Jason Kenney says Carpay membership decision lies with UCP board, not with him

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney says he doesn’t have the authority to expel the Calgary lawyer who compared the Pride flag to a Nazi swastika from the party.

UCP leader says Calgary lawyer who compared Pride flag to swastika has apologized for remarks

UCP Leader Jason Kenney says it would be up to the party board to decided whether to expel a Calgary lawyer who compared the pride flag to a Nazi swastika. (CBC)

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney says he doesn't have the authority to expel members such as John Carpay, the Calgary lawyer who compared the Pride flag to a Nazi swastika, from the party.

"It's our board that deals with expulsions," Kenney said Wednesday, after a noon-hour speech to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. "I condemned Mr. Carpay's remarks as being vile and offensive. He does not in any way speak for the United Conservative Party.

"He apologized for and retracted his offensive remarks. That means something.

"I think when people make a mistake of this nature, it's incumbent on them to find ways to make it right, to apologize and retract. And that's something that I take into account."

Kenney has faced calls to cancel Carpay's membership since the Calgary lawyer likened the LGBTQ Pride flag to the swastika of Nazi Germany and the Communist hammer and sickle at a conference Saturday organized by Rebel Media. He also suggested the gay rights movement was an example of totalitarianism.
John Carpay, president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom, has apologized for remarks that compared the Pride flag to the Nazi swastika. (CBC)

Carpay later apologized for "unintentionally" drawing that comparison.

Kenney acknowledged that apology in a tweet on Sunday. He condemned Carpay's remarks, calling any such comparison "vile, particularly given the violent persecution of LGBT people under such regimes."

Earlier this month, Kenney said he instructed the board to cancel the UCP membership of a former call-centre staffer who worked on his leadership campaign for having ties to a white supremacist website. 

UCP president Erika Barootes confirmed such decisions are made by the party's board of directors. 

"Decisions regarding membership revocation are made by the board as a whole, of which Jason Kenney is a voting member and obviously an influential voice," she said in a written statement. 

Carpay is the founder of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which defends social conservative issues in court such as anti-abortion protests and parental rights.

He is a UCP member who last spring spoke in favour of a motion passed by a majority of delegates at the party's policy convention calling for parental notification if a child joins a gay-straight alliance or other extracurricular clubs.

Carpay is currently leading a court challenge against Bill 24, which protects Alberta students from being outed to their parents if they join a GSA.

Edmonton wanted at UCP table 

In his speech, Kenney outlined previously announced actions the UCP will take if it forms government after the spring 2019 election.

They include appointing a minister in charge of reducing red tape, a war room to counter negative news about Alberta's oil industry and using more public-private partnerships to build infrastructure projects.

The NDP won every seat in Edmonton in the 2015 election, and Kenney made his pitch for Edmontonians to vote for his party next year.

"I'm leading a party that wants Edmonton at the table," Kenney told the crowd. "We are doing everything to ensure that there is a large number of strong Edmontonians in a future conservative caucus and cabinet table... I'm here to ask that Edmontonians be partners with us."

Kenney took about a half-dozen questions from the audience following his speech with many coming from people involved with non-profit agencies or the public sector.

Mike Dempsey, a vice president with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, asked Kenney if he plans to cut public services by 20 per cent.

Kenney replied that cuts of that magnitude are "implausible." He said the budget can be balanced by 2021 if the government holds spending while the economy experiences three per cent growth.

Kenney asked AUPE and other public sector unions to set aside "the rigidities, the dogma and the old cliches" and look at new approaches. 

"My challenge to the public sector unions would be to sit down with us, and figure out how we can deliver public services more efficiently and not be afraid of choice and competition in doing so," he said.