Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Do You Know Who Is Exercising Your Franchise?

Nation, file this one under "Yet More Proof The Party System Is Ruining Democracy".

Craig Chandler is running for the PC nomination in the provincial riding of Calgary-Egmont. Although Chandler just officially announced his intention to run, rightly waiting until Denis Herard announced he would not be seeking re-election, this has not been secret in any way, shape, or form.

For months now, Team Chandler has been making the connections, shaking the hands, kissing the babies, and meeting the people they need to meet in order to ensure that their man wins the nomination. Nothing wrong with that - it's politics as usual. Where's the problem?

Here's the problem:

David Crutcher is a former candidate in the riding for the Alberta Alliance. He is also a former leadership candidate for the Alliance. He ran previously with the backing of Craig Chandler and his Progressive Group for Independent Business. He then, in the "Introduction Letter" for Craig Chandler, throws his endorsement behind Team Chandler. He has since been elected President of the PC Association for Calgary-Egmont.

Now, let's ignore the far-right views of Crutcher for a moment (admittedly difficult, but let's try). The bottom line here, is that by hook or by crook, Team Chandler and their proxy, a former candidate for the leadership of a far-right party, have won control of the constituency of Calgary-Egmont and, therefore, its nomination process. Is this going to be another Calgary West debacle? KNOWING that the President of the Association backs a particular candidate, KNOWING that the President has family members working on that candidate's campaign for the nomination, who in their right mind is going to run against Chandler and think they have a snowball's chance in hell of winning?

Chandler WILL win the nomination - by acclamation or in a vote, he has the back-room of the constituency association lined up behind him, and he WILL carry the PC banner into the next election. This being part of the Federal riding of Calgary South-East, long held by Jason Kenney, Conservative nee Canadian Alliance nee Reform Party M.P., the riding will vote Tory. Chandler will take his seat in the Legislature, and cast his vote as he sees fit on behalf of the 39,531 souls who live there.

That's politics... what's the big deal?

The big deal is this... one of Chandler's biggest backers is the aforementioned Mr. Crutcher, former leadership candidate for the Alberta Alliance. Among Crutcher's ideas were the institution of an Alberta Sales Tax, banning same-sex marriage, and promoting Alberta Separatism if the Liberals win power in Ottawa. Other big backers include Link Byfield, of the fledgling Wild Rose Party, and Rob Anders (like we need a laundry-list of Rob's crimes against common sense).

The PC Party of Alberta is supposed to be a big tent... even in its name, the "Progressive Conservative" party suggests that there is room for people of different approaches, values, and beliefs. But it's not THAT big a tent... which party, exactly, is the PC Association of Alberta supposed to be? Looking at Team Chandler, it's part PC, part Wild Rose, part Alberta Alliance... everything to the right of centre, with enough dashes of "right wing ideologue" to make one wonder if the social far right has finally found a way to take power in Alberta.

Indeed, the Ford-ism of "you can have whatever colour of car you want, as long as it's black" seems to making a comeback, except in Chandler-land it has become "you can vote however you like, as long as it's for a Conservative - or you can get the hell out". Visit daveberta for more on this enlightened and inclusive attitude from the member-in-waiting from Calgary-Egmont.

So, to the members of the PC party in Calgary-Egmont: When Craig Chandler speaks for you, as your candidate, for whom will he truly be speaking? Those of you who have supported Denis Herard, the "Red Tory" for all these years? Or his backers from the Alberta Alliance and the Wild Rose Party and social conservative think-tanks?

And to all the people of Calgary-Egmont: When he stands to speak and vote on your behalf, using your franchise in the Legislature of Alberta, in whose interests will Craig Chandler be acting? Yours? Or those of his social conservative friends and supporters? Will he be paying back favours to groups that supported him, like Concerned Christians Canada, and the Canada Family Action Coalition? 39,531 people live in Calgary Egmont. Many are pro-choice. Many are homosexual. Thousands are not Christian. And thousands are not conservative in ANY way, social or otherwise. When he casts that vote on behalf of ALL of you, will you know for certain if it's YOUR best interests that he has in mind?

Ask him. At the nomination meeting, on the hustings, at the town hall meetings, at the debates. Show up, and ask Craig Chandler who he represents. If the answer isn't "YOU", he doesn't deserve to sit in that chair, and cast YOUR vote as he sees fit.

If Chandler's supporters are worried about the nation's soul, they should pray for it. If they're worried about our children, they should give them something to do. If they don't think their own political parties can win power, they should ask themselves WHY that is the case.

Or, they can just seize control of a constituency association for the party most likely to win, run their own hand-picked candidate, and take the power and influence they want, to pursue their own social conservative agenda - dissent-be-damned.

One riding at a time.

- E.S.


Anonymous said...

It would be great if the Enlightened Savage would throw his/her hat in the ring for the Alberta PC Party nomination for Calgary-Egmont.

If you did, you'd have my vote. I daresay you would have many others as well. Chandler alienates a lot of people by virtue of his personality.

Enlightened Savage said...

The Enlightened Savage is a "his". :)

And if I thought for a moment that I would have support that could counterbalance the fact that the constituency association president owes Mr. Chandler a favour or 20, I'd seriously consider it.

But regardless of Chandler's personality, he holds all the cards in the Calgary-Egmont PC Association... and I'd need to be pretty convinced I wasn't destined to be the next Walter Wakula.


Anonymous said...

In reality, how many of your elected representatives actually do that -- represent YOU, the voter.

Dare I say 1 or 2, and they sit independently. No, you aren't going to get any real representation from an elected official, even if there is 39,000 of you in that riding. So that is but a red herring.

I don't think Chandler will be able to do as much damage as you think. The PC's will keep him on a very very short leash if he wins the nomination and goes to Edmonton.
And then constituents can vote for who they want after that. Wouldn't be the first Calgary riding to go Liberal.

And with Mr. Chandler's "charming" personality, I would say he doesn't win over many people.

Anonymous said...

If Chandler can get 10,000 votes for the Reform Party, at the age of 22, in Hamilton when the party first started in an NDP and Liberal stronghold, he can surely win the seat for the PC's in Egmont.

You may not like him, but you seem to underestimate him.

Enlightened Savage said...

I don't think anyone is underestimating Craig Chandler... I went so far as to state he WILL win the nomination, and the seat. Major mis-steps, by both Chandler AND Stelmach, would be the only way for the Liberals to win in Egmont.

COULD it happen? Sure... that's why they hold elections. WILL it? Don't bet on it.

And as for his personality hurting his chances... there are few people in Canadian politics more thoroughly reviled than Rob Anders. He's been sitting as an MP, and winning by massive margins, for the past 10 years.

Only when the parties become less involved, and people begin to vote for the best person to represent them as MLA rather than somehow thinking they're electing the Premier (remember, the MLA you marked the 'X' next to can join whatever party they want afterwards, and your vote then goes to THAT party, whether you support it or not) will we get rid of the "special interest" candidates who can stack nomination meetings and then ride party coat-tails to the seat of power.

If I gave a barn-burner of a speech at a nomination meeting, and was running against a rabid moose that had 300 fellow parishioners from First Baptist Presbyterian United Reformed Church of Christ the Scientist in the room, I'd get destroyed in the nomination vote. And if it was a Tory nomination, in a safe riding, that rabid moose would get elected MLA. That's got to change.

- E.S.