News / Edmonton

‘Enough of this garbage’: Alberta’s conservative parties in hot water after Edmonton pride comments

Wildrose and PC parties both facing criticism after recent leaked messages anger some in LGBTQ community.

A file shot from the Edmonton Pride Parade.

File / Metro

A file shot from the Edmonton Pride Parade.

An LGBTQ advocate says no one should be surprised after leaked messages landed Alberta’s two conservative parties in hot water over the weekend.

Wildrose party staffer Cody Johnston, who is openly gay, called the party’s base “homophobic” in a Facebook post Saturday, after he e-mailed party members inviting them to attend pride and got several inflammatory responses, one calling homosexuality a “sexual perversion” and another saying he lives a “sinful lifestyle.”  

Two days later, the PC caucus came under fire for a leaked e-mail posted by blogger Kathleen Smith, in which a party caucus staffer suggested that contacting media about concerns around Alberta’s child intervention panel could distract attention from “impending pride stories.”

“This has been really consistent behaviour by both parties,” altView Foundation Executive Director Bryan Mortensen told Metro Monday.

“They have a duty to figure out how to be better people.”

Johnston issued a statement Monday saying he is confident his concerns are being addressed and has received an outpouring support, including from leader Brian Jean, since getting the “disgusting messages.”

He has since deleted his initial post.

“I am confident that these inappropriate comments are being seriously addressed by our party’s leadership and that these uncouth people don’t speak for the Wildrose Party I have been a proud member of for many years,” Johnston wrote in his statement.

MLA Tany Yao represented the Wildrose during Saturday’s pride festivities, and he also issued a statement saying he is confident the “hateful” messages will be addressed.  

Mortensen, however, said that doesn't change much.

“Any other workplace wouldn’t allow that kind of thing to happen without heads rolling. Just because some people have come out and said, ‘We’re sorry this happened to you,’ doesn’t change the culture,” he said.

“They have a culture where people think it’s OK to trash people based on their sexual orientation and gender expression. And it’s 2017 – enough of this garbage.”

PC Caucus Chief of Staff Kevin Weidlich wrote in a post on Twitter Monday that the “very cynical” idea proposed in the PC staffer’s e-mail was immediately dismissed by the caucus.

Blaise Boehmer, spokesperson for PC Party leader Jason Kenney, said he was not aware of the e-mail until it appeared on Twitter.

“Clearly, the idea put forward by this low-level staffer is ludicrous, and we're pleased to see that the suggestion was ignored,” Boehmer said.

Kenney and Jean did not attend pride festivities this year, as both made commitments to attend other events on the same day.

Neither party officially took part in the parade.

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