A United Conservative Party nomination candidate has been turfed after he and his fellow challengers were photographed with an anti-immigration group linked to neo-Nazis in Europe.
The other two candidates said they didn’t realize they were meeting with the Soldiers of Odin. But Lance Coulter said he was aware of who they were and was OK with it, because he believes in free speech and felt obliged to respond to their polite conversation.
UCP executive director Janice Harrington disagreed in a letter Thursday to Coulter that advised him of his disqualification.
“A polite racist is still a racist,” wrote Harrington.
“We strongly disagree with your seemingly sympathetic assessment of Soldiers of Odin and are frankly disturbed with your cavalier attitude taken to a hate group attending a United Conservative Party event.”
WATCH: Alberta UCP Leader Jason Kenney says he is sad to see the NDP playing into “political mischief” when it comes to claims involving his party and the Soldiers of Odin.
“Our leader Jason Kenney has been clear that such hateful groups are not welcome.
“This incident has resulted in reputational harm to our party and its many members.”
The party did not make anyone available to comment about the decision.
Premier Rachel Notley, asked about it at a news conference, noted that the decision didn’t come until six days after the pub event.
“It’s good news that he has been disqualified. I would say it comes a little late, quite honestly, in this case,” she said.
“There is no room for a debate about how much racism is OK.
“There is a line that I believe the vast majority of Albertans understand exists. And the concept of neo-Nazism is well past that line.”
Coulter could not be immediately reached for comment, but on his Facebook page acknowledged his disqualification, and said a lot of people had reached out to him.
“Your support and kind words have only strengthened my resolve to do what I believe is right,” wrote Coulter.
“I will not lie for political expedience. I will not simply smile and tell people what I think they want to hear. I will treat all people with dignity and respect.”