A Calgary school board trustee candidate blamed last weekend’s attacks in downtown Edmonton on the local LGBTQ community, sparking a wave of backlash on social media.

Karen Draper took to Facebook hours after Abdulahi Hasan Sharif is alleged to have plowed his car into a crowd control barricade outside a CFL football game, stabbed a police officer, and then plowed a U-Haul cube van into pedestrians on Saturday. Five people were injured in the attacks.

“LGBTQ R U 2 DUM 2 C THE TERRORIST ATTACK IN EDMONTON IS YOUR FAULT AS WELL,” Draper wrote in a post that has attracted over 800 comments and nearly 1,000 shares since it was published on Sunday.


Posted by Karyn Draper on Sunday, October 1, 2017

The 35-year-old mother, who is running as a candidate in the city’s Ward 12 and 14, continues to stand beside what she wrote despite the criticism.

“I have a validated reason for writing what I did because almost every LGBT member I’ve met has been counter-protesting our events against M-103, the open borders, and against Islamic terrorism. Calling me a racist. They have been violent here in Calgary. They have even physically attacked my friends, a church where they assaulted and maced people. Including children,” Draper wrote in a lengthy follow-up post.

She did not make any direct connection to the Sept. 30 attacks in Edmonton in the response.

M-103 is a private member’s motion presented by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid calling for parliamentarians to condemn Islamophobia, recognize the need to “quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear,” and request the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage undertake a study on racism and religious discrimination, as well as collect contextualized hate crime data. Critics have said the motion would infringe on freedom of speech rights.

Draper said her opposition to M-103, and her stance against gay-straight alliances in schools, has led to her being “terrorized” and slandered by the LGBTQ community.

“They call me a racist. They call me all of these things, when I absolutely am not,” she told CTV Calgary on Tuesday.

Mike Bradshaw is running against Draper for school trustee. He called her comments “awful.”

“I think it is terrible that she is using this as a platform to kind of spread her hate,” he said. “I don’t think there should be a place for that in our civic elections.”

University of Alberta Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services Faculty Director Kristopher Wells said candidates like Draper emerge in this this type of political race because they are not closely watched.

He is in favour of tougher vetting to ensure candidates are suitable to hold public office and, in this case, support young people in the school system.

“Is a student in that school district going to feel safe being themselves (and) reaching out for support if we have a trustee that is openly espousing discriminatory views?,” Wells asked.

The vote will be decided on Oct. 16.

With a report from CTV Calgary’s Ina Sidhu