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​The Alberta PCs Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop Making Big, Dumb Errors In Election Campaign

The Progressive Conservatives—a political dynasty that's ruled over Alberta since 1971—has been on an impressive run of self-inflicted wounds.
April 28, 2015, 2:37pm

Smilin' Jim Prentice. Photo via the Manning Centre's Flickr. The Progressive Conservatives—a political dynasty that's ruled over Alberta since 1971—has been on an impressive run of self-inflicted wounds. Here's a brief run-down of all the bizarre, shady shit the PCs have done in their attempt to end a dynasty that goes back to when "Stairway to Heaven" was first released. Party soundtrack Peter Eric James Prentice (AKA Jim Prentice, or the PC generalissimo, or the premier of the province) tries to be a relatable dude. He seems endearing enough, tweeting pics of him drinking pints with the pals and welding and staring at a lake. But he's also had his fair share of awkward missteps. One incident that seems to have been unfortunately neglected in the national discourse is that he kicked off the election to the tune of Nickelback's "Burn It to the Ground," a song which features such Nickelbackisms such as "Oh, we got no class, no taste, no shirt, shit faced." Maybe it was a slip. Perhaps the playlist curator was keenly aware of the need to appeal to rural voters. More likely is that Prentice just wants to "take anything we want, drink everything in sight." Bigots come out of hiding We all know "social conservatives" are out there, somewhere, usually in the form of drunk uncles at Christmas. Historically, they've emerged to assist the Wildrose Party, the far-right Albertan party that was decimated in a dastardly Merry Christmas bait-and-switch when nine of their MLAs crossed the floor to the PC side. They've learned. The PCs haven't. On 4/20, Graham Fletcher—the campaign manager for the Edmonton-McClung candidate—was forced to resign because he posted things like "I will insult who I want, when I want, where I want" and rambled on Twitter about sharia law and hijabs. Unfortunately, the PCs haven't figured out what to do with Craig Chandler, a notorious homophobe and xenophobe, who actually hosted a "ladies-only" dinner with Prentice and suggested that the candidate he's campaigning for would be the "first ethnic female" to become an MLA in Alberta which in addition to being a gross phrase is simply not true. Sketchy votes Ideally, the nomination race—the process by which people are picked to run for a particular party—is overseen by the respective riding association. Because representative democracy, et cetera. But of course the PCs are committed to making this election deeply suspicious. In mid-March, Tom Choucair, candidate for the PC Edmonton-Meadowlark nomination, was disqualified because he wasn't "the type of candidate they wanted." Later that month, Jamie Lall—who was vying for the Chestermere-Rocky View PC spot—was curiously disallowed due to circumstances that no one (most of all Lall) has been able to explain. The situation's getting more devious by the day. All of that's made even more bizarre given that Prentice didn't do the same for Danielle Smith, the leader of the Wildrose and rumoured future deputy premier given that he enticed her and a majority of the caucus to the dark side. Internal dissent Sure, sure, you say. That's politics. Maybe Prentice was justified in such actions. But even veteran PC backers are getting weirded out by such shenanigans. Gloria Wilkinson, who's been volunteering for the party since the late 70s, resigned from the Tory board for the Chestermere-Rocky View association following the Lall debacle (another two more board members have stepped down from the same riding association since then due to concerns over the process). Jim McCormick, a former president for the party, quit the party's board of directors in late March due to undisclosed (yet presumably sketchy) reasons. Then Jonathan Denis—the minister of justice—was forced to resign from cabinet due to legal proceedings, which has set the local Reddit rumour mill on fire. (You can do your own subreddit search.) All-embracing disdain An assumed byproduct of serving as a member of a political dynasty/dinosaur is viewing every other party and candidate as an idiot. Unfortunately for the PCs, that tactic is working out less well than anticipated for this round. Take Prentice's "math is hard" retort to NDP leader Rachel Notley during the leader's debate: instead of solidifying the narrative that the PCs are competent economic managers, it suggested they have no idea what they're doing (Prentice instead misrepresented the NDP's stance on corporate tax rates in addition to coming across as a patronizing prick who resorts to clueless quips about women being poor at arithmetic). Then there was the recent incident of Gordon Dirks—former pastor and election rule breaker—who stated "Albertans actually haven't got it yet," in reference to the massive budgetary shortfall that his own party could have prevented with proper economic management. Follow James Wilt on Twitter.