Another Stereotype of the Month entry:
Lord withdraws comment about aboriginal politician
Last Updated Fri, 21 Jan 2005 19:18:03 EST
FREDERICTON -- New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord had to withdraw a comment he made in the provincial legislature Thursday after an aboriginal opposition member called it an example of racial stereotyping.
While heckling the Opposition, Lord questioned whether Liberal member T.J. Burke paid taxes.
Lord eventually withdrew his remark, though he denied it referred to Burke's Maliseet heritage.
Burke said he didn't know how else the premier's remark could have been understood.
"The remark was made toward me because the premier is under the illusion that I don't pay income tax," the first-term politician told reporters outside the legislature.
"And the negativity attached to that is based and drawn upon the fact that native people in the country of Canada are exempt from taxes if they live on reserve and work on reserve."
Burke, who is a lawyer by profession, is from the Tobique First Nation in the Upper St. John River Valley. He doesn't live on a reserve but in an upscale suburb in Fredericton.
As a parliamentarian, Burke says he has to accept Lord's qualified apology. But he would prefer a personal apology from the premier.
This isn't the first time a provincial politician has made a remark Burke found offensive.
Last fall, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Brad Green promised to work with Burke to educate Conservative members about the kind of comments that could be considered inappropriate.
That promise came after Burke complained he had heard more negative comments about his heritage inside the legislature during his first year in the job than he had heard anywhere in the past 20 years.
Among other things, he said, Conservative politicians had called him "Tonto" and made derogatory references to teepees and aboriginal hunting rights.
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Indian rights = special rights
Indians as welfare recipients
. . .
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