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Transcript: Charles Adler’s fiery interview with UCP Leader Jason Kenney

LISTEN ABOVE: Full Charles Adler show: half-hour interview with Jason Kenney, followed up with reaction from Rachel Notley on the evening of Wednesday, April 3, 2019.

If the polls are to be believed, United Conservative Party (UCP) Leader Jason Kenney is poised to be the next premier of Alberta at a time when politics in the province has become increasingly divisive.

Kenney spoke on Global News Radio with veteran broadcaster Charles Adler on Wednesday and said he has no plans on dropping Mark Smith, a candidate who has come under fire for past remarks that have been labelled homophobic and anti-abortion.

Adler acknowledged he has known Jason Kenney for many years and considers him a friend. That said, Adler did not hold back the tough questions. Kenney was grilled about controversies that have ensnared the UCP, including the party’s diversity.

Below is a transcript of Kenney’s interview. Of note, at some points Adler and Kenney talked over and interrupted each other, therefore some parts of the transcription are cut off.

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Immediately following Kenney’s half-hour interview, Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley joined Adler on the program to react and share her views. (Audio from that interview is at the bottom of this story.)


Transcript of Jason Kenney on Charles Adler

ADLER: Mr. Kenney, welcome.

KENNEY: Hi there Charles, good to be on the program.

ADLER: This is a show that I never wanted to do, Mr. Kenney and I think you understand why. We’ve been very good friends for a number of years. I’ve got to ask some uncomfortable questions tonight, but before we do anything else I just want to thank you, knowing that it’s been a tough week at the office for you, a tough couple of weeks. The safest thing to do, especially the night before the debate that’s scheduled for tomorrow, is to just stay away from this conversation tonight. Across the country, most politicians would have stayed away. You’re a standup guy, you’re here and I want to thank you for that.

KENNEY: Always happy to be on your show, Charles.

ADLER: So let’s get right to. We’re going to run a piece of tape here, it’s a minute and 10 seconds and this is the controversial MLA who Jason Kenney has decided to keep. I’ll give him a chance and just a few moments to see if he wants to change his mind about that, but in the meantime this particular MLA has Jason Kenney’s blessing, this was from a sermon that Mark Smith did six years ago:

(Runs clip from Mark Smith’s sermon.)

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What is love? You know, it’s all around you. I think there’s a real misguided sense of when we try to understand what love is. And we were just at the pro-life conference here, and there are some people that would argue that it is a more loving thing to abort your child into bring it in, unloved, into the world. That’s love. It’s loving to abort your child, to kill your child rather than to have it born and maybe not have perfect life. I mean, Robert Latimer — murdered his daughter and called it love. You don’t have to watch any TV for any length of time today, where you don’t see on the TV programs, them trying to tell you that homosexuality and homosexual love is good love. Heck, there are even people out there, I could take you I could take you to places on the website, I’m sure, where you can find out that there’s uh, where pedophilia is love.

ADLER: Jason Kenney, when I first heard the piece on abortion and women wanting to kill, and loving the idea of killing — the first person I thought of was Laureen Harper. What would Laureen Harper say, if she heard that and if she heard that the Conservative Party of Canada — which you were a member of, for all I know you’re still a member of it, a senior official in it — if Jason Kenney, who recruited some fabulous talent, if Laureen Harper heard that this was someone that Jason Kenney had recruited: What would Laureen Harper think? Maybe you want to channel that one, maybe you don’t, but I thought I’d start with that.

