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The Curious Case of the BC Green Party Pundit, Gun Rights Advocate

by David Gray-Donald

Summers appearing on Global, May 2, 2017. Photo: Global.
Summers appearing on Global, May 2, 2017. Photo: Global.
Free Mind Republic posts in spring 2015 about launching its first project, followed by a tweet of Summers appearing on the Global show “Unfiltered” in an unpaid capacity where, according to Summers, he talked about local issues of the day like “housing prices and the Vancouver Canucks”, not about “political issues” or firearms. Photo: Twitter, taken May 3, 2017.
Free Mind Republic posts in spring 2015 about launching its first project, followed by a tweet of Summers appearing on the Global show “Unfiltered” in an unpaid capacity where, according to Summers, he talked about local issues of the day like “housing prices and the Vancouver Canucks”, not about “political issues” or firearms. Photo: Twitter, taken May 3, 2017.
Photo: Twitter, taken May 4, 2017.
Photo: Twitter, taken May 4, 2017.
Photo: Facebook, taken May 4th, 2017, from Freemind Republic Facebook page.
Photo: Facebook, taken May 4th, 2017, from Freemind Republic Facebook page.
Photo: Twitter, dated September 3, 2015, taken May 3, 2017. It was deleted shortly after from CJ Summers’ feed.
Photo: Twitter, dated September 3, 2015, taken May 3, 2017. It was deleted shortly after from CJ Summers’ feed.
CJ Summers with “friend and mentor” former BC Liberal MLA (2001-2013) and leadership contender Kevin Falcon. Summers notes he and Falcon have their political differences. Photo: Facebook, taken May 3, 2017.
CJ Summers with “friend and mentor” former BC Liberal MLA (2001-2013) and leadership contender Kevin Falcon. Summers notes he and Falcon have their political differences. Photo: Facebook, taken May 3, 2017.

The BC Green Party okayed CJ Summers to appear as a pundit advocating for the party on a May 2nd Global News broadcast, a role he has occasionally filled since 2013.

But did the party know Summers is the founder and driving force behind Free Mind Republic, an organization working “to promote firearms rights in Canada”, which Summers launched in 2015 and which recently took to social media to praise Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Maxime Bernier’s stance on firearms? Or that Summers is the Director of Public Outreach for Calibre: The Canadian Firearm Magazine?

The Free Mind Republic website, which became blocked from the public on May 3rd after Summers’ affiliation with it was called out by social media group “Stop the BC Liberals”, described the group’s work as:

“Freemind Republic will work with every gun owner, business and organization in an effort to promote firearms rights in Canada. Our plan is to utilize an effective media engagement strategy to broaden the reach and impact of our community stories. Through the facilitation of a positive media relationship, firearm narratives will transition from strictly reactionary arguments to proactive positive messaging that will resonate with Canadians.”

Summers echoed this messaging in fall 2016 videos for Calibre Magazine.

Speaking by phone, he stands by his gun rights advocacy in the media, pointing to a story about firearms produced by the Canadian Press and printed in the Globe and Mail, but says his passion for that subject “is entirely separate” from his punditry for the BC Green Party and his other media appearances on Global from the years 2013 to the present. No video or text has surfaced of Summers advocating for gun rights while explicitly appearing as a BC Green Party pundit. His organization lists several gun makers as partners, but Summers says he has not received funding from these companies, and that his work with Free Mind Republic has been purely voluntary. He did not respond to an email asking if he was paid by Calibre.

“We were not aware of his gun stuff,” says BC Green Party Press Secretary Jillian Oliver by phone, adding that she had been working with the party only three months. The BC Green Party says more lenient gun laws are not part of their policy platform.

Summers, in a phone interview, says that information about his advocacy is available “on a very public platform,” including his LinkedIn and a number of websites since 2015, and that while he “never hid it from anyone, it never came up in conversation [with the BC Green Party]”. He indicates that the pundit role is unpaid, and does not represent the party in an official capacity.

As for Free Mind Republic’s supportive comments of Maxime Bernier (made on the organization's site and Facebook, both of which are now blocked from the public), Press Secretary Oliver says the party was not aware of them until they were brought to light on social media by groups such as "Stop the BC Liberals". Oliver adds that members of provincial parties can have different federal affiliations.

Summers stated shortly after in an interview that he is not a member of the federal Conservative party, never has been, and that he believes the federal Conservatives have a disastrous environmental legacy, referencing the tar sands and pollution to the Athabasca River. On his social media, Summers has denounced various tar sands pipelines once championed by the Harper Conservatives. Summers, who is currrently enrolled in an MBA program, says he knows BC Green leader Andrew Weaver from school days at the University of Victoria.

Regarding the seeming support for Bernier, Summers says he was working to survey the gun rights stances of all Conservative Party leadership candidates because the gun community skews toward that party. But, realizing his statements regarding Bernier are seen by some as an endorsement of that candidate to be the next leader of Canada, Summers says, “if I had the choice of doing it all again, I wouldn’t do it again.”

On May 3rd, press secretary Oliver said by phone that the party had instructed Summers, who appeared in media supporting the party for two years while also running the Free Mind Republic, to no longer appear as their pundit.

The next day, Summers indicated he had spoken with the party but had received no such instruction.

The provincial election campaign culminates in a vote tomorrow, May 9th.


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Comments

What's 'strange' about progressives believing in gun rights?

What makes this a 'strange case'?

It's good to see Summers challenging the fake 'left-right' dichotomy and building bridges toward the center, the Green Party needs more people like him or they're just going to keep wasting time chasing NDP voters and never winning.  

 The Green Party doesn't have a pro gun policy, but they don't have an anti-gun position either, and shouldn't.

The main focus of the Green Party is supposed to be the environment, and they could stand a chance of winning if they kept focused on environmental issues and didn't adopt positions that make them just another 'left' party. This article seems designed to cast aspersions on someone who has worked hard for progressive causes, and also seems to treat gun control as a progressive stance when it isn't. 

 

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