It took about 30 seconds after Karen Wang pulled up for the tears to start flowing.
Not from Wang – her mother began sobbing as soon as the media got close to her.
Wang’s mom and sister accompanied her to the Burnaby Public Library next to Metrotown for a press conference Thursday that she announced earlier that morning to discuss her political future.
And much like the rest of Wang’s short-lived candidacy for the Liberals in the Burnaby South byelection, it was a gong show.
For one thing, she announced a press conference for inside the library without actually asking for permission from the library.
A staffer with the Burnaby Public Library was thrust into the uncomfortable position of having to greet Wang as she got out of her vehicle to tell her she couldn’t come inside. (I’m sure the librarian didn’t wake up today thinking, “Hey, I wonder if I’ll be on TV networks across the country.”)
Not only could Wang not have it inside of the building, but she was told she couldn’t even do it on library property.
This was serious because there were dozens of members of the media with cameras set up outside of the library.
So, with Wang’s mom wiping tears out of her eyes, the entire mob – myself and ace NOW reporter Kelvin Gawley included - headed towards the exit of the library parking lot.
Except, we didn’t make it that far.
Wang stopped just short of the sidewalk and suddenly a crush of media circled around her. It must have felt like being in the grip of a python as we surrounded her and closed in, but that’s what it’s like in what we called a “media scrum.”
The librarian looked displeased that we didn’t make it off the property, but there was little she could do at that point.
A few security guards came out to direct traffic and nobody got hurt.
And so began what was a long, rambling press conference. The main message from Wang is that she is not a racist. She also blamed the infamous WeChat post on a volunteer with the campaign (the old standby).
The first thing I noticed was that Wang was still wearing a red Liberal button, even as she said it was possible she would run as an independent.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted two people I knew were with the Burnaby South riding association. They had dropped by to witness the circus. I asked them – under condition of anonymity – what they thought of what had happened with Wang.
One of them said they had concerns about her candidacy, but that she won the nomination fair and square. He denied that she was a racist, but said she had made a bad error.
“She’s not racist – she just did a stupid, stupid, stupid thing.”
The other said it would not be up to the local riding association to decide the next move – the national office makes that decision.
To me, the press conference was also a stupid move. It came across as disorganized and desperate. She’s not some political rookie. She ran for the BC Liberals in Burnaby-Deer Lake. She should know better.
The whole thing today felt unhinged. She shouldn’t be running for political office.
Hopefully, somebody talks some sense into her.
Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44