A community award program set up by Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl came under fire Sunday, following news that a controversial Chilliwack trustee received the award.
The Chilliwack-Hope Community Heroes Award was given out to more than 100 people in the communities and was intended for “those who went above and beyond to help and care for others,” Strahl said in a media statement on Monday.
The only criteria for the award was a nomination, he added. In the process, Trustee Barry Neufeld was nominated, and posted his award on his public Facebook page on Sunday, Nov. 15.
Critics were quick to point out that Neufeld has posted several questionable comments throughout the pandemic. He once posted that he believes Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam is transgender and as such, shouldn’t be trusted regarding the coronavirus. He was eventually censured by the school board for his comments.
Neufeld has also posted recently that “dozens of huge 747s are arriving in Vancouver completely empty.”
He continues: “But they are loading up with Chinese ex pats, their kids, their cats and dogs and all their belongings and returning to China. What is going on? Rats leaving a sinking ship? Fleeing before an invasion?”
My statement on the Chilliwack—Hope Community Heroes Awards: pic.twitter.com/0i8xlYEWnl
— Mark Strahl, MP (@markstrahl) November 16, 2020
In response to media requests about the awards, Strahl confirmed that the awards were given out based on nominations.
“Everyone who was nominated received an award, including two local school trustees: Barry Neufeld and Willow Reichelt,” he said. He also said that awarding Neufeld, or any other of the recipients, did not equal endorsement of their views or actions.
“These awards in no way serve to endorse any recipient’s personal views, including those of Mr. Neufeld,” he said. “I did not endorse nor oppose any nominations that were received from the community. I did not make any nominations myself.”
He added that he started the Community Hero Awards to thank those businesses, people and not-for-profits that came together to help each other.
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