By Don Braid, Calgary Herald
It was a big, ugly job, but Ric McIver got it done with one parade.
Single-handedly, the PC leadership candidate made Wildrose look progressive and his own party seem intolerant. He further blurred any clear sense of what the governing party stands for.
McIver let himself be associated with stunningly homophobic comments, and then did not immediately renounce them.
It’s hard to know which leadership failure is most profound: the insensitivity, the lack of judgment or the sheer political stupidity.
The PCs won the 2012 election in part because they savaged Wildrose for harbouring a candidate who believed unrepentant gays would suffer in a lake of fire.
The voting-day lesson was clear — Albertans don’t want a government that plays favourites among ethnic, cultural, religious or social groups.
Then, on Sunday, McIver participated in his fourth March for Jesus event in downtown Calgary.
There was a problem, though. The marchforjesus.ca website included these words:
“Last year alone, Calgary’s streets were flooded with people of wrong sexual preferences during a homosexual parade of over 30,000 attendees. . .”
These people, the screed claims, “are not ashamed to declare the name of their master (Satan) and in the same way not concerned with provoking greatly the wrath of the Living God.”
What? Calgary gays are employed by Satan, and even say so?
That goes far beyond the bizarre musings of the Wildrose Lake of Fire candidate, Allan Hunsperger, who was basically sounding a fire alarm for those he saw as sinners.
Hunsperger lost in his Edmonton riding. McIver is the elected MLA for Calgary-Hays, and a former city alderman.
Now he wants to be premier, and, as we know, anybody in one of those races has a chance of winning.
For all politicians in a jam like this, the test is what they do next.
Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith flunked in 2012 by rejecting advice to dump Hunsperger as a candidate. She has spent two years making up for that, moderating both her party’s policy and her leadership behaviour.
When McIver was cutting the parade ribbon on Sunday, Smith was at the Edmonton mayor’s Pride Brunch. So was another PC leadership candidate, Thomas Lukaszuk, who calls the March for Jesus words about gays “abhorrent and offensive.”
In a statement Monday, McIver didn’t go nearly that far. He said, “I deplore discrimination against all groups and individuals without exception.”
McIver said the website didn’t describe his views. But he did not mention, and certainly did not reject, the contemptible slur about gays being Satan’s minions.
McIver talked about how many faith events he attends, for Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, etc., to “celebrate the diversity of Alberta.”
He intends to keep doing that, he says. There seemed to be no recognition that diversity can lead to scary places where no premier should ever venture. He wouldn’t make further comment.
But with the pressure building Tuesday, McIver told Global News the website statements are “disgusting” and that gay, straight and lesbian Albertans were right to be angry.