A former candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, Leslyn Lewis, said on social media that Patterk Netser should not have been removed from the Nunavut cabinet. (File photo)

Conservative leadership candidate declines comment on her support for Patterk Netser

Leslyn Lewis says Patterk Netser shouldn’t pay a political penalty

By Jim Bell

A former candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, Leslyn Lewis, is declining to comment on social media posts she made earlier this week saying Aivilik MLA Patterk Netser should not be removed from the Nunavut cabinet.

“Patterk Netser was removed from Cabinet for asking a question to the BLM [Black Lives Matter] movement about the equal dignity and worth of preborn black lives. This should in no way be a fireable offence,” Lewis said on Facebook.

Click to enlarge: A Facebook post from the former federal leadership candidate Leslyn Lewis.

Lewis’s statement contains an error: Netser still sits in cabinet as a minister without portfolio, but lost his responsibilities for the Nunavut Housing Corp. and Nunavut Arctic College.

Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq removed those portfolios after Netser wrote a Facebook post criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement and alleging that Black women have too many abortions.

But only MLAs, not the premier, may remove a minister from cabinet. So his status could change next week if Nunavut MLAs vote to remove him from cabinet altogether.

Canadian abortion statistics do not record the race or ethnicity of women who have abortions, so there is no evidence that Black women in Canada seek abortions in disproportionate numbers.

In 2018, 85,189 abortions were performed in Canada and 100 in Nunavut, according to numbers gathered by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

Netser’s daughter, Iqaluit city councillor Malaiya Lucassie, wrote a reply on Facebook saying she agreed with Netser’s thoughts, then resigned from council during the ensuing uproar.

But Lewis, who now seeks the Conservative nomination in the federal riding of Haldimand-Norfolk, declined to comment when contacted by Nunatsiaq News.

“Unfortunately, at this time we are going to decline the invite as we are solely focused on the nomination Dr. Lewis is running in the riding of Haldimand-Norfolk at this time,” said Bas Sluijmers, a member of her media team.

Lewis also supported Netser in a tweet, and urged people to sign an online petition created by a pro-life, anti-abortion organization called Right Now.

Right Now describes itself as a non-partisan organization with no religious affiliation that supports pro-life politicians from all political parties.

Netser is also a supporter of the federal Conservative party, and worked for six years as an executive assistant to the former Conservative MP for Nunavut, Leona Aglukkaq.

Lewis, 49, is a lawyer who holds multiple university degrees, including a PhD in law from Osgoode Hall. She was born in Jamaica but grew up in Toronto. Earlier this year, she became the first woman of colour to contest the leadership of the federal Conservative party.

Her campaign appealed to the socially conservative side of the CPC. To that end, she said she supported a ban on sex-selective abortions and more funding for organizations that counsel women against ending their pregnancies.

Lewis finished a strong third in that race, taking 30 per cent of second-ballot votes. Peter MacKay finished second and Durham MP Erin O’Toole won the leadership of the party.

Kenny Bell, the mayor of Iqaluit and a Conservative party supporter, had endorsed Lewis’s candidacy last June 29.

“We in the Northern territories don’t appreciate an ‘Ottawa-knows-best’ approach and I strongly believe that Leslyn is the right leader to work with Northerners, and fight for what’s best for every part of our great country,” Bell said in a letter that Lewis posted on Twitter.

However, Bell condemned the controversial remarks of Malaiya Lucassie last week and supported the idea of asking her to resign from Iqaluit city council.

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(0) Comments:

  1. Posted by General Mills on

    Mayor Bell is rapidly turning into the kind of flip-flopping politician he always purported to despise.

    • Posted by Lolz on

      Help us understand how Mayor Bell is flip flopping?

      To me it looks like he supported someone for leadership of a national party but condemned racist comments made by his personal friends.

    • Posted by Yeeeeep… on

      Absolutely. Went from council rebel to pandering populist pretty quickly. It’s not going to get any better. He’s lucky to have an ace CAO.
      This article really bothered him based on his twitter response to it, which has been a trademark of his mandate so far.

