Kenney supports candidate after homophobic comments surface

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) — Despite homophobic remarks coming to the surface, Jason Kenney is backing his United Conservative Party candidate for Drayton Valley-Devon.

It surrounds the release of audio, dating back to 2013, where Mark Smith is heard comparing homosexuality to pedophilia.

Along with that, an article he wrote in 2015 about allowing Catholic schools to have the right to fire gay teachers is also being criticized.

After saying on Tuesday that he still supports Smith, although he does find the 2013 comments offensive, Kenney doubled down on that support on Wednesday during an announcement in Edmonton.

“The comments which he made several years ago, I find offensive and Mr. Smith’s apologized for those,” said Kenney. “In the 16 months that I’ve been leader of the party, I’ve not seen him say anything or conduct himself in a way that demonstrates disrespect for other people.”

Kenney is accepting Smith’s apology and does not think these comments will hinder his ability to resonate with constituents in the Drayton Valley area.

But as the comments spark more outrage among the LGBTQ+ community, Kenney does think this can lead to a positive development in the relationship between that community and his party.

“I hope that Mark will reach out to members of the LGBTQ community to get into a dialogue.”

Another important piece of the equation is Smith, a former teacher, is on the education file for the UCP, which prompted a question as to what role he played in forming the party’s education policy — which is also criticized by the LGBTQ+ community due to how it handles gay-straight alliances.

“He offered input and so forth,” said Kenney. “But the policy was largely written by myself and folks who were on our platform development staff.”

And echoing words from apologetic statements from Smith and other candidates targeted for intolerant viewpoints, Kenney said Smith abides by their policy to be inclusive and diverse.

“He’s conducted himself in a way that’s consistent with the values of our party.”

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