SURREY mayoral candidate Doug McCallum and the Safe Surrey Coalition are questioning the Surrey Fire Fighters Local 1271 endorsement of Surrey First City Council candidate Mike Starchuk, who used an inappropriate slur during a community forum last week:
“When we go into a building when everyone is running out, we look pretty stupid, but really when you’re running inside a building with less people than you need, that’s re****ed.”
Safe Surrey Coalition candidates Laurie Guerra and Beau Simpson have immediate family members that live with disabilities, and were personally disgusted with Starchuk’s remarks. Simpson was also the editor of quarterly newspaper called Possabilities, which profiled the abilities of individuals in the community living with disabilities. The award-winning publication routinely rallied against the use of the r-word.
“I have been an advocate for autism awareness since my son was diagnosed at the age of six, and I was truly shocked to hear about Mr. Starchuk’s use of such a slur within a public forum,” said Guerra.
“My sister has dealt with physical and mental disability all her life, and as Editor I engaged directly with the disability community, so the use of that word is something that I find personally offensive,” added Simpson.
The Surrey Fire Fighters endorsement is that much more confusing considering the Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society’s support of organizations such as the BC Special Olympics Society and the Down Syndrome Research Foundation.
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation classify slurs such as the one used by Starchuk as “politically incorrect, hurtful and dehumanizing.” The Special Olympics have launched global awareness efforts “taking a stand against the r-word” with the R-Word Campaign, designed “to communicate the hurtful nature of the r-word and remove it from daily use.”
In light of all the positive community work that the Surrey fire fighters do with the aforementioned organizations, the silence by the organization regarding Starchuk’s outburst is unacceptable, according to McCallum.
“The obligation of the Surrey Fire Fighters to speak out rises above politics or an election campaign,” said McCallum. “I call on the fire fighters to denounce such language publicly, as their current silence speaks volumes about the kind of commitment they have to the charitable causes they are involved with.”