UCP leader Danielle Smith said her decision was “final” to exclude candidate Jennifer Johnson from the caucus if elected.
In a leaked recording of an event last September, Johnson compared transgender children in schools to adding feces to a batch of cookies.
In the days after Johnson’s comments were published last week, Smith said Johnson would not serve on the UCP caucus if the residents of Lacombe-Ponoka elected him.
But on Friday, Smith told CTV she had opened the door for Johnson to join the UCP caucus in the future.
“I believe in redemption,” Smith said. “I believe people have the ability to get a second chance. She has a lot to prove.”
But at an independent press conference on Wednesday, Smith said: “I made it very clear that I made the decision that (Johnson) would not sit with our caucus, if elected. And that’s final. .”
Smith’s remarks came hours after the United Conservative Party riding association in Lacombe-Ponoka posted on Facebook that the candidate could still represent the party in the Legislative Assembly.
“…The candidate is still a member in good standing of the UCP and it is likely that she will enter the UCP caucus in the near future,” the Tuesday evening message read.
As of Wednesday morning, the constituency association had deleted the post and added a new post, saying the comments previously posted did not reflect the views of the council and were the words of a volunteer. The board said the volunteer’s access to the Facebook page had been revoked.
“Our leader has made it clear that Jennifer Johnson will not serve on the UCP caucus if elected,” Wednesday’s post said.
On September 1, 2022, Johnson spoke at a Western Unity Group event in Stettler on “The Dangers of the Public Education System and Home Schooling/Pod Schooling as a Solution”.
A leaked recording captured Johnson saying Alberta’s highly ranked education system makes no sense as long as transgender students are in school. She likened their presence to adding a teaspoon of feces to a batch of cookies.
“We may be in the top three percent, but that little poo is what destroys it,” Johnson says on the audio.
Johnson also claimed that a school in Red Deer had litter boxes in classrooms for students who identify as cats, and she said schools should end sex education.
Last week, Johnson apologized for the language she used and said she would communicate her concerns about the children’s transition in a more respectful way.
The Lacombe-Ponoka riding association did not respond to an email or Facebook post on Wednesday.
Johnson also did not return a phone call or email on Wednesday evening.
Rakhi Pancholi, the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Whitemud, told a press conference Wednesday that there was nothing stopping Smith from readmitting Johnson to the UCP caucus in the future.
Pancholi called Johnson’s views “reprehensible” and said she had done nothing to prove she was worthy of public office.
“It shows that Danielle Smith learned nothing from this ‘lake of fire’ incident in 2012. She just says what she has to say to try to put out a fire,” Pancholi said.
In 2012, as Smith ran for premier as leader of the Wildrose party, his campaign was derailed when earlier comments by Wildrose candidate Allan Hunsperger became more widely known.
In a 2011 blog post, Hunsperger said LGBTQ+ people “will suffer the rest of eternity in a lake of fire, a hell, a place of eternal suffering.”
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