The United Conservative Party says it does not share the “hateful views” of Soldiers of Odin, after three UCP candidates were seen posing for photos with members of the extremist hate group.
Photos posted on the Soldiers of Odin Facebook page show UCP Edmonton-West Henday candidates Nicole Williams, Lance Coulter and Leila Houle smiling while posing with some of the group’s members at a UCP pub night in Edmonton on Friday.
At least 10 members of Soldiers of Odin are visible in the pictures, wearing hats, hoodies and leather vests emblazoned with “S.O.O.”
In a tweet Sunday, Williams said she was not aware of who the group was and does not share their “despicable” views.
“I was completely unaware of what ‘S.O.O.’ stood for,” she said.
“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.”
I was completely unaware of what ‘S.O.O.’ stood for. 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 <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/ableg?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#ableg</a>
Soldiers of Odin is an anti-immigration group founded in 2015 in Finland by Mika Ranta, a white supremacist. The Canadian branches of the group describe themselves as non-racist conservatives who seek to keep Canada safe.
The group’s Edmonton Facebook page says “the safety of our communities and citizens of Canada are our number one priority.” The Edmonton chapter periodically “patrols” Edmonton streets.
The Edmonton chapter’s Facebook page shared an event invite to the UCP’s pub night on Oct. 5.
Candidate Leila Houle also released a statement Sunday on Facebook saying she is “beyond upset” at the group’s presence at the constituency pub night.
“As an Indigenous woman, I condemn — in the strongest possible way — the SOO, 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. I absolutely reject the SOO and wish to move on from this disturbing event.”
In a statement on behalf of the UCP Edmonton-West Henday Constituency, president Terry Howlett said Soldiers of Odin was brought to the pub by an organizer of the Alberta Independence Party in an “attempt to cause problems.”
The UCP says the event was not split with that party in any way and was held in a public venue that was not exclusively booked by the UCP for the night.
Leader Jason Kenney was also not at the event, a UCP media spokesperson told CBC News.
Howlett said the constituency was not immediately aware of what the “S.O.O.” stood for on the clothing worn by Soldiers of Odin.
If he had known, he would have requested pub management remove the group, he said.
“To be clear: Soldiers of Odin and their hateful views are not welcome in our organization,” Howlett said.
“The UCP Edmonton-West Henday Constituency Association is a diverse group, and I am confident that my fellow members also denounce these despicable views.”
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Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area. It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary, generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road). Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.
Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016, Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.
Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.
The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton. The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.