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.