Edmonton

No apology from Wildrose leader for candidate's anti-gay blog

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith deflected questions on Tuesday about whether she plans to apologize for a candidate's anti-gay blog posting that came to light during the provincial election.
Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith took part in a Pride event with Edmonton Police 5:11

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith deflected questions on Tuesday about whether she plans to apologize for a candidate's anti-gay blog posting that came to light during the provincial election.

Many in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community want an apology from Smith after she refused to condemn the posting from Edmonton candidate Allan Hunsperger which stated that gays would "suffer the rest of eternity in a lake of fire."

While she didn't agree with the remarks, Smith said that Hunsperger had the right to make them. 

Smith spoke to community leader Kris Wells at a Pride Festival event on Tuesday and says she plans to meet with him again. But she would not say if she planned to apologize.

"I told him that I think it's important for us to have the conversation, about religious freedom and freedom of speech, and equality rights, because I think this is really what this comes down to," she said.

"Mr. Hunsperger's views are not my views. They're not the views of my party and they're not the views of  my caucus. If [Wells] wants to seek an apology, he should seek it from Mr. Hunsperger."

The LGBT community has also taken issue with criticisms Smith made last week about the province's decision to restore public funding for gender reassignment surgery.

Smith stated in a news release that the government should first pay for "more pressing priorities and needs" like dentistry, insulin pumps and hearing aids for seniors.

Smith's attendance at Tuesday's event was seen as her attempt to improve strained relations with the LGBT community. It comes days after Premier Alison Redford addressed crowds at Edmonton's Churchill Square after the Pride parade on Saturday.