The Annals of Alberta Political Discourse: Wildrose/UCP MLA Grant Hunter compares NDP to 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami

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PHOTOS: Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter, with a suitably dramatic backdrop created by Press Progress. Below: Mr. Hunter and UCP Leader Jason Kenney shake on it, soon after the former Wildroser endorsed Mr. Kenney’s ultimately successful party leadership bid (Photo: Screenshot of Global News broadcast), and Mr. Hunter’s economic exemplars, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. (Photo: Public Domain, readers can guess which one is which.)

Can you imagine the whinging and shrieking among the usual right-wing snowflakes that would erupt if someone compared what Jason Kenney might do as premier of Alberta to, say, the San Francisco Earthquake?

Mr. Kenney is the leader of Alberta’s United Conservative Party Opposition. The catastrophic San Francisco Earthquake took place in 1906. So, you even could argue the date of the earthquake is an apt metaphor for Mr. Kenney’s social conservative frame of reference.

Nevertheless, just for the record, I am suggesting no such thing. While it would likely take Alberta a long and painful time to recover from the kind of policies Mr. Kenney might enact as head of government, I don’t think a natural disaster of that magnitude would be a fair comparison.

I mention this only because of the kind of nonsense we keep hearing from the brainiacs in the UCP/Wildrose Party’s Legislative Caucus who, no matter how many times they get slapped on the wrist, never seem to learn anything. Truly, this is a group of people for whom every day’s a new day.

Consider Grant Hunter, if you will, the Wildrose MLA elected in the 2015 Alberta general election to represent the deep south Alberta riding of Cardston-Taber-Warner, known for its abiding conservatism in part because of the strong presence of the Mormon Church in the region.

Perhaps because of the recent redrawing of the borders of his riding by Alberta’s Electoral Boundaries Commission, Mr. Hunter appears to have come slightly unhinged. Or maybe he just thought he was among friends.

Leastways, in a news report in the Taber Times announcing he will seek the nomination for the election expected in 2019 in the new, somewhat redrawn Taber-Warner riding, Mr. Hunter characterized the election of Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP in 2015 as being just like the 2004 tsunami that struck Indonesia, Thailand and other countries around the Indian Ocean, killing close to 300,000 people.

To give Mr. Hunter his due, he did try to soften the blow a little by noting that most New Democrats in the Legislature are nice people, “some of the nicest people you meet.” Just, you know, a nice but destructive force of nature.

Oh well, at least he wasn’t accusing the New Democrats of malice. Obviously, though, a sense of humour is required to think or write about the pronouncements of Alberta’s rural conservative MLAs.

And he later issued the traditional right-wing pro forma apology for his commentary. “If my statement came across that way, I sincerely apologize.” But, really …

Mr. Hunter provided the Taber Times with a long list of his complaints about the NDP government, some of them a matter of opinion but many of them imagined, like the amount of regulation brought in by the government (“one of the worst and largest red tape government sizes in Canada”) and the economic impact of farm safety legislation on Alberta farmers.

He also, as my colleague Dave Cournoyer pointed out on his blog late yesterday, obviously doesn’t understand (or wish to understand) how the Electoral Boundaries Commission works when he gins up a gerrymandering fantasy about it. Oh, there’s been plenty of electoral gerrymandering in Alberta over the years, but none of it has been done by the NDP, God bless their principled souls.

Well, this isn’t really a major departure for Mr. Hunter, who in the past has compared social services support for single moms and their kids to be “communism.”

Apparently believing the only moms on welfare are recent immigrants, in May 2016 he attacked social welfare as a replacement for charity, telling the Legislature, “When they came to this great country, people came here not for a guarantee. They came for an opportunity. They did not ask for a guarantee. In communist countries they got a guarantee. That is not what we offer in Canada.”

As Wildrose jobs critic, Mr. Hunter expressed much the same thought about raising the minimum wage. He told cheering members of the UCP’s predecessor party in November 2015: “I hate to tell you but no one started this minimum wage as a living wage. That is not something that we ever promised anybody. We promised people that if you go get educated and you get more skills then you can rise up in your jobs. We’re not a communist country. This is not something that we do here.” (Emphasis added, both times.)

Mr. Hunter was the first UCP MLA to endorse Mr. Kenney in his bid for the party’s leadership last year.

Interestingly for a former Wildroser, in his latest public airing of his thinking process, he defended the previous Progressive Conservative government – whose spirit now resides within the Alberta Party led by Stephen Mandel – and provided additional insights into his own economic views.

“There’s a winning formula called the Alberta Advantage,” the MLA bloviated to the Times’s reporter, who apparently just let his tape recorder run and used everything it picked up. “The Alberta Advantage is lower marginal tax rates, small government so it doesn’t cost the people lots of taxes, and a smaller regulatory burden.

“That in economic terms is called Reaganomics,” Mr. Hunter went confidently on. “So we didn’t actually come up with that formula, it’s been used in other jurisdictions under Margaret Thatcher, under Ronald Reagan, and we just tweaked it and put it here. We need to get back to that formula.”

If you didn’t understand what the UCP Caucus talks about behind closed doors or what it has in mind for Alberta, Mr. Hunter’s précis should help clarify matters considerably.

Categories Alberta Politics