Langley East MLA Rich Coleman has apologized for comments he made in the B.C. Legislature Thursday.

Rich Coleman apologizes for comparing ALR rule changes to Nazi oppression

Rich Coleman was speaking on a bill that changes farmland regulations

Langley East Liberal MLA Rich Coleman apologized Thursday after he compared a bill modifying rules in the ALR to the Nazi restrictions on the rights of Jews in the 1940s.

“I’ve been here for 23 years, and I’ve never seen a more bigoted piece of legislation come before this House,” Coleman said during debate on Bill 15, a piece of legislation that will make some major amendments to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) and rules on removing land from the Agricultural Land Reserve.

“Particularly on a day like today,” Coleman said of Bill 15. “On a day like today when we witness people whose rights were taken apart and taken away from them in the 1940s.”

Coleman’s speech resulted in a great deal of heckling, including one unidentified member who shouted “This is embarrassing.”

Deputy Speaker Raj Chouhan had to repeatedly call for quiet.

“Maybe these guys will get some compassion for humanity, I doubt they will,” Coleman said of the NDP.

The legislation will change the way petitions to remove land from the ALR work. If Bill 15 passes, individual property owners will no longer be able to apply for exclusions from the ALR on their own behalf.

Instead, local municipal governments, First Nations, or the province itself will have to put the applications before the ALC.

Coleman was one of several Liberals to oppose the bill during Thursday’s debate, with accusations flying from the Liberals that farmers are no longer considered people under the legislation.

The Legislature had discussed the Holocaust earlier in the day, as Holocaust Memorial Day was recognized in the chamber.

Reaction was swift, not only from immediate heckling but from NDP MLAs taking to Twitter, including Selina Robinson, MLA for Coquitlam-Maillardville.

“The opposition expressed through the member for Langley East is hyperbolic, not based on fact, emotionally driven, perhaps purposefully inflaming,” said Nicholas Simons, MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast.

Simons noted Coleman’s references to Holocaust Memorial Day.

“I find that insulting,” Simons said. “I have stronger words that I perhaps need to speak to the member. I certainly hope, I certainly hope he wasn’t drawing a comparison between the language that we’ve included in the bill to protect agriculture land, with horrors of previous governments that erode entire communities’ rights.”

Simons said the opposition to what he called essentially a matter of zoning has been over the top.

Coleman apologized on Twitter Thursday evening.

Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson also noted it was inappropriate, without naming Coleman.

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