KENNEY: First of all Charles, let me be clear: I find what you just played — and I hadn’t heard this audio tape before — offensive and I condemn Mark Smith’s remarks that he made in his church several years ago. I did not recruit Mr. Smith — he was elected to the legislature four years ago for a different party, the Wildrose party — and so I make no bones about saying that what he said is deeply offensive to many people, and I think objectively so. Charles, I’ve known this person as an MLA, as leader for the past sixteen months and I’ve observed him somewhat distantly for the three years he was in the Legislature before that. I’ve never seen him or heard him, privately or publicly, in that capacity express disrespect a towards anybody or any group of people. To the contrary, he voted in the Legislature for the inclusion of rights within the Alberta Human Rights Act for transgendered people and for sexual minorities. He has supported the right of students to create gay-straight alliances in the schools. He’s written that he believes the Education Act should comply with the Charter of Rights and ensure that students feel safe. So in my interface with Mr. Smith as an MLA, he has demonstrated respect, civility, and he has apologized without reservation for the remarks that he made in his church several years ago. So, uh, Charles, I guess you and I have a difference of view on this. I think that people should not be condemned for life because they’ve said something that is offensive or at some point in the past. He’s, I think, acted as a responsible legislator, he’s apologized for those remarks, acknowledge that they were wrong, and that’s why I think he should ultimately be accountable to his constituents.

READ MORE: Jason Kenney doubles down — still says he’ll keep candidate Mark Smith, who made homophobic remarks

ADLER: Let’s just find out what Jason Kenney is made of. What is offensive about those remarks? And we’ll start out with the piece about abortion and women loving the idea of killing children. What is offensive about that?

KENNEY: Well I think it’s self-evidently offensive. People do have different views about that issue, Charles, but that’s immaterial …

ADLER: That’s not — what’s most important to me tonight isn’t Mark Smith. What’s most important tonight, what’s most important to Albertans tonight, is Jason Kenney. That is the only reason to have this conversation-

KENNEY: Well I don’t, on that, Charles, I don’t believe there’s any woman who chooses to have an abortion with that kind of intent. That’s … deeply offensive. I think women who make that choice do so with a heavy heart, and these are incredibly difficult decisions.

ADLER: Do you see a woman’s choice to have an abortion — her reproductive choice — is that a choice to murder a baby?

KENNEY: I don’t think any woman goes and has an abortion with that intention, with a bad intention. They make choices for lots of …

ADLER: But how do you see it, Jason Kenney?

KENNEY: I see it as a difficult choice that women make, and that we should not judge. You know, I’ll quote Pope Francis on this: “Who am I to judge?”

ADLER: So if you were the father of a child, and the child was aborted: Would you say that the person who is the mother of the child, murdered your baby?

KENNEY: I wouldn’t offend women who’ve made such a difficult decision, and that’s why I think this language is-

ADLER: I’m using this, I’m using this language because several of the far-right, pro-life organizations that are supporting you, Mr. Kenney, that’s how they talk and that’s how they talk to me about why they’re supporting you. That’s why I’m asking.

KENNEY: Well again Charles, the law on this question in Canada is settled. There hasn’t been a debate in Parliament since, I think, 1988 on restricting access to abortion. Most of those groups that you’re referring to are focused on things like ensuring that there’s palliative care for people facing end-of-life decisions. But I think the language Mr. Smith used here was over-the-top and deeply offensive.

ADLER: Alright. On the business of gay love and whether it’s real, whether homosexual love is really love: why is that offensive to you, Mr Kenney?

KENNEY: I think the question there got turned around: first of all, let me be clear that I’ve always said that we should never judge people based on who they love or how they pray. We should respect the dignity of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or sexual identity and … love is love. That people with diverse sexual orientations and identities are people who seek love and relationships, that we should honour and respect. And I’ve been clear, Charles, since I was in Parliament in the mid-2000s and supporting domestic partner legislation that would allow legal recognition of that love and those supportive relationships. It’s true Charles, as I’ve said to you before, that 15 and 20 years ago I supported the traditional definition of marriage, as did pretty much everybody in democratic politics in the western world until pretty recently, from Barack Obama to Pierre Trudeau, to Tommy Douglas and Bill Clinton …

