Alberta Party candidate disqualified over 'discriminatory views'

The Alberta Party has disqualified Edmonton-Ellerslie candidate Yash Sharma after he attended an event "that was critical of an Indian Supreme Court decision to allow women of menstruating age to attend an ancient temple," the party announced in a statement Monday.

'It was wrong to involve myself in foreign politics,' says disqualified Edmonton candidate Yash Sharma

The Alberta Party disqualified Edmonton-Ellerslie candidate Yash Sharma on Monday. (Yash Pal Sharma/Facebook)

The Alberta Party has disqualified Edmonton-Ellerslie candidate Yash Sharma after he attended an event "that was critical of an Indian Supreme Court decision to allow women of menstruating age to attend an ancient temple," the party announced Monday.

In an emailed statement, party leadership said its provincial board, including Leader Stephen Mandel, voted unanimously Monday evening to disqualify Sharma after becoming aware of his attendance at the weekend event.  

'Zero tolerance' 

"While Mr. Sharma has offered an unreserved apology, he no longer has the confidence or support of our party," Mandel said in the statement. "We have zero tolerance for discriminatory views. 

"In an era where division and hatred are increasingly on the rise, it is now more important than ever for all of our candidates to show strong leadership on the issue of equality and protecting human rights." 

The party provided no further details on the event in question. 

"This candidate's comments and conduct do not reflect Alberta Party values, and we will not tolerate discrimination in any form," party president Rhiannon Hoyle said in the statement. 

"The Alberta Party strongly supports equality for all and believes an independent judiciary is key to a healthy democracy and society."

The candidate nomination process in Edmonton-Ellerslie will be reopened, said Mark Taylor, the party's executive director.

The party aims to have candidates named in all 87 ridings by the end of the year, Taylor said Tuesday. To date, 36 candidates have been nominated, he said.

The Alberta Party is holding its annual general meeting Saturday in Edmonton.

In a post to his personal Facebook page, Sharma apologized for attending the event.

"I offer my unreserved apology and will not be involving myself with these groups again," Sharma said. 

"It was wrong to involve myself in foreign politics."

Last month, India's highest court overturned a centuries-old religious ban that prevented girls and women of menstruating age from entering the Sabarimala temple, a prominent Hindu temple in southern Kerala state which attracts millions of pilgrims every year.