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Politics

Jason Kenney and Brian Jean response to anti-gay comments ‘cowardly’: Rachel Notley

Despite wet and gloomy conditions, thousands of people gathered in Old Strathcona on Saturday to take part in the 2017 Edmonton Pride Parade.
Despite wet and gloomy conditions, thousands of people gathered in Old Strathcona on Saturday to take part in the 2017 Edmonton Pride Parade. Cliff Harris/ Global News

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has called out the leaders of the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties over what she sees as their failure to stand up against anti-gay comments directed at a Wildrose staff member who attended Pride events in Edmonton on the weekend.

On Saturday, messages were sent to Cody Johnston, a legislative and outreach assistant for the Wildrose party, suggesting he should not attend the Edmonton Pride Walk and Run under the Wildrose banner. Messages said Pride events should not be tolerated or allowed in public, calling them “lewdness” and a promotion of “sexual perversion” and “a sinful lifestyle.” Johnson has worked for the party for seven years and said his sexual orientation was known to the party and leader Brian Jean.

READ MORE: Wildrose staff member alleges party members sent him anti-gay messages for planning to attend Pride event

Notley wants Jean and Jason Kenney to tell those involved that the alleged comments are not acceptable in the party. The premier told reporters she doesn’t normally involve herself in the internal workings of other parties.

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“On this particular matter, I make an exception,” Notley said. “Because it goes to a very, very critical issue, which is fundamental human rights: the fundamental right of Albertans to be free from discrimination.”

Watch below from June 10: Julia Wong reports on allegations that anti-gay messages were sent to a Wildrose staff member

Allegations anti-gay messages sent to Wildrose staffer
Allegations anti-gay messages sent to Wildrose staffer

Notley called the fact that neither has come out to say what’s happened is wrong is problematic for her.

“Their collective skirting of the issue is cowardly and does not–in my view–warrant people to think of them in a leadership role.”

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Johnston has thanked Wildrose members who sent messages of support, including Jean.

Notley, though, has urged Jean and Kenney do more to stand up for human rights by revoking memberships or otherwise disciplining the members involved.

“No party…can appropriately put itself in front of the people of Alberta as a potential governing party with that kind of dialogue being acceptable,” she said.

WATCH: Brian Jean responds to negative Wildrose backlash

–With files from  Phil Heidenreich and Julia Wong

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