B.C. Liberal candidate Rishi Sharma is speaking out against racism, claiming he and his brother were accosted by a stranger with racial slurs on Saturday night.
Sharma, who is running in the Saanich South riding, posted a video on Twitter Saturday night showing the reactions of his brother, his campaign team and himself right after the incident happened.
“He started calling me f****** idiot, ‘Indians are dumb, you’re worse than the hells angels,'” said Sharma in the video.
A sad day in #SaanichSouth. We came out to have some sign and were racial accosted. I ignored at first but forget that. Here it is! Happy to be supported by a strong diverse team.@timescolonist @saanichnews @cfax1070 @jbj59 @Adam_Stirling @victoriabuzzes pic.twitter.com/aErJ2ks8g4
— Rishi Sharma (@Rishi_ss) October 18, 2020
Sharma told CHEK News on Sunday that while he and his team were fixing an election sign that had fallen over, a man in a red car pulled up and got out of the vehicle.
“It was pure hate, coming forward from this particular gentlemen,” said Sharma.
“Immediately, he started talking about ‘Oh hey, you’re East Indian, is that your name? You’re the guy on here?'”
After the man said numerous racist comments, Sharma said the man eventually got back in his car and drove away.
“It is something that I’ve heard before, growing up a person of colour,” said the B.C. Liberal candidate. “I didn’t expect that amount of hate in 2020.”
Lana Popham, the leading candidate in the riding, says she was appalled at the incident her opponent described.
“Obviously we’re running against each other, and there’s lots of drama in an election, but nobody deserves the treatment that he got yesterday,” said Popham. “Racism has no place in our communities, but that means we have to stand up to it and continually do that.”
Sharma, unfortunately, isn’t the only candidate to experience racism during this campaign.
Harwinder Sandhu, who is the NDP’s candidate in Vernon-Monashee, had her campaign signs defaced with a swastika and a vile sexist slur.
“Racism is not new to me as I have dealt with it throughout my life. But the fact that it’s not new doesn’t make it any easier when it’s happening to you, your family and your community. These racist and misogynist acts of vandalism have brought together my opposing candidates to a united front,” Sandhu said in a statement posted on Facebook.
Other candidates have also had signs including Mary Polak, Liberal candidate running for re-election in the Langley riding.
Meanwhile, NDP candidate Nathan Cullen is under fire for remarks made about Roy Jones Jr., a Haida B.C. Liberal candidate, which included disrespecting his nickname, according to CBC.
“Racist incidents have been happening since elections occurred. It’s representative of incidental racist acts that happen too much in Canada, and it also represents the systemic structural racism in Canada too,” explains Kimberly Speers, a political science professor at the University of Victoria.
Rishi Sharma says there needs to be more dialogue in Canada about racism.
“I’d love to have that conversation with him, but we need be able to start that communication, that dialogue.”
For all other candidates facing racism in this election, Sharma hopes the racist comments and attacks won’t deter their plans.
“Please don’t let it bring you down. I don’t care what party you’re affiliated with, please pursue it, please go forward, please keep pushing and smiling.”