They can still feel shame! Conservative leaders duck and cover in wake of Saturday’s disgraceful display

Posted on December 06, 2016, 2:15 am
9 mins

PHOTOS: Chris Alexander, at the moment the chant of “lock her up” began from the right-wing mob at the Alberta Legislature Saturday. Does this look to you like a man who is “shocked, taken aback, mortified even”? Me neither. Below: Michael Chong, Deepak Obhrai, Rona Ambrose and Brian Jean, all among the conservative leaders running as fast as they can from the embarrassment of Ezra Levant’s gong show on the Legislature’s steps on Saturday.

With some of the most debased elements of Canada’s so-called conservative movement openly on display at last weekend’s “anti-carbon-tax” demonstration in Edmonton, I suppose it’s mildly reassuring several conservative leaders were trying hard yesterday to put a little daylight between themselves and the event’s organizers.

chongA few, like federal Conservative leadership candidate Michael Chong, who wasn’t at the rally, condemned outright the people who chanted “lock her up” at the mention of Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s name by another federal Tory leadership candidate at the demonstration.

Since Ms. Notley’s only “crime” is a political one – advocating a policy approach different from that of the Harper regime rejected by Canadian voters in the fall of 2015 – Mr. Chong was certainly right to accuse Saturday’s mob of behaving in a fashion “worthy of a dictatorship.” It’s hard to argue with that.

For this, though, he doubtless now faces a campaign to drive him out of the Conservative Party by the same elements that have been mopping up the remaining pockets of moderation and decency in the once-great Canadian institution since the reverse hostile takeover by the Reform/Alliance Party in 2003.

Deepak Obhrai, a Calgary MP who is a long-shot candidate for the federal leadership, also directly condemned Saturday’s depraved scenes as evidence divisive Donald Trump style politics have taken root in his party.

obhraiBut even the likes of Rona Ambrose, interim leader of the federal Tories, and Jason Kenney, would-be leader of the provincial PCs – both associated with the Tea-Party-like Reform Party wing of the federal party – were embarrassed enough to try to walk away as quickly as dignity permitted from the PR disaster the rally organized by Ezra Levant and his Rebel Media organization is fast becoming.

“It’s completely inappropriate,” Ms. Ambrose said yesterday. “It’s people acting like idiots.” (This too is hard to argue with.) It’s “ridiculous and offensive,” said Mr. Kenney, who prudently avoided the rally, perhaps because he is acquainted with Mr. Levant.

Still others – who were there and should have known better – either made excuses or lied outright about their conduct.

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean called a news conference yesterday to halfheartedly say what he should have had the courage to forthrightly state during the protest – “I don’t think there is any place for it in Alberta politics.”

ambroseHe also weakly condemned the racism and homophobia apparent on leaflets and signs held by rally participants, who apparently included many who represent the worst elements of Alberta society: “I wish people who had those desires, to have those chants, or have that signage, would just stay at home,” Mr. Jean explained.

Lame excuses are getting to be a habit with Mr. Jean, who got in trouble last August for making a joke about beating Ms. Notley during a party meeting in Fort McMurray. “He was ‘cut off by laughter & applause’. Yes…..applause,” Sandra Jansen, then contemplating a run for the PC leadership, Tweeted at the time. ‘‘‘Unite the Right’? No thanks.”

In retrospect, that was probably the kind of sentiment that got Ms. Jansen run out of the leadership race, and then out of the PC Party … by supporters of Mr. Kenney. She now sits as an NDP MLA.

jeanMr. Jean’s newser was pretty insubstantial stuff – especially when he excused himself for not saying anything at the time because, see, he left the rally as soon as he’d done talking. Still, that was better than the pathetic tale offered up by Mr. Alexander, the former Ontario MP and Harper cabinet minister whose speech inspired the Notley chant in the first place.

Mr. Alexander wasn’t waving his finger in time with the chanters, he told the CBC’s Power and Politics yesterday, he was trying to get the crowd to stop. He wasn’t grinning and smirking along with them, he was “shocked, taken aback, mortified even…” Seriously, I’m not making this up.

