After Alberta’s Infrastructure and Transportation Minister went public against an online media outlet, calling out the two most high-profile UCP leadership hopefuls for their connections to it, the two candidates have distanced themselves from the outlet.

Minister Brian Mason called Rebel Media “racist” Thursday.

“We expect our politicians to renounce racism, to renounce violence and that expectation has been clearly communicated in the United States, and I believe we must clearly communicate it here in Canada, and here in Alberta,” Mason said.

Mason said he believed it is important for the two front-runners for the leadership of the newly-formed United Conservative Party, Brian Jean and Jason Kenney, to explain their connections to Rebel Media.

“To make sure to explain to people in this province why exactly it has been that there’s some racist media outlet – so-called media outlet…it’s something that has been promoting these kinds of views, and it’s something with which they have regularly associated by appearing on its programs and otherwise,” Mason said.

In the past, Jean and Kenney have been associated with the website – and said after the events in Charlottesville, Va, it is important to speak out publicly against racism and white supremacists.

Coverage of the protests in Charlottesville by Rebel Media has been seen as sympathetic to the white nationalists who organized the rally, which deteriorated into violence that left one dead, and injured a number of others.

“It’s pretty clear where Rebel Media stands, and it’s pretty clear that Brian Jean and Jason Kenney are standing with them and at least don’t have the decency to separate themselves and make it clear the views of Rebel Media are not their views,” Mason said.

Jean responded to the comments on his connection with the outlet through a statement:

“From the very beginning of my time as the leader of the Wildrose Party, I have consistently denounced hatred, bigotry, and racism in all its forms. There is no place for this in public discourse and I will continue to reject these sentiments whenever, and wherever they may appear.”

“I believe strongly in the sanctity of free speech and a free press and do not believe it is the role of elected officials to dictate who is, and is not media.”

“However, recent events have me concerned with the commentary and editorial direction coming from Rebel Media. I have not appeared on the Rebel in seven months and unless their direction changes in a significant way, I will not in the future.”

In a series of tweets, Jason Kenney said he hadn’t done an interview with the website in more than a year, and had refused to attend events put on by the outlet. He said he had been “repeatedly attacked by the Rebel” for criticizing the outlet.

On the federal stage Thursday, The Canadian Press reported Andrew Scheer, the new leader of the federal Conservative Party had announced he wouldn’t do interviews with Rebel Media until changes are made to its editorial direction.

The new leader of the Official Opposition said he decided to cut ties with the website following their coverage of the deadly Charlottesville protests.

With files from The Canadian Press