Photo: UCP nomination candidate Nicole Williams (second from the left) with members of the Soliders of Odin at a UCP event on October 5, 2018 (source: Facebook).
United Conservative Party candidates in the new district of Edmonton-West Henday say they had no idea they were posing for photos with members of the anti-immigration group Soldiers of Odin at a party event on October 5, 2018. Members of the vigilante group, who have been described as white nationalists, attended the UCP event in their club uniforms and posed for photos with nomination candidates Nicole Williams, Leila House and Lance Coulter.
The party and two of the nomination candidates quickly denounced the photos, which were shared on social media first by the Soldiers of Odin and then by Progress Alberta. The candidates claimed they had no idea who the black clad group of vigilantes were, despite recent local news coverage and the fact that they appear to have been wearing their branded uniforms with big logos.
“Those running for public office are regularly photographed with members of the public. It is part of the job. We were unfortunately not aware of what the abbreviation ‘S.O.O’ stood for when these individuals entered the public venue in which the Constituency Association was holding an event, nor were we aware of this group’s disgusting views,” wrote Houle and Williams in a joint statement posted on Facebook.
It would be unfair to claim these nomination candidates share sympathies with the Soldiers of Odin, but a string of recent examples of UCP nomination candidates voicing anti-Muslim views online might be one reason why the group felt comfortable attending the event in their full regalia.
The dramatic rise of right-wing extreme groups across Canada is something to be alarmed about and this incident is not something UCP members should just casually dismiss. As David Climenhaga wrote at AlbertaPolitics.ca, “Alberta voters are within their rights to wonder why the UCP keeps attracting far-right fringe groups, some of them quite unsavoury.“
UCP members in Edmonton-West Henday vote to choose their candidate on October 22, 2018.
UPDATE: Via Press Progress:
Lance Coulter, one of three United Conservative Party nomination candidates recently photographed partying with a white supremacist hate group, has a history interacting with white nationalist and alt-right content on social media.
Trouble brewing in Calgary-Mountain View
Nine members of the UCP board of directors in Calgary-Mountain View have filed a formal complaint with party executive director Janice Harrington requesting an investigation into the eligibility of Caylan Ford to seek the party’s nomination in the district.
A copy of the complaint shared with daveberta.ca showed the group of directors are requesting the party to investigate whether Ford meets the Alberta residency requirement to seek the nomination.
The complaint claims that Ford was until recently a resident of Ontario and that the party nomination rules require UCP candidates “to have physically lived on Albertan soil for one year before becoming a UCP candidate.”
One of the signatories to the complain and request for investigation is recently withdrawn nomination candidate Dean Brawn, who is the Chief Financial Officer for nomination candidate and former Progressive Conservative MLA Mark Hlady.
Reached by email, Ford responded to the complaint: “The board members who signed this letter were misinformed. They also appear to have misunderstood the UCP’s residency requirements. A good faith mistake, I am sure.”
Ford is an international affairs specialist with a background in China and human rights. She has worked as a senior policy advisor with Global Affairs Canada. Ford was a panelist at a 2018 Manning Centre conference discussion about conservative culture in Canada.
Ford, Hlady, Becca Polak and Jeremy Wong are seeking the UCP nomination in this district. A date for the nomination vote has not yet been announced.