Candidate for Alberta’s Freedom Conservatives who shared meme about setting Justin Trudeau on fire won’t be removed: party

A spokesperson for Alberta’s Freedom Conservative Party says while a Facebook post a candidate shared which jokes about dousing the prime minister in gasoline and setting him on fire was “silly,” he won’t be removed by the party.

Global News received a tip about concerning Facebook posts shared by Keith Parrill, the FCP’s candidate in Lacombe-Ponoka. One post that caused concern showed a meme about Justin Trudeau with a punchline that involves dousing him in gasoline. The other is a doctored video which shows former U.S. president Barack Obama admitting he was born in Kenya, supporting a debunked conspiracy theory popularized by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Global News received a tip about concerning Facebook posts shared by Keith Parrill, the FCP’s candidate in Lacombe-Ponoka. One post that caused concern show a meme about Justin Trudeau with a punchline that describes dousing him in gasoline while the other is a doctored video which shows former U.S. president Barack Obama admitting he was born in Kenya, supporting a debunked conspiracy theory popularized by U.S. President Donald Trump.

The post Parrill shared about Trudeau tells a joke about a driver stuck in a traffic jam on Highway 2 near Red Deer. A man knocks on the driver’s window and tells him that “terrorists have kidnapped Justin Trudeau and they’re asking for $100 million or they will douse him with gasoline and set him on fire.” He then asks the driver for a donation and when the driver asks how much other people are giving, the man tells him “roughly a gallon.”

Watch below: (From January 2019) One of the groups behind the Yellow Vest movement in Canada had its Facebook page taken down, but within a few hours, it was back up. Mercedes Stephenson looks at what happened.

The joke about Trudeau was shared by Parrill on Dec. 19, 2018 and the video about Obama was shared on Dec. 31, 2018.

The FCP declined to comment further on either post, but indicated the Trudeau post had been removed from Parrill’s Facebook account. Global News was unable to verify this as Parrill’s account can no longer be found in a Facebook search.

Global News has asked the FCP for Parrill’s contact information in order to get comment from him. His contact information was not visible on either the FCP website or the Elections Alberta site.

The FCP is a new libertarian conservative party started by former UCP MLA Derek Fildebrandt. The 2019 election will be the first one for the party.

Watch below: (From March 21, 20190 The Freedom Conservative Party launched its 2019 election campaign in Calgary on Thursday.

Earlier this week, the FCP removed two candidates; one for anti-Islamic comments and the other for anti-immigrant comments.

Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Calgary’s Mount Royal University suggested it’s not clear to him what the party finds acceptable for a candidate.

“That’s pretty outlandish for a candidate,” Bratt said of the joke about Trudeau. “I mean, those are common statements, unfortunately, that I have seen by conservative trolls. But it’s one thing to be a Facebook or Twitter troll and it’s another to be a candidate for office.

“I can just imagine if this had been a UCP candidate, what the reaction would have been. But the FCP seems to have a much lower standard for bad behaviour.”

Bratt pointed out that Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley has been the butt of violent jokes before, like when former Wildrose leader Brian Jean joked about the law preventing him from assaulting her or a man using a photo of Notley’s face as a golfball target. In both of those cases the men apologized.

Watch below: (From September 2016) Some say Brian Jean’s apology to Rachel Notley doesn’t so far enough, after he joked about the law preventing him from assaulting her. Tom Vernon reports.

“People have gotten into trouble for those things in the past… [and] the defence for people is just, ‘I was joking. I was kidding. No big deal,’” Bratt said.

Bratt said the Parrill case is a reminder that candidates need to be mindful of what they post on social media and that parties need to do a better job of vetting their candidates.

“[These jokes and conversations] are now public and available to see and that’s why we’re seeing growing problems with people having it discovered,” he said. “Which is why parties have tried to vet their candidates either by more carefully selecting them or getting them to airbrush or remove questionable material from the past.

“What this says about the Freedom Conservative Party is either as a brand new, small party, do they have the capacity to do that? Or b), are they, as Derek Fildebrandt says, a libertarian party that wants to accept all views — so, ‘If you want to kill Trudeau, that’s a perfectly fine statement.’”

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