ADLER: Well you did more than that, Mr. Kenney. Everyone now knows what some of your activity was about in San Francisco. I mean, you actively participated in an initiative to take away rights from people with AIDS and their spouses, you actively participated in — and were gleeful about — not allowing lovers to visit their dying lovers, dying of AIDS. They couldn’t visit them in hospitals — some of them couldn’t even attend their funerals. And this was something that you were proud of, so that’s beyond what you’re talking about, well beyond …

KENNEY: No, I don’t agree with you, your characterization. It’s true that I put up some posters on campus and handed out some brochures that an initiative campaign that was supported by the majority of voters in the very progressive city of San Francisco, a position that was supported by then-mayor Dianne Feinstein …

ADLER: What was the consequence of your action, Mr. Kenney? What was the consequence?

KENNEY: So Charles, The reason I took that position is because I was concerned at that time — when I was 20 years of age, 21 years of age in the 1980s — I was concerned that that legislation would lead to change in the definition of marriage, which ultimately, one would argue, it did. And now I acknowledge that the political and social mores has changed on those questions.

ADLER: In the meantime, AIDs patients were dying alone. No visitors, no visitation allowed and in many cases, they couldn’t even visit them at funerals and of course (interrupted briefly by Kenney, audio garbled) And I could go on here. Mr. Kenney, we could put this to bed immediately if you could only offer a genuine, fulsome apology — I’ll move on from San Francisco — have you ever offered a genuine, remorseful apology for the many people that you and your colleagues hurt with that initiative?

KENNEY: Charles, I’ve said that I regret many things I did when I was a young man and I wouldn’t take the same position-

ADLER: That’s not an apology, Mr. Kenney, that’s not an apology.

KENNEY: If I could just finish, Charles.

ADLER: Alright.

KENNEY: I wouldn’t take the same position today. I don’t take the same position today. I can tell you that what motivated me was not a desire to separate people, that never occurred to me. To the contrary, Charles, at that time, exactly that time I was volunteering periodically on weekends at the Missionaries of Charity Gift of Love AIDS Hospice in San Francisco, and I’m quite sure they didn’t restrict who visited that place, never should have-

ADLER: Jason Kenney, you’re on tape saying, in a gleeful way — and I realize you were highly immature at the time — but you’re calling San Francisco “Babylon on the Bay,” you’re calling it “Sodom on the Sea” and you’re giggling about it.

KENNEY: Charles, again, I regret the position I took then, and I’ve said I was wrong to do so.

ADLER: It’s not a position piece, Jason Kenney. It’s a moral compass piece. That’s what we’re talking about here. That’s why I’m asking you questions about ‘why this offends you, or that offends you. How do you really see the choice to abort, how do you really see gay love — that’s why I’m asking these questions, because at the moment — unlike for many years, while you were doing your business with the federal Conservatives, where you were recruiting stars; people that other Conservatives were proud to call Conservative — you’re surrounded now with what I guess is generally called “bozo eruptions.” Ryan Jespersen was on yesterday. He was counting dozens of them, for instance, dozens of “bozo eruptions” and so people, naturally ask the question: Is this the real Jason Kenney? It’s like knock-knock, what did you do with my friend Jason Kenney? That’s what it’s feeling like right now.

KENNEY: So Charles, first of all, we have a team of 87 candidates: one of the most diverse teams that’s ever been presented to the people of Alberta in an election. We have Muslims and Sikhs, Hindus and Jews, Aboriginal Albertans, a huge number of new Canadians in what is the largest provincial political party in Canada — that I truly believe does represent the diversity of today’s Alberta. A party I’ve always been clear must respect the dignity of all people. To talk about positions I took over 30 years ago in university… is not what we’re focused on. I expressed my regret for positions I took …

ADLER: Alright, well I haven’t gotten an apology yet, so I guess I’ve given it three tries and I’ll quit on that. I was in shock, as many people were, when they heard Mark Smith’s sermon: the misogynistic crap, the homophobic sewage, was shocked. And I was saying that my friend Ryan Jesperson, “All Kenney has to do with this is simply say to Mark Smith, ‘This does not represent Alberta values, this does not represent United Conservative Party values, this does not represent Jason Kenney’s values,’” and Ryan said:

