Man dis­avowed by To­ries joined Bernier’s party

Of­fi­cial says ex­treme views have no place in Peo­ple’s Party of Canada

Winnipeg Free Press - - NEWS / CANADA - JOAN BRY­DEN

TTAWA — An al­leged white su­prem­a­cist who was kicked out of Al­berta’s United Con­ser­va­tive Party (UCP) 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 other mem­bers.

A party spokesman did not an­swer directly 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

Olast 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 ridin­gas­so­ci­a­tion board un­til sum­mer 2015, when some ex­ec­u­tive mem­bers be­came aware of some “ques­tion­able” so­cial­me­dia posts.

“The minute we be­came aware of this, he was asked to re­sign and he did,” Rem­pel said. “I have a zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy on any sort of anti-Semitic lan­guage, like more than zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy. That is com­pletely un­ac­cept­able and there is no place for that type of lan­guage, and I de­nounce it in the strong­est pos­si­ble terms.”

Ben­zen said Strashok was an in­tern in his Cal­gary of­fice in 2017 af­ter he won a by­elec­tion and first be­came an MP. Strashok helped with re­search to get him up to speed on fed­eral is­sues, Ben­zen said.

“I can tell you there were no in­di­ca­tions at all, in ei­ther his con­duct or his con­ver­sa­tion, of the views now at­trib­uted to him. Such views are un­ac­cept­able and would never have been tol­er­ated had they been known,” Ben­zen said in an email.

Richards said he’s not fa­mil­iar with Strashok.

SEAN KIL­PATRICK / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

Maxime Bernier’s party de­clined to say whether a man said to have ex­pressed white su­prem­a­cist views on so­cial me­dia was still a mem­ber.

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