WINNIPEG – The head of the Manitoba Progressive Conservative party’s youth wing was ousted Friday after posting an admittedly racist comment about aboriginals on his Facebook page.
Braydon Mazurkiewich was upset about a planned urban reserve in Winnipeg when he wrote that the site, which sits on a former military base, was “built for hardworking men and women of the military, not freeloading Indians.”
New Democrats, Tories and non-partisans took to social media to denounce the 24-year-old’s comment. Party brass stepped in and called it “not acceptable.”
“The PC party president will be asking Brayden (sic) Mazurkiewich for his resignation. If he chooses not to resign, the party management committee will convene next week to deal with this issue,” party president Ryan Matthews wrote in an email.
Mazurkiewich handed in his resignation and apologized for the comment, but maintained his opposition to the reserve in suburban Winnipeg.
“What I did write was racist and I do apologize for that,” he said.
“But my feelings about the reserve going in … I don’t think that would fit well in that community at all. You know, you hear on reserves all the time, people are burning down their own homes. There are shootings and stabbings, and we don’t need to bring more of that to Winnipeg.”
One of the province’s top aboriginal leaders applauded the Tories for taking swift action and called Mazurkiewich uninformed.
“It’s very unfortunate that this youth … has such a misinformed and miseducated perspective on the existence of indigenous people here,” said Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.
“I feel sorry for this young person … and hopefully they get the help they need to overcome their misunderstandings.”
The urban reserve planned for the Kapyong Barracks site is intended to be a mix of residential and commercial development to create jobs for First Nations who are still owed land from Treaty One, signed in 1871.
It’s not the first time Mazurkiewich has faced criticism over online comments. Postings on his Twitter account have also taken verbal swipes at cyclists; the Winnipeg Folk Festival, which was called the “hippie festival,” and francophones, who are “all just pushy and liberal.”
He has also frequently decried Manitoba’s income tax rates, which are higher than those of other western provinces. He said he is considering moving to Alberta, but high taxes are keeping him in his parents’ house.
“I’d like to keep the money that I earn so I could maybe move out one day … but when they’re taking 40 per cent of my cheque or 30 per cent of my cheque, I can’t do that.”
He’s not ruling out being involved with the Manitoba Tories again.
“Maybe, come election time. We’re still three years away from an election, so, who knows what the future holds.”
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version misspelled Mazurkiewich’s first name.