– Kamloops this week
The new executive director at the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce was let go following a series of controversial Facebook posts.
John Perks suddenly changed the privacy settings on his Facebook page Friday morning after the contents of some posts started circulating on social media.
"Today the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce announces that John Perks will not be employed as executive director, as previously announced," chamber president Joshua Knaak said in a press release issued Sunday afternoon.
Shortly after the recruitment announcement, some recently shared Facebook posts by Perk started to get noticed, including a post that denies climate change is real, a post that refers to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as an "idiot" , a post that refers to substance-abuse drug addicts as "drug addicts" and a post that supports the migrant caravan from Central America to Mexico was set up for the media.
There is also a shared post-Perks stating that proponents of choice should be forced to follow an abortion procedure and a post related to Muslims that is wrongly attributed to a quote from the former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill: "When Muslims are in the minority, they are very interested in minority rights; when they are in the majority there are no minority rights".
Screenshots they seem to call @JustinTrudeau an idiot, denigrating Muslims and apparently denying the climate were found on a Facebook page supposedly belonging to the (now previous) executive director of the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce, John Perks.@BlackPressMedia
HISTORY: https://t.co/Koxferhw0c pic.twitter.com/Di3KsyGhbU
– Kat Slepian (@katslepian) March 25, 2019
In defense of the posts, Perks told Kamloops This Week that he did not know that his Facebook page was public and that anyone who knew him would not finish what the post might otherwise have made them believe.
A post is a screenshot that implies that climate change is along the same lines as "unicorns, Superman, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the tooth fairy and old communists washed becoming president" – referring to Bernie Sanders, who was present in the contents of the post.
But Perks said that, in effect, he believes in climate change caused by the "100%" man and shared the post only to highlight the absurdity of the comment.
Another was a post meme that said: "When your liberal friend finally wakes up … And thanks for letting him know that Justin Trudeau is an idiot!"
When asked why – now the executive director of the chamber and someone who will be in regular contact with the government of all levels, including the federal one – would share a post that calls the prime minister an idiot, Perks said he did not remember to have never done so.
"Justin Trudeau is an intelligent and intelligent man. He is Canada's prime minister," Perks said. "It is due respect and honor to be in that office. There must be a healthy dialogue if there are differences and that is what I believe in".
Another post shared by Perks claims the migrant caravan that traveled to the southern border of the United States was set up for the media.
"My point of departure that was not to say anything about the border wall or security, was that I could not believe that the media were exploiting this crisis in Honduras and exploiting women and children at risk," he said.
Other recent posts on the Perks page include pro-Donald Trump and anti-democratic messages. He said he was a Trump supporter and admits he was at some point.
"I went to his inauguration, but there are a lot of things with which I don't agree – about 90%," he said.
In January, Perks shared a picture celebrating Trump's national emergency declaration for financing the country's controversial southern border wall. The picture has also denigrated the emergency declarations of former President Barack Obama to lift sanctions that prevented aid to countries like Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Ukraine.
Perks also shared posts from the far-right news website Breitbart, although he told KTW he didn't know what Breitbart was.
Perks also shared a post on the National Conservative News Network Canada Facebook page, a far-right site similar to Breitbart. The post compared the cost of epinephrine pens at the cost of Narcan and refers to drug addicts as "addicts".
"The messy part of this from my point of view is that there are costs behind a medical system that should be socialized," he said.
As for addicts called "addicts", Perks' defense of sharing the post is that he has a close relative who is a drug addict. He said he is not prejudiced against drug addicts.
"As I said, I didn't know anyone else would see it. I probably have 2,000 friend requests on hold. I don't add them all to my personal Facebook page," he said.
Perks said he made his Facebook page private on Friday morning because he has personal family photos on the page and wants to protect his family.
The president of the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce, Joshua Knaak, said that Perks went through a "rigorous" control process that included not only his board of directors, but also a third-party consultant.
"We have seen enough of his social media. We have seen enough of him to be confident in the person we have," Knaak said.
"We met the candidate on two different occasions to get the context that I believe is missing. The only way others will be able to get that context is to meet John and see what he does."
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