Another Wildrose candidate under fire
Published Tuesday, April 17, 2012 12:03PM MDT
Another controversy involving another Wildrose candidate is bubbling to the surface in the election campaign.
Ron Leech, the candidate for Calgary-Greenway told a radio audience on Sunday night that he has an advantage because he is white.
During the interview, Leech said, "I think, as a caucasian, I have an advantage. When different community leaders such as a Sikh leader or a Muslin leader speaks they really speak to their own people in many ways. As a caucasian I believe that I can speak to all the community."
Danielle Smith, campaigning on Tuesday in Calgary-Currie, said that Leech's comment is important in context and she isn't concerned about the comment.
"I'm not concerned about them. I think every candidate puts forward their best argument for why they should be the person the way represent the community. I know Dr. Leech runs a private school that has a large number of people from cultural communities. He has a very ethnically diverse riding. He's made great friendships and in roads with leaders of different cultural communities."
Over the weekend it was found that one of the Wildrose's Edmonton candidates, Allan Hunsperger, wrote an anti-gay post on a blog a year ago.
Hunsperger warned in a blog from June 2011 that instead of accepting gays and lesbians for who they are, they should be warned that their lifestyle will result in an eternity in hell.
"You will suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire, hell, a place of eternal suffering," Hunsperger said in the blog entry titled "Born this Way."
It was styled as a rebuttal to Lady Gaga's song of the same name, which is viewed by many as a gay anthem encouraging people to be true to themselves.
Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith says she doesn't understand the fuss over anti-gay comments made by Allan Hunsperger in a blog posting.
Hunsperger says he has been misunderstood.
"I love people and everybody. I have no intolerance of anyone but I do have personal religious views," said Hunsperger.
Hunsperger says his comments were "my own personal religious views and were given in the capacity as a church leader."
Wildrose leader Danielle Smith refused to condemn Hunsperger for his views, saying the blog was written close to a year ago and represents his religious beliefs.
"The views he expressed were his personal views in the context of him being a pastor and I'm not going to discriminate against anyone not on the basis of sexual orientation and not on the basis of their religion. I believe in freedom of religion and I believe that religious people do also have an opportunity and should be encouraged to run for political office," said Smith.
Hunsperger says his beliefs won't influence party policy. "My views were personal, my personal religious views and I entirely support Danielle and her commitment that the Wildrose government will not legislate on contentious social issues."
On Sunday, PC Leader Alison Redford told reporters she was stunned that a candidate for office could hold those kinds of views and warned that they represent a broader base within the Wildrose party.
"If we have people like this, making these sorts of comments in Alberta, I think it's absolutely wrong," Redford said when asked about the post.
"The fact that these people think that's a legitimate perspective just absolutely blows my mind."
When asked about Tory candidate and former finance minister Ted Morton, who has publically opposed gay marriage in the past, Alison Redford said there's a big difference.
"When we're starting to talk about people facing eternity and lakes of fire those are pretty unique comments and I think Albertans will judge those for themselves," said Redford.
The other party leaders are also speaking out about the controversy, calling the comments hateful and reprehensible.
"Don't spread that to children. I'm absolutely opposed to it - it's reprehensible," said Liberal leader Raj Sherman.
NDP leader Brian Mason says a line was crossed. "When the views trample on the rights of individuals, when the views are hateful, that's the line."
The Alberta Party told Danielle Smith to ask Hunsperger to step down in a release on Monday.
Danielle Smith says the Wildrose will not introduce legislation on contentious social issues if it wins next Monday's election.
The original posting has since been removed from the blog.