  2. Posted by Thank you on

    Great article Nunatsiaq. I love the fact that someone with a voice like Lewis made herself look like a fool by not taking 2 seconds to read what this actually means for Netser’s position in cabinet.
    And Kenny Bell supporting Lewis is quite interesting. She’s a far right pro-life social conservative. Was his gripe with Lucassie more about conflicting personalities than ideology?

    • Posted by Personality conflict on

      anyone who was there at the storehouse election night party will know that it was definitely a personality issue and she got squeezed out. Bell, the netsers, Leona, Dennis, and Paul Murphy are the crux of the Conservative movement in nunavut. Everything goes through them. Would be awesome to know if Netser disobeyed party policies by making that stream of consciousness facebook post or if this was a calculated move. Conservative politics in Nunavut has shifted further to the right overnight because of Netser, and hopefully it went too far for them to win another election here for the foreseeable future.

      • Posted by Iqaluit resident since 2008 on

        Lucassie didn’t show up for any of the meet the candidates opportunities or the debate. She didn’t submit to either CBC or Nunatsiaq News on their candidate forums.
        That was a pretty good indication that she would be a no-show to council meetings and she did not surprise anyone there with her chronic absenteeism.
        Hopefully the voters in Iqaluit learned their lesson.

    • Posted by Huh? on

      What gripe does Bell have with Lucassie?

      It was a unanimous council motion that asked her to resign, not Mayor Bell asking her to like he did with 2 other councillors earlier this year.

      Whatever happened to that?

  3. Posted by Genetic Fallacy on

    “We in the Northern territories don’t appreciate an ‘Ottawa-knows-best’ approach…”

    The idea that only Northerners can have a valid opinion on the issues of the north is a fallacy, and is reflective of a very parochial mindset. Nothing in her comment suggests she knows best, or southerners know best. She does have the right to weigh in on the issue if she feels compelled to do so. What’s especially interesting about this is that she is a black woman. Aren’t we all about diversity here? Ironically, I suspect diversity is only code for homogeneity of “approved ideas” or, “right speak”

    • Posted by Haha on

      I can tell you are hurt but that statement “We in the Northern territories don’t appreciate an ‘Ottawa-knows-best’ approach…” was made in Mayor Bells support of Lewis

      I know it’s hard but try to pay attention

      • Posted by Case of the dumbs on

        Woah, are you serious? I guess I got the dumbs…

  4. Posted by Piitaqanngi on

    At least Patterk owned up to his comments by making his position known after making the pro-life comments irregardless of whether or not they were appropriate. I do not condone his views but at least he replied to questions that came afterwards. This supposed “freedom” fighter has far-right views that only fundamentalists hold. Only in it to get conservative votes. Own up to your comments Doctor.

  5. Posted by Color me shocked on

    It’s almost as if these ultra-right “freedom of speech” Christians don’t really care about the facts or the people they trample. It’s only about being the loudest and making yourself look important. And of course making yourself look like a victim when it’s self-inflicted.
    It also seems like the doctor needs a refresher on how to conduct research.

  6. Posted by Gagita on

    She needs to do her research about the Culture up North.

  7. Posted by Observer on

    “Right Now describes itself as a non-partisan organization with no religious affiliation”

  8. Posted by Quibblotron on

    While we’re quibbling (i.e. about Dr. Lewis’ incomplete understanding of Nunavut’s political system), I would like to lodge a quibble that this article contains an error: it says Netser’s Facebook post alleged that “Black women have too many abortions”.

    What Netser actually said was “The movement on BLM. I wonder how many black ladies go through abortion and at what stage of the gestation? Are they not lives too?”

    To the extent that one can interpret this as “too many abortions”, it would be only within the Black community and relative to the kind of lost lives that BLM is concerned about – not relative to some normative rate or national average.

    If you accept Netser’s premises about the unborn (which I don’t, incidentally), it’s not unreasonable for him to question whether more Black lives are lost to abortion as compared to police encounters. Part of this is that such positions are apparently no longer tolerated in the political sphere. This is a little worrisome given Nunavut’s supposed “consensus” style government.

