Tory candidate Joyce Bateman not apologizing for controversial Israel debate comments
Bateman blasts Liberal candidates during economy question period at Winnipeg South Centre debate
Winnipeg South Centre Tory candidate Joyce Bateman is not apologizing for controversial comments she made about Liberal candidates during a debate at the Asper Jewish Community Campus last week — comments a political analyst says amount to "nasty politics."
During a question period on the economy at a debate on Wednesday, Bateman told the crowd:
"Well, you know where I stand on the economy. I just want in deference to B'Nai Brith's hospitality tonight, to share a few of the people who are going to be part of [Liberal candidate's Jim Carr's] team. Omar Alghabra, his colleague Liberal candidate, who called Israel's efforts to defend itself from Hamas rockets in 2014 [inaudible due to booing]. Borys Wrzesnewskyj, who called for the legalization of Hezbollah and its removal from the terror list. Darshan Kang, a Liberal candidate – [Carr's] colleague, attended and spoke at a Gaza rally that turned violent in 2014. And Andrew Leslie, Liberal candidate and colleague of our Liberal candidate, accused Israel of indiscriminately bombing women and children. That's just not true. That's just not true."
At that point, Bateman was interrupted again by loud booing and more than one person calling her comments "shameful."
The moderator asked everyone to calm down, and Bateman continued, "And by the way, the economy," and elicited a loud laugh from the crowd.
She continued, "This government pulled us out of the recession. A lot of G7 countries would be grateful to have a set of folks that Canada has, and we should be thankful for that."
CBC reached out to Bateman for her reaction to the backlash for the comments she made, which has now extended for days after the debate.
Bateman released a statement Sunday, saying, "As the Conservative candidate in Winnipeg South Centre, I am proud to be part of a party that stands firmly with Israel. Under Prime Minister Harper's leadership, Canada remains resolute in our commitment to defend Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state."
She also said she was misquoted in a newspaper, and added, "I believe it is important to emphasize that Canadians who care deeply for Israel have an important choice to make on October 19. It is a choice between standing up for Canadian values in a dangerous world, or returning to the days of going along to get along."
'She's in a very tough fight,' expert says
Paul Thomas, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Manitoba, said she was exhibiting nasty politics at the debate.
"She's been called out for some of these comments before in the House of Commons and in online exchanges for accusing people for being soft on terrorists," said Thomas. "It's regrettable, but it seems the style of doing politics today. People say they don't like it, and politicians promise to be more civil, but we can't seem to get away from this being more prominent part of political exchanges these days."
Thomas also pointed to Bateman's political past as a Liberal.
"One of the things about Joyce Bateman is until the eve of the last election in 2011, she was a Liberal, and she said she left the Liberal party because she found their fiscal planning — their budgetary strategy — to be reckless," said Thomas. "She is trained as an accountant, and she thought she couldn't support the party anymore."
He said voters have previously thought of Bateman as a more moderate candidate but that appears to be changing.
"I guess being part of the House of Commons since 2011 she's learned to fight this kind of battle and I think people in this constituency where I happen to live are not impressed by it," he said.
Thomas said he knew Bateman from her work in the public service and as a school board trustee before she became involved in politics.
"I never thought this was part of her character and how she would present herself in public life where it's all-out war against your political opponents and you make these charges against them that are intemperate, unfair and extreme," he said. "She generated negative publicity in the newspapers in radio and television. I don't know how that helps you."
Thomas said the riding will come down to a close vote in two weeks.
"I think she's in a very tough fight," he said.