Sutherland denies racist comment
Incumbent of Ward 1 accused of using ‘Johnny Jew’ at forum
Ward Sutherland is denying he uttered the term “Johnny Jew from New York” at a candidate forum on Wednesday night — he instead says he was referring to Choo, a famous designer.
Political scientist Duane Bratt said this isn’t the first time the incumbent has got himself into hot water over his actions in public. He mentions Sutherland’s stances on public art and the controversy when he mimed twisting a knife, or tightening a screw, on council’s floor.
“We’ll see if it makes a lick of difference,” said Bratt. “It’s not like he’s in a tight race.”
Online, outrage flared over the councillor’s statement where he suggested that in 2013 the public art board was made up of artists who only had a taste for well-known New York artists instead of homegrown talent. The issue wasn’t with his arts stance, but his perceived use of a stereotypical and racist term.
Urban dictionary defines the phrase “Johnny Jew” as someone who is cheap, stingy and looking to get things for free.
“I encourage anyone with questions to watch the video of the forum, that is now online, or talk to your community members that were at the forum and heard for themselves,” wrote Ward in a statement.
“As you can see in the video no one made any reaction after my comment — no one at the forum, including the journalist who was present at the debate seated in the front row, has made accusations over my comments — if I would have said something racist there would have been an immediate response.”
Ward 1 candidate Cam Khan, who was sitting next to Sutherland during the debate, said he didn’t clue into what the candidate was saying because he was concentrating on how he would answer the question.
But Khan said if Sutherland made these comments he should resign. “Firstly, I didn’t understand what he said, but if he said racist comments that’s unacceptable,” said Khan. “If he said racist comments he should immediately resign, he’s not representing all communities.”
Opponent Coral Bliss Taylor said what Sutherland said was very clear, but she didn’t have time to address it after the forum.
“This is consistent with what we’ve come to expect from Ward,” said Bliss Taylor.
If he said (it) he should immediately resign. Cam Khan