(Plays clip from Tuesday night’s heated conversation with 630 CHED commentator Ryan Jespersen)

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JESPERSEN: “It does represent Jason Kenney’s values and that’s why Jason Kenney’s not doing a damn thing about it, Charles. Jason Kenney is beholden to the Wilberforce Project, he’s beholden to Right Now, he’s beholden to Parents for Choice in Education, he’s beholden to the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms, he’s beholden to Ezra Levant and Rebel Media.”

READ MORE: COMMENTARY: Jason Kenney just won’t put the Mark Smith issue behind him. Why?

ADLER: Jason Kenney, I want to give you time for an answer, I just had to reset it for people tuning in now. What’s your answer to the charge — and I think you’ll agree, it’s a serious charge — that you’re not your own person; that all this business about the United Conservative Party is a joke: it isn’t about a union of Conservatives, it’s about Jason Kenney paying his bills; his political bills to far-right groups and their owning Jason Kenney’s mind right now?

KENNEY: First of all, that’s completely ridiculous Charles. Secondly, what Mark Smith said in his sermon six years ago does not represent Alberta values, or United Conservative values, or my values — which is why I have condemned them, said that they were hurtful and offensive. You quoted Mr. Jespersen’s, what Ryan Jespersen is saying there — it’s ridiculous. I get attacked, often viciously, on almost a daily basis, by Rebel Media. I have basically no contact with most of those organizations he just mentioned. I am my own person. I am accountable to the members of my party, to my constituents, I’ve been elected in this province, I think eight times with an average 72 per cent of the vote, and I’m leading what is the largest provincial political party in Canada with 160,000 members, with one of the most diverse teams ever assembled in Alberta politics — that is well within the mainstream values of this province.

ADLER: By the way, you keep talking about how diverse the team is. OK, one group that you haven’t mentioned — and it’s kind of relevant, considering everything else we’ve been talking about — would be openly gay, openly LGBT people. How many of those have you recruited for the United Conservative Party roster?

KENNEY: Well, we had openly gay candidates running for nominations. None of them succeeded, and I hope they will next time and I certainly encourage that. We had a LGBTory presence at our founding convention that is very active in our party, we’ve sponsored Pride parades. We’ve made it clear that ours is a party that judges people on the basis of how they treat others-

ADLER: I’m just, Mr, Kenney, I’m not trying to be rude, I just want the arithmetic: did you say none?

KENNEY: Yeah …

ADLER: None? Zero?

KENNEY: I’m not aware of any openly gay candidates that got nominated, but I am aware of at least two; two or three I think, who sought nominations. We had very competitive nominations, and a lot of folks from diverse backgrounds, including gay Albertans didn’t succeed in winning the nominations this time, and I hope they will in the future.

ADLER: What’s the message to openly gay, openly LGBT people in Alberta that there’s not a single one of them on the roster right now for the United Conservative Party, which means not a single one of them will be in government or caucus — if you, assuming you win — I’m just going with the polls right now.

KENNEY: The message is, this is a party that believes in equality of opportunity, and we welcomed — and in fact, I actively encouraged openly gay Albertans to seek our nominations, including people who work in my office and I’m proud of the effort that they made. I hope that they’ll win nominations, competitive nominations next time; will continue to have an active presence, an organized presence of gay Conservatives …

ADLER: Jason Kenney, do you — I know I sound like I’m in your grill. But I’ve considered you a friend for a long time and I know you’re an intelligent person and you’re politically astute. Don’t you realize that right now, people are screaming back at the radio and they’re saying, “People who hate LGBT people are highly attracted to the party and running for the party, but the people who are LGBT people — the targets of the hatred — they’re not running for the party.”

