ME THINKS!: Politically charged “racist” float in Alberta stirs controversy … but let’s calm down!

WHOEVER organized the float at Alberta’s Sundre Pro Rodeo parade last Saturday that showed a masked man with an Alberta flag driving a tractor that was pulling a manure spreader with a man wearing a turban and fake beard and “The Liberal” painted in red on its side, sure stirred up a controversy with accusations of racism and poor taste flying around.

However, some didn’t think it was racist as they noted that the float was apparently meant to show federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh cozying up to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, though they made it clear that it was inappropriate to include it at a family-friendly parade. (The organizers claim that it was an unapproved float that just snuck in – but we don’t believe that.)

One reader wrote in a Calgary newspaper: “Calm down people. Stow the outrage. I believe race had nothing to do with that float. While I agree that it may not have deserved a place in the parade, the response by politicians is just over the top virtue signalling. It was a comment on the Singh/Trudeau alliance in the House of Commons.”

Another pointed out: “If the current leader of the NDP party was a blond white woman then you would have seen a representation of a blond white woman sitting in the manure spreader.” He added: “In poor taste – Yes. It was a family friendly parade and a politically charged float had no business being in it.”


So let’s calm down.

In poor taste?

Yes (though those fiercely against the Liberals and the NDP would probably disagree – that’s politics!).


I beg to differ (though members of the Liberal Party and the NDP would love to capitalize on this incident – that’s also politics!)

However, what was REALLY racist was the behaviour of protestors outside a Surrey banquet hall in May that forced Trudeau’s security team to cancel his appearance. South Asian volunteers “were harassed, sworn at, called towel head, rag head, you’re all immigrants.”

Nevertheless, politicians and others slammed the float as soon as photos of the float hit social media.


Some reactions in Alberta:

* Dashmesh Culture Centre: “Extremely Disappointed and Saddened to witness this horrendous display of Racism towards the Sikh Community. We need to have serious conversations and actions to stop these forms of racism. We welcome @SundreProRodeo and their parade committee to visit DCC and learn about Sikhs.”

* Conservative MP Jasraj Singh Hallan: “This is absolutely disgusting. These kinds of acts have no place in Canada. This should be condemned in strongest terms by all.”

* Liberal MP George Chahal: “We must continue to stand up in unequivocal condemnation of this bigoted behaviour, and racism of any kind. It has no place in Canada. The Sikh community in Canada, of which I am a proud member, has a wide diversity of political perspectives. More importantly, Sikhs have been a steadfast force for good in Alberta and across the country. Shame on those responsible for this despicable display of racism.”

* Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley: “This is deeply disturbing. This will cause more Albertans to feel unsafe in their own communities. There is no place for racism here. We must call it out in all forms and take a stand against it.”

* Alberta’s Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board, Jason Nixon: “I strongly condemn the racist float that appeared in the Sundre parade. Discrimination has no place in Sundre or anywhere in AB. I have been assured by parade organizers this float was not approved, & that they are putting measures in place so this does not happen in the future.”


VOICE opinion column