Toronto MP issues apology after comments anger Iranian-Canadians
Published Tuesday, January 27, 2015 9:44PM EST
A Toronto MP has apologized for comments he made over the weekend during a meet-and-greet with some members of the Iranian-Canadian community.
Willdowdale MP Chungsen Leung attended an event hosted by the Association of North American Ethnic Journalists and Writers on Saturday. Approximately two dozen people were at the meeting, where Leung was asked about the apparent difficulties some Iranians face getting a Canadian Visa. Leung is the parliamentary secretary for multiculturalism.
"The question was, 'What is this Iranian community situation compared to the Chinese community?'" Parviz Haghgoo, who was at the event, told CTV Toronto.
The question sparked a discussion between Leung and some attendees that was caught on camera. At one point, Leung is heard asking someone, "Let me ask you, if you like Iran so much, then why do you come to Canada?"
He continues: "Why are you here? What are you fleeing from?"
Leung's comment angered some attendees. One of them fired back: "And I can tell you, go back to China."
Leung responded by saying, "You have the right to vote as you wish, and you have the right to say what you want to say."
According to Haghgoo, some people walked out after Leung's comments.
"I would say he was a little bit arrogant about it. When we wanted to leave the meeting, he kind of made fun … said goodbye," Haghboo said.
Leung's staff members were also at the event.
They say there may have been a miscommunication between Leung and the attendees because there was a lot of cross-talk at the time.
The organizer of the event adds that he believes Leung's comments were taken out of context. He added that he believes Leung was being attacked.
Following the meeting, Leung emailed community members saying that it was not his "intention to offend anyone. I regret if some attendees felt offended."
Some members of the Iranian-Canadian community, however, feel that Leung's apology is not enough.
"It has to be from his party. It has to be from his constituency," Haghboo said.
CTV Toronto reached out to Leung at his offices in Toronto and Ottawa. He was not available for an interview.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Colin D'Mello