A trio of UCP candidates came under fire Tuesday as past homophobic comments from two men came to light, while a third candidate’s apparent support for the contentious Yellow Vest movement forced the party leader to come to his defence.
Mark Smith, previously elected as a Wildrose MLA for Drayton Valley-Devon, who also served as the UCP’s education critic, gave a 2013 sermon at the Calvary Baptist Church in Drayton Valley saying media portrayals of LGBTQ love as “good love” are problematic.
A 45-minute audio clip of Smith’s sermon is posted on the church’s website. On Tuesday, the CJSR radio program Gaywire posted a short clip of the sermon on its Twitter account, saying it revived an ugly attack on the LGBTQ community.
In the sermon, he muses about what love is, and what it means to love God.
“You don’t have to watch any TV for any length of time today where you don’t see on the TV program them trying to tell you that homosexuality and homosexual love is good love,” Smith said in the sermon. “Heck, there are people out there, I could take you to places on the website I’m sure, where you can find out, where pedophilia is love.”
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He also said some people would argue it’s more loving to abort a fetus “than to bring a child, unloved, into the world.”
JUST IN Mark Smith, @jkenney UCP candidate in Drayton-Valley Devon, and hand-picked Education critic, revives one of the most harmful and ugly attacks on the LGBTQ2S community. Listen to to him say “homosexual love” isn’t real love and is akin to pedophelia. #ableg #abvote33211:30 AM – Apr 2, 2019513 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy
In a statement posted Tuesday by Unite Alberta, UCP Leader Jason Kenney’s official Twitter account, Smith said he doesn’t recall the comments, which he made before he was elected as an MLA in 2015. He said he regrets how he framed his remarks.
“Of course I do not believe that homosexuality is akin to pedophilia. I unequivocally apologize if anyone was offended or hurt,” he said.
Also in a Tuesday statement, Kenney said Smith made the comments before he was an MLA, and he has not, to Kenney’s knowledge, made similarly offensive comments.
“I personally find his comments from 2013 offensive, and Mr. Smith has rightly apologized,” Kenney said.
Sarah Hoffman, NDP candidate for Edmonton Glenora, called on Kenney to fire Smith as a candidate, saying his comments were “offensive, homophobic and completely neglect women’s rights.”
Firing LGBTQ teachers
Postmedia also obtained a document, dated Sept. 30, 2015, authored by Smith, entitled, “Should Christian public schools be able to fire a homosexual teacher that claims to be homosexual?”
A source said Smith wrote it and distributed it to Wildrose caucus and staff.
In the document, Smith, who is not a lawyer, argued the Canadian Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives independent and Catholic schools the right to dismiss employees on religious and moral grounds.
“Does the right to equality before the law have limits? Yes, it would appear that at least one reasonable limit upheld by the Constitution is the right to hire and fire for denominational cause,” Smith wrote.
In late 2018, several Catholic teachers came forward saying they had been fired, or lived in fear of being fired, for having same-sex relationships or living with a partner out of wedlock, which potentially violated religious agreements they signed when they took their school district jobs.
UCP spokesman Harrison Fleming said it appears Smith wrote the document before he was elected, because he refers to himself as a “Wildrose candidate.”
Smith’s views do not reflect the party’s position, he said.
“We believe that when issues of competing constitutional rights arise, they are better resolved by the judiciary than by politicians,” Fleming said.
UCP candidate promoted anti-Muslim book
Another UCP MLA hopeful is under fire after the NDP accused him of promoting “extreme materials” in a sermon and publishing anti-gay content in a church newsletter.
He said the book — released first in 1994 under the title The Body and again in 2003 under the title Being the Body — tells the story of the “persecuted Church.”
In a news release Tuesday, the NDP called the book anti-Muslim. The 2003 version, which has a preview available online, called Islam “intrinsically a militant religion, which, if true to its own doctrine, expands by force.”
Reid said he was referencing the original version in his sermon.
The NDP also took issue with a 2003 First Alliance Church newsletter published when Reid was director of communications. It contained a book review of The Homosexual Agenda, which argues LGBTQ activists are trying to trump the rights of others, especially religious people.
“The authors provide well-documented proof that America is not only becoming more tolerant of homosexual behaviour, it is becoming less tolerant of those who disagree with the lifestyle,” said the review.
Reid said his views have since evolved.
“Albertans are tired of revisiting old, divisive debates from many years prior,” Reid said in a Tuesday statement.
Yellow vest fan
Kenney also said Tuesday a candidate who shared an anti-United Nations meme on Facebook holds a legitimate perspective.
Anti-conservative website PressProgress posted an article Sunday about a “Yellow Vest Canada” Facebook post shared by UCP Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland candidate Shane Getson in December.
The meme shows an image of the UN flag with the message, “I do not recognize this flag as my country’s flag and I do not support the United Nations Compact Agreement. Sharing this FB post shows my ‘social media’ vote against Canada supporting the UN and their dangerous agendas (sic).”
Getson shared the meme, titled “message to Trudeau,” saying that he and his wife read the compact and it scared him.
Yellow vesters have held protests in Edmonton, demonstrating against the UN’s Global Compact for Migration. The deal aims to improve cooperation on international migration. It’s not legally binding,allowing its 193 signatory countries, including Canada, to control their own immigration rules.
The agreement is an effort to prevent suffering and chaos, said the UN.
Kenney said the UN pact is a federal issue, so it’s not on the radar of the UCP.
“A third of the member states of the European Union, Australia, the U.S. are opposed to the UN migration pact, so I think that’s a legitimate perspective to hold,” he said of Getson’s decision to share the meme.
Recently, two UCP candidates quit the race after past comments were dredged up. Former Calgary-South East candidate Eva Kiryakos withdrew after anti-Muslim comments she made on social media came to light. She had also criticized gay-straight alliances, saying they convert children instead of protecting them.
Her resignation followed Caylan Ford’s decision to quit. The former candidate for Calgary-Mountain View wrote Facebook messages containing white nationalist rhetoric.