This isn’t about politics, or rather it shouldn’t be, it’s about standing up for a man with character, a man who has given countless hours of his time to help others of all colors and races. There’s a local happening that took place last week in the city and if you ask me, it’s getting far too blown out of proportion.
This week the FSIN (Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations) announced it is calling on the resignation of Yorkton Sask. Party candidate Greg Ottenbreit. During last week’s candidate debate forum held by the Yorkton Chamber of Commerce, Ottenbreit was asked about his support for First Nations people when it comes to provincial revenue sharing. As a part of his response it came across as though he was suggesting that “handouts” given to First Nations people would be wasted on drugs and alcohol. He talked about the need for education, training and jobs as a way to engage First Nations individuals but also said he has talked with many First Nations people who have told him “free and easy” money is often spent on the wrong things.
Politically incorrect? Maybe, and I’m not saying I agree or disagree with what Ottenbreit said, but should we throw him out of his job because of it? In my opinion, I think not.
“Comments such as these cause the public to form opinions and reinforce negative images of First Nations people,” FSIN Vice-Chief Morely Watson is now saying. “First Nation people again must defend themselves against these kinds of attacks.”
Ottenbreit has since apologized for his comments but the FSIN maintains he should either resign or be dropped as a candidate.
People are going so far as to liken the incident to David Akenihew’s slip of the tongue a number of months back (you can find his comments online) but this is not even close. Political loyalties aside, race, color, religion... we’re not talking about a hateful man here. For many years I’ve seen Greg and his family first hand in the community helping others. They’ve also travelled to Mexico to give of their time there too. I can’t believe for one second that when he made the comments he did, he said them with ill intent. Imagine yourself on a stage in front of a room full of people vying for your job... it’s no easy task and mistakes will be made. We are all human and nobody is perfect.
Let’s give up the ‘witch hunt’ and let’s focus on what’s important, selecting the right candidate to represent this area. This year, in my opinion, we have two very worthy and caring individuals putting their names forward. Let’s give them a little credit for that. Take the time to get to know them and then vote accordingly.