UPDATE: Ric McIver deems March For Jesus website comments 'ugly, mean-spirited stuff'
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Calgary MLA Ric McIver conceded Thursday he'd made a mistake attending a religious march organized by a vocally anti-gay street preacher.
One of three candidates vying for the provincial Tory leadership, McIver has been under fire this week after posting a picture to Twitter of himself at Calgary's annual March for Jesus on Sunday.
Critics were quick to lash out at his decision to partake, pointing to a website for the event that describes homosexuality as being the “wrong sexual preference.”
McIver told reporters Thursday he wasn't aware of the comments when he signed on to kickoff the march — it was the fourth time he's participated.
"It's an expression of my faith," he said. "What I did not do — and what I regret and what I apologize for — (is) I didn't do my homework."
The primary organizer of the march, Art Pawlowski, has also said last year’s historic flood was partially caused by God weeping for the “perversions of homosexuality.”
McIver said he wouldn't march again unless there was a change in management. He said he’s contacted Pawlowski about removing any references to him from his website but the notorious preacher has yet to do so.
Pawlowski told Metro over Facebook that he's in currently in his home country of Poland. McIver deemed the online comments, "nasty, mean-spirited stuff."
"I apologize for drawing attention to it," he added.
Political scientists had said McIver would be well-served to apologize and denounce the comments and some critics, including Pride Calgary President Stephen Wright, suggested that because he didn't do so immediately it may be "too little, too late."
The long-time Calgary politician did post a statement to Facebook Monday that reiterated his support for diversity.
McIver said he's also planning to attend a gay rodeo later this month and was looking at squeezing an appearance at Calgary's Pride Parade into his busy campaign schedule.
He did vouch support for Pawlowski in a 2013 documentary called Street Advocate and encouraged people to view the film.
“It seems to me he’s getting picked on,” he told the filmmaker.
But the MLA said Thursday his participation in the film was purely in support of the efforts of Pawlowski and his Street Church flock to feed people — most of them poor — at routine gatherings near city hall.
"I support somebody that feeds people when they're poor," McIver said.
He said he hadn't been asked to pull out of the Tory leadership race by the party's top brass and deflected questions suggesting the recent controversy could be the PC's only form of a "Lake of Fire" scandal — a reference to Wildrose leader Danielle Smith refusing to renounce anti-gay comments from one of her candidates in the 2012 election, a move some pundits believe cost her the election.
But McIver made it very clear he doesn't support Pawlowski's claims.
"The Christian faith is love your neighbour like you love yourself," he said. "What's on that website is ugly."