Saturday, December 1, 2007

Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead!

Well, Ed Stelmach has pulled the plug on the Chandler nomination. Chandler and his Chandleristas (credit to daveberta for the term) have, predictably, already come out attacking the party, Ed, Ed's dog, the media, and everyone else even remotely connected with the decision. One wonders why, if they have so many bad things to say about the party and its leader, they wanted to run under its banner? Flag of convenience?

One of Chandler's supporters referred to the process as a "witch hunt", trying to disqualify Chandler based on his religious beliefs. Note to Chandler supporters: Politically active Christians who believe that society should reflect their own personal religious beliefs don't SUFFER from witch hunts, they HOLD them. Just ask every unpopular, unmarried, educated, independant-minded woman left in Spain after 1834... both of them.

Now, then, the question becomes: What now?

  • For Craig Chandler, it will likely be threats of lawsuits, a run for Egmont as an independant, possibly a run at the Alliance or Wildrose leadership, and a lot of anti-PC vitriol to come on the Freedom Radio Network.
  • For PC's in Egmont, another nomination contest. Several people - including yours truly - would have seriously considered running for that nomination were Chandler not already on the ticket. With his hand-picked president already in place and years of surreptitious fundraising and campaigning behind him, no one could have possibly hoped to beat him. With Chandler out of the picture, more candidates may step forward. Jonathan Denis remains a strong candidate, if he's interested. The Tories CAN simply APPOINT a candidate, if they so wish - but I wouldn't count on it. If they DO decide to appoint someone, though... they've got my number. ;)
  • For the PC's Province-wide, a renewed push by the Wildrose and Alliance parties to paint the party as "out-of-touch, arrogant", and the like. Those holding rural seats of discontent will have to hope that the prospect of a rural premier will over-ride the general distrust that this incident might stir up over the Tories being "taken in" by the "Gay Agenda".
  • For the Alberta Liberals, more bad news. They may have a shot at coming up the middle in races that were already going to be tight, with some of the social conservatives staying home, or voting for someone other than the PC candidate over this... but the Liberals were really, really hoping to be able to label the Tories as "the party of Craig Chandler".

Chandler spent thousands of dollars - whose thousands, we're not sure - running his campaign over the past few years. He sold memberships to people who had never been inclined to support the Tories in Egmont - most of those will likely not vote Tory now. But he got his voters out to the nomination meeting, and registered the most votes. He was the choice of the majority of the party members in Egmont, to represent them on the hustings.

Ed Stelmach, a year ago, was the choice of the majority of the party members in the province of Alberta. They chose him to lead this party, and defend it against destructive forces both external and internal.

Today, Ed did just that.

Should the party re-imburse Chandler's costs? Sure - it's only fair. If the decision had been made earlier in the process, the money would never have been solicited, accepted, or spent. But the PC Association of Alberta doesn't OWE Chandler a nomination to run for this party... it is far too easy to stack a nomination meeting or constituency board, as we saw all too well in this case. The democratic process can, and is, corrupted by those who have the finances and connections to manipulate the system. Knowing this, the party constitution allows the Leader to disqualify nominated candidates for the greater good of the party. Which he did today.

Sometimes, Craig, it doesn't matter how smart, loud, well-spoken, connected, crafty, Christian, or well-prepared you are. You can't run from a record of supporting bigotry - and such a record MUST disqualify you from running for a party that bears the word "progressive" right there in its name. You're a smart guy - you knew this was coming.

But there's no such thing as bad publicity - especially in politics. You weren't going to get the moderate votes anyway - but all the social conservatives in the riding, and many in the province, who had never heard of you before this now know who you are. They like what they see.

Maybe that was the point of the whole exercise... after all, you can't buy that kind of publicity. "This guy doesn't like queers... me neither, maybe I'll vote for him...". Can't really get that commercial to run on CFCN. But it's on every station today.

Crazy? Or crazy like a fox?


Anonymous said...

So, Mr. Premier, now that you've excluded Mr. Chandler on the basis of his well-known intolerance towards homosexuals and gay rights, are you now prepared to do the same with other members of your Cabinet and caucus who are well known to have similar views on the subject? For instance, any and all members who participated in drafting or supporting the notorious Bill 208 last year?

Are you prepared to engage in the same vetting of members of your caucus, members of your Cabinet, and all other nominated PC candidates to ensure they've never made any negative statements about homosexuals or any other minority group and, if found that any have, are you prepared to ask for their resignations from the PC Party and their seats, accordingly?

My guess is that the answer to any of these questions would be the typical stammering and dithering we've come to expect.

I'm pleased to see that Craig Chandler's nomination hasn't been endorsed. But let's not kid ourselves. When it comes to the PC party, Chandler certainly does not have a monopoly on these views. There are others as well, who have served and will undoutedly continue to serve as sitting MLAs and Cabinet Ministers.

Chandler's biggest problem seems to be that he was publicly open and transparent about what his beliefs; voters in that nomination knew exactly what they were getting. Others in the party who share his views are just smart enough (or opaque enough) to not go public about their views, and instead confine them to private gatherings, legislative sessions and closed-door policy-making venues.

