UCP candidate Mark Smith under fire for 'homosexual love' comments in 2013 sermon
Candidate for Drayton Valley-Devon says he doesn't recall making remarks
United Conservative Party candidate Mark Smith says he did not say that love between same-sex couples was not love in a sermon five years ago, but was only talking about media commentary on the issue.
Smith, the UCP candidate in Drayton Valley-Devon, made the remarks in a sermon from November 2013 that was posted on the website of the Calvary Baptist Church in Drayton Valley.
"There have been so many times in this world where I hear people talk about love and I go, 'Is that really love?' " Smith said during the 45-minute sermon.
He made reference to a pro-life conference he had attended, then said there are people who would argue "it is more loving thing to abort your child than to bring it in unloved into the world."
"I mean Robert Latimer murdered his daughter. And called it love," Smith said.
"You don't have to watch any TV for any length of time today where you don't see on the TV programs them trying to tell you that homosexuality and homosexual love is good love.
"Heck there are even people out there, I could take you to places on the website, I'm sure, where you could find out that there's ... where pedophilia is love."
A 71-second audio clip from Smith's sermon was posted Tuesday on Twitter by Gaywire, a show on Edmonton radio station CJSR.
Smith doesn't recall comments
In a written statement, Smith said he doesn't recall making the comments, "as they were from many years ago, from before I was elected."
Smith was first elected as a Wildrose MLA for Drayton Valley in May 2015 and served as the UCP education critic. The audio indicates that Smith delivered his sermon in November 2013.
"I did not say that love between same-sex couples was not love, I merely remarked on media commentary," Smith said in the statement. "That said, I regret how my commentary was framed at the time.
"Of course I do not believe that homosexuality is akin to pedophilia. I unequivocally apologize if anyone was offended or hurt. Obviously that would never be my intention."
UCP Leader Jason Kenney said he finds Smith's remarks offensive but won't ask him to step down.
"He has said that he regrets the way he put this and has issued an apology," Kenney said.
Kenney added that Smith has been an MLA for four years and hasn't said anything problematic.
Nominations closed on Friday so if Smith stepped down, the UCP wouldn't have a candidate in Drayton Valley.
Kris Wells is an associate professor at MacEwan University in Edmonton who researches the issues facing sexual and gender minority youth. He said Smith's statements are unacceptable for anyone who is running for public office.
Wells thinks Kenney should remove Smith from the slate and revoke his party membership.
"I absolutely think there's a political calculus at play that perhaps Jason Kenney believes that this is a safe seat and if the candidate resigns now or is removed, then they forfeit that seat in the upcoming election," he said.
CBC has asked to interview Smith about his remarks. The UCP has not responded beyond providing the written statement.