Metro Vancouver MLA apologizes in legislature for ‘Islamabad North’ comment

Richmond News


Richmond-Queensborough MLA Jas Johal has apologized in the legislature for telling an NDP MLA that she represents Surrey-Panorama and not “Islamabad North.”

The comment was made two weeks ago in the provincial legislature, and while Johal said it wasn’t “unparliamentary,” he wanted to be sensitive to the Pakistani community.

Jas Johal is the BC Liberal MLA for Richmond-Queensborough. Jas Johal/Facebook

He met with a group of six Pakistani groups in Surrey after and explained to them why he made the comment.

He told the Richmond News he is very sensitive to Islamophobia, having worked as a journalist in Pakistan and many Middle Eastern countries where there are large Muslim populations.

Johal said his remark was meant to be geographical, not cultural.

In a debate on May 16, Jinny Sims, the NDP MLA for Surrey-Panorama, had talked about representing her constituents when responding to comments about other allegations, and Johal said he responded with the “throwaway” comment about representing her riding and not a foreign one.

“In the cut and thrust of Westminster parliamentary democracy, it gets confrontational — it’s the nature of what we do,” Johal said.

On Monday, he withdrew the comment and apologized in the legislature.

Johal said his remarks were made to Sims, who has been under fire over letters of support she wrote for visitor visas — three of whom were alleged to be on a U.S. watch list.

Johal said the context includes “very serious allegations” against Sims, and the BC Liberals have been aggressively questioning her on them.