A United Conservative Party (UCP) nomination candidate for Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin is apologizing for a post shared on her Facebook page, the latest in a series of social media scandals surrounding UCP nomination candidates or members.
Three years ago, Sandra Kim shared a post that reads, in part: “Yes, I am a Christian. I believe the Bible. I do not support homosexuality or ‘homosexual marriage.’”
The post recently resurfaced and Kim took to Facebook Friday night to apologize, telling Global News that she shared it at a time when she was not thinking about entering politics.
Her apology reads, in part: “I shared some posts without fully thinking through how they could be perceived. That is on me. To anyone whom I offended, I apologize.”
“You’re welcome to love who you love,” Kim said. “I don’t have a problem with people loving who you love.”
“Fundamentally what we’re talking about is, does an individual have a right to disagree with another individual without rejecting the personhood? I disagree with something but I still love you. I still accept you. I still advocate for your rights to live as your choose.”
Kim said she has evolved in the years since she has shared that post.
“My view has changed,” she said. “I’m not going to stand against same-sex marriage. If that’s what you want, have at it.”
“Unfortunately I can’t go back and change what I posted three years ago.”
Janice Harrington, the executive director of the UCP, did not respond to questions related to Kim, her Facebook post or whether those views are acceptable for someone looking to become a candidate for the UCP.
Harrington sent the following statement to Global News: “All aspiring contestants in any nomination must go through a very vigorous vetting process. That process is now underway for Maskwacis–Wetaskiwin contestants.”
Kim’s social media posts follow comments made by Todd Beasley, a prospective candidate in Brooks-Medicine Hat constituency who was disqualified.
Beasley had made comments condemning the Muslim faith, calling Muslims “fools who are really worshipping Satan” and “those who think a rational God would anoint a dark-age pedophile warlord as his prophet.”
“There’s a big difference between condemning people and telling them they should be wiped out and just saying, ‘I disagree with you,’” Kim said.
Earlier this summer, Calgary legislature member Prab Gill quit the caucus after reports of ballot-box stuffing at a constituency election meeting.
Lori Williams, associate professor of policy studies at Mount Royal University, said the series of recent incidents may be cause for concern for voters.
“It’s raising questions,” Williams said. “One of the central elements, particularly of a new party but this party in particular, is to be principled, to uphold values, democratic values, to be respectful of those who are different and to represent a wide variety of Albertans.
“The problem becomes, if there are enough of them, questions about whether this is actually part of what the party is about… Whether this party is essentially too conservative, particularly too socially conservative and intolerant or accepting of intolerance within the party. The question then becomes whether voters want people like that or a party that accepts or tolerates or looks the other way when these sorts of comments are made, whether they want to support or vote for that party, whether they want to be governed by people who don’t take these types of comments seriously.”
Williams said two members of the UCP endorsed Kim, including deputy party leader Leela Aheer, and that may be problematic.
“That actually makes it look like these kinds of views are accepted or tolerated by the leadership of the party,” Williams said. “They may be making statements saying they disagree with these points of views, but these endorsements lead people to wonder if in fact the party is making public statements about things but tolerates them privately, and that’s a problem.”
Williams said the Wildrose Party, which merged with the PC Party to form the UCP, historically had issues with these types of comments.
“There have been homophobic, Islamophobic statements made. Intolerant statements made by candidates for those parties in the past. There are some voters who are sitting on the fence, who haven’t decided who they’re going to vote for in the next election. They read this and think, ‘this is just like the Wildrose Party. This is not a credible choice for me,’” she said.
“It’s not acceptable. It’s not moderate enough for me. That’s exactly the thing the UCP was worried about going into this merger.”
In a speech last week, UCP leader Jason Kenney reiterated those who promote hate will be turfed.
“Those who attack human dignity, those who express hateful views toward entire groups of people are not welcome to run for the United Conservative party,” Kenney told party members in a speech.
Kenney has long said he would not allow the extremist views of some individuals to undermine the work of thousands of party members.
With the election now less than a year away, he urged members to remain disciplined.
“Over these (next) 10 months, how we act, whether we conduct ourselves with that discipline, the ideas that we present for renewing the Alberta Advantage, the candidates that you nominate —these are critical decisions that will determine whether, and to what extent we have a mandate to bring the change that Alberta needs,” he said.
— with files from The Canadian Press