Harm Woldring’s campaign to become New Westminster’s next mayor got off to a raucous start.
After Woldring announced on Facebook that he’d filed his papers and was running for mayor, local resident Brad Cavanagh reposted a comment Woldring had made on the New Westminster Citizens Against Overdevelopment Facebook page on July 31. In that post, Woldring said citizens would need to elect at least four candidates to council who hadn’t been endorsed by the New Westminster and District Labour Council if they had any chance for change in the city and stated he had applied to the New West Progressives but was told that he was well versed on city issues but unelectable.
“I am a ‘white, male, over 50’ arguably the most discriminated against group in our country. Its (sic) just not ‘fashionable. ’ As evidenced by the daily ennui exuding from our neighbour to the South, the great unwashed masses want nothing to do with competent, committed candidates who are not singly motivated by money and power.”
Woldring’ s post continued on to express concerns about elections in Metro Vancouver, but his comments about discrimination created quite a stir on social media.
"Arguably the most discriminated against group in our country"???? DID I SERIOUSLY JUST READ THAT???,” wrote one reader in response to the posting on the Record’s Facebook page.
Cavanagh questioned how this group is more discriminated against than women, Indigenous or LGBTQ2+ people; others described Woldring’s comments as “eye opening” and “disturbing."
“Us straight white males sure have had a tough go of it throughout history,” wrote one man, followed by emojis indicating his words were sarcastic.
In response to the public reaction to his original post, Woldring posted a statement on his Facebook page on Sept. 8, part of which reads:
“I understand tht my most in NW Residents Against Overdevelopment is causing a stir. Hurray! As my post says ARGUABLY white men over 50 are as group have experienced discrimination. So now we get a chance to debate this statement. It came for a study/paper I read online that looked at jobs recovery since 2008, the worst recession since 1929. The paper showed that white males over 50 were the least likely to find new jobs as the economy recovered. Businesses, and governments for that matter, chose younger people from across the broad spectrum of Canadian society as they recovered. This is only NATURAL but had the effect of discriminating against older workers and in particular white men over 50.”
Woldring said the article he referenced stated that white males who are “over the hill” can’t get jobs because of their age and are most likely to be homeless.
“The reality is discrimination exists. It exists not just for people of colour, not just for women. It exists for everybody,” he told the Record in an interview. “That was the point of that comment.”
David C. Halkett, president of the New West Progressives, said Woldring met with the nomination committee and his application was subsequently forwarded to the green light committee, where again his candidacy was discussed. When the board of directors met to discuss applications from candidates, he said Woldring’s application was not successful.
“I will not get into the reasons why he was not accepted as that is confidential to our process,” he said in a statement to the Record. “I can say however under no circumstances were a person's age, gender or creed discussed. We judged each person on his/her merits.”