Anti-female tone was growing in Wildrose U of C group before 'feminism is cancer' email, ex-member alleges

Wildrose campus group implosion offers yet another glimpse of Alberta's bare-knuckle unite-the-right fight

A former member of a Wildrose party campus group at the University of Calgary — speaking after a controversial email from the group that said "feminism is cancer" — says the organization started to take an "anti-female" tone prior to her departure. 

Anika Burmeister was speaking to CBC News after public condemnation of an email from the Wildrose On Campus (WROC) group describing feminism as "cancer" to help promote a controversial movie to be screened on International Women's Day.

"There were definitely seeds of a sort of anti-female behaviour that began to showcase in the fall of this previous year, which ultimately led to my resignation from Wildrose On Campus," said Burmeister, the former communications director for WROC.

'Feminism is cancer'

Burmeister's replacement was fired on Monday after sending out an email invite to the screening of an anti-feminist documentary called The Red Pill, which sympathizes with the controversial men's rights movement. 

"You and I both know that feminism is cancer," the email said. "To create a dialogue on campus, we have decided to take action." 

Burmeister said the email is disappointing but not surprising.

"There was definitely a form of coded language that made an environment, that made it uncomfortable for females to participate in the political sphere," she said. 

Group's VP found email 'repulsive'

The group's former vice-president, Keean Bexte, denies Burmeister's claims and says he found the email "repulsive."

"We have many women and members of the LGBT community on our membership and executive, and comments like this certainly don't help anything," he said. 

Bexte said he and a handful of others resigned from the group over the incident, adding that the group is scaling back its presence in advance of an anticipated merger between the PC and Wildrose parties. 

"We couldn't stand behind the comments our [director of communications] made, and the club was folding anyway," he said in a text message to CBC News.

"I am not involved any further and am happy to be rid of it."

The movie itself is still being shown by another on-campus group called Canadian Advocates for Freedom and Liberty. 

Ties to the Wildrose party

The organization no longer has ties to the Wildrose Party, after a new bylaw relating to third-party associations was drafted on Feb. 22.

Prior to that there were "informal" ties between the two entities, according to executive director Jeremy Nixon, who bought a membership in the campus group in September "in order to help a friend."

The Wildrose website once hosted a section on the club. 

On Tuesday, however, the party released a letter asking the campus group to stop using the Wildrose name and logo until it complies with the new bylaw.

Wildrose Party asks campus group to stop using name

"The Wildrose on Campus at the University of Calgary is not a Wildrose Recognized Association, which comes with various benefits, including use of the party's name, logo and branding," said the email from Nixon.

"In order to become a recognized association, your association must be compliant with the attached bylaw and demonstrate that you are aligned with the principles and values of the Wildrose Party. Until officially recognized, and effective immediately, your association must stop using the Wildrose Party's name and logo(s)."

Hadn't got around to sending letter

Nixon said this incident shows how important it is to have bylaws like the ones drafted in February in order to protect the party's brand.

"It's been 13 days since the rules were approved, so we just hadn't got around to distributing the application process to the Wildrose on Campus groups," he said when asked why it took this incident to get a letter to the campus group.

"They will be receiving momentarily the new bylaw and the application process to be an endorsed association by the Wildrose Party."

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