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Aboriginal in N.B. legislature says he's brunt of racial slurs

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    ... From: RUSSELL DIABO To: Undisclosed-Recipient:; Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2004 7:48 PM Subject: Aboriginal in N.B. legislature says he s brunt of
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2004
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: RUSSELL DIABO
      To: Undisclosed-Recipient:;
      Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2004 7:48 PM
      Subject: Aboriginal in N.B. legislature says he's brunt of racial slurs



      September 30, 2004

      Aboriginal in N.B. legislature says he's brunt of racial slurs

      FREDERICTON (CP) - New Brunswick's lone aboriginal member of the legislature says he's been the butt of racial slurs and jokes in the house.

      T. J. Burke said Thursday he's been heckled in the legislature with calls of "Tonto" and "teepee," or told "to go shoot a moose." He urged the province to launch cultural sensitivity training for civil servants and politicians. "I've got thick skin and I can take it - and I can give it as well, too - and that's the beauty of politics," said Burke, Liberal member for Fredericton North.

      "But there's a line that's crossed every now and again and when that line is crossed, you have to let people know."

      Premier Bernard Lord told reporters he hasn't heard any slurs and suggested Burke curb his own insults.

      He said Burke once called Miramichi member Michael (Tanker) Malley "fat" during an exchange in the house.

      "I'm very much aware of what he's trying to do, but when you live in a glass house, don't start throwing rocks," Lord said.

      Burke said he's repulsed that Lord would try to defend those responsible for the slurs.

      He demanded the premier show on Hansard, the official record of what is said in the legislature, where he ever remarked about Malley's weight.

      "The most repulsive and disgusting and vile thing I could possibly ever imagine coming out of a leader's mouth . . . is to stand up for MLAs who he knows are making these kinds of comments," Burke said.

      When asked who made the slurs, Burke declined to name names, saying he needed to discuss the issue with caucus.

      "I don't think it would take much research to find out who the individuals are," he said.

      Burke said Lord wasn't in the house when the slurs were made, but they were said loud enough to have been heard by others, including government house leader Brad Green.

      Green wasn't available for comment Thursday, but told the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal on Wednesday he is open to discussing increased sensitivity training.

      "On that point, I agree with him," the minister said. "There's absolutely no excuse for remarks or attitudes such as that . . ."



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