Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Fierce Criticism Leads B.C. Premier to Ditch Yoga Day Event in Vancouver

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Fierce Criticism Leads B.C. Premier to Ditch Yoga Day Event in Vancouver

Article excerpt

B.C. premier says 'No' to namaste


VANCOUVER - A mass yoga session touted by British Columbia's premier as a way to strengthen ties with India has collapsed under the weight of political opposition.

Christy Clark's plan to close a major bridge in downtown Vancouver to celebrate International Yoga Day was met with opponents saying the event showcased the government's misplaced priorities.

On Friday, a week after she made the announcement, Clark said the giant yoga class scheduled for June 21 will be cancelled.

"Unfortunately, the focus of the proposed Burrard Street Bridge event has drifted towards politics, getting in the way of the spirit of community and inner reflection," she said. "It was for that reason I decided not to participate."

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi promoted International Yoga Day when he visited B.C. in April, and Clark said last week that millions of people around the world celebrate the event, which is sanctioned by the United Nations.

Criticism erupted soon after Clark announced plans for "Om the Bridge," with residents questioning everything from its location to the $150,000 cost.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, head of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said Friday that the premier should have focused on aboriginal issues because June 21 is also national Aboriginal Day.

"On the face of it, I found Premier Clark's idea to host an international yoga event on the Burrard Street Bridge to be completely flakey," he said. "But at the same time, I also felt it was a blatant political opportunism."

Phillip said he was particularly concerned about Clark's decision to promote International Yoga Day over national Aboriginal Day because of the recent release of a report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which called on Canadians to change their relationship with First Nations. …

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