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

In Alberta, the United Conservative Party is standing by candidate Mark Smith after an audio recording from 2013 surfaced, where he compared homosexuality to pedophilia. Tom Vernon explains what this means for the UCP, already clouded in controversy weeks before the provincial election.

Jason Kenney has had several chances to change his mind about pulling Mark Smith as the United Conservative Party (UCP) candidate in the riding of Drayton Valley-Devon.

Smith has made national headlines for all the wrong reasons — namely, a homophobic, misogynistic sermon preached only six years ago.

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

I have found it hard to believe that UCP leader Kenney would allow this issue to last through several news cycles. The easiest way to kill it off would have been to simply say something like, “This candidate doesn’t represent Alberta values or United Conservative Party Values or Jason Kenney values.”

But instead of doing that, Kenney has decided to give the issue more oxygen and thus give his own campaign more question marks.

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Kenney may be able to change the channel with a strong debate performance on Thursday night. But there is no doubt that in continuing to keep the issue alive, he keeps forcing mainstream Albertans to ask, why does Jason Kenney try so hard not to offend the hard right in Alberta?

Charles Adler hosts Charles Adler Tonight on Global News Radio and is a columnist for Global News.