March 25, 2019 2:14 am
Updated: March 26, 2019 12:12 am

UCP candidate for Calgary-South East resigns, says she’s ‘tired of being bullied for her beliefs’

WATCH: The UCP candidate for Calgary South East has resigned after comments and posts she made online made headlines. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, it’s prompting questions about the party and where its candidates stand on social issues.

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United Conservative Party candidate Eva Kiryakos has pulled out of the 2019 Alberta election race. Kiryakos was running in Calgary-South East.

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On Sunday night, Kiryakos posted a video on Facebook that said she was stepping down and claimed someone outside her party had been threatening to “smear” her and release things she has said and commented on in the past.

“I do not want this to take away from the election or my fellow United Conservative Party candidates, so I have decided to resign,” she stated in her Facebook post.

READ MORE: 3 UCP candidates under fire over comments and memes about women, letter about people from ‘superior stock’

In a video accompanying her written statement on Facebook, Kiryakos explained the reasons behind her resignation and shared examples of the alleged threats made against her.

Kiryakos said she retweeted an article about “Germany’s (Migrant) Rape Crisis spirals Out of Control,” with a disturbing image on the front but she said it was taken out of context.

“I admit the image on the article wasn’t positive but the article was on women getting raped and the crisis there. When women are being assaulted, I care, no matter the faiths or the backgrounds of the people.”

The image with the article said “RAPEFUGEES NOT WELCOME.”

Kiryakos also admitted to getting into a discussion on Twitter and sharing her concerns with the new Alberta Teacher’s Association’s (ATA) washroom guidelines, also referring to people with “alternative lifestyles.”

In an undated, cropped tweet shown on the Facebook video, Kiryakos wrote “I should have the right to choose for my children to not be brainwashed into accepting perversions as ‘alternative lifestyles.’”

Kiryakos tried to explain that in her resignation video.

“I was concerned about safety in the washrooms and schools for my daughter and other people’s daughters,” she said.

“The possibility of a grown man sharing a washroom with the little girl to me is a perversion.”

She said people started calling her a “transphobe” and a “bigot.”

WATCH: Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley reacts to the resignation of Eva Kiryakos, a UCP candidate who was running in the Calgary South-East riding.

READ MORE: UCP leader says ‘real tension’ lies behind Albertans’ support for secession

Kiryakos said she was also criticized for a Facebook comment about dressing modestly, saying males are very visual and its prudent for females to dress modestly.

The post was also displayed on the screen, with the date cropped out. It says both females and males have to have self-control and respect for others.

“I am sharing these with you because I have had enough of the threats of leaks and vilifying me for my beliefs and values.”

Kiryakos admitted she expresses her opinions, but said not everyone has to agree with her. “That’s the beauty of free speech and a democracy,” she said.

Kiryakos said she is “tired of being bullied for her beliefs and felt it was best for her party to just pull out of the race.”

“We teach our girls to stop being silent, to speak their mind, and yet I am here feeling silenced and cornered because I voiced my opinion and spoke up for what I believed in.”

Kiryakos did not say who was allegedly threatening her, but indicated it was a man. In her resignation statement, she thanked her supporters.

“I have had long discussions about this with the party and though I care deeply about my riding and I want to represent Calgary-South East in the Legislature, this is what is best for the party and ultimately, for Alberta. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to my team and to Calgary-South East for all your support.”

WATCH: Alberta UCP Leader Jason Kenney responded to another resignation by a candidate, this time Calgary-South East candidate Eva Kiryakos.

UCP Leader Jason Kenney said he appreciates her decision to step down and put the party first. He did not specifically comment on the social media posts.

“I’ve always been clear that the United Conservative Party is a big-tent coalition that respects human dignity and will protect the rights of people regardless of how they pray or who they love,” he said.

“Eva’s also from a minority community herself. She is from a Middle Eastern refugee family, from a community that has faced a history of genocide.”

Last week, three other UCP candidates came under fire on social media for remarks they’ve said or written, or memes they have shared in the past.

Just days after Calyan Ford — the United Conservative Party candidate for Calgary-Mountain View — resigned over comments she made about race and the treatment of white supremacist terrorists, Kenney was forced to answer a question about a tape that reportedly captured comments her replacement made about women.

WATCH BELOW: Jason Kenney responds to Caylan Ford’s resignation from UCP race

Mount Royal University political science professor Duane Bratt said with two resignations in less than a week, there may be a bigger question about the candidate vetting process.

Bratt went on to say this is not about an isolated candidate but rather a pattern of behaviour. He had doubts this will gain traction as a free speech issue.

“Let’s see how the rest of the party handles that. Let’s see the party go on about, ‘Yeah, we can debate about Muslim rape gangs in Germany, yeah we can debate about whether trans people are pedophiles.’ Do we want to have a free speech debate on that? I think obviously the party did not,” Bratt said.

“I was also surprised that she called this a smear job. It’s not a smear job when people release your own words.”

With files from Carolyn Kury de Castillo, Global News and The Canadian Press.

Watch below: (From March 25, 2019) Ryan Jespersen from 630 CHED and Danielle Smith from 770 CHQR broadcast their shows province-wide on Facebook live to discuss the impact of race, racism and hate speech in the 2019 provincial campaign.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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