On Monday, Gil McGowan penned several tweets that compared the actions of Alberta’s current political party with “tactics pioneered by the Nazis.”
“Hitler’s propaganda chief Joseph Goebbel famously said: ‘always accuse your enemies of what you are doing yourself.’ That’s exactly what’s going on with Jason Kenney’s union-busting Bill 32,” McGowan wrote.
In a thread, McGowan continued to call out the UCP’s actions as “authoritarian.”
“Yes, I’m accusing the UCP of adopting tactics pioneered by the Nazis and being implemented right-wing authoritarians today,” he tweeted.
“Hungary, Turkey, Brazil, India, Trump’s America. These are all countries led by authoritarians who Kenney calls friends. This is what we’re up against.”
McGowan’s tweets garnered the attention of the Jewish community. On Monday the Calgary Jewish Federation expressed their concern at the comparison.
“We are aware of recent comments on social media from Gil McGowan,” the tweet read. “Comparing the UCP to Nazis.
“We have reached out directly to Gil McGowan’s office to discuss our concerns.”
Global News has reached out to the Calgary Jewish Federation for further comment, but has not heard back by time of publication.
B’nai Birth Canada, a Jewish service organization, also responded to McGowan’s comments.
On Monday, the organizations CEO Michael Mostyn took to Twitter to demand an apology from the Alberta Federation of Labour’s president.
“Comparing peaceful enactment of legislation by a democratically elected premier to the strategies of the tyrannical Nazi regime diminishes Nazi crimes and is an insult to Canadian democracy,” Mostyn tweeted.
“Gil McGowan owes the Jewish community and all Canadians an apology!”
Comparing peaceful enactment of legislation by a democratically elected premier to the strategies of the tyrannical Nazi regime diminishes Nazi crimes and is an insult to Canadian democracy. @gilmcgowan owes the Jewish community and all Canadians an apology! #abpoli #cdnpoli
— Michael Mostyn (@MichaelMostyn) July 14, 2020
“It is disappointing but not surprising to see NDP-affiliated union bosses like Gil McGowan stoop so low as to compare government policy (giving union members choice on whether their wages are used for political purposes) to the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis.”
Myatt added the UCP is also asking for action from the NDP following McGowan’s tweet.
“We also call on the Alberta NDP to formally disassociate, given that McGowan’s Alberta Federation of Labour has designated seats on the Alberta NDP’s Provincial Council.”
In a statement to Global News on Monday, McGowan addressed the concerns brought forward by the Calgary Jewish Federation, noting his comparison was not meant to offend or diminish the harsh reality of Hitler’s reign in Europe.
“Please let me reassure you that it was never my intention to offend you or anyone else in Alberta’s Jewish community,” he said.
“I certainly wasn’t intending to diminish or disrespect the millions of Jews who were brutally murdered during Hitler’s reign of terror in Europe.”
However, McGowan is not backing down. He added that he stands by his comments, as uncomfortable as they may be.
“I was attempting to draw attention to the dangerous authoritarian tendencies of a growing number of right-wing politicians around the world,” he said.
“Many reasonable experts and observers agree that we’re witnessing a reemergence of the very kind of right-wing authoritarian governments that brought us the horrors of the Holocaust.”
McGowan added that denying or ignoring these tendencies will only make the situation worse for all Albertans.
“It serves no one’s purposes to deny that these trends are real, and it’s important for Albertans to understand that Jason Kenney calls many of these international authoritarian leaders friends.”
McGowan cited the UCP’s use of referendums and its “targeting of trade unions,” are a large cause for concern. He added that calling out the “dangerous” behaviour is vital, even if that means drawing uncomfortable comparisons.
“Something dangerous and malignant is happening under Kenney and the UCP,” he said.
“It’s something that needs to be called out in the strongest possible terms, including making comparisons to its political authoritarian antecedents, which I sincerely think includes the Nazis in 20th century Germany.”