VANCOUVER – The Federal Liberal Party is closing the door to its former candidate in the Burnaby South election after it expressed doubts about the resignation and said a controversial campaign post for a Chinese social media site was widely misunderstood.
Karen Wang, who until Wednesday was the liberal candidate against the leader of the NDP, Jagmeet Singh, in the long awaited election, resigned the comments it made about WeChat about Singh's race. Later she asked the prime minister to let her run after all.
But the party decided not to allow Wang to run under the liberal banner.
"Karen Wang's recent online comments are not in line with the values of the Liberal Party of Canada. The Liberal Party has accepted its resignation as a candidate, and it will not represent the Liberal Party in the Burnaby South election, "Braeden Caley, a spokeswoman for the Liberal Party, wrote in an email Thursday.
Caley did not answer questions about whether the Liberals will run for another candidate in the Burnaby South election.
She apologized to Singh on Wednesday, after the Star published details of the WeChat post initially posted in Chinese, and left the post of Liberal candidate.
Canadian elections confirmed that Wang formally withdrew from Wednesday by a written statement.
In a telephone interview Thursday, Wang said she has the "heart and passion" to serve Burnaby South and that she would consider running as independent. She said she will decide after consulting her family and supporters.
Meanwhile, Wang said she wants to explain the WeChat post so people understand that she "is not racist." She said the post was written in Chinese by a campaign volunteer and that the terms should be translated as "Chinese." Canadian "and" Indian Canadian ".
The Chinese word for the Canadian does not appear in the WeChat post.
"We mention the fact that Singh is from – he is Canadian Indian and has Indian background," she said.
"Typically, the Chinese language has a tradition … The media always point out the cultural background that this candidate has. This is a tradition, "she said. "I did not mean any disrespect to him."
After Star reported on the WeChat post this week, Wang said his campaign manager and others came to his house to discuss the situation. She said she was told she "got to the point" that she needed to resign.
"I said it was in the best interest of the party," Wang said.
After a sleepless night on Wednesday, Wang said he wrote to Trudeau and the Liberal Party to express doubts about his resignation. She said she also wanted to explain her opinion on the WeChat post.
"At this moment, I feel so discouraged and misunderstood; I feel so hurt, "she said.
"It does not matter if I run or not. I feel the need to explain to people and tell people the truth and be honest."
Wang held a press conference on Thursday afternoon, in front of the Burnaby Public Library. Although Wang announced the library as the location of the press conference, the chief librarian met Wang in the parking lot and told her that she was not allowed to hold a press conference on the library's property.
Wang moved to the sidewalk, surrounded by a large group of reporters, while still sporting a liberal button.
Two women who identified in front of reporters as Wang's mother and sister attended the conference. Wang's mother was crying before her daughter talked to reporters.
Wang answered questions for about 20 minutes, telling reporters that she felt hurt and misunderstood, while occasionally collapsing.
"I made a mistake, but I do not deserve to be labeled a racist," she said.
Speaking to reporters during a campaign stop at Simon Fraser University on Thursday, Singh declined to comment on the Liberal Party's decision not to accept Wang as a candidate, saying it was up to that party to decide.
He said he wants to "move on" from the comments of Wang WeChat and focus on electoral issues in Burnaby South, such as housing.
"Policies that divide along racial lines hurt our communities," he said. "They are not where we want to go; they are not the kind of community we want to build. "
Peter Julian, NDP deputy to New West Burnaby, who is a neighbor of Burnaby South, said Wang's candidacy is "bizarre and confusing."
"The prime minister must respond for this," Julian told the Star on Thursday. "He did not comment on the liberal campaign at all."
In a statement released on Thursday, Green Party leader Elizabeth May said it was not too late for the Liberals to do the "right thing" by not hiring anyone against Singh. May announced last year that his party would follow the so-called "courtesy of the leader" by giving a pass to the leader of the opposing party when trying to gain a seat during an election.
"Stéphane Dion extended it to me in 2008, and the courtesy was extended to former leaders like Joe Clark, Stockwell Day, Stephen Harper, Jean Chrétien and Robert Stanfield," May said.
"Let Jagmeet Singh run unopposed in the election of Burnaby South."
Conservative spokesman Cory Hann said Wang was presented to party officials as a potential candidate a year ago. He said the party "decided to give a pass" on his candidacy for concerns about his trial.
"I think the headlines of the last few days can show a very clear picture of why," he said.
The news of Wang's resignation was met with mixed reactions from the large Chinese-Canadian community of Burnaby. Some members of the community told Star Wednesday that they were disappointed by Wang's apparent attempt to persuade voters on the basis of race.
With files from Canadian Press
Melanie Green is a Vancouver-based reporter who covers food, culture and politics. Follow her on Twitter: @mdgmediaAlex McKeen is a Vancouver reporter who covers wealth and work. Follow her on Twitter: @alex_mckeen
Alex Ballingall is an Ottawa reporter who covers national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @aballinga