UCP candidates under fire for posing with Soldiers of Odin members at event
Published Sunday, October 7, 2018 6:16PM MDT
A series of photos have circulated online, featuring several candidates of the United Conservative Party posing with Soldiers of Odin members.
Soldiers of Odin is a group known for its far right anti-immigration views.
UCP Edmonton-West Henday candidates Leila Houle, Nicole Williams and Lance Coulter were photographed alongside members.
The members were present at the UCP West Henday Pub Night Friday Evening, and as seen in photos, the men were wearing apparel with the acronym, “S.O.O.”
Soldiers of Odin posted the photos on their Facebook page with the caption: “Edmonton Chapter had a great night at the UCP pub event. Thank you to those who came out and to the UCP candidates for their support."
In a statement posted on Twitter Sunday, Edmonton-West Henday Constituency President Terry Howlett said the candidates were unaware of the group and its beliefs at the time of the event.
“Our UCP constituency association was not immediately aware of what the abbreviation ‘S.O.O.’ stood for,” said Howlett. “To be clear: Soldiers of Odin and their hateful views are not welcome in our organization.”
Howlett believes the members of the extremist group were sent by a member of the Alberta Independence Party.
“This group was brought to the pub by an ‘organizer’ of the fringe ‘Alberta Independence Party’ – presumably in attempt to cause problems.”
Dave Bjorkman, the interim leader of the Alberta Independence Party responded to CTV News, denying he invited Soldiers of Odin.
“They think it’s me… that’s a complete lie. I just met Soldiers of Odin at that same event,” Bjorkman argued.
Nicole Williams said she was oblivious of the meaning behind the acronym “S.O.O.”
“I know now, and I do not share the despicable views of this group. While we were in a public place, had I known their views I would have requested that they leave as their hate is not welcome in our party,” Williams tweeted.
Leila Houle also released a statement Sunday saying she was “beyond upset” at the events that took place.
"As an Indigenous woman, I condemn — in the strongest possible way — the S.O.O., and the violent, racist activity they have been attached to in Edmonton and across Canada," she said. “I have spent my entire life fighting prejudice and am painfully aware that this fight is an ongoing one.”
CTV News reached out to Soldiers of Odin for comment. The group had no comment about the event in question.
With files from Sarah Plowman