Sammy Hudes, Calgary Herald, July 16, 2018
A candidate for the United Conservative Party nomination in Brooks-Medicine Hat has been disqualified from the ballot just days before the vote because of social media posts in which he refers to Islam as having “no legitimate basis” and calls Muslims “fools who are really worshipping Satan.”
It’s the latest controversy involving UCP ballots this weekend. On Saturday, Calgary-Greenway MLA Prab Gill left the UCP caucus following an internal party ballot-stuffing probe.
Todd Beasley was one of three candidates vying for the Brooks-Medicine Hat nomination, along with Michaela Glasgo and Dinah Hiebert.
In a statement posted to Facebook on Saturday, Beasley announced he would be withdrawing his name after being asked by the party to do so.
“While I do not agree with this request, I respect the Party’s right to approve or reject their potential candidates. My name will not appear on the upcoming ballot,” Beasley wrote.
“I understand that you deserve to know the details leading to this outcome. Those of you who know me well know that I have strong opinions on many subjects. I make no apologies for those thoughts, many of which I have expressed publicly. There is a perception in some quarters that certain published opinions could be construed as intolerant and offensive to some. Again, I make no apologies. My sense of right and wrong will not allow me to remain silent when my conscience demands otherwise.”
UCP political operations director Jeff Henwood said Beasley’s social media posts were “concerning” and “outside of mainstream.”
The comments were made on Facebook in May 2017 under someone else’s post, which contained a link to an article about the Ariana Grande concert attack in Manchester.
Beasley’s first of two comments referred to Islam as “those who think a rational God would anoint a dark age pedophile warlord as his prophet.” He also called Muslims “fools who are really worshipping Satan.”
A second comment stated Islam “is not a religion of peace,” but rather is “cruel, revolting, racist, oppressive and has no legitimate basis.” The comment goes on to call the prophet Muhammed a “6th century rapist, pedophile” and a “murdering bigamist, sadistic Warlord posing as a holy man.”
Henwood said the party only discovered the comments it found concerning early last week.
“Mr. Kenney’s been very clear for the last couple of years that all prospective candidates would go through a thorough vetting process, and that comments that are malicious or hateful will not be tolerated,” Henwood said. “Obviously, Mr. Kenney and the party’s nomination committee and the party board had concerns with these comments.”
In a letter to Beasley dated Saturday, UCP executive director Janice Harrington wrote that he had not disclosed the substance of these posts when he entered the nomination.
“We acknowledge the right of individuals in a free society to make controversial, even offensive comments,” Harrington wrote. “Yet that does not provide a right to be accepted to run for a given political party. Indeed, the state is not preventing you from running for public office. The United Conservative Party (UCP) is merely rejecting your effort to run under the UCP banner.”
Beasley did not immediately respond to Postmedia’s request for comment.
In his statement, he said he strongly recommended the UCP cancel the nomination vote, calling the timeline arbitrary.
“They should consider taking the time to identify and recruit strong candidates,” he stated. “The people of Brooks-Medicine Hat deserve the very best representation possible. If the election goes ahead, I’d encourage my supporters to follow their own best judgment.”
Meanwhile, allegations of ballot stuffing and improper handling of votes at the founding annual general meeting of the UCP’s Calgary-North East constituency association circulated online after a video was posted June 30.
Earlier this week, Gill stepped down as deputy UCP caucus whip after he was alleged to have been involved in voting irregularities during the meeting. He will not seek a UCP nomination for the 2019 election.
Gill resigned from caucus Saturday following an investigation into the incident by retired judge Ted Carruthers, who served as president of the Progressive Conservative party before his appointment to the bench in the 1990s. The UCP did not release the results of the investigation.
In a statement to Postmedia, Gill said he doesn’t agree with all of the conclusions in that investigation, but accepts the findings. He called it a “fair, independent process.”
“I wish my former colleagues all the best in the future. I greatly respect all that they are trying to achieve as Alberta heads to the 2019 election, and I certainly would never want to be a distraction to those critical efforts,” Gill said.