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Fact-Check

Jason Kenney Defends Anti-GSA Policy By Citing His Friend Who Compared Rainbow Flags to Nazi Swastikas

Jason Kenney’s misleading story in the debate about GSAs is sourced from his hardline social conservative friend’s legal battle against GSAs

Some observers may have been looking for Jason Kenney to use his appearance in  Alberta’s 2019 leadership debate to strike a softer tone and distance himself from perceptions his party is overrun with far-right extremists.

Instead, the United Conservative Party leader confirmed those perceptions are true.

During an exchange on Gay-Straight Alliances, Kenney was pressed by NDP leader Rachel Notley to defend his proposed policy that would out students who join GSAs — Kenney’s controversial position on GSAs has sparked rallies across Calgary and Edmonton last weekend.

Kenney offered an anecdote about students being taken on a field trip to a GSA “conference” without their parents knowledge, claiming “parents should know if a kid’s being taken out of the school for a field trip.”

Not only was Kenney’s anecdote wildly misleading (rules on joining GSAs have nothing to do with field trips or otherwise leaving school grounds), but his anecdote was actually sourced from his friend John Carpay.

Carpay is a hardline social conservative activist who made national headlines last year after he spoke at a rally organized by Rebel Media and compared the rainbow pride flag to the Nazi swastika.

Kenney has come under fire for refusing to remove Carpay from the UCP, leaving many to speculate the UCP leader is beholden to fringe right-wing extremists.

Carpay’s name was back in the news this week after Kenney said he’s still backing Mark Smith, Kenney’s former education critic, after a recording surfaced revealing the UCP candidate compared “homosexuality” to “pedophilia.”

Carpay’s organization, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, is currently mounting an anti-GSA Charter challenge against Alberta’s Bill 24.

Kenney’s claims that GSAs could allow children to be taken away in cars echoes flimsy evidence Carpay’s legal team trial ballooned in court in December. The JCCF’s lawyers pointed to an example of GSA students taken on a field trip to advance a misleading argument that unless students seek permission from their parents to join a GSA, parents will be powerless from stopping children from going on unauthorized field trips.

The Crown objected to the JCCF’s evidence, pointing out the argument is irrelevant since parents are already informed if students leave school grounds.

Despite the dubious  evidence, hardline social conservative groups who are allied with Kenney — like the anti-LGBTQ group Parent’s for Choice and socon blogs — keep circulating the misleading talking point to attack legislation protecting GSAs.

Fortunately, many observers in Alberta picked-up on Kenney’s nod to his hardline social conservative base.

 

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