I was in attendance today as Councillor John Sprovieri delivered his apology to City Council concerning an email exchange which went viral. The speaking notes for his statement, delivered orally, are presented in full below.
To the City of Brampton, my colleagues and my fellow Canadians,
I wish to discuss my recent comments regarding values as reported in the media. I have, with the wisdom that comes with hindsight and somber reflection, realized that I owe an apology for a confusing e-mail exchange with a constituent.
In my haste to defend my friends, colleagues, city employees, and those hired to bring their expertise and skills to the City of Brampton to help build a bigger and better city for the future of all our residents, I choose my words poorly, and my comments did not reflect my intended meaning when I wrote that email. My intention was to make a point about Democratic values and Freedoms, but in so doing, I committed the very same error that I was rallying against. In categorizing people on the basis of Color, and in giving recognition to only one Color, it was improper.
I want to make myself very clear on this point: when I referred to “White Values”, I was referring to “Canadian Values” and was applauding Canada’s commitment to build a nation of equity, peace, democracy and prosperity. I was addressing how fortunate we all are to live in a country that has adopted great values such as multiculturalism, diversity, freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Being Canadian is a source of great pride for me. In expressing that pride, it was not my intention to marginalize or ignore the contributions of people of all origins. My intention to highlight Canadian values of Inclusiveness, Democracy, and Freedom was lost as result.
In my haste to defend those under attack, I failed to include all those people for whom I have great respect, appreciation and admiration. In my zeal, I let my passion cloud my judgment and colour my words. I understand that Canadian Values, Morals and Ideals, are not based on color, and I recognize it was unfair to phrase my comments in that manner. This oversight was not a deliberate slight. I reacted too quickly, and failed to appreciate how my words would be interpreted outside of the context in which they were written.
Obviously, Freedom, Equity and the Desire to live in peace and harmony for the prosperity of all, are not “White Values” per se. Obviously, it wasn’t “Only White People” that built this great nation, nor was it “Only White People” that have fought to defend it. I realize that my words did not pay homage to all of the people, of all origins, that have served our country, at home and abroad, or the people of all origins who continue to safe guard our most important ideals. To all of those people, I am forever indebted for my freedoms and my liberties.
I regret that I lost sight of my position as a public servant, of my duty to speak on behalf of my constituents. It behooves me to do better; to remember the privileges and responsibilities afforded me as a member of Council. It is my duty to reflect the values of the whole city, and in fact this whole nation. It was my duty to ensure my words acknowledged all people who helped build this great nation. In highlighting only certain contributions, as specific as it was to a particular line of communication, I neglected that duty.
And I apologize for that.
I want to thank all of the people who reached out with messages of support and understanding for the underlying message I was trying to convey. While my original comments were limited in their scope, I will forever appreciate the country that welcomed my family in 1956 and I was overwhelmed by the number of people who share in that sense of gratitude.
I hope that in issuing this apology, we can all move forward, and work together for to the betterment of all citizens, to build a free, peaceful, democratic, and prosperous city.