Death threats and vile misogynist commentary about NDP politicians infest Alberta social media

Posted on October 22, 2015, 1:38 am
7 mins

PHOTOS: An organizer of a rally by the group Albertans Against the NDP, addresses a couple of dozen supporters in Calgary last Saturday. The horses are public art and were not technically part of the rally. Until recently, the group’s home page featured violent and offensive commentary about the Alberta NDP. Below: Alberta Progressive Conservative Leader Ric McIver poses with the organizer at the rally; Premier Rachel Notley, the target of many of the online threats.

As the Conservative Party election machine was trying to drive an electoral wedge between Canadians by persuading voters jihadi terrorists presented a serious and growing danger to Canada, another threat appears to have been brewing up right here in Alberta.

But instead of jihadist crazies, the death threats and ugly misogynist commentary directed at Alberta’s NDP government, and in particular at Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, seem most likely to have been generated by “old stock Canadians” who subscribe to a particular social and political point of view. That is to say, the sort of Tea Party Tories who viscerally hate Liberals and New Democrats with equal and consuming passion.

McIverThe violent and threatening discussions mostly flew under the radar through the federal election campaign until a few days before Monday’s vote, when the statements began to generate social media commentary on progressive sites and a few news reports.

Here’s a typical comment, an apparent reference to Premier Notley, posted back on Sept. 20 on a “community” Facebook page called “Albertans Against the NDP”: “Is there something, or does someone know of anything that will get this skag out of Alberta and politics??????gotta be someway short of. … u know….. bang! Lol” This is (sic), as they say, meaning this comment has been transcribed exactly as it appeared on Facebook.

Numerous similar comments referencing assassination, as well as others adding obscene, violent and disturbing commentary, appeared on this other social media sites. A screenshot including the comment quoted above – suitable for mature readers – may be viewed here.

Another so-called community site, “Out the NDP in Alberta” was also reported to contain similar remarks.

Police and the Notley government, at least in their official public statements, appear to be brushing off the threatening rhetoric as the work of disaffected cranks. The RCMP told the CBC they are aware of the online threats but refused to say if they are conducting an investigation. “Our first concern right away was to ensure the premier’s security detail was aware of what we were seeing,” an RCMP spokesperson said.

For her part, Ms. Notley coolly dismissed the sites. “I’m told none of what has occurred thus far with me is in any way, shape or form out of the ordinary,” she told the Edmonton Journal. “I think it’s part of being premier probably in almost (any) day and age. Politics is politics.”

notleyBarbara Starr, an administrator of the “Out the NDP” page, dismissed the commentary there as “a bunch of us joking” in an interview with the CBC. She complained that it’s NDP and Liberal supporters who are stirring up this controversy.

In a rambling response to my query, an anonymous administrator at the “Albertans Against the NDP” site blamed people who “create fake profiles and post nasty comments as our followers with the intent of getting our page negative attention.” He or she claimed “we are dealing with a cyber-bullying situation.”

“We are conservatives, we are not radical people, nor are we violent. We do not wish and (sic) ill will on anyone, especially prominent politicians. We want accountability, nothing more,” the anonymous administrator said.

That Facebook page has since been taken down for a couple of days and scrubbed of the most offensive comments. In a commentary posted on the page last night, the administrator(s) also apologized to the premier.

Who is behind these groups is not clear. Former Sun Media commentator Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media website has provided extensive coverage to the group’s activities, but Mr. Levant would not respond seriously to my question about Rebel Media’s role, if any.

Alberta Progressive Conservative Party Leader Ric McIver turned up at a sparsely attended rally organized by the group in Calgary on Oct. 17, posing for a snapshot with rally organizer Julie Franz, whose remarks can be heard in this Youtube video.

Meanwhile, the inappropriate discussions among the violent haters that ended up on the group’s Facebook page no doubt continue, but in locations where they are not so easily stumbled upon by social media users or monitored by police and the premier’s security detail.

Canadians need to ask if the divisions created by the tactics used in the unsuccessful recent Conservative Party of Canada reelection campaign, which happened contemporaneously, exacerbated the ugly and violent tone of the anti-NDP rhetoric on these social media sites.

The police need to take this seriously. History shows exhortations of violence lead to violence.

And can you imagine what the reaction would have been even a few days ago if these violent threats had been made against a Conservative politician by someone who wasn’t, in Stephen Harper’s notorious words, an old stock Canadian?

Federal election over, provincial cabinet shuffle is next

Premier Rachel Notley will announce changes to her cabinet at Government House in Edmonton today at 10 a.m., the government announced yesterday evening. And it announced nothing more, other than the fact there will be a media availability, as they say, after the announcement. Details to follow.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

12 Comments to: Death threats and vile misogynist commentary about NDP politicians infest Alberta social media

  1. Douglas Meggison

    October 22nd, 2015

    Thanks you for this ‘troll spotting’. You pull no punches.

    Reply
  2. anonymous

    October 22nd, 2015

    I agree that the police should take these threats seriously. On the upside, I think the RCMP and other police agencies do a good job of tracking down individuals uttering threats and organisations fomenting violence. Even those using ‘fake profiles’ on the interwebs can be identified. The police had those tools even prior to C-51.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQqU61iE2O0

    Reply
  3. Filostrato

    October 22nd, 2015

    The Cons have a lot to answer for, not only for making vile comments themselves but also giving legitimacy to idiotic supporters like the “lying piece of (organic fertilizer)” guy, the angry Old Stock Con organizer.

    I feel sorry for the poor horse having to stand there and listen to that. I know that the beautiful animal is only a statue but even statues shouldn’t be put in situations where they can’t get away from nonsense.

    And dear Ezrant is a follower and admirer? Wow. Surprise.

    Reply
  4. Brent

    October 22nd, 2015

    Politicians of all stripes get death threats. It’s terrible, but why does Climenhaga only talk about death threats for left-wing politicians?

    Reply
  5. ronmac

    October 22nd, 2015

    Well I suppose it’s too much for these people to bear, having lost their two strongholds in the last six months.

    It’s like blowing up a balloon,letting it go, and watching it zip through the air in all sorts of crazy, zany directions until falling on the floor, lifeless as a tombstone.

    Reply
  6. Paul Turnbull

    October 22nd, 2015

    Not sure why the admin of that page thinks they’re fake accounts. Three of the four accounts in the linked image are still active on Facebook and if they’re fake someone spent a lot of time setting them and all their friends accounts up.

    Reply
  7. October 22nd, 2015

    The moderators of this site claim there are people with fake identities posting these comments and that they do not represent the group. I have been following their activities for close to a month and I can tell you these are not “fake” people posting, nor do they represent some tiny minority of people. At it’s strongest, the page had nearly 25,000 likes and boasted their convoy from Bezanson to Grande Prairie on October 2 was a mile long. Replies to my blog suggested online death threats are not against the law and “everybody does it, why is it that only the right wing gets blamed?” Harper or Prentice and Redford certainly received their share of complaints, but not to this degree. These personal and vulgar threats of violence cannot be condoned.

    Reply
  8. Expat Albertan

    October 22nd, 2015

    As offensive as their postings are, from the photos it seems to be a tiny, ragtag group of fanatics who can’t spell properly. About as useful (or threatening) as a bladeless knife without a handle.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      October 23rd, 2015

      Never underestimate the damage that can be done by ragtag fanatics. Consider Gavrilo Princip!

      Reply

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