UCP nomination candidate apologizes for remarks about Fort McMurray Muslims

A Calgary United Conservative Party candidate has apologized for three-year-old social media comments in which she compared Muslims in Fort McMurray to bank robbers.

NDP describe comments made by Cindy Ross in 2015 as 'racist views'

The Fort McMurray Islamic Centre, Markaz-Ul-Islam, said it was offended remarks a UCP nomination candidate made about Muslism in the community. (Facebook/ Markaz-Ul-Islam, Fort McMurray )

A Calgary United Conservative Party nomination candidate has apologized for three-year-old social media comments in which she compared Muslims in Fort McMurray to bank robbers.

Cindy Ross, who is seeking the UCP nomination in Calgary-Fish Creek, apologized for now-deleted Facebook posts she made in November 2015 about the construction of an Islamic centre in Fort McMurray.

Ross also said she had no recollection of writing the controversial post where she said she hated the idea of building an Islamic centre in Fort McMurray.

"What a better place to have a mosque. Right in the middle of our greatest asset," Ross said in 2015. "This is a bit of like jailing the bank robber in the bank vault."

The Alberta NDP sent out a press release Thursday condemning the 2015 Facebook post by Cindy Ross. (Facebook)

Ross's retraction came on the eve of voting day and hours after the NDP issued a news release Thursday which described her comments as "racist views" on an "extremist Facebook page."

Ross's post and account have been deleted.

"I apologize for any offence my old posts have caused," Ross said in a Facebook post on her official candidate page Thursday afternoon. "They certainly do not represent my views today."

UCP: 'People can evolve'

A statement from the UCP's executive director, Janice Harrington, said party members may have held certain views in the past but it doesn't necessarily mean they still hold them today.

"We also recognize that people are allowed to grow and change their views over time," Harrington said. "Indeed, accepting that people can evolve is necessary for a tolerant province."

Ross's apology on Facebook was deleted Friday morning, but it remains on her Twitter page.

She said in her apology she would visit the Fort McMurray mosque and meet with the local Muslim community.

Irfan Sabir, a Calgary NDP MLA, condemned the candidate's post and called on the UCP leader Jason Kenney to answer why Ross is allowed to run in Friday's nomination vote.

"The hateful views expressed by Ms. Ross are an insult to Alberta Muslims," Sabir said in a statement to CBC. "And to anyone who knows that our province is made so much stronger by its diversity."

Connect with David Thurton, CBC's Fort McMurray correspondent, on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn or email him at david.thurton@cbc.ca 

About the Author

David Thurton

David Thurton is CBC's mobile journalist in Fort McMurray. He's worked for CBC in the Maritimes & in Canada's Arctic. Email: david.thurton@cbc.ca