A Wildrose candidate in the Alberta election is apologizing for suggesting he has an advantage because he is white.
Ron Leech told a multicultural radio station on the weekend that, as a white man, he speaks to the whole community rather than just members of his own ethnic group.
"I think, as a Caucasian, I have an advantage," Leech said at the time. "When different community leaders, such as a Sikh leader or a Muslim leader speaks, they really speak to their own people in many ways. As a Caucasian I believe that I can speak to all the community."
Leech, who is running for the party in Calgary-Greenway, says what he meant was that it was not a disadvantage to be white when it comes to representing different cultures.
He says he loves people from all different ethnic groups.
Not the first controversy
It’s not the first time the former pastor has made controversial comments.
Leech wrote an editorial in the Calgary Herald in 2004 entitled Marriage a union between one man, one woman, which argued against same-sex marriage. He said redefining marriage "says children don't deserve both parents, and it will further demoralize their own efforts to become parents themselves."
"It is biblically, morally and practically reprehensible for the government to pretend that two men or two women engaged in mutual stimulation are the same as husband and wife, as potential parents," he wrote. "Marriage is not about equal rights; it isn't a special-interest group. It is a repository for the future of humanity."
Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith was read Leech's comments from the weekend radio program about the "advantage" of being white and said she didn't have any concerns.
She says candidates put forward the best arguments they can when seeking election.
Liberal Leader Raj Sherman weighed in on the issue by saying Smith should have "thrown him out" and what Leech said is "racist."
When asked about the controversy Tuesday afternoon, Progressive Conservative Leader Alison Redford said that candidates who say things like Leech would have no place in her caucus as such comments are inappropriate and don't reflect what most Albertans think.
Wildrose blasted for another candidate's comments
Smith also declined to criticize Wildrose candidate Allan Hunsperger for controversial remarks he made in a blog posting last year, which he has since removed from his church pastor's blog.
In it, the Edmonton-South West candidate and his wife warned against accepting gays and lesbians for who they are.
They wrote if they don't change, they will "suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire" — a reference to hell.
"We will not legislate on contentious social issues," Smith told reporters at a campaign stop in Edmonton on Monday. "Mr. Hunsperger understands that the views he expressed were his personal views in the context of him being a pastor and I'm not going to discriminate against anyone."
When asked by a reporter how expressing a personal religious view differs from promoting a hate crime, Smith had a quick response.
"If any candidate is guilty of a hate crime, then call in the police," she said.