    If Dr. Lewis believed Netser was being racist, I don’t think she would be supporting him the way she is doing. What this is really about is this: due to his identity, he’s not allowed to say or even insinuate anything critical about BLM. Ever. (and given BLM’s political heft, that’s a problem)

    • Posted by Math on

      Thank you Quibblotron for the first sensible comment on this article.

    • Posted by Same Thought on

      Thanks Quibblotron, for I also had the same quibble while reading this article. Of course Netser does think that black women have too many abortions, because he thinks that one abortion is too many, but he thinks Inuk women and white women have too many abortions also. He did not say or even infer that black women have abortions in disproportionate numbers.
      I don’t agree with Netser (on pretty much anything), I don’t like him, and I wasn’t happy when he was elected. But this kind of stuff has to stop. He’s always been pro-life, he made a pro-life statement, he’s free to do so. Nobody should be surprised.

      • Posted by Observation Post on

        Yet statistically speaking Black women, in the US at least, do have more abortions than other groups. This is a fact.
        Whether Netser should have brought this up or not is beyond me, but his doing so does not necessarily indicate racism as the motivation.

    • Posted by FreshOut on

      All you have done here was to rationalize the racist comments from a man who should have known better given the fact that he has been a politician for close to 20 years and had held several ministerial appointments in Nunavut. Otherwise he should go and learn!! When you condone racist comments you can be labelled as racist as well. If your understanding of the issues about Black Lives Matter is seen myopically through the lens of abortion amongst black women, it is either you are racially insensitive or racist, to call a spade a space. Nester should have known better given his Inuk identity, the stereotypes and all the labels that the dominant culture had place on his people.

  9. Posted by Let him stay with his job. on

    God had put him in the Cabinet. We are weak human beings. He cares a lot for his people and others. It is good to have someone like him because he will give a warning without being a coward to all of us human beings. In Iqaluit there were only few families. The others with any colors had came in so quickly. Because my father was working with the Hudson’s Bay Company. At times people were telling him that they had come into live in Iqaluit because we were the most welcoming people in Nunavut. As being born in Iqaluit, I see a different kind of person in Patterk. He is a strong teacher in the church and in politics. I want him back with the Cabinet. He cares for the people in those two I am telling you about. If you ever met him in person. He will make you feel welcome anywhere in the world.

    • Posted by FreshOut on

      Obviously you don’t know what you are talking about

  10. Posted by Really? on

    “God had put him in the Cabinet.” Humans elected him through a human-designed system, another group of humans decided he was going to be on cabinet, and another human gave (and took away) his portfolio. God had noting to do with it.

  11. Posted by Really?. on

    You have no idea!!. One day you will Know.

  12. Posted by Arnold McGillicuddy on

    Patterk wrote ‘The movement on BLM. I wonder how many black ladies go through abortion and at what stage of the gestation? Are they not lives too?’

    How does this imply that he thinks women of colour have more abortions than others?

    I support Patterk Netser because he cares for all people. He is not racist and he’s one of those Nunavut politicians that actual lead their departments/portfolios. I know there are a lot of office dwellers in Iqaluit that would prefer bureaucrats be the decision-makers in the GN but this guy was elected.

    If you are pro choice, Patterk has a different opinion. OK, so he is not your guy.

    If you are against racism, Patterk shares your opinion. His son-in-law is black. Don’t condemn the man for something he is not.

