Earlier this week, the Alberta Government announced the winners of the "Her Vision Inspires" essay contest, which began in February. The contest invited Alberta women aged 17-25 to share their vision for Alberta and what they would do if they were MLAs. 

The third-place winner has drawn significant criticism for having incendiary viewpoints, which has created some questions. Despite the fact that the original webpage was removed following the significant backlash, you can still see an archived link to the essay here

Airdrie – Cochrane NDP candidate Shaun Fluker spoke to DiscoverAirdrie about the controversial article. 

“There's obviously some very offensive language that reflects sexism, misogynistic, racist and, and transphobic vision. It's really unfortunate that this comes out as a result of what appears to have been a contest or some sort of a program inspiring younger women ages 17 to 25.” 

NDP Children's Services Critic and MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud Rakhi Pancholi said she couldn't believe this essay was chosen as one of the winners of the contest. 

“Even more troubling is that this is an essay chosen by UCP MLAs as one that should be celebrated as a vision for women in Alberta, and that was the part that I think was the most shocking for me, that this is what they chose as a winning essay. How did this essay get picked when you think about what the goal of the contest allegedly was? How did they pick this essay?" 

Fluker went on to talk about what he thinks the outcome has turned out to be. 

“This contest probably had the exact opposite impact that was perhaps intended. It seems like this result has actually disempowered young women in Alberta and left [them] wondering why their provincial government would reward and publish written comments that promote ideas that women shouldn't break into careers that have been traditionally dominated by men.” 

Pancholi said it's everybody's right to hold their own beliefs, and free speech is something that shouldn't be taken away, but there are limits. 

"There are limits to free speech or free expression in Canada and actually any democratic nation across the globe. Nobody is trying to suppress free speech. Obviously, there are people that hold views that many of us would find deeply distasteful, but there's no right to have your views celebrated or endorsed by the government, and that's what happened here." 

DiscoverAirdrie reached out to Airdrie East MLA Angela Pitt about the essay. She said she had no comment on something she did not work on. 

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