Anyone who watches the video can see Mr. Alexander’s claims are without substance. By any common sense measure, he appeared to be having the time of his life. But even his credibility-free denial suggests he must feel a little shame at what was going on. I guess that’s a hopeful sign.

But not one of them apparently had a problem with the shoe-throwing Bernard the Former Roughneck’s call for cyber-crimes against the Government of Alberta.

So while it may be vaguely reassuring that mainstream Conservative leaders are still capable of feeling shame and embarrassment, it’s less so that such extreme elements, drinking deeply at the well of Trumpism and worse, are so close to completely dominating their movement.

On the meaning of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada

On this day in 1989, 14 young women were murdered because of their gender and their course of studies at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal.

Twenty-seven years later, as the developments in Alberta politics described above and the tone of social media commentary about them increasingly make clear, very little has actually been done to discourage tragedies like this from happening again. Indeed, in some ways the situation is worse.

As a direct result of the decade during when former prime minister Stephen Harper ran Canada, the Conservative Party’s attacks on sane weapons control laws continued steadily, both in legislation and regulation, while the firearms industry and the vocal minority of so-called “gun rights” advocates were irresponsibly empowered as part of a cynical voting wedge strategy.

In 1991, under Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney, Parliament declared this day to be National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women in Canada. That was an important and valuable step, but as the routinization of misogyny and threats of violence against women politicians in Alberta now clearly illustrate, what we need now to emphasize is the action part of that mandate.

A good place to start would be aggressive investigation and criminal prosecution of people who make death threats against politicians, or encourage others to do so.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

28 Comments to: They can still feel shame! Conservative leaders duck and cover in wake of Saturday’s disgraceful display

  1. Hypocrite Oath

    December 6th, 2016

    Did you just end an article chastising those who chanted “lock her up” by advocating that someone lock them up? #SeemsLike

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      December 6th, 2016

      Good question, Hypocrite. I am opposed to politicians whose policies one disagrees with should be imprisoned. But then, unlike the political right in Alberta, Canada and the United States, I still believe in due process and democratic rights. However, while I did not specify prison in the comment to which you refer, I do think prison is an appropriate response to criminal activities where they have been duly specified as such by a democratically elected legislature. Portions of the Criminal Code relevant to urging the commission of a crime include Sections 22 (1), 342.1 (1), and 464.

      Reply
    • Elizabeth

      December 7th, 2016

      There is no contradiction in David saying both that those who have committed no crime should not be “locked up” AND those who have, in fact, committed an actual crime should be criminally prosecuted. Both statements are true.

      Reply
  2. jay

    December 6th, 2016

    The really touching thing about post-Trump conservatives is their belief that computer hackers will always be on their side.

    Reply
  3. PIGL

    December 6th, 2016

    “A good place to start would be aggressive investigation and criminal prosecution of people who make death threats against politicians, or encourage others to do so.”

    Absolutely. The police and intelligence services certainly have the tools to track these threats to their sources. It would be nice to see, for a change, these powers directed against actual threats to our national security, which is their pretended purpose.

    Reply
  4. J.E. Molnar

    December 6th, 2016

    Right-wing humiliation has now become a bona fide Alberta export, thanks to the PCs (Jason Kenney) and the Wildrose.

    Let’s face it, the rally event was just another in a never ending list of undeserving humiliation and abasement for Alberta on the national stage and in the national media by the WRP and their rabid supporters.

    From Brian Jean joking about beating Rachel Notley, from Derek Fildebrandt denigrating Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, from the gang of nine WRP MLAs comparing the Ukrainian Holodomor genocide to Alberta’s carbon levy and now a hostile rally, featuring vile chants, homophobic signs and xenophobic literature distributed to the crowd. All of these embarrassments seemingly condoned by Brian Jean and the Wildrose party — and always dismissed by Jean with feigned apologies only *after* media exposure.

