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Central Alberta queer groups react to request from Red Deer-South to reinstate Jennifer Johnson to UCP caucus

A number of  2SLGBTQIA+ groups in Central Alberta are pushing back against a request from the Red Deer South UCP constituency to reinstate MLA Jennifer Johnson into the UCP caucus.

Johnson was kicked out of caucus last May after her September 2022 comments comparing transgender children in schools to having feces in food became public.

On Wednesday, the board of the Red Deer-South Constituency sent Smith a letter saying that Johnson had sufficiently apologized for her comments and asked for her to be reinstated to the UCP caucus.

“Member Johnson has, in our view, sufficiently made amends for her comments that came to light during a closely fought election last spring. It is our view that the time has come to move past this incident and welcome Member Johnson into caucus.”

On Saturday, the premier’s office issued the following statement.

“The Premier’s previous comments on this topic stand and there has been no decision made to reinstate MLA Jennifer Johnson to Caucus.”

The Lacombe Pride Society, along with HOME, RDQCA and Central Alberta Pride, as well some other queer agencies, said they “have seen no real tangible steps forward to indicate she has moved past these egregious beliefs.”

Letter from Red Deer-South constituency office to Premier Smith

In May 2023, Johnson issued an apology for the comments.

“I apologize for the way I discussed these issues in September of 2022,” she said. “I have nothing but love and compassion for everyone equally and am embarrassed that I have caused hurt in this way.”

Lacombe Pride board member Jonathan Luscombe said in the letter that after Johnson was elected, vandalism and homophobia surged in central Alberta, “from Ponoka United Church’s pride crosswalk being vandalized, to a home of our society’s board member being targeted 12 times with vandalism, theft and threats in the span of one month.”

The letter called for Johnson to lay out tangible steps she will take to rectify the situation, recommending that she take courses from “some of the leading queer organizations in Canada” while also attending local events.

This is a developing story that will be updated throughout the day.

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