Jason Kenney faces new calls to speechwriter after other ‘hateful’ columns were unearthed

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, seen here in Edmonton on March 20, 2020, dismissed calls to fire his speech writer Paul Bunner.

JASON FRANSON / The Canadian Press

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is facing new calls to fire his speechwriter after other Paul Bunner chronicles on race and LGBTQ people have surfaced.

Bunner, who has worked for the Prime Minister for the past year and was previously a speechwriter for former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, was criticized last week for a 2013 article in the C2C Journal in which he described the description of the Canadian residential school system as a form of genocide was “false”. The article was first reported by the CBC.

New Opposition Democrats have since unearthed more of Bunner’s texts, mostly from his time in the conservative Alberta Report in the 1990s, which included comments that the NDP disparaged for First Nations and LGBTQ people .

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On Tuesday, the NDP published a 2003 article in which Mr. Bunner recalled racial tensions during his stay at Boston University. He used the word N to say something a roommate had said to him and argued that race was a “determinant” of violent crime in the United States and Canada.

Another column questioned media attention for the murder of 21-year-old gay college student Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, who was tortured and killed in 1998.

NDP MP David Shepherd said the columns were more proof that Mr. Bunner had to leave.

“The sheer volume of hate writing has taken us a while to sift through,” Shepherd told reporters.

“We cannot have any confidence that Jason Kenney is sincere in the face of systemic racism as long as he continues to have Paul Bunner in his office. He must fire him. “

Mr. Kenney dismissed calls to dismiss Mr. Bunner. His office accused the NDP of taking the 2003 article out of context, noting that Bunner also wrote that his university experience had shown him that “no matter how poisoned a society is by racism, it can be overcome “. The Prime Minister’s office did not address other points in the column, including his comments on the links between race and violence.

Kenney defended Bunner in an interview earlier this week, arguing that his views have changed since he wrote articles cited by the NDP and others. He said that Mr. Bunner would soon meet with residential school survivors “to humbly and empathize with their first-hand experiences”, although he declined to provide further details of the meeting.

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“I can tell you that I think we’ve all learned a lot about these issues over the past decade. Certainly. And I think he’s willing to learn more, “said Kenney to The Globe and Mail.

Mr. Kenney said that there is no doubt that Mr. Bunner, an opinion columnist and journalist for 40 years, wrote things “I do not agree and that I and others would find it offensive”.

“I can tell you that the Paul Bunner I know is a kind and decent person, whose opinions I am sure have changed on a number of issues.”

Mr. Kenney said that Mr. Bunner had presented speeches to him “which underline a deep respect and a real empathy for the indigenous peoples”.

Aboriginal leaders, including the Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations and the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations, asked for Mr. Bunner’s dismissal, arguing that his comments on the residential schools were insulting, dehumanizing and would hinder progress of reconciliation.

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