    Reply
  5. Albertan

    December 6th, 2016

    This might say it all re: Chris Alexander:
    “Chris Alexander Just Got Put In His Place By CBC’s Rosemary Barton”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/09/02/chris-alexander-power-and-politics_n_8079970.html
    “…..the Conservative candidate tried to slip a lie past the Power & Politics host.”
    And thanks David, for posting re: the December 6th anniversary of the Ecole Polytechnique massacre of 14 women, because they were women, and in relation to this “lock her up” chanting re: Premier Rachel Notley.
    Remember the B.C. carbon tax was implemented under a right wing Liberal government with Premier Gordon Campbell? Conservative Premier Brian Pallister of Manitoba is also considering a carbon tax. It wasn’t “lock him up” for Campbell, and will it be “lock him up” for Pallister?

    Reply
  6. political ranger

    December 6th, 2016

    As was pointed out in yesterday’s post, this activity, this kind of sentiment is the normal Albertan discourse. It is a mistake to believe that the faux misgivings proclaimed by a few Alberta politicians represent the views of ‘real’ Albertans.
    There is a reference to “the worst elements of Alberta society” being somehow sprinkled into the crowd, in the above piece. Let’s be clear here; these people, that crowd represents Alberta society. Just because there are a few people who are progressive commenting on this site or in your personal acquaintance DO NOT be fooled into believing that those kind of people are the average Albertan.
    They are not. For every progressive who votes there are 2 or 3 or 4 neanderthals who will also vote; all it takes is a $400 cheque or a rhythmic chant.

    Reply
    • Bob Raynard

      December 6th, 2016

      I have to take exception to your comment, as it seems is using the same kind of close mindedness that is used in racism. Seriously – replace ‘Albertan’ in your post with an ethnic group and see if it isn’t out and out racism.

      The thing to keep in mind is that with any ethnic stereotype, you only notice the ones that fit your stereotype. Remember, there were only 1000 people at the rally that you seem to be basing your opinion of all Albertans on. While I have shared the frustration you have vented, posting it isn’t helpful, especially when you suggest it reflects all Albertans.

      Reply
      • political ranger

        December 6th, 2016

        I never said “all” Albertans Bob. I am saying that just because there are a few progressives about doesn’t really change the nature of Albertan society. And it would do you, me and the rest of us well to remember that.
        This is what the political nature in Alberta is. Throwing a few scraps of regressive conservative policy out while we all are tsk-tsk’ing the uncouth boors is not a basis for a long-term political career.

        Reply
  7. Gail

    December 6th, 2016

    Great post Dave. I completely agree that “A good place to start would be aggressive investigation and criminal prosecution of people who make death threats against politicians, or encourage others to do so.”

    Reply
  8. December 6th, 2016

    The question begs to be asked; was this rally a Conservative set-up to hurt Brian Jean? Mr. Kenny knows Mr. Levant, and arranged not to be there, and was then able to look and sound mainstream-respectable after the fact, though these very rally-ers are his unite-the-right constituency.

    Reply
    • Filostrato

      December 6th, 2016

      You may be right. It’s gotten to the point where nothing would surprise me about this lot.

      Reply
    • David

      December 6th, 2016

      Good question, except Mr. Jean was apparently lucky or smart enough to slip out before the chant started and Chris Alexander ended up looking as foolish as ever.

      In any event, it did still give Kenney an opportunity to sound respectable and it was quite curious he wasn’t there.

      Reply
    • Bob Raynard

      December 6th, 2016

      It wouldn’t have taken much to plant a Kenney supporter in the crowd with instructions to cause embarrassment. That said, if the objective was to damage Brian Jean, the embarrassment likely would have happened while he was speaking, not Chris Alexander.

      Nevertheless, by virtue of the fact that I am willing to write a serious response suggests your original idea is not far-fetched. I am surprised Ezra hasn’t suggested the chant was initiated by some NDP trouble makers.

      Reply
  9. Filostrato

    December 6th, 2016

    Alexander’s mealymouthed defense of his behaviour is simply unbelievable. If he was grinning and rocking along with the chant and then denied it afterwards, maybe he wasn’t listening to them, something he accuses the “other side” of doing all the time.

