NDP candidate Nathan Cullen apologized on Twitter October 17 for remarks he made about a Liberal candidate in another riding. Cullen said in a recording that Roy Jones Jr., who is Haida, is not well liked in his community and that people call him Kinkles.
"I apologize unreservedly for my comments and have done so personally to Roy," Cullen said on Twitter in a response to Liberal operative Shane Mills. "I need to, and will, do better."
Mills had posted to Twitter an audio clip in which Cullen could be heard saying about Jones: “He’s not well-liked – he’s Haida – in his own community.” Cullen then added in the recording that “the guy’s going to get bedrock 20%,” and that “his name is Kinkles.”
Cullen and Jones are not running against each other. Jones is running as a Liberal in the North Coast riding, whereas Cullen is running in Stikine for the NDP.
Liberal MLA Ellis Ross, who represents the Skeena riding, and was a former chief councillor for the Haisla Nation, tweeted about the incident.
"DISGUSTING. NDP claim to be indigenous allies and champions of reconciliation but this is the worst I’ve ever heard. Roy Jones jr is a good man and a good friend. The NDP division strategy should not be allowed in our native and non native communities," Ross tweeted.
Other Indigenous leaders similarly tweeted their disappointment with Cullen. Former Musqueam councillor Wade Grant, who plans to run for city council in Vancouver, tweeted "I promised I was done with @nathancullen but this is too far. 1st he takes a nomination from @AnnitaMcPhee now he’s caught insulting a #firstnations candidate? Your “wokeness” is fading Nathan."
Cullen had faced controversy earlier in the campaign because of the way in which he was chosen. The former MP was selected by the NDP despite a NDP policy that aims to make way for more women and underrepresented groups.
The party's mandate holds that when a male MLA retires, he has to be replaced by a member of what the NDP considers an equity-seeking group, such as a woman or an Indigenous person.
The NDP's Doug Donaldson had held the Stikine seat, and he retired. Annita McPhee, a three-term president of the Tahltan Central Government, had wanted to run for the NDP, but was not approved by the party because, the party said, there was not time to process the application.
Cullen was an MP in Skeena – Bulkley Valley for 15 years, until 2019, when he chose to not run for re-election.