apologize for praising the joke.

Mayes sees it differently.

“Actually it’s unfortunate that the game of politics in this place is you basically are scrutinized about everything. Anita has leveled this cheap partisan smear against me,” Mayes said from Ottawa Friday.

Mayes termed the joke “completely inappropriate” but said he took the same approach that someone might take who hears a risque´ joke at a party.

“Everybody looks at each other – you don’t usually say you don’t approve - you might smile,” he said.

However, the joke response didn’t generate any smiles from the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. The group issued a news release Friday.

“To openly applaud a blatantly racist joke and then to attempt to trivialize the matter represents acts of arrogant disregard of the duties of a responsible member of Parliament,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

“Let me be perfectly clear, this is not a bi-partisan issue between the Conservatives and Liberals. Rather this is a violation of fundamental human rights. It is not a joking matter; in the event that Colin Mayes refuses to apologize, he must resign.”

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs’ media release was issued following Mayes’ interview with the Observer. E-mailed to see if he had a further response in light of the release, he said no.

During the interview, he referred to media attention the issue has generated.

“A number of newspapers didn’t even run the story – they knew it was somebody trying to discredit me. I don’t want to trivialize the joke – I don’t endorse insults to the cultural heritage of any people. But this is the game in politics. I’m there to do good works as chair of the parliamentary committee. I have been told by a number of people I run a good committee,” he said, noting that one of them was Anita Neville, who complimented him at summer break.

As to how the e-mail became public, it appears to be a symptom of unrest that has been plaguing the board of the Okanagan-Shuswap Conservative Association.

Director Miles Lehn was recently removed from the board. He told the Observer that the e-mail response was brought to his attention in October by a First Nations party member. He said he forwarded it to the board president and he saw no action taken, but, as a board member, was not allowed to speak out. Now he can.

“Next time he gets an e-mail that suggests racist tones, he needs to say, ‘I find that offensive,’” Lehn said.

Lehn has a list of complaints regarding Mayes, ranging from a dictatorial style to the mixing of religion and politics.

Wayne McGrath, former president of the Okanagan-Shuswap Conservative Association, said he believes there’s a significant division amongst the members of the party in the riding.

“I guess the question is, how significant it is.”

Of a maximum 30-member board, nine have left.

Asked if he’s concerned, he said he is. “I would hope that the board and the MP can get together and work together rather than continue the battle that is being carried on right now.”

Asked if he is worried about how voters in general will view the party, he said that, too, concerns him.

“Internal conflicts can often defeat politicians as well as opposition from the political adversaries.”

Lori DeJong is the current board president. Asked if she is concerned about the board, she said no.

“I think we’re coming together and moving forward.”

As to the e-mail controversy, she said the association is standing solidly behind Mayes.

“He said to CHBC, too, yes sometimes you say the wrong things. He wouldn’t say that again... It was maybe just the wrong choice of words.”

Mayes says that of the nine people who have left the board, just two resigned because they weren’t comfortable with his nomination.

Once he took the nomination with 70 per cent of the vote, he thought things would be different.

“I thought they would either come on board and support me or just go away. Unfortunately a few of them just didn’t go away. They have forced the hand of the president and board to start administering some discipline within the board. I feel badly for that.”