    Michael Chong – good guy. The best the Cons have at the moment, and in any other times but now, he would be perfect for the job. But the present FrankenCon party wouldn’t know a good person if they fell over them. Likewise Richard Starke for the Alberta PC’s – professional, capable, sensible. Can’t have that…

    The day of the U of M massacre – I remember it well. Being a woman was obviously sufficient reason to be wiped off the face of the earth if you subscribe to such misogynist notions. As the verbal attack on Rachel Notley has shown, such things have become normalized. When the president elect of the US uses them while campaigning, then anybody can do it, eh?

    And the HarperCons wrecking of the gun registry and promoting more and more lethal guns just to get votes? Despicable.

    Reply
  10. Hana Razga

    December 6th, 2016

    “I wish people who had those desires, to have those chants, or have that signage, would just stay at home,” Mr. Jean explained.

    Oh my, Mr. Jean being politically correct? (sarcasm)

    Re: Chris Alexander – as a former diplomat, you would think he would know how to lie a little more convincingly, pfft!

    Reply
  11. Sam Gunsch

    December 6th, 2016

    FWIW see link below: Here’s one CPC leadership candidate defending the ‘lock-her-up’ elements and Alexander. So-Con hard-liner leadership candidate, Brad Trost, also says Ambrose should apologize to Rebel supporters.

    https://www.pressprogress.ca/conservative_leader_rona_ambrose_calls_supporters_of_ezra_levant_rebel_media_idiots

    excerpt: ‘Conservative leadership candidate Brad Trost demanded Ambrose apologize to Rebel Media’s supporters.

    Trost tweeted his regret that he could not “be there w my friend” Chris Alexander and said he “would’ve chanted w them.”

    @RonaAmbrose should apologize for being out o touch & calling those grass roots Albertans “idiots” #cpcldr #LockHerUp
    — Brad Trost (@BradTrostCPC) December 6, 2016

    Wanted to be there w my friend @calxandr supporting Albertans would’ve chanted w them #cpcldr #LockHerUp
    — Brad Trost (@BradTrostCPC) December 6, 2016

    =============================

    Is it too soon to coin new labels for these sorts of Conservative elements?
    Rebel Conservatives?

    Reply
    • Spranch

      December 8th, 2016

      they’re called “fascists”, sam.

      Reply
  12. Own it NDP

    December 6th, 2016

    Really? Harper faced far more vitriol behaviour than this!

    While I think it should be criminal to pass a carbon tax (not part of her election platform at all), the truth is there is no legal argument to arrest her. The sentiment is valid the reality simply doesn’t support charges.

    So what… how does this make people horrible human beings? How does this implicate any of the speakers at the rally? In neither case are there a case of people behaving badly! They stated how they feel, regardless of the reality of its feasibility.

    What it does point out is how poorly the NDP have done leading. Leaders are to blame for either really bad policy or really bad communications!

    I would echo those chants and do so unabashedly! The statement ‘lock her up’ is reflective of what people think of the job this NDP govt has done to date. Those feelings are entirely Valid and on point for many Albertans, regardless of whether or not Rachel & Crew can indeed be arrested.

    Ridiculing Albertans for ‘feeling resentment’ and expressing it like they did, means the NDP, Media and the Urban Elites are completely out of touch with every day Albertans!

    Wake up and start asking our leaders why would Albertans be so upset and what can be done to alleviate the issues Albertans are experiencing! Enough turning the average Albertan into demons, because they don’t agree with you… Introversion is an exercise the elites need a refresher on!

    Reply
    • Sam Gunsch

      December 6th, 2016

      Chong’s critique seems a reasonable reply to your comments. Ignore Climenhaga…Is Chong wrong in saying it’s ‘undemocratic’ to urge jail for a democratically elected Premier?
      Isn’t Chong taking the law and order position that Conservatives claim to support more strongly than other parties?
      =============
      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/alberta/tory-hopefuls-chong-obhrai-denounce-lock-her-up-chant-aimed-at-notley/article33207625/

      excerpt: ‘“However, in chanting ‘lock her up’ at one point in the rally, members of the crowd, in their anger, urged undemocratic action more worthy of a dictatorship than Canada’s parliamentary democracy based on the rule of law,” he said.

