September 7, 2018 11:41 am
Updated: September 10, 2018 8:04 am

UCP candidate apologizes for comments opposing Fort McMurray mosque

United Conservative Party candidate Cindy Ross.

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A United Conservative Party nomination candidate is apologizing for Facebook comments viewed as racist by the provincial government.

The NDP sent a news release on Thursday regarding comments made by Cindy Ross, who is seeking the UCP nomination in Calgary Fish Creek on Friday. Ross’s comments opposed the opening of a mosque in Fort McMurray. The comments have since been deleted but the release included a screengrab of the remarks.

READ MORE: Alberta UCP Leader Jason Kenney says hateful comments won’t be tolerated

During a conversation on the Facebook group, “Canadians against the NDP and Liberals (information & facts)” Ross compared Muslims to bank robbers.

“What better place to have a large mosque. Right in the middle of our greatest asset. That is a bit like jailing the bank robber in the bank vault,” she wrote.

Ross added: “This is awful news. The city approves?????”

Ross posted on social media on Thursday that the comments were made a few years ago but she had “no recollection of the post or any context.” The UCP nominee also apologized and said the comments don’t represent her current views.

“Since then, I have learned that Fort McMurray is home to a hardworking, tolerant and growing Muslim community,” Ross wrote.

“I deeply believe that all Albertans should be able to practice their faith as they like — including in a place of worship.”

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READ MORE: Prab Gill quits UCP caucus after party receives report into constituency meeting

The NDP said UCP Leader Jason Kenney had to answer “why Ross has been allowed to run for his party’s nomination after making racist comments.”

“The views expressed by Cindy Ross are hateful, racist and don’t belong in a multicultural pluralistic Alberta,” Social Services Minister Irfan Sabir said.

“This kind of rhetoric – anti-Muslim, Islamophobia, homophobia, denying climate [change] – those are the people that are gathering around the UCP.”

In a message to Global News, the UCP wrote “people are allowed to grow and change their views over time.”

“As our leader has repeatedly stated, the United Conservative Party believes that all Albertans should be free to practice their faith as they choose. In fact, Mr. Kenney personally visited the Fort McMurray mosque this June,” the UCP statement read.

The party added that “accepting that people can evolve is necessary for a tolerant province.”

READ MORE: Todd Beasley defends anti-Muslim Facebook posts after removal from Brooks-Medicine Hat UCP nomination

In July, when the UCP disqualified Todd Beasley, a prospective candidate to run in Brooks-Medicine Hat constituency, for public comments Beasley made condemning the Muslim faith, Kenney reiterated that those who promote hate will be turfed from the party.

In August, Sandra Kim stayed on as UCP Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin nomination candidate after it was revealed she had shared a Facebook post three years earlier condemning homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

Kim lost the nomination to Richard Wilson.

The party said it has instituted a rigorous screening process for candidates.

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