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Mayor Gondek says Sundre parade float perpetuates Alberta stereotype, affects economy

Racism could have a negative impact on the city’s economy, Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said Monday.

The mayor made the comments at a media event Monday. It was in response to the controversy around a float in a central Alberta parade.

Over the weekend at the Sundre Pro Rodeo, two men rode on a parade float with the words “The Liberal” pasted on its side. The men on the float were depictions of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, who is Sikh.

Jason Nixon, Alberta finance minister and UCP MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre condemned the float’s appearance. George Chahal, the Liberal MP for Calgary Skyview, and the Dashmesh Culture Centre in Calgary, a Sikh community hub, said the float and demonstration were racist.

Organizers of the parade said they had no idea the float was part of the parade. Mayor Gondek said that excuse no longer works.

“I would like to point out to the event organizers in Sundre that you’re lying about ‘we didn’t know that this thing had entered our parade,’ (it) doesn’t work. As soon as you knew about it, you should have kicked them out,” said Gondek.

“You didn’t. End of story.”

Recirculating an Alberta stereotype

According to Gondek, incidents like this reinforce a negative stereotype about the province.

Gondek said she’s disappointed especially because there’s plenty of work being done to advance anti-racism.

“It takes one ridiculous thing like this one to put us right back where we don’t belong,” said Gondek.

According to Gondek, such actions can affect businesses that are trying to help Calgary’s economy thrive.

“You’re killing our economy by perpetuating the stereotype,” Mayor Gondek said.

“Whether you want to watch what you’re doing for our economic success, as a province, as a city as a country, I would caution you not to do ridiculous things like this.”