A high-profile candidate for Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party who expressed white nationalist views in a series of leaked messages has resigned, just weeks before a provincial election in Alberta.
“I am somehow saddened by the demographic replacement of white peoples in their homelands,” Caylan Ford is reported to have written in private Facebook messages. “It’s clear that it will not be a peaceful transition.”
The messages are the focus of an exposé published late Monday by PressProgress.
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The myth that white people face “replacement” by immigrants is a favourite talking point among white nationalists. “The Great Replacement” was the title of the screed published by the perpetrator of the recent massacre of Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Ford, who was running in the Calgary-Mountain View riding, also worried that without “Western peoples,” Western culture would die out.
And she expressed concern that anyone who shared some of the views held by white supremacists was “painted with the same brush,” according to PressProgress.
“You just don’t have the same attempts to separate the violent terrorists from the wider community of belief,” she said.
A star recruit
According to the National Post, Kenney persuaded Ford to run after she corrected his misquote of Edmund Burke at an event. The UCP leader called it “political love at first sight.”
On paper, Ford looked like a star recruit for the UCP, especially as the party faced criticism about its lack of gender balance.
She has a master’s degree in international human rights law from Oxford University and graduated with distinction, according to her UCP candidate webpage.
“Wherever possible, she has sought to integrate her work with an interest in promoting human freedom and dignity around the world,” it says, explaining that she has worked as a senior policy advisor with Global Affairs Canada and represented Canada at the United Nations and the G7.
In an interview with the Calgary Herald last October, Ford acknowledged the intense scrutiny that she would be subject to as a candidate.
But “if good, normal, decent people don’t step forward then you are just ceding that ground to those who seek power for its own sake,” she said.
Not the first time
The Alberta Liberal Party, which currently holds the seat in the Calgary-Mountain View riding, issued a statement late Monday calling for Ford’s removal as a candidate.
“Caylan Ford’s comments are abhorrent. Her support of white supremacist values will sicken decent people across this province. These are not the values of Albertans. These are not the values of the people in Calgary-Mountain View. She is not fit to run as an MLA. UCP Leader Jason Kenney should remove her immediately as his candidate,” Liberal leader David Khan said in a press release.
This is not the first time the UCP has been linked to white nationalists and other xenophobic extremists.
Last fall, a Ricochet investigation exposed links between the far right and the UCP, including an individual named Adam Strashok, who ran the call centre for Kenney’s UCP leadership campaign. Strashok was expelled from the party, and Kenney vowed to screen new members for extreme views, stating, “I reject unequivocally the voices of hatred and bigotry.”
Late Monday night Ford announced she was resigning as a candidate in order to “avoid becoming a distraction in this campaign.”
In a statement posted to her campaign Facebook page, she claimed the comments attributed to her by PressProgress are “distortions and are not reflective of my views.”
“In the aftermath of the recent massacre targeting the Muslim community in Christchurch, there is no room for equivocation: I strongly denounce extremism, violence, and stand with marginalized communities everywhere,” she said.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims welcomed the news and praised the UCP for taking action.
The NCCM welcomes Caylan Ford's resignation as @Alberta_UCP's candidate for Calgary-Mountain View. Earlier this evening, we expressed our deep concerns directly to #UCP officials and we thank @jkenney for taking prompt action. Our politics deserves better! #ableg #cdnpoli https://t.co/wxN9Iw9nUw— NCCM (@nccm) March 19, 2019
These latest disturbing revelations and a star candidate’s resignation come on the heels of several days of bombshell reports in the press about Kenney and some of his key lieutenants’ ties to the so-called “kamikaze” candidacy of Jeff Callaway in the 2017 UCP leadership campaign.