British Columbia

Apologies flow following B.C. Liberal Rich Coleman's Holocaust comments in the legislature

Rich Coleman, B.C.'s former deputy premier and current MLA for Langley East, apologized for comments he made in the legislature over a new bill in which he compared the treatment of farmers to Holocaust victims.

Coleman and B.C. Liberal Party agree comments connecting farmers and Holocaust victims inappropriate

Rich Coleman was speaking to Bill 15, which amends the Agricultural Land Commission Act in a way he doesn't agree with. (Province of British Columbia)

Rich Coleman, B.C.'s former deputy premier and current MLA for Langley East, apologized for comments he made in the legislature over a new bill in which he compared the treatment of farmers to Holocaust victims.

On Thursday, Coleman rose to speak to Bill 15, an amendment to the Agricultural Land Commission Act, which only allows the province, a First Nation, local government or a public body to apply to have land excluded from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).

Coleman took issue that the amendment does not seem to refer to actual people, in this case farmers. The NDP argues the bill will help ease land speculation.

WATCH: Rich Coleman makes the comparison that got him into trouble

Rich Coleman compares farmers' rights to Holocaust victims in B.C. Legislature

CBC News BC

2 years ago
1:51
Coleman was speaking to Bill 15 on May 2, 2019 1:51

"I find it difficult to talk to this bill, because I have been here for 23 years and have never seen a more bigoted piece of legislation," he said as NDP members heckled him before going on to say: "on a day like today when we witnessed people whose rights were taken away from them in the 1940s."

Holocaust survivors take part in a special ceremony at the B.C. Legislature on Thursday May 2, 2019. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

On Thursday, Holocaust survivors recounted their personal stories at a special ceremony at the legislature to remember the six million Jewish people who were murdered by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945.

'Over the top and shameful'

NDP MLAs such as Nicholas Simons reacted to Coleman's comments. Simons says he's one generation removed from someone negatively affected by fascism.

"I certainly hope he wasn't drawing a comparison to the language that we've included in a bill to protect agricultural land with horrors of previous governments that erode entire communities' rights," he said in the legislature Thursday.

"[It] seems completely over the top, absolutely over the top ... and a bit shameful I would say."

Simons says the change in the bill requires local governments, rather than individuals, to make applications to remove land from the ALR.

Later on Thursday, Coleman apologized for the comments, saying in a tweet, "because of the emotion of today I drew an analogy [that] was insensitive, I apologize to any who took offence."

In a post on his Facebook page, B.C. Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson said the comments were, "absolutely inappropriate."

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