Five days after saying a United Conservative candidate who compared transgender students to feces in food could be given a second chance, leader Danielle Smith has repeated that the woman wouldn’t sit in caucus if her party forms government.
Questions are being raised again about Jennifer Johnson’s status as a UCP candidate after a social media post Tuesday night by someone from her constituency association suggested she’s still a member in good standing and could enter caucus in the near future.
The Facebook post was deleted Wednesday and replaced with one from the constituency board that said the message was posted by a volunteer who does not reflect its views.
“Our leader has been clear that Jennifer Johnson will not sit in UCP caucus if she is elected,” said the post.
When asked about Johnson’s status during a news conference in Calgary, Smith said she has been clear.
“I’ve made a decision she will not be sitting with the UCP caucus,” she said.
Last Friday, Smith said on CTV Calgary’s morning show that Johnson would have “a lot of work to do” to find her way into the party’s caucus.
“I believe in redemption. I do believe people have the ability to have second chances,” she said at the time. “She’s got a lot of proving to do.”
The comments came a day after Smith called Johnson’s language both offensive and a vile analogy, and said Johnson would not sit as a member of the UCP wins the Alberta election Monday.
Smith said Wednesday that she stands by her original decision.
“I’ve made it very clear. I’ve made a decision she won’t be sitting with our caucus if she is elected and that’s final,” she said.
Last week, audio surfaced from Sept. 1, before Johnson won the UCP nomination. She is heard telling a group that Alberta’s high-ranking education system counts for little set against the issue of transgender students, comparing their presence to a batch of cookies laced with feces.
“That little bit of poop is what wrecks it,” says Johnson on the audio. “It does not matter that we’re in the top three per cent in the world.”
She repeated a long-denied assertion that public schools allow students to identify as cats and set out litter boxes for them. She said girls are getting double mastectomies and being chemically sterilized at age 14.
She said hard-core pornography is available in elementary schools and advocated for the total elimination of sex education.
Dave Dale, the NDP candidate for Lacombe-Ponoka, said Smith must permanently eject Johnson from the UCP.
“Jennifer Johnson’s bizarre and hateful views have no place in the legislature,” he said in a statement. “As a teacher myself, I can tell you that her comments put vulnerable children in danger. I can’t imagine the hurt for students who are being publicly compared to pieces of excrement.”
NDP Leader Rachel Notley added later in the day that Johnson’s remarks were offensive.
“We would not be open to having her in our caucus. Frankly though, I don’t believe Danielle Smith when she says that,” she told reporters in Calgary.
“We see contradictory information coming from the UCP constituency association in Lacombe-Ponoka. It seems to me that the UCP itself is not clear on the position they will take on this. Danielle Smith has actually changed positions on it a couple of times since the matter first arose, so I think we can conclude we cannot count on the UCP to make the right decision.”
Johnson has apologized for her remarks, saying she’s embarrassed she caused hurt.
She said, if elected, she would seek advice on how to communicate her views.