ALBERTA PC LEADERSHIP CANDIDATE RIC MCIVER
Tory leadership hopeful Thomas Lukaszuk says in half a minute he knew he wanted nothing to do with street preacher Art Pawlowski or his March for Jesus.
It takes fellow candidate Ric McIver years of knowing, supporting and even marching with Pawlowski, along with a media storm this week, to come to the same conclusion.
So here we are Thursday morning.
Calgary’s Olympic Plaza. Dark clouds. Rain coming down. McIver trying to weather the storm.
He speaks to newshounds for the first time since this past Sunday when he cuts the ribbon for Pawlowski’s march.
The march’s website contrasts itself with another parade of “people of wrong sexual preferences” who “openly proclaim and manifest that they are not ashamed to declare the name of their master (Satan)” and are “not concerned with provoking greatly the wrath of the Living God.”
While we’re on Pawlowski, and since this is exactly a year after the flood, the preacher wrote last year’s deluge is Jesus “weeping for the perversions of homosexuality which includes the walking out the pride of their abominations in the streets of our cities.”
This past Monday, when the political do-do hits the fan over McIver’s involvement, the embattled candidate fires off a statement saying he celebrates the diversity of Alberta at many events.
The March for Jesus was a way of celebrating his faith.
On Monday he says the website wasn’t his and doesn’t reflect his views.
He’s for equality and against discrimination and will “continue to attend events celebrating the diversity of Alberta.”
Tuesday, in a short TV interview, he takes it up a notch.
McIver says the website’s message is “disgusting” and people have a right to be angry and he’s as angry as everybody else.
Thursday, McIver says he backed Pawlowski because “I support somebody who feeds people when they’re poor.”
He met Pawlowski years ago. It was when McIver sat on Calgary city council. McIver would stop and say hello when the preacher fed people outside city hall.
McIver tells us he was in the March for Jesus four years in a row.
He says “what I did not do and what I regret and what I apologize for is I didn’t do my homework.”
He didn’t check the march’s website he sees as “ugly” and “nasty” and “mean-spirited.”
“I apologize for drawing attention to it,” he says.
McIver says he “knew Art had some strong religious beliefs” but it’s another thing “to publish, to broadcast through the Internet ugly, negative, nasty, untrue things I in no way believe or support.”
McIver does not want his name or photos on the website. He’s asked Pawlowski to take them down. It’s not done.
The question lingers.
After all the time and all the contact and the very visible expression of Pawlowski’s views how could McIver not know what the street preacher preaches?
“The fact is, I didn’t,” says McIver, explaining little.
He and Pawlowski were “a friendly relationship saying hello as people were being fed in front of city hall.”
For McIver, the March for Jesus sounds like a positive event but “there’s an ugly website attached to it.”
The act of contrition and the explanation, such as they are, appear over.
By the way, is McIver going to Calgary’s Pride parade?
“I’m considering it,” he says.
“I’m not sure if it’s going to get in the schedule.” He is going to the gay rodeo.
Someone puts a lure in the water.
What about his views about changing policy on abortion?
“No, no, no, no, no,” says McIver.
The candidate leaves. The clouds are still dark. The rain still comes down.
A while later downtown, Lukaszuk tells the press he talked to Pawlowski at the prime minister’s last barbecue in Calgary.
“He conversed with me in Polish for 30 seconds and 30 seconds was as much time as I was willing to give him because of some of the comments he managed to squeeze in during that 30 seconds,” says Lukaszuk.
“It became abundantly obvious his beliefs are definitely misaligned with my beliefs.”
“His views are, unless you conduct yourself in what he considers to be an appropriate way the wrath of God is going to rain down upon you.”
“So I politely dismissed it and let him go on his merry way.”
After many years, and now some grief, McIver says he’s ready to do the same.