KENNEY: That’s not tr- I’m sorry Charles, maybe you didn’t hear what I just said, which is that we had openly gay Albertans seeking UCP nominations …

ADLER: But none of them — none of them — are up for election right now as members of the UCP. Not a single one.

KENNEY: Charles, Not everybody who ran for — we had over 340 people running for nominations and only 87 of them were nominated. But here’s the point: I actively, proactively reached out to gay Albertans to encourage them to seek nominations and I know least three who did, including a member of my staff. And I only want to continue to encourage that active participation, including through LGBTory, which is very active in our party. But Charles, coming back to Mr. Smith, to be clear: I condemned his remarks, I find them offensive …

ADLER: But he’s running for you, Mr. Kenney.

KENNEY: So Charles …

ADLER: Condemnation doesn’t mean anything because he’s running for you.

KENNEY: Charles, since he was elected I have not been privy to him having said anything offensive to Albertans. On the contrary, He voted for the inclusion of transgender rights in the Alberta Human Rights Act, he openly supported the right of students to create gay-straight alliances in our schools, he’s openly said that the Education Act and system in Alberta must comply with the Charter of Rights-

ADLER: Well no doubt, he’s also agreed with peeling back the gay-straight alliance business to what it was a number of years ago. That’s one of the reasons this was extremely controversial last week when you made the announcement. Clearly, there won’t be the same protection for LGBT people and clearly, as far as the private schools, the religious schools are concerned, there won’t be any pressure on them to have gay-straight alliance — not like they did under the law beforehand. I know you’ll say that’s not true, that’s some kind of media spin or NDP spin or whatever, but if that wasn’t the case, LGBT people would not be reacting as they have been for the last week or so.

KENNEY: Charles, it’s not spin. In 2014, the Wildrose and PC caucuses — and all of the parties in Alberta’s legislature — voted to create the right of students to have peer-support groups in both public and private independent schools called gay-straight alliances. That law is the strongest legal protection for GSAs of any province in Canada. Your province, British Columbia, has no such laws. There’s only Manitoba and Ontario …

ADLER: But if you get in, it’ll be weaker than the law that the NDP passed.

KENNEY: Charles, what we’re proposing is the same law the NDP supported and had in place for their first two and a half years …

ADLER: But it’s not the law that’s in place right now, Mr. Kenney. Math is math.

KENNEY: Charles, once again, we’ll have the strongest legal protection for gay-straight alliances of any province in Canada. You don’t even have in British Columbia under an NDP government …

ADLER: This isn’t about B.C. and Alberta. It’s about modern societies don’t go backwards, they go forwards. LGBT people will, under your government, have less protection than they have at this moment.

KENNEY: That’s not true. Charles, I suggested that you speak to the parents of a 12-year-old autistic girl who say they’re afraid their daughter wouldn’t be alive today if the NDP amendments had been in place when she needed parental support while she was going through a crisis of her identity around gender dysphoria. I encourage you to speak to the parents whose child was taken out of school …

ADLER: I’m not going to argue with parents, I’m not going to say that the story is not true. It’s a story, it’s an interesting anecdote …

KENNEY:  They’re before the courts Charles, these are cases …

ADLER: I understand that, but many people in the LGBT community feel that you’re using this family that’s going through its own struggles — and we all root for them — many people in the LGBT community right now, Mr. Kenney, feel you’re using this family as a campaign prop.

