More controversial articles surface from Kenney speechwriter accused of racist, sexist and homophobic remarks
Bunner columns comment on people of colour, LGBT community and homeless
More articles with controversial remarks about transgender people, women, people of colour and the homeless community have surfaced from Paul Bunner, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney's speechwriter who is already facing calls for his dismissal amid accusations of racist, sexist and homophobic remarks in past work.
Bunner came under fire last week for an article he wrote in 2013 calling residential schools a "bogus genocide story." More articles came to light on Friday, where he called homosexuality "socially destructive."
Another dozen articles penned by the speechwriter have now been uncovered. Most of them were written in the late 1990s and early 2000s, while he was editor of the now-defunct Alberta Report.
Indigenous leaders, Alberta's NDP and others have called for Bunner's resignation or dismissal.
"Any government with an interest in building trust with Indigenous communities must hold their employees accountable for blatantly discriminating against Indigenous peoples, especially when working to achieve reconciliation," the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations said in a statement released on Friday.
So far, the premier is standing by his man, even though he strongly disagrees with his comments. The premier's office said on Friday that Bunner's views have since evolved.
Cora Voyageur, a professor at the University of Calgary, says Kenney's words should be followed by action.
"He strongly disagrees with some of his views but he must not disagree strongly enough to do something about it."
The articles found this week make up a total of over 20 similar pieces of writing from Bunner.
Comments on race and ethnicity
In one of the rediscovered columns, Bunner talks about wanting to overcome racism, reflecting on his time at a Boston boarding school and his friendship with two Black dorm mates.
That article goes on to discuss how "everyone knows that race is the defining element of violent crime in Canada today," and talks about Toronto's Jamaican "ghetto."
It continues, "On the prairies, if it's not Asian gangbangers whacking each other and occasionally innocent bystanders, it's Aboriginal murder and mayhem."
In an article entitled, The Planet in Need of Colonialism, Bunner wrote: "What is Canadian immigration refugee and multiculturalism policy rather than a way to subjugate cultural homogeneity?"
The NDP are using these articles to reiterate their calls for his resignation.
"That writing was hateful in 2003. It's hateful now. These disgusting stereotypes fuel the very systemic racism that we are grappling with right now in Alberta and across Canada," MLA David Shepherd said.
The Athabasca Tribal Council also takes issue with the columns.
"Bunner's opinions outlined in various articles cannot be allowed to influence the direction or shape of communications of the Government of Alberta, no matter how subtle or limited Premier Kenney believes that influence to be," they wrote Tuesday in a statement.
'Emotionally disturbed gays and lesbians'
Transgender people also feature prominently in his columns.
In March 2000, he reviewed a column written in the Globe and Mail about sex change surgeries. He criticizes surgeons who exploit the "Frankenstein flavour" of such procedures and says only a small proportion of "emotionally disturbed gays and lesbians" consider the surgery.
Another sees Bunner reflect on an anti-gay activist talking about the "disproportionate involvement of gays in deviant, violent sexual activity," including the suggestion that one man's desire for "rough trade" sex contributed to his violent murder.
One talks about the need for a census to track who is gay or lesbian because he doubts there are enough of them to warrant the rights they were seeking such as gay marriage and affirmative action.
"As I am sure you can appreciate, societal norms have changed greatly over time," a statement from the premier's office sent Tuesday reads.
"Matters addressed in decades old articles have long since been settled law."
Some of his musings do reflect a portion of public opinion at the time. For example, these articles were written before the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada.
He talks about the shifting role of men in society in yet another article, saying women's hot-and-cold natures are partially responsible for that.
"With all these conflicting signals from women, it is no wonder that men are uncertain about their place in society. Though it goes against eons of socialization, some may be tempted by the role of the victim, if only because it has worked so well for women and homosexuals," he wrote.
"Turns out it's handy to have big, strong, brave men around, no matter how stupid and insensitive they are."
In February 2000, he wrote an article about new federal funding for homelessness. He argues most homeless people are on the street by choice and that Canadians are made to feel guilty about the "shivering vagrants, panhandlers, squeegee kids, drunks, drug addicts and lunatics" at Christmas time.
"He is disparaging and belittling a great swath of people," Voyageur said after reviewing the articles.
Another expert says Kenney's failure to strongly denounce the comments of his speechwriter lends credibility to those who share Bunner's views.
"Kenney actually said these were attitudes with which he disagreed," said sociologist Barbara Perry, director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism at Ontario Tech University in Oshawa.
"The next logical step would be to fire him."
Perry said the comments in these articles are similar to hate speech sometimes employed by far right groups. She added that if Bunner's views have changed, he needs to demonstrate that.
Views do not reflect government stance, premier says
Bunner was hired as Kenney's speechwriter in the spring of 2019. He also worked in the same position for prime minister Stephen Harper from 2006 to 2009.
The premier has not said whether or not he plans to fire Bunner.
"Somebody who was a journalist for 40 years undoubtedly wrote things with which I disagree," Kenney said Thursday. "That does not reflect or change the policy of the Government of Alberta."
Harrison Fleming, a spokesperson with the premier's office, said the overwhelming majority of the articles released by the NDP were decades-old.
"As I am sure you can appreciate, societal norms have changed greatly over time."
Fleming said the matters addressed in the columns "have long since been settled law."
But Perry says the premier needs to go one step further and rebuke Bunner's views "if the public is to have any faith in his capacity to unite the province rather than divide it."
With files from Charles Rusnell