Alberta Votes Day 23: Born this Way
I think it's safe to assume Wildrose candidate Allan Hunsperger's $1,000 "good conduct bond" is as good as gone:
Wildrose candidate Allan Hunsperger wrote about his views on homosexuality on his blog in 2011. Hunsperger, a minister with The House church in Tofield, suggested if gays and lesbians continue to choose their sexual orientation they will suffer in the afterlife: “You will suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire, hell.”
Hunsperger suggested that for their own sake, gays and lesbians must be made aware of the imperative to change, and not simply accept who they are, as singer Lady Gaga suggests they do. “Accepting people the way they are is cruel and not loving!”
It's not uncommon for crackpots to make it past candidate vetting in all parties. In recent elections, we've seen "progressive" candidates dropped for everything from white supremacist writings to unwelcome bouts of nudity.
I think most voters accept this and, in a leader-driven political climate, these incidents rarely shift votes outside of the riding in question. The difference this time is that Danielle Smith has stood by her man, refusing to drop him as a candidate - or even to condemn what he said. The Hunsperger saga therefore isn't about the quality of the Wildrose team, but about the values of the Wildrose leader.
It's all very nice for Danielle Smith to tweet about how she will "represent all Albertans regardless of their race, religion, gender, politics or sexual orientation" and that "rights are rights are rights". But surely she can see how "representing all Albertans" doesn't include promoting the notion that certain Albertans will "burn in the fires of hell" due to a lifestyle "choice".
Because that's what Smith is doing. In our system, if you want to run for office with a party logo next to your name, that party must approve you as a candidate. Leaders not only give this approval, they promote local candidates by linking to their websites, speaking on their behalf, and offering financial support. They do this because they believe these candidates share their party's values. No one expects the leader to agree with every candidate on every issue, but at the very least Smith's support for Hunsperger shows she doesn't view his position as reprehensible - which it is.
Smith will do doubt continue to smile and say she's pro-choice and pro-same sex marriage, and that she won't legislate on social issues. I believe her. But politics is also about values, and Smith's defense of Hunsperger tells us more about her values than anything she has said this campaign.