      Chong did not mention Alexander by name, but noted the chanting was not denounced by organizers or by those on the stage.

      “As leaders, we should stand up against language and behaviour that undermines the rule of law and legitimacy of our political system and its office holders, whether that language comes from the left or the right of the political spectrum,” Chong said.’

      ======
      IMO, crowds that chant ‘lock her up’ are leaning in a political direction that is not many degrees different than advocating for return of lynch mob/vigilantism.

      Reply
    • PIGL

      December 7th, 2016

      In other words, you advocate against parliamentary democracy, assert the right to criminalise—from your shouty soapbox—the legislation passed by a duly elected government, and then assert that your devotion to gunpoint right-wing populism is the fault of the NDP. You, sir, are both dangerous and deranged. Still, I thank you for clarifying the position of Rebel media and their backers. There are laws against sedition, which you are one step away from violating. I predict that it will be the next demonstration, or that one after that at latest, when you nutters start waving guns around.

      Reply
    • Val Jobson

      December 7th, 2016

      They were stating how they felt, and how they felt was stupid. Sorry, stupidity is nothing to be proud of.

      Sure, some of them are worried that a carbon tax will harm them, and the lying Rebel goobers stoke that fear by lying that farm fuels would be taxed (they are exempt), and by failing to mention the rebates some 60% of Albertans will get.

      I think the lies that were told at the rally and elsewhere need more refuting.

      Reply
    • Athabascan

      December 7th, 2016

      Ah, yes! I was wondering when a ‘kudatah” troll would emerge to defend RWNJ’s.

      Is it ever possible for the right wing to make cogent arguments without trotting out some conspiracy theory that includes the media or some mysterious group of elite they can’t even define?

      Who are the “urban elites”? I guess there is no need to ask, because as any sane person (aka NOT RWNJ) knows they don’t really exist, except in the minds of right wing fanatics such as OWN IT NDP.

      I rather suspect anyone who disagrees with the Harpercons and their fascist ideas is an “urban elite”. You know the kinds of people who can read silently without moving their lips.

      David, perhaps you could dedicate a post to defining what is an urban elite. The post could start with the headline a la Jeff Foxworthy: Beware! If you (fill-in the blank) you may be an urban elite.

      I’ll start the list:

      a). believe in climate change based on science
      b) are educated beyond HS
      c) were not home schooled or did not attend a religious charter school
      d) believe government exists to improve society – or should
      e) support human rights, and worker rights legislation

      Reply
      • Bob Raynard

        December 7th, 2016

        How about:

        f) met their spouse somewhere other than a family reunion.
        g) have more curtains in their house than their truck

        Reply
        • brett

          December 9th, 2016

          You might add….

          ..did not meet their spouse at a bridal college

          Reply
        • Farmer B

          December 9th, 2016

          You have made my day, this shows your ideological snobbery. As a farmer I would consider myself a rural realist lol. You might be a rural realist if:

          a) if you expect your mla to represent your views to the government not the other way around
          b) if you appreciate the value of education but also the generational transfer of knowledge
          c) if you realize debt actually has to be payed back
          d) that survival depends on constantly adapting to the changing climate
          e) the largest improvement in the quality of live resulted from the efficient use of fossil fuels

          I could go on and on but you get the point 🙂

          Reply
  13. David Grant

    December 11th, 2016

    I agree with Dave about the need to denounce this kind of hatred towards the government. I can promise you that if my liberal friends(and we do exist here)were to issue any threats against Ralph and his ilk, the right-wingers would hang us from the rafters. I am surprised that the right-wing complains about any criticism they receive, but when make the criticism against the kind of criticism described here and we need to take and be so sensitive or PC. The Irony is pretty rich!!!!

    Reply

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