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Aaron Gunn tossed from B.C. Liberal leadership race over 'diversity concerns'

Aaron Gunn, labelled a far-right extremist by opponents, has been rejected as a candidate for leader of the B.C. Liberal party.
Aaron Gunn, a conservative social media commentator, has been rejected from running for the B.C. provincial Liberal leadership. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Aaron Gunn, labelled a far-right extremist by opponents, has been rejected as a candidate for leader of the B.C. Liberal party.

After reviewing Gunn’s statements on social media, the party’s leadership election organizing committee concluded that “Gunn’s candidacy would be inconsistent with the B.C. ­Liberal party’s commitment to reconciliation, diversity and acceptance of all British ­Columbians.”

Gunn, 31, announced his bid for leadership on Oct. 9.

The NDP accused Gunn of using “transphobic, racist and sexist rhetoric” on his social media with views including that systemic racism is “a myth” and “the gender pay gap doesn’t exist.”

More comments on his social media, including criticism of education around gender ­diversity, have been seen by some of his 80,000 Facebook followers and 500,000 YouTube subscribers.

“Governments are using ­taxpayer dollars to fund ­universities like UBC to indoctrinate the next generation with garbage like this,” Gunn tweeted.

Gunn, who grew up in Greater Victoria, admitted his “tell it like it is” style may concern some, but claimed this month that concerns about his views were overblown.

“I consider myself a small ‘c’ conservative, a ‘blue conservative,’ ” Gunn said in an interview. “My political philosophy is lower taxes, less waste, smaller government and then just common-sense policies that do right by taxpayers.”

His work for the group “Canada Proud” drew criticism in August 2018 when Gunn, along with several members of the white supremacist group Sons of Odin, protested against the removal of the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald at Victoria’s city hall.

The Liberal committee’s recommendation to refuse Gunn’s application for candidacy was unanimously approved Friday by Liberal party executives.

Gunn was previously given “the opportunity to respond to concerns raised by certain of those statements,” said committee chair Roxanne Helme.

Gunn responded to the party’s decision in a Tweet on Friday: “Today, it became clear that conservatives, and all British Columbians who believe in common sense and freedom of speech, are no longer welcome in today’s B.C. Liberal party.”

So far, there are six approved candidates in the race. Party members will vote for a new leader in February.

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