Manitoba

Controversial Wildrose candidates fail in election bids

Allan Hunsperger and Ron Leech's comments may have dragged the Wildrose Party's fortunes down.

Two Wildrose candidates whose controversial remarks — plus party leader Danielle Smith's refusal to censure them — may have helped turn the tide in the campaign.

Allan Hunsperger, the Wildrose candidate for Edmonton-South West, drew heavy criticism in the latter part of the campaign over a year-old blog post that contained anti-gay comments.

In a blog written in his capacity as a pastor, Hunsperger wrote that gays "will suffer the rest of eternity in a lake of fire, hell, a place of eternal suffering."

He was soundly beaten by Progressive Conservative contender Matt Jeneroux.

In Calgary–Greenway, Ron Leech failed to knock off PC Manmeet Bhullar. Leech created a stir when he told a multicultural radio station that, as a white man, he speaks to the whole community rather than just members of his own ethnic group.

"I think, as a Caucasian, I have an advantage," Leech said. "When different community leaders, such as a Sikh leader or a Muslim leader, speaks, they really speak to their own people in many ways. As a Caucasian, I believe that I can speak to all the community."

Smith refused to dump either candidate, drawing fire from other party leaders and from community groups.

Many observers believed that would shift the momentum back into the Tories' court. Polls over the last week of the campaign indeed suggested that the Wildrose's lead was shrinking.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of the story incorrectly attributed Allan Hunsperger's comments to Ron Leech.
    Sep 13, 2013 9:20 AM CT