United Conservative Party leadership candidate Brian Jean on Wednesday accused Jason Kenney's campaign team of spreading lies about him.
"My vision is a positive vision and I believe a positive vision is what most Albertans, including millennials, want," Jean said during a UCP leadership debate in Fort McMurray.
"You see, they're sick and tired of politicians lying about each other. In fact, right now there is a politician on this stage that his team is lying about me, lying about my Christian values, lying about my position on Bill 6 … even lying about other things."
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Jean confirmed after the debate he was referring to Kenney's campaign. He said someone on Kenney's team has also falsely alleged he is against gun owners.
"I don't think anybody else has rifles here except for me," Jean said. "I've had them most of my life."
The format of the debate did not allow Kenney to offer an instant rebuttal.When asked afterwards about Jean's allegations, Kenney said he had no idea what his opponent was talking about.
'Campaign under stress'
Kenney said he has only criticized Jean for the deficit in the Wildrose caucus budget.
"If he has a particular complaint about something, he should say what it is, but we've been running a positive campaign. I'm proud of that," Kenney said.
He added that passively aggressively attacking an opponent is a form of negative campaigning.
"When you have campaigns under stress, they start being more aggressive and I suppose that's what this is," Kenney said.
Last month, LifeSite News, a social conservative, anti-abortion website, posted an article about Jean titled "Christians must not allow this man to lead Alberta's new conservative party."
The article criticized Jean for supporting gay pride and claimed he would kick anyone with social conservative views out of the UCP if he became leader. The article also described him as a "libertine."
A subsequent article by the same author said Jean was avoiding the truth by "playing the victim."
There is no mention of Kenney, his staff or any of his supporters in the article.
However, Jean's campaign has a screenshot of UCP MLA Grant Hunter's post about the article on Facebook.
Hunter, a Kenney supporter, added a caption: "I share this article not to engage in negative politics but to help conservative Albertans make an informed decision in this leadership race."
The article no longer appears on Hunter's Facebook feed.
Jean has said he is a "church-going, God-fearing Baptist" who attended a Christian high school prior to university.
The party is holding one more leadership debate in Lethbridge on Tuesday. Party members start voting on a new leader on Oct. 26.
Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer is also in the race.
The winner will be announced Oct. 28.