    • Posted by Sir Toppam Hatt on

      It’s nice to see a comment that tries to add some balance to a discussion where very little can be found. Nunatsiaq seems to be attempting something similar by posting this article, yet by using a headline that suggests Leslyn Lewis has been evasive by refusing to comment, we see the subtle bias of this outlet coming through.
      To call someone a racist today is to wield a form of power that few onlookers are willing to challenge; mostly for fear of becoming associated with the now labelled heretic and entangled in the heresy itself. That is, if you defend a witch you risk exposing your own guilt or complicity, at least this is what the current scriptures on the issue would tell us.
      Recently the performer Kanye West stated that abortions among black women in the United States are a form of genocide, as the rates of abortions among this demographic are nearly five times higher than among white’s. Whether Kayne can be seem as a legitimate source or not his statistics are correct, and the weight of his public persona have brought the issue to the fore.
      For a social conservative this alarming statistic that points to a cultural problem around the value and sanctity of life. If you disagree and are pro-choice, that is fine, you are probably among the majority. The larger point here is not about abortion, is it this: does raising this concern constitute racism? I am not sure that it does.
      For those seriously interested in exploring that question, and for a nuanced and insightful discussion on the issue of racism and culture within American society and at the interface of black and white communities more broadly, check out the most recent discussion on ‘The Glenn Show’ on bloggingheads.tv; between Glenn Loury and Brown University and John McWhorter of Columbia. https://bloggingheads.tv/videos/60175
      This is excellent stuff and not to be missed.

    • Posted by FreshOut on

      Obviously like Netser, you lack good understanding of the subject matter and it’s impact on the black population that feels attacked by such a reckless, unguarded and malicious comments. All you could say in Netser’s defense is “his son-inlaw is black? Is it from that relationship that he got the notion that black people disproportionately commit abortion from? Continue to foster racism.

      • Posted by No Moniker on

        To FreshOut, this is a response to both comments you’ve made on this thread (one here and one above).
        A problem I see with your argument is that in saying people are rationalizing racism here you are presupposing your conclusion; that is, Netser’s comments were animated by racism. The points made in his defense (interestingly, by people who might not even vote for him and who probably wouldn’t make those comments themselves) is that this assumption is not a given.
        A good part of Patterk’s gripe seemed aimed at the odd juxtaposition of a BLM protest in Nunavut in the absence of any analog to indigenous issues. Given that the vast majority of our population is Inuit, this is an understandable point to raise, even when raised as clumsily as it was. But, more importantly—and the entire point of these discussions—it is not racist to raise it.
        Also, his points about abortion, though they might be distasteful, have at least some grounding in current issues, statistics and public discourse. But more importantly than that, they were motivated by his religious and social conservative views. You might not share those, I don’t share them, yet they are what you might expect from him and, knowing this, I would suggest they do not by necessity indicate racism, or ‘gender violence’ as our Premier put it.
        It’s interesting to me that you’ve tried to shame those who have spoken up about this by labelling them racist for taking a contrarian and heterodox position. This is an unfortunate stance, but it demonstrates a point made in the comment above. No one wants to be labelled a racist, which in the present moment is not unlike calling a person a heretic or a witch was in the past. By doing so you are exercising a form or power and control over the discussion—control not rightfully earned I’ll add. I’m going to guess you have no problem with that, but no one here should grant you that power either.

        • Posted by Act on racism on

          No Moniker I do not agree with you in the slightest. What Netser uttered, especially the statement on all lives mattering is veiled racism. This is meant to undermine the Black Lives Matter Movement by invalidating it as unfair. This is racist because he is seeking to insinuate that because other races have issues Black people should keep quiet about their own. In no way, shape or form is that OK. Additionally, his attack on abortion while referencing Black women is a horrible attempt at veiled racism. You only need to have half a brain to figure out that he is being racist, accusational, misogynistic, rude, crude and insensitive. There is no analysis needed here in my mind. We should thank the premier for taking a brute like away from his portfolios. Here is hoping the MLAs will be brave enough to do the necessary job of removing him from the cabinet. Only the kindest, brightest and the best should be allowed in the Nunavut Cabinet. I rest my case.

