During the second week of the provincial campaign, two candidates from the same party stepped down because of racist, homophobic, and Islamophobic comments. Just yesterday there was a story about another candidate for the same party who made homophobic statements. These views should not be given a platform, and therefore I will not reshare these ignorant comments.
I was hopeful, some may say naive, that we wouldn’t see what happened in the United States happen in Alberta and the rest of Canada because we expect more of those who look to serve us. Unfortunately, we’ve seen some of those bad examples from the US make their way into our politics and I wanted to share a few thoughts about the importance of standing up against prejudice and ignorance. As an elected representative, I want to be very clear that I have and will continue to stand against and actively challenge hatred in all of its forms. There is no place for sexism, racism, homophobia, ageism, ableism, or classism in an inclusive society. As public servants, it is all of our responsibility to call out hatred.
It is not the first time and unfortunately won’t be the last time that people post terrible comments on social media or express them out in public. However, what shocks me is the lack of decisive action by the leader of the party which is being plagued by resignations over racism, sexism, Islamophobia, and homophobia.
Several media outlets have asked this party leader if he would condemn the remarks. In some of those examples, he has chosen not to. Not only were some of the remarks not condemned, but many of these individuals are also still members of the party in question and have not apologized for their comments. Just yesterday, this leader did not remove the candidate who has publicly made homophobic comments. So not only is this person still a party member, they are still a candidate in this provincial election. This is unacceptable behaviour from any party seeking to form the government.
How did we get to a point where anything less than the following would be considered acceptable:
- A full condemnation of the remarks.
- Immediate removal of those individuals from the party.
- A clear statement that the party will not tolerate hateful views.
It’s worth noting that there are other people still in this party who have publicly made very racist and homophobic statements in the past and have also not been removed as members of the party.
As a defence, statements have been made that it would be impossible to vet every person who has purchased a party membership in order to weed out those with hateful views. I would never expect any party to search through each supporter’s social media but I absolutely believe it is more than reasonable to expect that a party quickly revokes the membership of a party member who promotes hate. I do not want to believe that we have reached a point where we accept that a party leader is willing to keep people with discriminatory views as members of their party. Sadly, that seems to be the reality.
We should not accept such a lack of action from a person who wants to serve Albertans as Premier. The leader of a party sets the tone and determines what is or is not acceptable. Let me be clear – what has often been labelled as “bozo eruptions” are not harmless. They are often rooted in racism, homophobia, Islamophobic, classism, ableism, or sexism. We cannot downplay the impact that these comments make on societal progress or the individuals that this prejudice directly effects. I wouldn’t accept that lack of action from a friend or family member and I hope that we have at least as high of standards for those who want to serve us in elected office.
Unlike the US, we are fortunate to have many choices in our elections and you don’t need to vote for the ‘least of all evils.’ So whether your most important policy issue is the economy, health care, the environment, education, or any other topic, there is a good chance you can find a party that generally aligns with you. I urge you to consider these issues while also holding those vying for your support to the high moral and ethical standards that we should always expect of those looking to serve others.
The point of this post isn’t to tell you who you should or shouldn’t vote for. I’m looking forward to reviewing the detailed platforms of all the parties and attending a local debate to hear from the candidates in the riding that I live in. The point of this post is to encourage you to reflect on the integrity that should be non-negotiable when it comes to deciding who to vote for. I hope no one has reached a point that they are so willing to beat another party that they are willing to sacrifice their core values. If you are a member of any party that allows people to promote their hateful views, speak up and tell everyone – especially the party leadership – that it is not acceptable.