Rob Anders to Canada: “I’m baaaaaaaaack!”
It’s a staple of the horror movie genre: You can’t keep a bad man down. Who can forget Hannibal Lecter’s last call to Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs? “I’m having an old friend for dinner.”
Or Jack Torrance in the Shining: “Heeere’s Johnny!”
This time, thanks very much, Mr. Anders won’t be taking a chance on the citified voters of another Calgary riding like the redistributed district where he was handed his lunch in the nomination vote last April by Ron Liepert, Alberta’s former health and energy minister and a man famed for being a bull in a china shop in his own right.
Instead, Mr. Anders will be running in the also-new Bow River constituency, a vast patch of mostly bald-headed Prairie east and south of Calgary. There, according to Mr. Anders’ remarks in the National Post, men are armed, liberals aren’t welcome and there are more trucks. “I feel a real connection,” he told the Post, and, really, under the circumstances as described, who wouldn’t?
Mr. Anders also told the Post’s reporter he has a home in the riding – in the community of Chestermere, formerly the Summer Village of Chestermere Lake on Calgary’s eastern fringe, although whether he lays his head there or at his residence deeper inside city limits is unknown to this blogger.
Regardless, it will be interesting if the man who for the moment remains MP for Calgary West, a riding that will disappear after the next election, really fits in as well as he imagines he will in rural southern Alberta, which has changed too in the years the ground was slowly shifting under Mr. Anders’ feet inside Calgary’s boundaries.
Born on April Fools Day 1972 and rechristened “Canada’s Worst MP” by a Conservative newspaper columnist, the Winnipeg-born arch-conservative has been demonstrating since he was elected to the House of Commons at 25 in 1997 that he isn’t the sharpest knife in the Parliamentary cutlery drawer.
He’s done this on a variety of topics, ranging from his opinions about Nelson Mandela (he called the South African leader a communist and a terrorist), to his weird conspiracy theory about the circumstances surrounding Jack Layton’s death from cancer (he suggested Thomas Mulcair was responsible), to his choice of locations to catch forty winks (his desk in the House, while the cameras rolled).
Back in 1994, Mr. Anders travelled south to act as a “professional heckler” for a Republican candidate in Oklahoma. (He was labeled a “foreign political saboteur” for his trouble by CNN.) He later assailed Alberta’s still-beloved premier Ralph Klein as a “cocktail Conservative,” too soft on Ottawa and not nearly far enough to the right.
As Calgary West MP, he voted with the Bloc Québécois to support a proposition that Quebeckers should be able to form a nation any time they darn well felt like it and could withdraw from any federal initiative. He was the only legislator to vote against giving Mr. Mandela honourary Canadian citizenship.
He once boasted about how women throw themselves at his feet, explaining that as a consequence he’d taken a vow of chastity. (Just the same, he explained to a astonished and presumably appalled reporter, he had “gone as far as kissing and kind of ‘massaging,’ if you will.”)
So, we – and Mr. Anders – will see how that kind of stuff goes down in places like Strathmore, Brooks and Rocky View, where one thing that hasn’t changed since 1997 is the importance of success in local public life for people what want to be the (inevitably Conservative) Member of Parliament.
Also seeking the Bow River Conservative nomination – and the automatic ticket to Ottawa that goes with it – are Rocky View Councillor and former reeve Rolly Ashdown and Brooks Mayor Martin Shields, who was quick to remind voters Mr. Anders doesn’t actually hang his oversized hat in the riding.
And if big facial hair is de rigueur in rural Alberta, as the success of the hirsute local political pair suggests, Mr. Anders is done like dinner at last, notwithstanding his 4.5-litre hat and butchy poses with pistols.