Can­di­date ‘dis­ap­pointed’ by racial slur de­fac­ing her elec­tion sign

Edmonton Journal - - ALBERTA VOTES 2008 - TRISH AUDETTE EDMONTON taudette@the­jour­nal.canwest.com

Sup­port­ers of Lib­eral can­di­date Aman Gill who ar­rived at Gill’s cam­paign head­quar­ters Satur­day morn­ing found a racial slur spray-painted on the large elec­tion sign out­side.

The word “Paki” in black paint was be­side Gill’s name and pho­to­graph.

Gill, who had been told about the dis­turb­ing van­dal­ism, drove a dif­fer­ent route to the build­ing at 5010 76th Ave. so her 10-year-old daugh­ter wouldn’t see it. “I think she’ll be quite hurt,” Gill said in her cam­paign of­fice. She reached across her desk for a tis­sue, then brought it to her teary eyes.

“To me, I don’t un­der­stand. Why would some­one do that? This is low think­ing. We live in Canada. You’re try­ing to make change, you’re work­ing hard. And I’m not sure why some­one would do that. (I am) just dis­ap­pointed.”

The 33-year-old is tak­ing a sec­ond run at the Edmonton-Mill Creek rid­ing, hop­ing to un­seat in­cum­bent Tory Gene Zwozdesky.

Like other can­di­dates, Gill has seen her posters and signs pulled from peo­ple’s yards — many this month — but said she has never come across such bla­tant racism on the cam­paign trail. Gill’s sup­port­ers called Edmonton po­lice.

Cam­paign co-or­di­na­tors have been told the van­dal­ism may be treated as a hate crime in the fu­ture, but at this point it is be­ing han­dled as a mis­chief in­ves­ti­ga­tion, po­lice spokesman Dean Parthe­nis said. “What has hap­pened to the can­di­date is ob­vi­ously quite dis­turb­ing,” Parthe­nis said.

Po­lice had no sus­pects Satur­day. The spray-paint­ing hap­pened some­time be­tween cam­paign or­ga­niz­ers leav­ing the of­fice at 10:30 p.m. Fri­day and re­turn­ing Satur­day at 8:30 a.m.

“To me, I con­sider my­self Cana­dian,” she said. “I’ve been here 15 years. This is my­coun­try. This is myplace. Weall de­serve re­spect. Why would some­one ever do some­thing this low to some­one? I thought this was over years and years ago, hon­estly. We live in a mul­ti­cul­tural coun­try.” Gill is orig­i­nally from In­dia.

Re­tir­ing NDP MLA Raj Pannu, who is also from In­dia, said he never came across such a bla­tant racial slur.

“I ran in three cam­paigns and none of those cam­paigns ever ran into this prob­lem,” Pannu said. “It’s re­gret­table that some­one has de­cided to tar­get (Gill) this time around be­cause of race or ap­pear­ance.”

While it is hard not to take such a slur per­son­ally, Gill “should take it in stride,” Pannu sug­gested. “I’d be more in­clined to at­tribute (the van­dal­ism of Gill’s sign) to Fri­day night stu­pid­ity than a de­lib­er­ate at­tempt to at­tack her.”

BRIAN GAVRILOFF, THE JOUR­NAL

Edmonton-Mill Creek Lib­eral can­di­date Aman Gill stands by a de­faced cam­paign sign.

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