Face­book re­ply to anti-Wynne slur an ‘hon­est mis­take’: MLA

Filde­brandt sur­prised by sus­pen­sion, says he should be more care­ful on­line

Calgary Herald - - CITY - SALMAAN FAROOQUI With files from The Cana­dian Press sfa­rooqui@post­media.com

Wil­drose MLA Derek Filde­brandt says he was “sur­prised” by his sus­pen­sion over a re­ply he made to a ho­mo­pho­bic com­ment about On­tario Pre­mier Kath­leen Wynne on his Face­book page.

“I re­ceive an av­er­age of 800 com­ments on my pub­lic Face­book page daily and I do my best to re­spond per­son­ally. As I’ve al­ready stated pub­licly, I did not read a com­ment posted to my page by a con­stituent as care­fully as I should have. If any­one felt that I shared those sen­ti­ments, I do not, and I apol­o­gize,” Filde­brandt wrote Satur­day.

The post in ques­tion re­ferred to On­tario’s openly gay pre­mier as ‘Mr. Wynne or what­ever the hell she iden­ti­fies as,’ as it praised Filde­brandt for op­pos­ing Wynne’s eco­nomic poli­cies dur­ing her visit to Al­berta Leg­is­la­ture on Thurs­day. Filde­brandt replied to the orig­i­nal post com­mend­ing the man’s com­ments, say­ing he was “proud to have con­stituents like you.”

Filde­brandt was promptly sus­pended by Wil­drose Leader Brian Jean, who has been known to take a hard stance on hate­ful speech in Wil­drose ranks, in­clud­ing fir­ing can­di­date Bill Jarvis af­ter he was caught on tape say­ing that “brown peo­ple” should be stood up front dur­ing a photo op in last year’s provin­cial elec­tion.

“My col­leagues know that those views do not re­flect my own opin­ion and they rec­og­nize that I made an hon­est mis­take, so I was sur­prised by this de­ci­sion. I ac­cept this de­ci­sion,” said Filde­brandt, who has since had mem­bers of the LGBTQ com­mu­nity come to his de­fence on so­cial me­dia.

Jean stated Fri­day night that the com­ments did not align with the party’s be­liefs.

“This evening, Mr. Filde­brandt made an un­ac­cept­able com­ment on so­cial me­dia that does not rep­re­sent the val­ues of the Wil­drose Cau­cus. He has been sus­pended im­me­di­ately.”

The on­line fi­asco fol­lowed a rau­cous dis­play in the leg­is­la­ture on Thurs­day, when Wil­drose mem­bers, in­clud­ing Filde­brandt, crit­i­cized and yelled over the vis­it­ing On­tario pre­mier dur­ing ques­tion pe­riod.

Wil­drose spokesman Vi­tor Mar­ciano said the party will not com­ment on the in­ci­dent un­til Mon­day. Wil­drose MLA Drew Barnes posted on his Face­book page Satur­day, call­ing for more re­spect to be shown in the party.

“I will con­tinue to work dili­gently to en­sure the level of deco­rum and re­spect in the leg­is­la­ture matches the high level Al­ber­tans ex­pect,” he wrote.

A spokesper­son from Pre­mier Rachel Not­ley’s of­fice de­clined to com­ment.

Speak­ing at the Lib­eral Con­ven­tion in Win­nipeg on Satur­day, Wynne re­ferred to the “ho­mo­pho­bic” com­ments as a sign that LGBTQ rights still have a long way to go in Canada.

“We have to un­der­stand that, yes, we’ve come a long way, we’ve come a hugely long way in Canada, but we’re not there, we’re not there in terms of every child in every school­yard feel­ing safe, feel­ing in­cluded.”

Wynne later said she ac­cepted Filde­brandt’s apol­ogy, but ex­pressed con­cern about the tone of the crit­i­cism.

“Yes, I ac­cept the apol­ogy,” Wynne said dur­ing a ses­sion on women in pol­i­tics at the fed­eral Lib­eral party’s na­tional con­ven­tion.

“But, you know, I think it was an in­ter­est­ing con­flu­ence of things. There’s a woman pre­mier in Al­berta, I’m there as a woman, we’re talk­ing about cli­mate change.

“And I think the at­tack, the vi­cious­ness of the at­tack, had a par­tic­u­lar qual­ity to it. So, I will just say we need to pay at­ten­tion to that.”

I think the at­tack, the vi­cious­ness of the at­tack, had a par­tic­u­lar qual­ity to it. So, I will just say we need to pay at­ten­tion to that.

CRYS­TAL SCHICK

MLA Derek Filde­brandt says he ac­cepts the sus­pen­sion handed him by Wil­drose Party for his re­sponse to a ho­mo­pho­bic Face­book post, but says the re­sponse does not “re­flect my own opin­ion.”

Brian Jean

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