Three Calgary city councillors have come out with strong rebukes after a fellow councillor appeared on a widely circulated social media video that mocked Indigenous people.
Since the video surfaced, Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean has posted a Facebook video with an Indigenous Elder, talking about his connection with the First Nations.
Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner, Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra and Ward 8 Coun. Courtney Walcott have made statements or posted to social media about McLean’s appearance in the video.
The video was released via an anonymous account on Wednesday. It shows McLean, along with Conservative operatives Jonathan Denis (former Justice Minister and Solicitor General) and Craig Chandler. There’s no specific date to the video and McLean’s voice isn’t in that portion of the video.
Jonathan Denis has made claims that this video, and ones like it, have been doctored. Denis’s law firm, Guardian Financial told Postmedia that police had been engaged. Calgary police have confirmed to LWC that one complaint about the videos was opened Oct. 27 and is an active investigation.
LiveWire Calgary has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of the video nor its contents.
In a text message to LiveWire Calgary on Thursday, McLean said “I saw the video and I can honestly tell you I have zero recollection of that event.”
LWC has requested an interview with McLean twice since that text message. We haven’t yet received a response.
Penner said it didn’t matter when the video was taken or released.
“In a time where reconciliation is at the forefront of our work, I would encourage my colleague to apologize widely,” Penner posted to Twitter.
McLean posted a video to Facebook to address “the events that have unfolded on social media.”
“I want to be very, very clear – all my life I have always deeply admired and respected the cultures and histories of First Nation’s People, Métis and Indigenous,” McLean said in the video.
He also mentioned that his first girlfriend was Indigenous and he has good friends from the Northwest Territories and from Maskwacis.
Video is not an apology: Councillors
McLean’s video also had a message from Elder Alice Marchand, who is a Ward 13 resident and member of the Okanagan First Nation. He said she was a dear friend and spiritual adviser.
“I am a member of the Okanagan First Nation and I live here in the city of Calgary in Ward 13 where I am very honoured to have Dan McLean as the councillor of Ward 13, to represent me and all the issues of all the people who live here,” Marchand said.
“I just ask that all of us take care of each other, and we settle our differences in a positive way so that everything can be for all of us, all of us on this planet, as we need to learn to get along as we go through our journey of life.”
McLean followed up by saying that he’d like politicians, political operatives, the media, and the Twitterati “maybe quit using religion and culture to divide us.” He said we had to work together towards Reconciliation.
Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said that people have called for McLean to apologize.
“No one today can plausibly plead ignorance – especially people in positions of leadership, including Dan McLean,” Carra wrote.
“And to be clear, I do not view his recent video as an apology.”
Coun. Walcott was equally unimpressed with the video.
“Nowhere in this video is there an actual acknowledgement that wrong was done,” Walcott said.
“Instead, there is a claim of long-time respect and admiration.”
When asked, Penner said that without knowing the date of the video, an ethics complaint wasn’t a path worth pursuing at this time. Typically a complaint must stem from behaviour while a person was a sitting member of council.
The City of Calgary continues its work on delivering upon recommendations made in the White Goose Flying report.