The South Asian community in Calgary, Canada is upset at Premier Jason Kenney for what he said on a radio show. According to CTV News, Kenney attributed a high level of coronavirus spread to large family gatherings of South Asians during an interview with Rishi Nagar.
“We see a very high level of spread of COVID-19 in the South Asian community,” he said. “And I don’t say that to blame or target anyone. We know that it’s a tradition to have big gatherings at home and we think this is one of the reasons why we have seen a much higher level spread in the community than other parts of the population.”
Nagar pushed back on the comment by explaining that the high spread could have been from South Asians generally working service jobs outside their home.
Regardless, South Asians were upset and demanded an apology.
“Clearly, there is micro-aggression in all of Kenney’s statements to ethnic minorities regarding the virus. From one ethnic community (Filipino) to another (South Asians), Kenney has displayed scapegoating ethnic minorities to cover his own governing inadequacies,” Dr. Mukarram Ali Zaidi, a spokesperson for the Muslim Research Think Tank in Calgary said
“If Albertans were to be blunt and honest the way Kenney was, we would conclude that the reason Kenney looks the other way from multiple anti-mask protests without safety precautions is because the protesters are predominantly Caucasian.”
After the backlash, the office of Jason Kenney issued a statement clarifying his position.
“The Premier went on Red FM specifically to increase awareness among affected communities that may not consume traditional media.
“If we want to stop the spread of COVID-19, we must ensure that all Albertans are aware of the facts of what they can do to stop the spread.”
The statement added that Asians accounted for 20 percent of the infections even though they make up 11 percent of the population.
“None of this is to cast blame — to the contrary,” the statement said. “The premier has done interviews with cultural media outlets specifically to raise awareness amongst a disproportionately affected population on what they can do to help control the spread. Awareness is key in reducing spread.”