Michael Chan apologizes for controversial comments

Liberal Minister Michael Chan has been accused of using divisive language when discussing the PM's...

Liberal Minister Michael Chan has been accused of using divisive language when discussing the PM's recent trip to Israel. (Getty/AFP)

Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

, Last Updated: 7:28 AM ET

TORONTO „Ÿ Ontario Tourism, Culture and Sport Minister Michael Chan has formally apologized for controversial comments he made criticizing attention paid to Israel and the Jewish community.

As reported by QMI Agency, Chan told a Chinese-language newspaper that the Stephen Harper Conservative government has been unfairly partial to the Jewish community, over other communities, and may have been motivated by a desire to gain votes and improve fundraising.

"It was never my intention to disrespect the Jewish community or the State of Israel," Chan said in a statement released Thursday night. "I have personally apologized to leaders within the Jewish community and I extend my sincere apology for my comments to the entire community."

Chan urged voters in the days leading up to a Feb. 13 Thornhill provincial byelection to support the Liberal candidate Sandra Yeung Racco to send a message to Harper, although the leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives is Tim Hudak.

"I don't think there's an excuse for the comments that came from the minister's interview in the Chinese newspaper," PC MPP Todd Smith said Thursday. "I can tell you that my reaction to the story is that it's appalling that a minister of the Crown „Ÿ especially the minister responsible for culture „Ÿ would make comments pitting two different cultural communities against each other.

Prior to his apology, Chan said he talked about the need for the prime minister to appreciate all other countries to the same level as Israel.

"That's really the main theme in my article," he said. "I respect the Jewish community. I've been to many of their events here and in my own riding. And this is a multicultural society. We should all work together. We should all live together, in a fair way, in an equitable way. This is my feeling."


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