EDMONTON – Mayor Stephen Mandel is expressing outrage over a comment that appeared in Thursday’s Full Pundit section of the National Post.
The piece was part of columnist Chris Selley’s “irreverent roundup of the day’s punditry,” as it’s described on the National Post website. It appears Selley was trying to satirize a Calgary Herald editorial, which praised southern Albertans for how they pulled together in the wake of the floods.
“There was no major crime, there was no rioting…(t)hat’s not southern Alberta’s way and never has been,” he quoted from the Calgary Herald editorial.
But the sentence Selley wrote after that is what’s causing controversy:
“Edmonton, for example, would be a smoking hole in the ground at this point, infested with twitchy-eyed, machete-wielding savages.”
“What kind of moronic action is that?,” said Mandel on Friday. “It just was so despicable. You know, sometimes I get aggravated, this, I was hurt. That anybody in these difficult times would have the audacity to say those things is shocking.”
President and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce James Cumming also lashed out at the National Post, criticizing the publication for printing the comment.
“When the National Post’s own editorial decision makers do not take the time to ensure the context for sarcasm is adequately sustained in your print edition, the result is a vicious slur on the people of Edmonton,” he writes on the Edmonton Commerce News website.
“It unjustly maligns the dedicated and heartfelt efforts of Edmontonians to assist our neighbors, friends, families and colleagues in Calgary during relief efforts. And his statement directly calls into question the ability of Edmonton to cope with crisis.”
Mandel adds, “someone said it could’ve been in jest or satire – I have no idea what it is. But somebody needs to write an apology and Edmontonians need to react to it.”
So far, the reaction on Twitter has been mixed.
Twitter was filled with reaction from Edmontonians to the Chris Selley’s post in the National Post.
Selley himself took to Twitter Friday afternoon with the following statement:
“Mandel furious over National Post comment… People. A JOKE. GOOD LORD.”
The paper’s Editor-in-Chief, Stephen Meurice, Editor-in-Chief is standing by Selley.
“If you read the whole piece, I think most people would get that he wasn’t actually making a comment about Edmonton. He was gently poking fun at the Calgary Herald editorial…so the thing he subsequently said about Edmonton was essentially sarcastically saying that they were suggesting that Edmonton would not react as well as southern Alberta reacted.”
As for an apology, which Mandel and others have called for, Meurice says that wouldn’t make sense since he maintains the piece was not meant as an insult to Edmonton.
“It was not making fun of Edmonton itself in any way whatsoever. So I’m kind of astounded at how this has been taken by so many people, including your mayor.