Mayor Keith Hobbs calls Tamara Johnson's statements 'disgusting'

Thunder Bay's mayor is calling a newspaper ad placed by Superior-North Libertarian candidate Tamara Johnson a blow to the city's efforts to combat racism.

Thunder Bay mayor says he categorically rejects “damaging statements" made by Libertarian candidate

Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs said during a press conference Friday afternoon that he categorically rejects "damaging statements" by Tamara Johnson. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

Thunder Bay's mayor is calling a newspaper ad placed by Superior-North Libertarian candidate Tamara Johnson a blow to the city's efforts to combat racism.

Johnson placed a full page ad earlier this week in the Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal that took aim at First Nations' rights.

“We have no room for that,” Hobbs said during an interview with Superior North radio show host Lisa Laco.

When asked about Johnston's Facebook page, where she and others have posted negative comments about Aboriginal people, Hobbs said, "I'll be quite blunt. I thought it was disgusting what she said."

Hobbs said the city has "done a lot of work ... with our respect campaign, Diversity Thunder Bay, [and] our race relations. We're making great strides and then you can have one person tear that down in an ad. We have a lot more work to do in the city obviously.”

Hobbs says it's shocking Johnson received as many votes as she did, "and that people got up and left their homes in the rain and voted for that kind of platform." 

An election ad that appeared in the Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal has drawn a rebuke. The full-page ad for Libertarian candidate Tamara Johnson appears to take aim at First Nations treaty rights. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

Johnson received 922 votes in Thursday's provincial election. Green Party candidate Joseph LeBlanc received 993, Conservative Derek Park received 985, New Democrat Andrew Foulds received 8,144 and Liberal Michael Gravelle received 15,503.

Hobbs held a press conference on the matter Friday afternoon. He told the public he categorically rejects “damaging statements by Tamara Johnson.”

Hobbs told CBC Friday morning that Thunder Bay residents need to accept First Nations people.

“It strikes me almost like .... what the Libertarians are saying is exactly what was happening in the U.S. in the sixties with black people,” he continued. “We're better than that. We're better than that as a city."

He noted that $500,000 is contributed to the city’s economy from the urban Aboriginal population  Hobbs added there were 780 First Nation graduates from Confederation College and 1,500 graduates from Lakehead University this year.

"That's the key,” he said. “We have to get these kids educated.  They want to be doctors and lawyers and be part of our network in our society. Is that asking too much?"

Hotel responds to vandalism accusations

After accusations of vandalism to hotel rooms by First Nations guests were recently posted on social media, the general manager of the Victoria Inn Hotel and Convention Centre held a news conference Friday morning to refute those claims.

A recent post on social media alleged that "The people brought in from the reserve that are staying at the Victoria Inn" caused $130,000 worth of damage to the property. 

The hotel is currently housing flood evacuees from the Kashechewan First Nation.

But Raymond Nadeau said “there have not been any damages within the hotel from my current guests that is of any great concern or of any concern,” adding that the “level of damage is equivalent to that of any busy business period that we normally experience."

Nadeau gave media a tour of the hotel's common areas to reveal no significant damage.

"If there's $130,000 worth of damage, that should be visible,” he said. "There has been normal wear and tear, as could be expected with a group of this size within the hotel.  We are one of two host hotels in the community.  And the state of the hotel is in full operational condition.'

Nadeau reported the hotel has only one room out of service — one that was scheduled for repairs. He said it's been out of service since before the current guests arrived.