Freedom Conservative Party asks 2 candidates to resign over anti-Islam, anti-immigrant ideas

A file photo of the Freedom Conservative Party of Alberta's logo. CREDIT:

Alberta’s upstart libertarian conservative party, led by former UCP MLA Derek Fildebrandt, says it has replaced two candidates in the upcoming election — one over anti-Islamic social media posts and views, the other for “controversial posts.”

Clayton Knutson

According to a the Freedom Conservative Party’s director of communications, Clayton Knutson was asked to resign as its candidate in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake and was officially removed on March 18 when he wouldn’t step down.

“He had failed to disclose previous information on his candidate nomination package and that includes… financial, personal and prior social media posts,” Cody Johnston told Global News on Tuesday. “We are a small and mighty party and we do our best to make sure that we vet our candidates properly before they get on the paper, and we do expect them to follow the honour system and it was found out that Clayton had failed to disclose controversial and quite frankly, Islamophobic posts in the past.”

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When interviewed by Global News, Knutson said he believes a true libertarian party should not kick him out because he is critical of Islam.

“You have to be Shariah-compliant if you’re going to run for a party in Alberta,” he said. “I criticized people that will use the word Islamophobia because I don’t believe in Islamophobia. I think nobody has a phobia if they are actually criticizing Islam. It’s all about: you can’t criticize Islam.

READ MORE: Calgary mosque encourages people to combat Islamophobia after New Zealand attack

“They asked for my resignation. I said, ‘Absolutely not,’ because they’re saying stuff like, ‘You’re a racist,’ and I’m not a racist, I’m in an interracial marriage.”

Knutson said he was turned off by the UCP after that party turfed a nomination candidate over photos he took with the far-right group Soldiers of Odin. He said he believed the Freedom Conservatives would allow its prospective candidates to have more freedom in their comments and associations.

READ MORE: UCP nomination candidate turfed in pub night controversy: ‘Polite racist is still racist’

Watch below: (From October 2018) Rachel Notley responds to the UCP disqualifying Lance Coulter after comments about the Soldiers of Odin.

Click to play video: 'Notley says UCP candidate disqualification comes ‘a little late’'
Notley says UCP candidate disqualification comes ‘a little late’

Johnston said while the Freedom Conservative Party does see itself as a party of conservative libertarians,”there’s no place for Islamophobia in any party… and no one’s going to stand for that type of stuff.”

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“He’s truly doubled down in the last few days, trying to prove that he is a racist and he is Islamophobic and I find his comments to be deplorable and we absolutely wholeheartedly reject them.”

Since being removed as the Freedom Conservatives’ candidate, Knutson has been active on Twitter, posting about Islam and saying he would vote for Caylan Ford, who recently resigned as a UCP candidate over comments about race and white supremacist terrorists; Eva Kiryakos, who recently resigned as a UCP candidate for comments she made about gender-neutral washrooms and a post she shared about refugees; and Todd Beasley, who was prevented from running for the UCP after social media posts were discovered in which he said of Islam that he hoped someone in history would have “snuffed this evil cult when they had the chance.”

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

Watch below: (From March 19, 2019) UCP Leader Jason Kenney condemned comments Caylan Ford reportedly made about white nationalism on Day 1 of the election campaign. Jenna Freeman reports on what the effect could be for Kenney in his quest to be premie

Click to play video: 'Jason Kenney responds to Caylan Ford’s resignation from UCP race'
Jason Kenney responds to Caylan Ford’s resignation from UCP race

“I think Mr. Knutson is unfit to be a politician in the province of Alberta,” Johnston said. “We need to be standing up against hate and intolerance and I know that he said we’re a bad libertarian party for not protecting his freedom of speech, but I argue he’s a bad conservative for failing to stand up against terrorism.”

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Knutson said he has “the best intentions for every individual Muslim” and that he hopes “they have great lives.”

“But taking away my free speech with regards to religion just because I want to be a political candidate I think is very cowardly of the Freedom Conversative Party.”

Wade Woywitka

On Tuesday, the Freedom Conservative Party confirmed Wade Woywitka, who had been its candidate in Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright, was asked to resign by the party which Woywitka did.

“It was a similar situation [to Knutson’s],” Johnston said when asked why Woywitka was asked to step down. “[He] had made some controversial posts.”

Johnston said he couldn’t immediately elaborate but Woywitka told Global News he believes his involvement in the Yellow Vest movement and views he has expressed on immigrants prompted the call for him to resign.

“[Things were brought up by another party about] stuff I said on the internet about our Yellow Vest movement and of course, as soon as you’re part of the Yellow Vests, you’re painted as a racist and every other thing in the book because we’re against the UN and we want pipelines built and everybody to get back to work,” he said.
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“They were taking… just stuff I had said… interviews I had done in Ottawa (when the United We Roll convoy arrived there), and picking and choosing what they wanted to use out of context.”

READ MORE: Large pro-pipeline truck convoy protests federal oil policies in Ottawa

Watch below: (From February 2019) A pro-pipeline convoy arrived at Parliament Hill Tuesday. Kendra Slugoski and Mike Le Couteur have more on the issues the protesters from across Canada want addressed.

Click to play video: 'Pro-pipeline convoy rallies in Ottawa to protest federal oil policies'
Pro-pipeline convoy rallies in Ottawa to protest federal oil policies

Woywitka said he knows one social media post — that he said he made years ago — in particular helped bring about the end of his candidacy.

“It was in regards to all the immigrants coming in and I said, ‘Yeah, we need someone like (Donald) Trump to keep all the foreigners out of our country because they’re taking over and they’re ruining our country for our children,” he recounted.

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“I talked to Derek and he just said, ‘There’s all these things they’re saying about you,’ and I just told him… ‘I’m not doing it (running as a candidate any longer) cause I’m not taking down the Yellow Vest movement for anything.'”

However, Woywitka said he plans to continue to support the Freedom Conservatives going forward.

“I back them 110 per cent,” he said. “That’s how I’m voting this year… I will back Derek [Fildebrandt] 110 per cent.

“We’re here for one reason and that’s to make our country better and to get our sovereignty back and to be a free nation again and not have some globalist government running our country, and I’m pretty sure that the Freedom Conservative Party and most Albertans have the same views that I do.”

Watch below: (From March 21, 20190 The Freedom Conservative Party launched its 2019 election campaign in Calgary on Thursday.

Click to play video: 'Freedom Conservative Party launches its 2019 election campaign'
Freedom Conservative Party launches its 2019 election campaign

Woywitka, who indicated he was previously active in the Wildrose Party, said he is not sure if he will run for office again but he hopes all Albertans will vote this election, regardless of what party they support.

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Chad Miller has now replaced Knutson as the Freedom Conservatives’ candidate in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake while Matthew Powell has now replaced Woywitka as the party’s candidate in Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright.

Albertans head to the polls on April 16.

–With files from Global News’ Slav Kornik

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