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Premier criticized for comments on intersectionality and India

Last Updated Sep 25, 2020 at 6:49 pm MDT

Summary

Premier Kenney made the remarks while responding to the federal Throne Speech on Thursday.


Jyoti Gondek, whose family originated from India, called the comments bizarre.


One political scientist saif the comments on intersectionality don't help those still reeling from violence in Red Deer.


CALGARY (660 NEWS) – A Calgary City Councillor is calling out the Premier for his choice of words in criticizing the federal throne speech.

During his address on Thursday, Premier Jason Kenney suggested people in developing countries like India want Alberta oil instead of having to burn cow dung.

Ward 3 Councillor Jyoti Gondek, whose family originated from India, took to Twitter to rebuke Kenney’s remarks, saying it was an odd example to use.

“When you use trope that basically indicates people with brown skin from India are coming from a country that’s somehow backwards, that’s adding to problems of marginalization. It was a bizarre way to approach what he should have said.”

Gondek said Alberta energy producers are working to be smarter and more sustainable leaders, which is the kind of message the UCP should be sending to the federal government.

“We need to explain why Alberta, right now, needs a hand from the federal government so we can get our people back to work, to be leaders in energy production moving forward. We are the ones that can be leaders in clean energy production, let’s talk about that.”

Meanwhile, a member of Kenney’s Cabinet said cow dung being burned in India is not a stereotype.

Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda took to Twitter saying he grew up in rural India, where cow dung, biomass and charcoal is burned, causing respiratory ailments.

Panda said hundreds of millions of people in India are in energy poverty, adding supplying natural gas to the country is about clean air by reducing particulate matter and smog.

He also cited a delegation he was a part of that went to India along with the Premier where Panda said officials repeatedly told them the country wants modern cooking fuels like Canadian oil and LNG to get off harmful fuel sources.

RELATED: Kenney furthers rebuke of throne speech, calls it a ‘fantasy plan’

The Premier is also facing criticism for calling intersectionality a “kooky academic theory” aimed at winning more votes.

Intersectionality is defined as a framework for understanding how a person’s social and political identities, such as gender, race, sexuality, and class, can create unique modes of discrimination and privilege.

Political Scientist Melanee Thomas with the University of Calgary called these comments ignorant.

“In a context where we’ve got white supremacists attacking anti-racist activists in Red Deer and then the Red Deer RCMP making some pretty problematic statements about this as well.”

Following Kenney’s press conference, Executive Director of Issues Management for Premier, Matt Wolf, tweeted out a video explaining the concept of intersectionality. The video was published by American conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro.

“Somebody who is on the alt-right in the United States that routinely makes white supremacist statements, in a context to try and defend this exacerbates and compounds the problem,” said Thomas.

Gondek said this back and forth fighting between political ideologies is only adding to the problem.

“People are tired of the pendulum swinging left and then right and the attacks that are coming from extremely polarized sides. We have to work together, we have got to get through this together. Picking fights all the time is not going to do it.”

She added a majority of Albertans are rationally minded and level headed and looking for more centrist solutions to these problems.