Caylan Ford, a United Conservative Party candidate in Calgary-Mountain View, has resigned after comments she made surrounding the Charlottesville riot in August 2017. Press Progress reported that on August 15, Ford, 32, had a conversation with a person via Facebook Messenger about the racist-riot that occurred in Virginia.
During that riot, Heather Heyer was killed as a car purposely drove through a crowd who were protesting Confederate statues in the town. James Alex Fields Jr. was later indicted on hate crime charges relating to the incident.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Leaker of the Messages Has Been Described as a ‘Long-Time Muslim Conservative’
The source is described by PressProgress as being “a long-time Muslim conservative with deep ties to the party.” Ford wrote, according to the report, that she felt white supremacist terrorists are subjected to a different legal standard to Muslim terrorists. Ford said, “When the perpetrator is an Islamist, the denunciations are intermingled with breathless assurances that they do not represent Islam, that Islam is a religion of peace, etc. When the terrorists are white supremacists, that kind of soul-searching or attempts to understand the sources of their radicalization or their perverse moral reasoning is beyond the pale.” Ford also said, “I am saddened by the demographic replacement of white peoples in their homelands.”
The Press Progress report says that the source turned whistleblower because that person felt Ford had been “flirting with white nationalism.” With regard to the use of the term “demographic replacement,” Ford allegedly said that the transition would not be “peaceful.” Ford is also accused of stating a belief in the failure of western civilization unless white people are in charge.
2. Ford Said She Was Resigning So as Not to Distract From the Campaign & Did Not Issue an Apology for the Remarks
In a statement on her now-deleted campaign page, Ford said that she was resigning so as not to distract from general election campaign. Ford added, “I can’t speak to the authenticity of them. These are fragments of a conversation that was held years ago that were selected to maximize damage to me.”
Ford continued, “I am and have always been committed to combating the forces of hatred and division, and strive to treat all people with compassion and with understanding. I have dedicated much of my life to advocating for the human rights of marginalized minorities, and will continue to defend human dignity and seek understanding in an increasingly polarized world.”
Ford also said that her comments had been taken out of context. UCP Leader Jason Kenney told CBC that he felt Ford had done the right thing by resigning. Kenney also said that he “condemned” the sentiments uttered by Ford and said that he was surprised by the messages given her education.
Following Ford’s resignation, the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council said in a statement, “While we are happy with her choice to resign, we are deeply concerned that she seemed entirely without contrition for her actions, and named the source who was concerned for his own safety.”
3. Ford Graduated From Alternative High School in Southwest Calgary
According to Ford’s official website, which has since been removed, Ford graduated from Alternative High School in southwest Calgary. From there, Ford studied for a Bachelor’s degree in history, specializing in Chinese history, from the University of Calgary. Ford then attained a Master’s in International Affairs from George Washington University in Washington D.C. The bio adds, “More recently, she graduated with distinction from Oxford University with a Master’s degree in International Human Rights Law.”
Ford has represented Canada at the United Nations as part of Global Affairs Canada. That’s in addition to running a small business alongside her husband, Jared Pearman. Ford has also spent time working in a think tank in Washington D.C. Some of Ford’s work there had been published by the Washington Post.
4. Ford Wrote & Produced the 2018 Documentary ‘Letter From Masanjia’
In 2018, Ford wrote and co-produced the documentary, “Letter From Masanjia,” which was screened at the Calgary International Film Festival. The film deals with an American woman, Julie Keith, who finds a letter from a Chinese political prisoner, Sun Yi, in a box of Halloween decorations in Oregon. The film then goes into human rights abuses and political oppression in China. In September 2018, the film received a positive review from the New York Times.
The film was made in conjunction with Canadian filmmaker Leon Lee. Lee almost exclusively makes movies about modern-day China that are banned from public consumption in the country where they’re set. In 2012, Ford and her husband were mentioned as having taken part in a protest for Chinese human rights in Washington D.C. in a Guernica Magazine feature. That piece also mentioned that the couple are practitioners of the ancient Chinese spiritual meditative practice of Falun Gong.
5. Ford Lives in Calgary With Her Husband & 2 Young Children
Ford says on her official campaign bio that after a career of traveling she returned to Calgary to raise her two children with her husband. Ford says she was “hoping to give them the same opportunities that she was fortunate to have growing up.” In her spare time, Ford says she “enjoys hiking in the Rocky Mountains, reading, and playing cello poorly.”
Her husband Jared is a former producer with National Geographic. Jared proposed to his wife at Lake Louise ski resort in Alberta. In an October 2018 Calgary Herald feature on his wife, Jared said, “Caylan is so extraordinary, I feel fortunate to be able to provide support so she can run and the world can get to know her.”
Ford also wrote on her campaign page, “As the mother of two young children, I’m deeply invested in the future of this province, and I am committed to ensuring that my daughters enjoy the same opportunities I had growing up here. The Alberta I know is a place where hard work is rewarded and individual liberty is safeguarded.”