Alberta United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney wouldn’t stop to answer questions about a former call centre leader on his leadership campaign who was reportedly linked to an online store selling white supremacist memorabilia.
Kenney walked past reporters waiting to question him Thursday on his way into the legislature chamber.
He would only say that Adam Strashok is out and reiterated that future party members will be screened to avoid those linked to hateful comments.
“He’s no longer a member of the United Conservative party,” said Kenney.
Kenney declined further comment and has not otherwise made himself available to answer questions during the first week of the fall legislature sitting.
Earlier this week, Kenney issued a statement saying he had ordered Strashok expelled from the party and he didn’t know about Strashok’s background when he worked on his campaign in 2017.
Strashok has not commented on the reports.
It’s the latest in a series of United Conservative supporters voicing or associating with people expressing hateful and intolerant views.
Last month, three nomination candidates in a west Edmonton constituency were photographed with the anti-immigrant Soldiers of Odin group, although two of the candidates later said they were unaware of the group’s notoriety when they posed for pictures.
Also in the summer, Sandra Kim was allowed to run for the nomination of Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin despite homophobic social media comments from 2015. She later apologized and said the remarks do not represent her current views.
Cindy Ross, a one-time nominee for Calgary Fish Creek, apologized last month for online comments she made years ago opposing the opening of a mosque in Fort McMurray.
Kenney’s rival for the United Conservative leadership bid, Brian Jean, also weighed in on Twitter urging the party to “Stop playing footsy with freaks!”
Kenney made Thursday’s comments as he went up the stairs of the legislature just moments before he was due to ask questions in the house.
Traditionally, Opposition leaders make themselves available to answer questions daily while the legislature is in session. Kenney did so in the early weeks of the spring sitting but that has since tailed off.
Instead, United Conservative house leader Jason Nixon has been stepping in to answer questions on behalf of the caucus and party.
Nixon said Kenney is very busy.
“Jason makes himself available as much as he can. His schedule is extremely tight this week. It’s the first week of session,” said Nixon.
“Jason Kenney makes himself available to the media, from what I can tell, an extraordinary amount, certainly more than the premier in my experience.”