KENNEY: Charles, that’s offensive. This family filed their objections in court to the secrecy that jeopardize their autistic daughter. Charles, all we’re proposing is the strongest legal protections for gay-straight alliances in Canada, but we don’t think Alberta should be the only jurisdiction in North America — perhaps I think the democratic world — that takes a completely adversarial approach to parents in every instance. We do believe there can be some unique circumstances, particularly involving young kids who might be facing emotional and mental health challenges, when a school will determine it’s in the best interest of the child health and safety to seek the loving support of caring (sic) patients [parents.] Now you can try to shout me down about this …
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ADLER: I’m not shouting at all. Look Mr. Kenney, we had a bunch of calls last night, we only took a couple of them, because every one of them wanted to gay bash. Every one of them. They were all people who are supporters of yours, and they wanted to gay bash. And all I could think — most of these who were guys — all I could think about was, “I hope they don’t have kids.” But they probably do. But what if some of those kids are gay? Are these the kinds of guys that these kids can talk to? And if they get outed, those kids are in big trouble — I don’t want them to be outed.

KENNEY: Charles, nobody is proposing that anybody be outed. A teacher has a professional, ethical responsibility to maintain, in confidence, information that if a child confides in the teacher, about their sexual orientation or troubles they are going through at home, they have a professional obligation to maintain that. That is secret and confidential, personal information. Charles, all we’re suggesting is that Alberta should not be the only jurisdiction in North America that puts into law a completely adversarial relationship with all parents, in all instances.

ADLER: Why do the LGBT people, the openly LGBT people, why do all of them believe that these kids will have less protection if you’re elected than they have right now?

KENNEY: Charles, I don’t accept that. I know gay Albertans who believe there should be a moderate position here. That sometimes — especially with young children — it is in their interest to be able to engage the loving support of caring parents. That’s the position taken here in Alberta by the LGBTory group, for example, and so Charles — not all of these issues are simply black and white we should acknowledge that.

ADLER: I have no trouble understanding why partisan Conservatives who happen to be gay are on your side on this, but nobody else seems to be. That’s the issue.

KENNEY: Well actually, the polling suggests that most Albertans are …

ADLER: I’m talking about the members of the LGBT community who are most affected, Mr. Kenney. You know what I’m talking about.

KENNEY: Charles, I think most people understand that having the, using the blunt instrument of the law is not always the right way to deal with complex circumstances. Like the case of the child — this is now before the courts — the child who was taken out of school without the knowledge or consent of their parents, taken to a conference in a stranger’s car — who is not a teacher or licensed with the school — those parents are saying, “How could that happen?” That is a reasonable question for parents to answer and parents like that, Charles, will not be called names and shouted down.

ADLER: I’m not calling anybody names. You’re not hearing me call them names. You’re not hearing anyone called them names.

KENNEY: Well there’s been a lot of name-calling on this show, Charles. We can condemn homophobia, we can defend the dignity of all people, we can respect the right of people to love one another, under our current law to marry people regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, we can — as Mr. Smith did — vote for the recognition of transgender rights in law. We can do all of those things while still saying, surely a child should not be taken out of a school by a stranger …

ADLER: Why are so many people who bash gays and bash women, why are so many people who bash Muslims, attracted to the United Conservative Party?

KENNEY: Charles, I reject that. You know who are attracted to this party, amongst the groups you just mentioned? Thousands and thousands of Muslim Albertans. We have, I believe, four Muslim candidates — and many more that ran for nominations unsuccessfully. As I said before, we have Sikh, Jewish and Muslim and African and Hindu candidates, and yes, we have Christian candidates too, Charles. This is a broad tent coalition that respects, that reflects the diversity of today’s Alberta.

ADLER: Why are the knuckle-draggers attracted to your party?

KENNEY: Charles I’m sorry, you’re just throwing around insults and I regret that.

(Plays another clip from Tuesday night’s heated conversation with 630 CHED commentator Ryan Jespersen)

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JESPERSEN: Todd Beasley, who was forced to resign as a candidate for calling of those that would follow Islam ‘Satan worshipers,’ the followers of a pedophile warrior; there’s Randy Kerr who was not removed as a candidate when he called global warming, climate change a hoax — but was removed when he was tied to the scandal around the Jeff Calloway kamikaze campaign; there was Jerry Molnar, who is blocked from running because of his comments about ‘so-called trannies,’ there was Del Shupenia, who is blocked from running because of his comments around anti-Islam; John Carpay remains a member of the party; there was Jeremy Wong — a candidate in Calgary who preached that wives should submit to their husbands —

ADLER: Ryan, let me just ask, no I understand, just let me ask a question here because people are listening across the country, I don’t want to be overly parochial — I get what you are saying, but …

JESPERSEN: Don’t you think this is important to point out Charles? That the list is 25 deep?

