Yet another United Conservative Party candidate has dropped out of the forthcoming Alberta election after their old social media posts came to light.
This weekend’s casualty was Eva Kiryakos, who was running in the riding of Calgary-South East. On Sunday evening, Kiryakos released a video and statement on her Facebook page saying she was being “bullied” by someone who was threatening to “smear” her by releasing old social media posts. Like other UCP candidates before her, Kiryakos said she dropped out to avoid becoming a distraction and didn’t apologize for her statements.
“I do not want this to take away from the election or my fellow United Conservative Party candidates, so I have decided to resign,” Kiryakos said in a statement. “I have had long discussions about this with the party and though I care deeply about my riding and I want to represent Calgary-South East in the Legislature, this is what is best for the party and ultimately, for Alberta.”
In the video Kiryakos outlines some of the posts in question which, as many have pointed out, could be described as Islamophobic and transphobic. In one Kiryakos calls transgender people using public bathrooms “a perversion.” In another, which was leaked to Postmedia but left out of Kiryakos’ video, the candidate links to a Catholic Herald opinion piece about ISIS and writes, “Muslim forces continue to use murder, rape, kidnapping, terror, and force breeding in pursuit of Christian Genocide in the Middle East while the world turns a blind eye." Yet another shows the candidate retweeted a meme that used the term “rapefugees” and blamed Muslims for a “rape crisis” in Europe.
In the video Kiryakos makes the posts and her stepping down into a free speech issue, saying, “we teach our girls to stop being silent, to speak their mind, and yet I am here feeling silenced and cornered because I voiced my opinion and spoke up for what I believe.”
"This culture of bullying people who have different opinions, backgrounds, faiths, culture, gender, and identities need to stop,” Kiryakos adds.
As the UCP continues to walk towards what seems like a surefire victory come April 16, the pace their candidates have been dropping off has been picking up. Less than a week before Kiryakos’ announcement, Caylan Ford, a star candidate hand-selected by Jason Kenney, had to drop out for using white nationalist rhetoric when speaking privately to a fellow conservative on Facebook messenger. In the leaked messages she lamented the “demographic replacement of white peoples in their homelands” and questioned if it would be a “peaceful transition.” Ford also bemoaned how conservatives are treated following murders committed by white nationalists and white supremacists.
Ford claimed that her posts were distorted but never clarified how. She also dropped out as not to be a distraction. Kenney condemned the former candidates’ comments.
Prior to both Ford and Kiryakos, the party had to kick out Adam Strashok, after a Ricochet investigation found he was involved with an online store that glorified the white-ruled state of Rhodesia and flirted with alt-right ideologies. While Strashok wasn’t a candidate the young man did run the call centre for Kenney’s UCP leadership campaign. Before Strashok was kicked out, the party booted Lance Coulter, a man running for a nomination in Edmonton, who invited the anti-Islamic street patrol group the Soldiers of Odin to a UCP pub night. Other candidates running for nominations were also kicked out after targeting Islam. One stated Muslims were “fools who are really worshipping Satan,” and another shared a meme calling the prophet Mohammed a pedophile.
Other UCP candidates, while not stepping down, are also in hot water after, you guessed it, their old statements came to light. One, the replacement candidate in Ford’s riding, gave a speech while he was a minister saying that women should “submit to your husbands” and that men were more “cerebral.” Another, a candidate in Edmonton, once shared a meme that stated, “Dear wife, if you want to bring out the best in your husband, give him these two things: respect and sex (in that order)”—the candidate stated that this was a joke in poor taste.
Kenney and the UCP party have not yet commented on Kiryakos’ resignation at the time of publication.
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