Editor’s note: This story originally described the Broadbent Institute as being “NDP-affiliated,” and has since been updated to describe it as “left-leaning.”
Caylan Ford has resigned as a candidate for the United Conservative Party (UCP) in the riding of Calgary-Mountain View following a report that claimed she complained that people don’t treat white supremacist terrorists the same way they do Islamic terrorists, and that she “echoed white nationalist rhetoric.”
On Monday, PressProgress — an “independent, non-profit newsroom” that is also a “media project” launched by left-leaning think tank the Broadbent Institute — published a story alleging that Ford echoed that rhetoric in a series of Facebook messages after a white supremacist killed a woman while ramming protesters with his car during a 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Va..
WATCH: UCP leadership scandal overshadows Alberta throne speech
PressProgress reported that the messages — which they said were provided by a “long-time Muslim conservative” who requested anonymity — showed Ford arguing that “when the perpetrator is an Islamist, the denunciations are intermingled with breathless assurances that they do not represent Islam, that Islam is a religion of peace, Etc.”
That message, reported PressProgress, was followed up with the question from a Facebook user, who asked, “And when it comes to neo-Nazi terrorism?”
Ford allegedly responded, “When the terrorists are white supremacists, that kind of soul-searching or attempts to understand the sources of their radicalization or their perverse moral reasoning is beyond the pale. And anyone who shares even some of their views (e.g. wanting strong borders and immigration control), while rejecting the more odious aspects, is painted with the same brush.”
WATCH: Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi reacts to UCP candidate Caylan Ford’s resignation after allegations of “white nationalist rhetoric.”
Speaking to media on Monday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Ford’s decision to resign as a UCP candidate was “absolutely the right thing.”
“Someone who expresses thoughts like that – no matter how academic or no matter how fancy words you use – is not fit to lead a diverse community like this,” he said.
Nenshi added he felt Ford’s statement was lacking accountability for the messages.
“Frankly, the statement did not have one word of contrition, apology or backing down from those statements. Certainly, that just proves the case that this is not a person who is fit to lead this province,” Nenshi said. The mayor’s office later clarified he was referring to Ford.
PressProgress also alleged that Ford wrote, “I am somehow saddened by the demographic replacement of white peoples in their homelands — more in Europe than in America — partly because it’s clear that it will not be a peaceful transition, and partly because the loss of demographic diversity in the human race is sad.”
In a Facebook post responding to the story, Ford said the comments published by PressProgress are “distortions and are not reflective of my views.”
“In the aftermath of the recent massacre targeting the Muslims community in Christchurch, there is no room for equivocation: I strongly denounce extremism, violence, and stand with marginalized communities everywhere,” she wrote.
Ford went on to say that she was resigning in order to “avoid becoming a distraction in this campaign.”
Speaking to media on Tuesday following Rachel Notley’s writ drop, Kenney said Ford did the right thing by resigning but didn’t say whether her membership with the party would be suspended.
“Caylan resigned. She felt that she didn’t want to become a distraction to the party,” Kenney said.
“Let me clear, I condemn the remarks included in the texts that she sent and we will be appointing a new candidate in the Calgary-Mountain View constituency.”
WATCH: ‘I condemn the remarks’ made by Caylan Ford: UCP leader Jason Kenney
Kenney went on to say the UCP is a very diverse party, suggesting it has more diversity in Edmonton alone than the NDP has across the province.
“This is the largest provincial political party in Canada by a country mile with nearly 160,000 members that reflect the diversity of today’s Alberta,” he said.
“We have a remarkably diverse and talented team of candidates and we will continue to demonstrate our embrace of the diversity of today’s Alberta in the campaign to come and hopefully, if we earn a mandate as government.”
The alleged resignations that the UCP said they never received
Her resignation came on the same day that the UCP issued a statement responding to a claim that 10 board members from its Calgary North East Constituency Association had resigned.
“We believe in an all-inclusive political party that will act in the best interest of Albertans,” Sadat’s post read.
The UCP responded to Sadat’s post by saying that he indicated last year that wanted to run for a party nomination, but that he would not likely pass its vetting process due to “well-publicized issues.”
“Mr. Sadat has no specific standing with the party or constituency association,” the statement said, adding that neither the party nor the president of that constituency association had received any alleged resignations.
Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley said Tuesday she was “utterly shocked” to hear about the comments.
“Let me just say this, I personally do not believe that Jason Kenney is racist, but I do believe that the UCP as a party has a problem with racism.”
WATCH: When asked her thoughts on the resignation of UPC candidate Caylan Ford, Rachel Notley said while she doesn’t believe that Jason Kenney is racist, the UCP as a party has a “problem with racism.”
— With files from Global News’ Heide Pearson