Federal Liberal candidate Karen Wang resigns following racist comments about Jagmeet Singh (updated)

Karen Wang
Photo: Twitter

FEDERAL Liberal candidate in Burnaby South, Karen Wang, has resigned because of racist comments she posted on social media about federal NDP candidate Jagmeet Singh.

Her stepping down follows a Star Vancouver report on comments she made on the Chinese social media app, WeChat, on Saturday.

She urged supporters to vote for her, “the only Chinese candidate” in the riding, rather than Jagmeet Singh, who she identified as “of Indian descent,” the Star Vancouver reported.

Part of her post in Chinese read: “If we can increase the voting rate, as the only Chinese candidate in this riding, if I can garner 16,000 votes I will easily win the byelection, control the election race and make history! My opponent in this byelection is the NDP candidate Singh of Indian descent!”

Jagmeet Singh with supporters. Photo: Twitter

NDP MP Nathan Cullen told the Star Vancouver: “I’m trying to imagine if a Conservative candidate had said this, how [Prime Minister] Mr. [Justin] Trudeau would have been on the front page of your paper, saying we’ve got to unite, not divide.”

The Star Vancouver also pointed out that Conservative candidate in Burnaby South, Jay Shin, had disparaged Jagmeet Singh for his past as a criminal defence lawyer.

Wang tried to explain her blunder in these words: “In trying to speak about my own story and the importance of people of all different backgrounds getting involved in this important by-election, I made comments online that also referenced Jagmeet Singh’s cultural background. My choice of words wasn’t well-considered and didn’t reflect my intent, and for that, I sincerely apologize to Mr. Singh. I have deep respect for him as the leader of his party and for his public service – and I would never want to diminish that in any way.”

In a bizarre move, Wang asked the Liberal Party permission to run again, but was refused.

In an interview with Star Vancouver before her request was turned down by her party, Wang  claimed she had the “heart and passion” to serve Burnaby South. She said she might run as an independent if the Liberals wouldn’t take her back.

The byelection in Burnaby South takes place on February 25 along with byelections for the ridings of York–Simcoe in Ontario, and Outremont in Quebec.

On Tuesday, a Mainstreet Research poll found that Jagmeet Singh had a sizeable lead in the by-election, but still faced obstacles in winning his seat.

Among decided and leaning voters, Jagmeet Singh had 38.8% support, while then-Liberal candidate Wang had 26.3% support.

Conservative candidate Jay Shin had 22% support and the People’s Party candidate Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson had 8.7%.

Between January 8 and 10, 740 voters in Burnaby South were surveyed. The margin of error on this survey was 3.6%.

But Quito Maggi, President and CEO of Mainstreet Research, cautioned that these findings did not necessarily mean that it would be clear sailing for Jagmeet Singh in the by-election.

“Our previous polling in Burnaby South – which used party leaders’ names – had a lower undecided rate than this most recent survey,” he pointed out. “We also find that it is Liberal candidate Karen Wang – not Jagmeet Singh – that leads the leaning vote.”

“This indicates that there is a strong amount of voter volatility at this juncture in the election.”

Maggi said Jagmeet Singh was in a competitive fight among Mandarin and Cantonese voters, which was further evidence that there could be more turns in the by-election.

He also noted: “What is however clear is that the People’s Party at this stage has significant support and is likely peeling support away from the Conservatives. If the People’s Party is still this strong coming into election day, the Conservatives will have no chance of winning.”

But now with Wang out of the picture, it appears that Jagmeet Singh could win easily.