Edmonton

Craig Chandler's anti-LGBTQ views trigger debate after his acclamation to Alberta PC board

Interim Alberta Progressive Conservative leader Ric McIver says there is nothing he can do to reverse the acclamation of Craig Chandler to his party’s board of directors.

'We're an open party,' says leader Ric McIver

Conservative activist Craig Chandler has stirred up controversy after getting acclaimed to the PC party executive. (www.craigchandler.ca)

Interim Alberta Progressive Conservative leader Ric McIver says there is nothing he can do to reverse the acclamation of Craig Chandler to his party's board of directors.

"We're an open party," McIver said. "Anybody with $10 can become a member. Anybody who's a member can put their name forward.

"There's nothing I can do to change any of the past, but we do have a code of conduct and everybody is expected to adhere to it."

Earlier this week, Chandler was acclaimed as one of the party's regional directors for Calgary. Chandler has long been a controversial figure, partly for his  anti-LGBTQ views.

Chandler was barred from running for the PCs  in 2007 because of an anti-gay letter that the Canadian Human Rights Commission forced him to apologize for.

He also called homosexuality a sin when writing about the so-called "lake of fire" controversy involving Wildrose candidate Allan Hunsperger in the 2012 provincial election. Hunsperger faced calls for his removal as a candidate after writing in a blog stating that gays "will suffer the rest of eternity in a lake of fire, hell, a place of eternal suffering."

Calgary-North West PC MLA Sandra Jansen, who is an advocate for LGBTQ people,  said she is very concerned that Chandler is now a member of the PC executive.

Jansen said she has received many messages from people who share her concerns. The controversy comes as the PC party  launched its "Engage" initiative to get Albertans interested and involved in the party again.

Jansen said she worries how Chandler's involvement will affect the party's image.

"Absolutely, of course I worry about the public perception of the party. I hope moving forward that we will continue to be a beacon for centrist voters and that's what I will continue to work on."

Like McIver, she conceded there is nothing the PCs can do at this point, unless the party grassroots speaks out. But she wants the party to prevent something like this from happening again.

"We should have a vetting process for people who want to be on our executive," she said. "It certainly highlights the need for us to take a closer look at something like that."

Chandler is on vacation in Florida and did not respond to requests for comment.

"Putting my family first & focusing on them has been a great experience," he tweeted Thursday morning. "The world can wait until I get home."

now