Nfld. & Labrador

Police alerted after unwanted guest attends Hasan Hai's Liberal HQ

"There's a lot of big problems I want to tackle this province and I won't let that stop me," Hasan Hai says.

'There's a lot of big problems I want to tackle in this province and I won't let that stop me'

Hasan Hai is pictured at his Liberal headquarters in Mount Pearl. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

After months of experiencing targeted hate online, Liberal candidate Hasan Hai says tensions reached a high point when he called the police after an unwanted visitor came to his campaign headquarters Friday.

But Hai, a first-time candidate in Mount Pearl-Southlands, said the encounter won't hinder his efforts for election but will inspire him to work harder.

"There's a lot of big problems I want to tackle this province and I won't let that stop me."

Kenny Winsor, who attended Hai's headquarters, is affiliated with an online group called NL Media, formerly known as Yellow Vests Newfoundland and Labrador.

I don't want to talk about racism. It's not something that I choose to do. I'm forced to do it because I'm confronted by it every day.- Hasan Hai

"It was very unsettling for campaign staff and volunteers. I mean, we're used to just having friendly people come in and you know drop off treats or just chat with the candidates or just support or ask some questions," Hai said Friday afternoon.

"But this is a person who has a demonstrated history of hate and fear mongering."

Child care, seniors' issues central in campaign

Winsor posted online audio of the exchange, in which he is heard asking, "Are you going to call me a racist to my face?" 

With his voice measured, Hai repeats to Winsor to leave. Winsor is heard continuing to probe Hai to call him a racist to his face before leaving.

"He's been unfairly trying to decimate my character by falsely claiming that I am a racist and a bigot," Winsor said in an online post. 

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary were called and alerted to the interaction. CBC could not reach the RNC by the time of publication.

Winsor responded to a request for comment from CBC News by directing the reporter to an online post.

After Hai announced his intentions to run for politics, an anonymous social media page was created with racially charged questions about his background. 

Hai has spoken publicly before on racism and bigotry, but he is running his campaign on more than those issues alone.

'We do a lot of hugging here,' Hai jokes at his headquarters, which he shares with fellow Liberal hopeful Nicole Kieley. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

"I don't want to talk about racism. It's not something that I choose to do. I'm forced to do it because I'm confronted by it every day."

Those negative comments posted online by a few people are not reflected in the people he meets campaigning door-to-door, Hai said. 

Financial stability, child care and seniors' housing are topics most often raised, he said, as is the conduct of politicians themselves.

"The people are tired. They are tired of how politicians conduct themselves, how we talk to one another, how people in general talk to one another, that we invest all this time and blaming one another speaking negatively," he said.

"[There's] finger-pointing at who caused a problem here and there but there's very little time — the perception is there's very little time spent at actually solving problems and collaborating."

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About the Author

Ariana Kelland is a reporter with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's.