This is from 2004, but it's another example of how out of touch Harper and his Conservatives are with Canada.
Conservative leadership hopeful Stephen Harper was forced to
apologize after a congratulatory letter bearing his signature was sent
to an Ontario native organization. Unfortunately for Harper, his letter
referred not to a native celebration, but to one in the Indian
"On the occasion of India's national day, I salute the Indian
community for long-standing contributions to the economic and cultural
vitality of our wonderful country," reads the letter, leaked to the
The mix-up prompted a sharp response from the president of the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres, Rick Lobzun.
"This is 2004, Mr. Harper, not 1492 - the last time a man got lost looking for India," he wrote in a letter dated Wednesday.
"Look what has happened to the aboriginal population ... since then."
In India, Republic Day is celebrated each Jan. 26 to mark the date
when the country's constitution took effect, marking its independence
from British rule.
The occasion is typically a time to celebrate the achievements of
Mahatma Gandhi and other Indian nation-builders. There is no connection
to First Nations peoples in Canada.
Silvia Maracle of the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship
Centres, told CTV's Canada AM on Friday that she found Harper's letter
"laughable" at first, but her mood soon changed.
"As we got more upset and more concerned about the disrespect shown
to us and the disrespect to others, we then thought, maybe this is why
we don't get our issues answered, we're in the wrong database."
Maracle's suspicion turned out to be correct when Harper's office apologized for the mix-up, blaming it on a clerical error.
When confronted by reporters, Harper, too, was apologetic.
"It's a minor clerical error and to the extent there's any problem it's been apologized for," he said.
However, Maracle said Harper has made "no effort" to contact her organization to apologize directly.
NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis said the letter is just another example of why Harper is not fit to lead government.
"He's not prime ministerial material and he's got to show a better understanding," she said.