        • Posted by FreshOut on

          I would disagree with you given your dominant view on what is considered heretic or at least in your view what should be acceptable. I am not sure of the statistics on abortion that either yourself and/or Netser are referring to, and how credible your source is. At lease I didnt see any references to published data that your argument is based upon, which then supports the erroneous claim that black women disproportionately commit abortion than other races in Canada, U.S. or elsewhere. Even if they did, who determines the acceptable limits? Our colonial masters, right? To try to justify the unguarded comments by Netser by trying to bury it under the so-called public discourse is to perpetuate racist acts by looking for “substance” in it that does not exist. There are better things in the public discourse for constructive analysis, please. Women of all races commit abortion, so why specifically use BLM to express a distaste for abortion? He should keep his view to himself or his kinsmen and women who so much value his opinion….if that’s true. It is quite unfortunate that a lot of people have been brainwashed by the dominant culture and its ideology of supremacy that they cannot understand why certain comments and actions are quite offensive to a group that they dont belong. And when one raises it as a point for redress, especially to let them know how one feels at the receiving end, then continue to justify and rationalize their racist tendencies, and frown at being called out!

          • Posted by No Moniker on

            So, your take seems to be that my points are dismissible given my “dominant view,” which is rooted in “supremacy,” whatever that means. I don’t see much support for my positions so, I’m honestly perplexed how you came to see them as dominant. Please fill me in?
            Also, a word of caution on this line of reasoning; to dismiss a view based on its origins is a logical fallacy.
            So, there is no good reason why an Inuk couldn’t propose a novel and profound idea or insight into the working of southern culture, and vice-versa, a southerner could also offer the same about Inuit society and culture. The urge to dismiss these is anti-rational and we should reject it.
            My only point about the abortion debate is it has a basis in a worldview that is not necessarily anti-black or racist. If you are looking for statistics, I believe there is a link posted in the comment above. Again, this is a statistical fact, and easy to find. I’m not here to argue abortion though. You can take that up with Mr. Netser.

  13. Posted by Manapik on

    Racism will never end, humanity is too contentious now. Keep searching For God, the greatest mystery.

  14. Posted by Tata on

    Well, while I disagree with a number of the comments above that are supportive of Netser, I thank you for expressing your views in such a respectful and eloquent / well articulated way. It is good to be able to exchange ideas anonymously in this constructive way. I really appreciate hearing views that are different from mine but that are not just rude and mean as a lot of the comments on social media. So refreshing.

  15. Posted by MsM on

    Here we go again! Make alliance with just one person of color and have your case heard. His comments were indeed racist and his comparing of abortions by Black women with Black Lives Matter is an insult. As for Lewis, she is a “wanna be” who is loosing site of where she came from. Perhaps when she arrives and is forced to look in the mirror all will come back to her. Historically, when only a few of us (Black people) are on the scene things are “OK” but let more of us show up and people’s true colors start to show. I have heard this comment many times ” I am not being rude but when I first came here, there were few Black people here, now there are many, when did you come?” I wonder how many Europeans (whites) encountered such comments by their peers. Canada has always been very subtle with their comments, interaction and attitudes (conscious or unconscious) regarding people of African descent and rather Netser’s son in law in Black or not I am certain he has to turn the cheek many times with the family and their associates. We are use to picking our battles even when it comes to forced abortions i.e those that happen in the great US of A. That’s the way it is at least for now! A new world order is about to explode, eyes wide open people!

    • Posted by Sir Toppam Hatt on

      “As for Lewis, she is a “wanna be” who is loosing site of where she came from”.
      Correct me if I have misread you, but what I think what you are saying is that Lewis is not the “right kind of Black person”. That is, she is racially Black, but not politically Black, and therefore not part of the ideological camp whose voice you accept as valid in discussions around race. Is that accurate?
      Note the interesting juxtaposition here when calls for ‘diversity’ turn out to be disingenuous calls for homogeneity, or ‘group think.’ This is eye opening stuff.
      Also, as a ‘White’ person in Nunavut I am often asked where I am from, why wouldn’t I be? I’m happy to tell people about my home.

  16. Posted by Abraham Tagalik on

    How Not To Post Dumb Comments For Dummies (politicians) On Facebook-101is coming out soon and is a must read for foot in mouth types that want to represent us. Self induced painful version to follow after this donald trump pandemic.