Nova Scotia councillor resigns over alleged racist comments by colleagues
A Colchester County, N.S., councillor has resigned because of alleged racist comments and views of other councillors.
“Yes, I resigned from county council,” said Doug MacInnes, who until Monday morning had represented constituents of District 9 since October 2012. “It’s a moral decision on my part, I can’t be associated with racism.
MacInnes stressed his decision “does not” represent council as a whole.
“My actions to resign from county council stem from the actions of two councillors in particular... with racial comments in the past, racial comments just recently and, over the accumulation of, I would say the last three years. It’s been an ongoing issue for myself of comments that I heard, I’ve witnessed them and I just can’t tolerate them anymore.”
Although MacInnes would not identify the councillors in question, the Truro Daily News has confirmed them to be Tom Taggart and Lloyd Gibbs, who were involved in a three-way discussion in a Truro restaurant on April 25 in which comments were allegedly made against Muslims.
The third member at the table was Debert resident B.J. Tan.
Also sitting nearby in the restaurant at the time was Stephanie Simonsen, a friend of Mayor Christine Blair, who came in to join her after the others were all present.
The next day, Simonsen posted a message on Facebook directed at “the two county councillors who were having a discussion in a public place …” and whom she alleged were having a conversation that dealt with talk about “shooting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,” banning the Koran as hate speech and blowing up all mosques.
“You need to resign your seats and allow for byelections to elect councillors who are not so racist and ignorant. You can also shove your male white privilege up your a---,” she wrote.
Taggart and Gibbs both acknowledged they are the elected representatives who are being referred to in the Facebook posting.
But they also both denied making any racist statements during the conversation.
“I said absolutely nothing that anybody could attribute to, as being racist,” Taggart said, when asked about the allegations.
Gibbs admitted to speaking out against Sharia law during the discussion but he too adamantly denied making any racist comments against Muslim people.
Gibbs said while he did talk about his distaste for Sharia law itself, his position was not against Muslims themselves.
“I have Muslim friends,” he said. “I do not hate the Muslim people … I never said anything about the Muslim people. If that’s what they call racist, by speaking out against Sharia law, then I guess I’m a racist.”
Tan, who immigrated to Canada from Malaysia more than four decades ago at about age 30, and who used to live under Sharia law, said his comments were directed at those who follow its strict teachings, especially in regard to certain sections of the Koran that promote killing, beheadings and other acts conducted by members of ISIS.
“Sharia laws are laws that are encouraged by the Koran, and it is a terrible situation to live under Sharia law,” he said.
Tan also said he disagrees with the Liberal government’s immigration policy as it applies to Muslims. But he said that is only in reference to those who do not agree with upholding the Canadian constitution.
“I don’t agree with the importation of Muslims who embrace the teachings of the Koran in full.”
All three men said they do not recall any part of the discussion that involved talk of shooting the prime minister.
“That’s ridiculous,” Gibbs said. “I really deny this business about anybody at our table talking about killing our prime minister.”
MacInnes said the whole issue of racism around the council table began approximately three years ago when he heard another councillor making disparaging comments about representatives of the Confederation of Mainland Mi’kmaq.
Blair said she did not hear any of the alleged comments.
However, with everything combined, and seeing no action being taken against the councillors in question, MacInnes said he decided he had had enough.
“I believe those comments were made at that table. I don’t know who said what,” he said. “I can’t associate myself with these individuals, morally.”