ADLER: Twenty-five deep, Mr. Kenney. Once again, I can’t believe when you were helping to recruit people for the Conservative Party of Canada with Mr. Harper and Mr. Baird and all of those other mainstream Conservatives, that you would have had 25 Bozo eruptions in just weeks.

KENNEY: That’s rubbish, Charles. You know what, this is just going too far. There’s a list of people, some of whom never actually filed as applicants for Conservative nominations, some of whom were disqualified as candidates months ago, not weeks ago, were never allowed to run. This is a smear job. Listen, I am proud of the candidates who are representing our party, that represents the most diverse slate, certainly ever, of a free-enterprise party in Alberta politics. People of great achievement — I just came from a news comment earlier today with Leila Houle: an Alberta Cree woman who grew up in extraordinarily adverse circumstances, has managed to get ahead and is now a respected member of the public service; with Kara Barker, who grew up, ended up as a single mom, was briefly homeless, but has become a Crown prosecutor from an Aboriginal background. With over a quarter of our candidates who self-identify as coming from visible minority backgrounds, from every faith community in the province, and these people who represent the largest provincial political party in Canada, are not going to continue to be called names in this campaign of defamation. We’ve been clear: the people will not run as candidates, we’ve removed the handful of people — like, three or four out of 160,000 members who have been identified with groups that promote hatred — and I remind you, Charles, my own record is that of the minister of immigration, who welcomed more newcomers to Canada than any immigration minister in Canadian history.

ADLER: Is Mark Smith your education minister?

KENNEY: I am the only immigration minister in history to create a specific refugee program for persecuted gay refugees who have thanked me for saving their lives …

ADLER: Is Mark Smith your education minister?

KENNEY: Charles, you can go to the comments board of Rebel Media or my own Facebook page, and see me being attacked every single day, supposedly because I support immigration, they call me a globalist, they attack me every single day. Charles, this is a mainstream party and we will not accept this kind of smear campaign.

ADLER: Would a mainstream Conservative party have Mark Smith as the education minister? The one who preached that sermon six years ago? Would any mainstream conservative party anywhere have that man as the education minister, especially considering how controversial education is right now?

KENNEY: Charles, I’m not appointing a cabinet right now, I can tell you this …

ADLER: He was your education critic so it’s something I need to ask you. Is he going to be your education minister? Let me ask it in a simple way: Is he eligible to be your education minister?

KENNEY: The answer is no, Charles. But Charles, once again while I condemn without equivocation the comments he made in his church six years ago — for which he has unequivocally apologized — I also acknowledge in his four years in elected office, he’s conducted himself with respect for others, voting for the recognition of transgender rights, of guidelines for positive guidelines for gay-straight alliances, and I believe this is somebody who’s also grown in his time in public life, in public service. Now Charles, maybe you like to throw around permanent condemnations of people based on things they’ve said in the past-

ADLER: It wasn’t the distant past, it wasn’t 10 years old.

KENNEY: I do believe that people deserve a second chance. This is a man who has apologized for what he said without equivocation, and who is not reflected an attitude of disrespect towards fellow Albertans as an elected member of the legislature.

ADLER: Mr. Kenney, good luck into the debate tomorrow night and in the election. Thank you once again for being a stand-up person, showing up for a tough night at the office, appreciate that very much.

KENNEY: Thanks for the opportunity, Charles, all the best.

COMMENTARY: Jason Kenney just won’t put the Mark Smith issue behind him. Why?


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Interview with Rachel Notley on Charles Adler