Leader says he re­grets com­ments made years ago about gay rights

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UCP to in­ves­ti­gate nom­i­na­tion race in Cal­gary East

ED­MON­TON United Con­ser­va­tive leader says he re­grets com­ments made in his ear­lier days about over­turn­ing a law ex­tend­ing hos­pi­tal vis­i­ta­tion rights to gay cou­ples dur­ing the 1980s AIDS epi­demic in San Fran­cisco.

Ja­son Ken­ney says, since then, his pub­lic record in Par­lia­ment shows he sup­ports do­mes­tic part­ner ar­range­ments and ben­e­fits for cou­ples re­gard­less of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

Ken­ney made the com­ments af­ter a two-decade-old au­dio record­ing of him sur­faced re­cently.

On the record­ing, Ken­ney touts his role in or­ga­niz­ing a pe­ti­tion call­ing for a ref­er­en­dum to re­peal the city or­di­nance ex­tend­ing recog­ni­tion rights of het­ero­sex­ual cou­ples, such as hos­pi­tal vis­i­ta­tion, to same-sex cou­ples.

The or­di­nance was de­feated by a nar­row mar­gin in a ref­er­en­dum.

Ken­ney, who is a Catholic, says on the tape he be­lieves his ac­tions brought him spir­i­tu­ally closer to his church.

“Sure, there are things that I’ve done and said in my life that I re­gret,” Ken­ney said Thurs­day at the leg­is­la­ture.

“Is that (the San Fran­cisco com­ments) one of them?” he was asked.

“Sure,” he replied. “I can tell you in 2003, and ‘04 and ‘05 you can look at the Hansard tran­script and see me sup­port­ing do­mes­tic part­ner ar­range­ments for de­pen­dent cou­ples re­gard­less of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

“That has been my long­stand­ing pub­lic view.”

Ken­ney and his United Con­ser­va­tives have an un­easy re­la­tion­ship with Al­berta’s gay com­mu­nity and have been de­nied per­mis­sion to march in re­cent Pride pa­rades.

The party is cur­rently de­lib­er­at­ing the fate of high­pro­file party mem­ber John Car­pay, who pub­licly com­pared the pride rain­bow flag to the Nazi swastika.

The United Con­ser­va­tives have taken is­sue with the prov­ince’s pol­icy man­dat­ing gay-straight al­liances in schools, par­tic­u­larly the law stat­ing that par­ents not be­ing au­to­mat­i­cally told if a child joins such a group.

Pro­po­nents say some kids who join the al­liances risk the wrath of their par­ents and that such a rule would ef­fec­tively spell the end of such groups.

Ken­ney has said he wants par­ents to be told.

United Con­ser­va­tive Leader Ja­son Ken­ney says his party is in­ves­ti­gat­ing al­le­ga­tions of fraud and bribery in a nom­i­na­tion race in Cal­gary.

Ken­ney de­clined to dis­cuss the is­sue fur­ther, say­ing he doesn’t want to com­pro­mise the re­view into the race that se­lected Peter Singh as the party’s can­di­date for Cal­gary East on Nov. 3.

Four los­ing can­di­dates have since said Singh won by of­fer­ing gifts to vot­ers and sign­ing up peo­ple as party mem­bers with­out their con­sent.

Singh has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions.

Calls to his place of busi­ness were not re­turned and his phone’s mail­box was full.

NDP deputy premier Sarah Hoff­man says the in­ves­ti­ga­tion should go to the po­lice, given it’s al­leged that peo­ple’s credit card num­bers were used with­out their knowl­edge to pur­chase UCP mem­ber­ships.

Ken­ney says it should be noted that his party has had 68 nom­i­na­tion races and only four have in­volved ac­cu­sa­tions of malfea­sance or con­tro­versy.

“We ob­vi­ously take se­ri­ously any al­le­ga­tions of wrong­do­ing, so there will be a fair in­ves­ti­ga­tion into that par­tic­u­lar in­stance,” Ken­ney said Thurs­day.

“In­evitably when you have hotly con­tested nom­i­na­tions, there are go­ing to be in some cases com­plaints about the process.” Hoff­man dis­agreed. “If some­body were us­ing credit card in­for­ma­tion that wasn’t granted to do so in pur­chas­ing things, that cer­tainly sounds like al­le­ga­tions of fraud and I don’t think an in­ter­nal party process is ap­pro­pri­ate,” she said.

“I think the UCP should be re­fer­ring this to po­lice.”

CP FILE PHOTO

United Con­ser­va­tive Leader Ja­son Ken­ney says his party has launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­le­ga­tions of fraud and bribery sur­round­ing a nom­i­na­tion race in Cal­gary.

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