Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston said he wants to meet with members of the Central Alberta Pride Society to restore relations after a councillor’s comment caused hurt. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston said he wants to meet with members of the Central Alberta Pride Society to restore relations after a councillor’s comment caused hurt. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Coun. Kraymer Barnstable apologizes for offending Red Deer’s pride community

‘I have no hate in my heart’

Red Deer city councillor Kraymer Barnstable said he’s sorry his public comment against a Drag Queen Storytime at the public library caused hurt in the city’s pride community.

“I have no hate in my heart against any group. I’m sorry I offended anyone,” said Barnstable on Monday.

He explained he was expressing his own “value system” — “I just wanted to make sure kids were looked after the right way…I was not trying to offend, or cause division or hate, with what I said. I’m sorry that was the result.”

The Central Alberta Pride Society sent a letter to city council calling for an apology from the councillor as well as more diversity training after Barnstable said the drag queen reading to kids on June 21 was ‘adult entertainment’ and inappropriate for 4- to 8-year-olds.

The councillor said he already spoke to a Red Deer Public Library official to explain and resolve differences.

“I am not standing against the pride community,” he added. “I hope we can move forward as a society… I believe we can all be loving and inclusive even if we don’t all agree.”

Related:

Central Alberta Pride Society demands apology from city councillor for denigrating library’s Drag Queen Storytime

On Monday, Mayor Ken Johnston said this situation was weighing heavily on him, and he asked Barnstable to apologize for causing offence.

“I have a good relationship with people in the pride community,” added the mayor, who plans to sit down with Central Alberta Pride Society members to further discuss “how do we restore our relationship …. I am sad that people are feeling so hurt, but this is an opportunity for growth.”

The City of Red Deer had been aware of the Facebook comment Barnstable made last month, and had publicly reaffirmed, through Twitter, the municipality’s strong support of inclusion and diversity, added Johnston.

He feels free speech, shouldn’t cross into “when your point of view hurts another person.”

The Mayor added that he’s mindful that being elected to council means representing everyone in the city. “When I get up in the morning, I don’t just act for the 13,000 who elected me, I act for 100,000 people.”

Regarding diversity training, the mayor said council will discuss what more is needed. The Council Conduct Code is coming up for review this fall, and Johnston said it will also present a chance to fine-tune some wording around what councillor’s responsibilities are.

Barnstable said he’s open to whatever’s necessary and welcomes new learning opportunities.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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