Jason Kenney's UCP has gone into full damage control mode after three UCP hopefuls partied with the ‘Soldiers of Odin’ hate group
Why did three nomination candidates for Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party end up partying with a white supremacist hate group?
Over the weekend, the “Soldiers of Odin” – a group founded by a violent neo-Nazi, classified as an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center – made headlines across Alberta after they were spotted partying with multiple UCP nomination contestants from Edmonton-West Henday.
The Soldiers of Odin have been covered extensively by the media in recent years, after the group established vigilante patrols and organized an anti-Muslim rally outside Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium. Declassified intelligence reports suggest the group is prone to violence.
Photos from a UCP “pub night” in Edmonton this weekend show UCP nomination candidates Leila Houle, Nicole Williams and Lance Coulter hanging out and posing for photos with members of the Soldiers of Odin hate group:
The UCP’s official explanation is they were tricked into taking taking the photos.
Never mind none of the UCP candidates thought it was odd they were surrounded by a group of people wearing matching black hats, t-shirts and jackets displaying the group’s name and an image of a demonic-looking Norse god.
After the photos surfaced, Kenney said he was “disturbed to learn that a UCP pub night in Edmonton was crashed” by “members of hate groups.”
The UCP, as well as the president of the local constituency association, both claim the candidates were tricked by a “fringe group” who had “deliberately crashed a UCP event to cause mischief.”
Besides, they add: “anyone” could show up since the event was held at a “public bar.”
Well, if you believe Kenney and the UCP, a group of white supremacists showed up uninvited to a UCP event, the party crashers tricked three UCP hopefuls into taking photos with them, and that’s the end of the story.
Appears the fringe ‘Alberta Independence Party’ deliberately crashed a public #UCP event to cause mischief. Public bar, so anyone/general public was allowed to enter. Party did not have entire venue booked. #ableg #abpoli pic.twitter.com/0RKJzIidS7
— United Conservative Party (@Alberta_UCP) October 7, 2018
And from the Constituency Association: pic.twitter.com/z6cE1dm96C
— Jason Kenney (@jkenney) October 7, 2018
Except it seems like there are a few holes in Kenney’s explanation.
For one thing, it’s a little hard for the UCP to dismiss the Soldiers of Odin as random party crashers considering several members of the hate group actually RSVP’d in advance to let UCP officials know they’d be dropping by.
Below is the guest list for the “pub night” that appeared on a now deleted Facebook event page run by the UCP’s Edmonton-West Henday constituency association:
For another thing, one of the people Kenney calls a party crasher insists they were invited by the local UCP constituency association.
Dave Bjorkman is a UCP activist who has been involved with the party since it was founded last year, participating in the party’s nomination process and attending numerous UCP events. He’s also the leader of the separatist Alberta Independence Party, an unregistered political party which, despite its name, effectively exists only as a glorified right-wing Facebook group.
“I went to the event invited by UCP to meet Leila Houle,” Bjorkman wrote in a Facebook post Monday. “I did not invite the groups to the party, UCP did.”
“All were invited by the constituency association.”
In another Facebook posting, Bjorkman lashed out at the president of the local UCP constituency association for deciding to “throw Soldiers of Odin under the bus.”
Whoever invited the white supremacists to the party, it’s strange Kenney’s UCP are acting so surprised considering the Soldiers of Odin were on the guest list and the accused ring leader is a familiar face.
Although Kenney now dismisses Bjorkman as a random “fringe” figure, the fact remains the two have shared a drink or two at past UCP events:
UCP nomination candidates Leila Houle, Nicole Williams and Lance Coulter did not respond to a request for comment from PressProgress.