New Brunswick

Chief asks Fredericton councillor to resign for using offensive language

The chief of St. Mary's First Nation is calling on Coun. Eric price to step down for making "unacceptable" comments after a presentation on race and policing.

St. Mary's Chief Alan Polchies scolds whole Fredericton council for remaining silent

Chief Alan Polchies Jr. of St. Mary's First Nation in Fredericton says other members of council should have said something after Coun. Eric Price spoke. (Stephen MacGillivray/The Canadian press)

The chief of St. Mary's First Nation is calling on a Fredericton city councillor to step down because of language he used after a presentation on race and policing. 

Chief Alan Polchies says the words used by Coun. Eric Price at Monday's council meeting were unacceptable.

Price's comments came after a presentation on policing and community safety by Black Lives Matter Fredericton.

Price, who is white, asked BLM organizer Husoni Raymond who would be included in the group's work.  

"Does this report include other minorities — red skin, brown skin, the folks on St. Mary's etc, etc, as well?"

No one at the meeting commented on or acknowledged what Price said.

But it didn't take long for the outrage to build on social media. 

Price apologized on his Facebook page Tuesday morning, saying: "My choice of words was unthinking and stupid. And I am deeply embarrassed."

But for some, it was too late and the damage was done. 

Black Lives Matter Fredericton organizer Husoni Raymond said he looks forward to future collaboration with the Indigenous community. (Logan Perley/CBC)

"It's probably a good idea that Mr. Price steps down as city councillor to show that he's taken ownership of his comments," said Polchies. 

Raymond said he regretted Price's comments detracted from the content of the Black Lives Matter Fredericton  presentation.

"It highlights a gap in governance structures and who's represented in these decision-making rooms," he said. "Where it's people who are not culturally competent about the lived experiences of racialized and marginalized people."  

Coun. John MacDermid said he was saddened by the language used by Price. 

Raymond "made a really, I thought, a really good, well-reasoned presentation to the city about what BLM was asking for in terms of how the community really needs to respond to systemic racism and how we function … and unfortunately the substance and the importance of what Husoni had to say is being distracted from." 

Ironically, MacDermid said, it speaks to the point.

Polchies said he planned to file an official complaint with the city.

"The other problem," Polchies said, "is that all those other councillors, including the mayor, sat around that table, and when he made those comments no one budged. No one stood up and said, you cannot be making statements or comments like that."

After the Zoom meeting Monday, councillors were not made available for questions from reporters.

Mayor Mike O'Brien wouldn't do an interview Tuesday, but in an email he apologized for not addressing the comments in the moment.

He said Price will apologize at the next council meeting.