Green Party candidate blunder first controversy of provincial election campaign


A Vancouver Island Green Party hopeful is apologizing for a controversial speech he made last night at the Victoria Convention Centre.

The Saanich South candidate quoting from and re-enacting parts of Martin Luther King’s final address

Mary Griffin has our top story.

A confident Green Party is fired up.

A full house greets local candidates at Victoria’s Convention Centre.

With guest of honor David Suzuki in the front row, Saanich South candidate Mark Neufeld spoke to the standing room only crowd.

“And I looked over, ‘My, my’. My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Greens.”

Neufeld’s speech mimicks the words, and cadence of Martin Luther King delivering his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech.

“And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.”

James Earl Ray shot and killed King the next day.

Fran Morrison is a director with BC’s Black Awareness Month Society.

“When I saw it, I thought I couldn’t quite figure out why this was happening.”

She still can’t believe a politican would compare Saanich to the civil rights movement.

“And I think it belittled the work that Martin Luther King had done. And I think it belittled the civil rights movement.”

Less than 24 hours after the speech, Neufeld regrets his blunder.

“If I could do that differently, I would do it in a heartbeat. Even if one person was offended by that. That would be enough for me to want to re-visit that moment for sure.”

Meanwhile, BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver stands by Neufeld.

“After hearing his speech, was there any moment, or any thought that crossed your mind that you might to have to ask him to step aside.”

“Not at all.”  Weaver stands by his candidate. “Mark isn’t a seasoned politician. Mark is, has not been doing this for a long time. He got inspired by the audience.”

Three days in, this is the first campaign controversy.

And a tough lesson for a green, Green candidate.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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