Maxime Bernier’s new party home to al­leged white su­prem­a­cist briefly

The Daily Courier - - CANADA - By The Cana­dian Press

Man who posted racist mes­sages on so­cial me­dia also had been in­volved with Al­berta and fed­eral Tories

OT­TAWA — An al­leged white su­prem­a­cist who was kicked out of Al­berta’s United Con­ser­va­tive Party found a new po­lit­i­cal home in Maxime Bernier’s fledg­ling Peo­ple’s Party of Canada — at least briefly.

Adam Strashok’s name has van­ished from the mem­ber­ship list on the “Peo­ple’s Net­work — Al­berta” Face­book page (where “Mad Max sup­port­ers” there or­ga­nize on­line), along with vir­tu­ally all other ev­i­dence of his pre­vi­ously ac­tive life on so­cial me­dia.

But a cached ver­sion of the page from mid-Septem­ber shows that he had joined the party and signed up two oth­ers.

A party spokesman did not di­rectly an­swer when asked if Strashok is still a party mem­ber and, if so, whether his mem­ber­ship would be re­voked.

“I can tell you he has not been elected to any in­terim EDA (elec­toral district as­so­ci­a­tion) board and, as far as we know, is not in­volved in or­ga­niz­ing,” Martin Masse said in an email.

In a bid to in­su­late it­self from ex­trem­ists, the Peo­ple’s Party is ask­ing all mem­bers of its rid­ing as­so­ci­a­tions across the coun­try to sign a pledge promis­ing that they “have done or said noth­ing in the past and will do or say noth­ing in the fu­ture that would em­bar­rass the party.”

But Masse said that vet­ting sys­tem ap­plies only to rid­ing-as­so­ci­a­tion board mem­bers, “not to our 32,000 mem­bers or to the thou­sands of peo­ple who’ve been at­tend­ing a meet-up or com­ment­ing on Face­book.”

How­ever, he added: “We’ve al­ways been very clear that any­one with ex­treme views was not wel­come in the party.”

Asked again whether the Peo­ple’s Party would can­cel Strashok’s mem­ber­ship should it dis­cover he is still a mem­ber, Masse said: “I re­peat: We’ve al­ways been very clear that any­one with ex­treme views was not wel­come in the party.”

The Cana­dian Press couldn’t reach Strashok to ask him about his party af­fil­i­a­tions.

Al­berta UCP Leader Ja­son Ken­ney last month dis­avowed Strashok af­ter re­ports by on­line me­dia out­lets Ric­o­chet and Press Progress re­vealed he had posted anti-Semitic and white su­prem­a­cist mes­sages on so­cial me­dia sites and was in­volved in an on­line store that sells mem­o­ra­bilia glo­ri­fy­ing white mi­nor­ity rule in Rhode­sia, the colo­nial pre­cur­sor to Zim­babwe.

Among other things, the store sells T-shirts em­bla­zoned with “Let’s slot flop­pies,” Rhode­sian mil­i­tary slang for “Let’s shoot black in­sur­gents.”

Ken­ney, who had em­ployed Strashok to run his call cen­tre dur­ing the UCP’s lead­er­ship con­test last year, is­sued a state­ment say­ing he was “shocked and dis­turbed” by the re­ports. He said he’d been un­aware of Strashok’s “ex­treme views” and had in­structed party of­fi­cials to re­voke his mem­ber­ship.

It ap­pears that at least un­til last Au­gust, when Bernier split with the Con­ser­va­tives to form his own party, Strashok was ac­tively in­volved with the fed­eral Con­ser­va­tives.

He had served on the ex­ec­u­tive of the party’s cam­pus club at the Univer­sity of Cal­gary and worked for Cal­gary MP Bob Ben­zen. He spent a sum­mer work­ing as an in­tern for Cal­gary MP Michelle Rem­pel when she was min­is­ter of state for western eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and posted pho­tos of him­self with groups of Con­ser­va­tives, in­clud­ing Rem­pel, Ben­zen and MP Blake Richards.

Con­ser­va­tive party fi­nan­cial records filed with Elec­tions Canada show that Strashok do­nated $290 to the party in May 2016 and $532 in June of this year. Party spokesman Cory Hann said those do­na­tions were the reg­is­tra­tion fees paid to at­tend party con­ven­tions — the last one held in Halifax in Au­gust.

Hann said Strashok’s views “ob­vi­ously do not re­flect the views of our party.”

“Th­ese views are not wel­come in our party and had we been aware of them, we would never (have) al­lowed him into our party, nei­ther as a vol­un­teer nor as an in­tern.”

Hann added that Strashok is no longer a mem­ber of the Con­ser­va­tive party “and my un­der­stand­ing is he’s been or­ga­niz­ing for Mr. Bernier in Al­berta.”

Rem­pel con­firmed that Strashok, who lived in her rid­ing, was hired as an in­tern in her re­gional of­fice — to the best of her rec­ol­lec­tion, in the sum­mer of 2013. His job would have been akin to “shred­ding pho­to­copy pa­per,” with ac­cess to noth­ing con­fi­den­tial, she said.

He also served briefly on her rid­ing-as­so­ci­a­tion board un­til sum­mer 2015, when some ex­ec­u­tive mem­bers be­came aware of some “ques­tion­able” so­cial-me­dia posts.

“The minute we be­came aware of this, he was asked to re­sign and he did,” Rem­pel said.

The Cana­dian Press

Maxime Bernier speaks with the me­dia af­ter fil­ing pa­pers for the Peo­ple’s Party of Canada at the Elec­tions Canada of­fice in Gatineau, Que., Oct. 10.

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