Wildrose leader Danielle Smith (R) talks to the media with fellow Wildrose candidate Corrie Adolph (L) at her campaign office in SW Calgary, Alberta on April 17,2012.
Credits: STUART DRYDEN/CALGARY SUN/QMI AGENCY
CALGARY - Dodging new controversy after the racially-charged comments of a Calgary candidate, Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith Tuesday demanded the rival Progressive Conservatives pay back donations from public agencies.
Speaking to supporters in Calgary, Smith was questioned about comments reportedly made by Calgary-Greenway candidate Ron Leech, who suggested on a radio interview he has an advantage as a white politician.
"I think, as a Caucasian, I have an advantage. When different community leaders such as a Sikh leader or a Muslim leader speak, they really speak to their own people in many ways," Leech is reported to have said by CTV.
"As a Caucasian, I believe that I can speak to all the community."
Smith defended the comments and said she's not concerned and each candidate puts forward their best argument for why they should be the person to represent the community.
"I know Dr. Leech runs a private school that has a large number of people from cultural communities. He has a very ethnically diverse riding. He's made great friendships and in roads with leaders of different cultural communities," she said.
The remarks come on the heels of another campaign controversy sparked by Edmonton Wildrose candidate Allan Hunsperger. He is in hot water over comments he made on his pastor's blog about gay people a year ago.
Now deleted, the post took aim at the Edmonton Public School Board's policy of encouraging students to be who they are, including their sexual orientations.
"You see, you can live the way you were born, and if you die the way you were born, then you will suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire, hell, a place of eternal suffering," it read.
Hunsperger told reporters in Edmonton on Monday he's not intolerant but has personal religious beliefs.
The Wildrose leader quickly turned her attention to the ongoing investigation of the ruling Tories by Elections Alberta into thousands of dollars in donations from publicly-funded agencies, including municipalities, colleges and universities.
"Of all the issues that illustrate how the culture of corruption and entitlement have infected the (Alison) Redford PC government, the widespread, repeated solicitation of illegal political donations from public agencies stands out as truly beyond the pale," Smith said.
She blasted the Tories for blaming donors and denying they sought kickbacks from the donations.
"If the Redford PCs have a shred of democratic decency left, they will immediately give back all the illegal donations they've collected over the last several years, and only finance their campaign with legal donations -- if they have any," Smith said, adding a Wildrose government would make the office of the chief electoral officer fully independent and free to conduct full investigations.