“I’m very frank, but when you dig into it, some of these rumors that come up are baseless. Some people have accused me of these things, but they can’t really point to something specific because it’s not really there.” – Aaron Gunn

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The latest candidate to enter the race for liberal BC leadership, Aaron Gunn, insists he is not a far-right extremist, as some of his critics have called him.

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“I consider myself a conservative with a small ‘c, a’ blue conservative, ‘” Gunn said Saturday. “My political philosophy is lower taxes, less waste, a smaller government, and then common sense policies that do the right thing for taxpayers.”

But the NDP has accused Gunn of using “transphobic, racist and sexist rhetoric” on his social media accounts.

Gunn has amassed more than 80,000 followers to his Facebook page and more than half a million subscribers to his YouTube channel. His work for the group “Canada Proud” drew criticism in August 2018, when he appeared at Victoria City Hall, along with several members of the white supremacist group Sons of Nodin, to protest against the removal of the statue of Sir John A. . Macdonald.

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Gunn’s recent comments on social media include criticism of education around gender diversity.

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

NDP MLA Kelli Paddon called Gunn’s views “dangerous and unacceptable.”

“This is about human rights, and with their rhetoric and beliefs out there, the Liberal Party must condemn this and show us what kind of leaders they are,” he said.

But supporters of Gunn’s candidacy announcement in Victoria on Saturday say critics are wrong.

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“With social networks, with small interest groups, he stereotypes certain people. But Aaron doesn’t seem afraid to speak common sense. I like his simple talk, ”said Mark Ponting, who drove Victoria from Comox to show his support.

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Supporter Harman Bhangu delivers a speech ahead of British Columbia Liberal Party candidate Aaron Gunn's arrival at the Victoria Greek Community Center on Saturday, October 9, 2021.
Supporter Harman Bhangu delivers a speech ahead of British Columbia Liberal Party candidate Aaron Gunn’s arrival at the Victoria Greek Community Center on Saturday, October 9, 2021. Photo by Chad Hipolito /PNG

Harman Bhangu from Surrey was among 75 supporters who attended the start of Gunn’s campaign, which took place outdoors under a tent at the Greek Community Center in Victoria.

“I myself am of the Sikh faith and I talk to Aaron all the time, and I have never heard or seen him do anything racist. It’s a complete myth, ”Bhangu said. “It’s a label that a lot of people try to put on it, and it’s not fair to label it that way when there’s no evidence about it. People should know about it. He’s always ready to get closer. “

Bhangu said Gunn was the only politician to respond to his concerns about BC’s carbon tax.Those concerns have become a bulletin board on Gunn’s platform, including eliminating the carbon tax, privatizing the ICBC, eliminating the need for show a vaccination card to access services and order the homeless to enter drug treatment or psychiatric hospitals.

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Gunn, 31, who grew up in Greater Victoria, admits her “tell it like they are” style may worry some, but says the concern is overblown.

“I’m very frank, but when you dig into it, some of these rumors that arise are baseless. Some people have accused me of these things, but they can’t really point to something specific because it’s not really there, ”he said.

The NDP issued a statement, condemning Gunn, which included links to his social media pages that he said demonstrate his belief that systemic racism does not exist, that he denies there is a gender pay gap, and highlights his support for a Conservative federal congressman who was expelled from caucus to support conversion therapy for teens who identify as gay.

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The statement read, in part, “BC Liberals have made room for candidates with harmful and discriminatory views for too long. It is time for all leadership candidates to say that candidates like Aaron Gunn will not be able to run under their leadership. “

No one from the Liberal Party was available to comment, but communications director David Wasyluk provided a statement saying that it is up to the party’s “leadership election organizing committee to conduct a review and determine whether a candidate is approved. For confidentiality reasons, we cannot comment on the status of an application. “

So far, there are six approved candidates in the race. Gunn has not yet been approved. Members of the BC Liberal Party will vote for a new leader in February 2022.

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