I'm not sure which I'd dislike more -- Craig Chander as MLA, who everybody knows is intolerant and would be watched and monitored accordingly, or Joe Schmo as MLA who will hold himself out as a great guy but behind closed doors and in dark rooms will be not much better than Chandler.

It's pretty clear the Tories would prefer Joe Schmo. (Just as long as he doesn't use the government credit card to embarass them too much.)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:46PM, you must like to see your own words in print, since this exact same comment made in Ken Chapman's blog. Nice to see you have mastered copy-and-pasting ;-)

For me, the issue is not supporting/not supporting homosexuality. That is - still - a personal choice, and a person is entirely within their rights to have an opinion on the subject, particularly as it relates to freedom of religion. Frankly I find militant homosexuals about as much of a turnoff (pun intended) as militants who cloak themselves in the cover of religion.

Rather, the issue with Chandler is that he went beyong the pale. It is one thing to disapprove of homosexuality. It is quite another to - through word, deed, and general demeanor - seek to diminish an individual as a person by reason of their sexual preference. If Chandler hadn't made those remarks, I would still have hoped he wouldn't be endorsed. My experience is that he is a loudmouth bully (I have a few personal experiences with the individual in question), and we do not need those types in elected office.

Longer term, more good will come of this if the PCs change their constitution to enable the Leader and the executive to vet prospective candidates BEFORE the nomination. That way, much unnecessary expenditures, effort and distraction (by the candidate and the party) would be avoided.

Enlightened Savage said...

Anon at 10:52 - the same comment, verbatim, was posted on CalgaryGrit at 6:43 pm, daveberta at 6:38 pm, and several others...

My only thought is disappointment that I was so far down the bookmarks list that I got carpet-bombed last. :)

Anonymous said...

ES - Your comment about Chandler maybe being "crazy as a fox" is an interesting one.

He certainly has potential to gain from this, if he were to play his cards right. Unfortunately for him (fortunately for us) he appears to not be working this to his advantage. By casually tossing around his intention to run alternatively as an independent or for one of the fringe right-wing parties, he plays to his own vanity. He was never a team player, wouldn't have been one for the PCs and won't be one for the other parties if he managed to get elected under their banner.

In addition, he makes socially conservative people, particularly Christians, look bad. Far from "turning the other cheek" he apparently intends to ruin the PC Party and its leader. Calgary Sun's Rick Bell's comment from Sunday is quite funny... you should read it.

Lastly, I ask you: how can anyone run on a conservative ticket after having spent $127,000 on a friggin' nomination? Not exactly thrifty. Many candidates spend less than $5,000, if even that much. What did they pay for: Nominate Chandler Bath-Beads?

Anonymous said...

The Party's Constitution doesn't allow for candidates to be appointed. At least not in a pre-writ period.

Allie Wojtaszek said...

I don't think we should give him back his money. Maybe - and I stress MAYBE - an amount equal to an appropriate nomination cost. But the amount he spent is insane - I don't feel like paying for his new RV or deck expansion.

Anonymous said...

I saw some comment that the $127,000 must have included a "salary" paid to the candidate. I have no idea if this is true, but would help to explain the yawning chasm between Mr. Chandler's costs, and anybody else's. My understanding is that most candidates spend less than $5,000 seeking a nomination. Why one could claim to (or would be willing to admit to) spending 50 TIMES that amount is puzzling.

Anonymous said...

There is quite a bit of chatter and some slanderous words I might add.

Comments that have been attributed to me in the media were actually not made by me, but by another individual in a letter they wrote.

Thus, attributing words to me that are not mine is lazy blogging at best.

As for spending the money I did. I was campaigning for the election not just a nomination and we gave the voters 4 seperate pieces of literature, door knocked every door and my team called every home.

This was my pre-writ spending and it laid a solid foundation for me.

Enlightened Savage said...

Craig: Once again, you and I are in agreement. It IS lazy blogging to attribute those words to you - so I'm glad that I haven't done that (to my knowledge).

Craig Chandler didn't say it. He didn't. Words never left his lips. Never typed them.

That's the reality. The political fall-out from the ASSOCIATION of those words with you, both through the organizations involved and the assertion by the man who actually wrote the letter that you "approved of them" has been, to say the least, polarizing. And you are getting supporters who, despite the fact that YOU NEVER SAID IT, believe that you THINK it, they agree with it, and that's why they support you. It's not right, it's not politically responsible on their part, but it's reality.

Regarding your spending... could one not make the argument that if, in fact, the party should reimburse you for ANY of your costs (I believe it should), then it should do so only for costs accrued that were specifically for the nomination? Your pre-writ election expenses were a calculated gamble by you, working under the assumption that you would win the nomination (which you did) and that it would be accepted by the Party under its constitution (it wasn't). The assumption of the win and the party's acceptance was yours, and as such they shouldn't be required to reimburse you for a gamble that didn't pan out. To do so would be to essentially "comp" your pre-writ spending should you decide to run as an independent or for another party, as the PC Party would have paid for the election expenses of someone running AGAINST them - deliciously ironic to you, perhaps, and certainly worth a try, but come on... hardly pragmatic, given that you just agknowledged that you were spending money on the election before you'd even been confirmed as the PC candidate.

By the way... I'm a PC member in Egmont, and got no literature and no phone call. So not quite "every". :)