MP Obhrai slams Williamson for ‘brown people’ comment

``Foolish statement damages all of us. Years of hard work down the drain.''

OTTAWA — A veteran Conservative MP who spent years in outreach with cultural communities is accusing one of his colleagues of undoing the party’s gains with “race-based comments.”

Deepak Obhrai, parliamentary secretary to the foreign affairs minister, lashed out at John Williamson on Twitter. Obhrai, an Indo-Canadian born in Tanzania, was once a key figure in the party’s quest to make links with Canada’s various cultural communities.

“Very disturbed by Williamson’s race-based comments,” wrote Obhrai, a Calgary-area MP. “Foolish statement damages all of us. Years of hard work down the drain.”

Williamson told delegates at a conference March 7 in Ottawa that it makes no sense to pay “whities” to stay home while companies bring in “brown people” as temporary foreign workers, the political website iPolitics reported.

The New Brunswick MP posted a series of tweets that day to apologize for language he used in reference to the controversial federal program, but he did not elaborate on what he said.

Tory MP apologizes for ‘offensive’ TWP reference

“Today I used offensive and inappropriate language regarding the Temporary Foreign Workers Program,” Williamson wrote on Twitter.

“For this I apologize unreservedly.”

Williamson, a former communications director for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, also wrote he believes different parts of the country have different labour needs.

He said employers in his riding should try to fill job openings by giving Canadian workers priority.

iPolitics reported that Williamson made the remarks in response to a question at a conservative policy conference about the shortage of workers in meatpacking and processing plants.

© 2015 The Canadian Press

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