I reached out to ask the Mayor’s office for comment regarding Councillor Petrowski’s views on refugees and Muslims from last week. Some see silence on this issue as condoning Petrowski’s views. St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle came out with a strong rebuke of Petrowski today.
As Mayor, not only does Sendzik represent the same constituents as Petrowski, he is also a colleague of Petrowski’s on Regional Council.
Here is how the Mayor’s Office responded:
Thanks for reaching out and the opportunity to respond. I hope Mayor Sendzik’s position is clear as he has been vocal and active in supporting our community’s response to welcome Syrian families since earlier this fall when the Mayor’s Office and Folk Arts Centre co-hosted the first community meeting to organize the response to the refugee crisis. The Mayor’s Office is fully engaged in the Niagara Refugee Assistance Committee which includes a number of community agencies, volunteers, faith groups and the Folk Arts Multicultural Centre, working together to organize and coordinate our collective response to support refugees when they arrive in the new year.
Mayor Sendzik does not support or endorse the views expressed by Mr. Petrowski. Here’s a short statement he provided to the Standard today.
“Negative and divisive comments from public figures can impact a city’s reputation and I’m disappointed by Andy Petrowski’s public remarks. These types of incidents distract from the good work that so many people are doing to welcome Syrian refugees.
St. Catharines is an open, inclusive and welcoming community. We have a strong history of welcoming newcomers. In fact, my own family came to St. Catharines from Poland in the 1920s. The community’s interest and support in welcoming Syrian families has been overwhelmingly positive. From our first meeting at the Folk Arts Centre in September to now, many people are coming forward and offering to help with donations, clothing, housing and support.
These comments are not reflective of the city or the majority of the people that I see and work with every day. We will continue to work together to be a positive, warm and welcoming voice.” – Mayor Walter Sendzik
Sendzik did vote for Petrowski to be on the Police Board in January, but it is good to see him stepping up to condemn these comments.