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UCP MLAs endorse author of offensive social media posts for nomination

Drumheller-Stettler United Conservative Party MLA Rick Strankman

Well, that certainly didn't take long!

Mere hours after Alberta Politics published its semi-satirical, semi-serious “Jimmy the Geek” Vegas odds piece about the potential for bozo eruptions among the current members of the United Conservative Party Legislative Caucus than, well, some of the bozos erupted.

Yesterday's post assigned Rick Strankman, MLA for Drumheller-Stettler and, in the estimation of the entirely fictional Vegas odds-maker "Jimmy 'the Geek' Porcospino," "not the sharpest knife in the UCP drawer," 20-1 odds of finding himself sitting as an Independent in the next year for something he said or did.

It gave Wes Taylor, UCP MLA for Battle River-Wainwright, the same odds, and Deputy Leader Leela Aheer, MLA for Chestermere-Rocky View, remote 500-1 odds of getting into the same kind of trouble

That last assessment suggests the imaginary "Jimmy" may not know what he was talking about, because all three of of them found themselves in hot water yesterday for publicly endorsing a candidate for the UCP nomination in the Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin Riding who had expressed views that are being characterized as homophobic and Islamophobic in 2015 social media posts.

The UCP trio are probably safe for the time being from the fate of being sent packing to the time-out corner of the Legislature to sit as Independents, but it just goes to show that it's very hard for Alberta's Conservative Opposition party to keep a lid on the kind of attitudes Leader Jason Kenney would very much like the public not hear about while a general election looms.

The candidate for nomination, Sandra Kim, included the observation "I do not support homosexuality or homosexual marriage" in the 2015 Facebook post. She also posted a Facebook meme that mockingly claimed veiled Muslim women are allowed to pass Canadian airport security checks. The Facebook pages, which were posted under a different last name, were removed but, of course, screenshots are forever.

Yesterday's revelations prompted Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman, speaking for the NDP Government, to say, "it definitely seems the UCP is a magnet for extreme views."

The problem for the UCP isn't really the views of the candidate for nomination -- any party can face that sort of problem -- so much as the endorsements by incautious caucus members. Strankman's and Aheer's endorsements appeared on a page of Kim's website that has now also disappeared. Taylor's appeared on social media.

Last Sunday, Kenney told supporters celebrating the party's first anniversary that "those who express hateful views towards entire groups of people are not welcome to run" for his party. This prompted a certain amount of social media commentary expressing surprise the UCP leader would even have to make such an obvious point to his supporters.

Now, it would seem, some of his MLAs who should have known better have lived down to expectations.

Contacted by media, Kim apologized for giving offence, though not really for what she said. "I also accept that same-sex marriage is the law of the land and is a settled issue," the Edmonton Journal quoted her as saying.

As for her endorsers, they appear not to have returned calls from media.

Of the three, Strankman has the longest record for impolitic comments, having in the past gotten in trouble for a "bring your wife's pie" fundraiser, suggesting climate change is just one of those crazy Alberta weather things, and comparing the NDP's carbon tax to genocide.

This isn’t a full-blown "Lake of Fire" moment for the UCP like the one that sank the Wildrose Party in 2012 … yet. But there's still plenty of time for that.

The UCP B-Team … they just never seem to disappoint!

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca

Image: David Climenhaga

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