Preston Manning admonishes the Children of Alberta for abandoning the principles of Social Credit. Actual right-wing patriarchs may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Mr. Manning and, speaking of patriarchs, the sainted Ernest Manning, Ron Paul, the crazy uncle of the American right, and Ukip Leader Nigel Farage.

“Cancer and lightning go where they want. So does political corruption.” — JAMES LEE BURKE, Wayfaring Stranger, 2014

In all the brouhaha over former Alberta premier Alison Redford’s appalling misuse of airplanes and architecture, there haven’t been many light-hearted moments.

Thank God, then, for Preston Manning, patriarch of the Canadian right, for finally inserting a little levity into this otherwise sordid and depressing affair.

Yesterday, after chipping away in the Globe and Mail’s op-ed workshop atop Mount Sinai, Mr. Manning sent down to us stone tablets engraved with pithy sayings about the need to restore sound ethical principles to the government of Alberta.

In his lesson to the Children of Alberta, we the Chosen People of Confederation, Mr. Manning reminded us that things really started to go awry out here in the land of oil and honey with the election of that Peter Lougheed fellow, founder of the Progressive Conservative Dynasty that haunts us still, after nigh on 44 years.

What Alberta needs now as a result, Mr. Manning explained, is “a major housecleaning” – a sentiment, actually, that many of us share – but which in his estimation seems to involve the restoration of the kind of Social Credit leadership we Albertans used to get from the late E.C. Manning.

Of Dear Old Dad, Mr. Manning wrote: “What members of the Alberta Legislature – on both sides of the House – need to be reminded of is a basic principle hammered into the heads of his colleagues year after year by Ernest Manning, the province’s longest-serving premier: “Those of us who make the rules, and those of us who administer the rules, had better keep the rules, or we lose our moral authority to govern.”

Why, when the late Senator Manning (whom the son somehow forgot to acknowledge was his father, perhaps because we were all just assumed to know given the family’s well-known proximity to the Deity) was leading us through the wilderness, even Alberta civil servants could be depended upon not to take bribes!

Actually, as a matter of literal fact, you can still depend on front-line employees Alberta’s civil service not to take bribes, and I would have been offended by Mr. Manning’s suggestion were I a member of their ranks.

Indeed, he went on, even a senior fund-raiser for Alberta’s ruling political party (the name of which Mr. Manning also forgot to mention, it was Social Credit) could be depended upon to eschew bribe-taking, because “his personal integrity and ethics were rooted in his Christian convictions.”

Likewise, my guess is that most political bagpersons in Alberta can still be trusted not to take bribes, whatever party they’re associated with, notwithstanding their religious convictions.

Nevertheless, Mr. Manning’s fond memories of those golden days, when the sun shone on Albertans as they tuned into his late father’s Back-to-the-Bible Hour on the radio, certainly brought a smile of recollection to my wrinkled old face.

Oddly, in his treatise on the benefits of strong ethical leadership, Mr. Manning never uttered the name of Stephen Harper, once his colleague and protégé in the Reform Party of Canada and now the country’s “Conservative” prime minister.

Mr. Harper, of course, is the puppet master behind such highly ethical activities as the effort to smear Liberal leader Justin Trudeau as a pixie-dust-coated radical Islamist, proroguing Parliament to avoid the untidy distraction of a democratic vote, the suppression of science, and the cynical use the Canada Revenue Agency as a weapon to silence critics of the government.

Speaking of the CRA, Mr. Manning also made no mention of the activities of his own charitable Manning Foundation, which funds the activities of his self-named Manning Centre for Building Democracy. These include a developer-financed scheme to knock off annoyingly liberal municipal politicians like Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and an annual networking conference at which Mr. Manning’s earnest young stormtroopers recite passages from Ayn Rand to each other and discuss the need for Canadians to be able to sell their kidneys. Upstairs at these affairs, meanwhile, the grownups meet with far-right foreign wingnuts like Nigel Farage of the U.K. Independence Party and Ron Paul, the crazy uncle of the American right, to plot the next steps in the creation of the Grand Unified Market.

Well, by their omissions, ye shall know them.

Notwithstanding her many and obvious ethical lapses, Ms. Redford’s key problem as Conservative premier – unique in the recent history of Alberta – was the combination of opposition from a well-funded political party to the right of her Progressive Conservatives, less than enthusiastic support from the mainstream media, and the successful network of a group of market fundamentalist groups like the Manning Foundation and Centre dedicated to pushing political discourse to the right.

If Ms. Redford and her party had been willing to step up and properly follow the instructions of the Manning Centre and the Fraser Institute, it is said here, her airplane scheduling practices would never have become an issue, let alone a problem.

So while it is true, as Mr. Manning says, that the people at the top set the moral tone for the folks they rule over, he may not define morality in quite the same way as most readers of this blog.

Mr. Manning, of course, is campaigning for the Wildrose Party. He has done this for a while – I heard him state that Ms. Redford needed to be replaced at his Manning Centre conference in the spring of 2013, long before the worst of her ethical lapses were known.

This is, of course, his democratic right. But to really be ethical about it, you’d think he ought to state clearly what he’s up to when he delivers these little homilies on moral authority.

In the mean time, though, Mr. Manning is a welcome addition to Canada’s limited supply of satirical writers. We expect great things from him.

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  1. Mr. Manning forgets that anyone who wanted to advance in his father’s government had to hold a Soceil Credit membership card.

  2. IF “Mr. Manning is a welcome addition to Canada’s limited supply of satirical writers. We expect great things from him.”
    THEN what do you make of :
    “….the New Right is self-obsessed, narcissistic, mean-spirited, largely humourless, and about as much fun as a night on the town with Preston Manning” – Dalton Camp.

    1. I don’t know what to say about that. I’ve never spent a night on the town with Preston Manning, or with E.C. I had a drink with Ralph Klein once and he was plenty of fun.

  3. Excellent article. Redford was too progressive a person for any of these boys, and I believe when she got into the real halls of power, it scared the shit out of her. I’m glad she’s out, for her sake. I have hung onto the fact that she worked with Mandela to craft South Africa’s constitution. I believe she got way in over her head in Alberta, and the boys on the right needed to get her gone. I’m not saying she didn’t act in ways she shouldn’t have, but she was a puppet.

  4. What’s funny is that Redford did follow the market fundamentalist views of Manning. It’s just a different set of people, same policies.

    Manning has never liked the PC’s because they took out his father’s “legacy”. How well did he take to Stockwell Day, a former PC finance Minister, when he beat Manning? Also remember in 2006 when Manning spoke at the PC convention and intimated that he was running for Premier, just to cause discord?

    We’re better off with anyone but Manning’s cronies of megalomaniacs, and that includes Danielle Smith.

  5. Let’s not ever forget the Mannings and the Social Credit government were responsible for the great Alberta oil sell out. The petroleum corporations were allowed to steal the resource in the name of free enterprise. Which means poor citizens pay and corporation get rich.

    1. re: The petroleum corporations were allowed to steal the resource in the name of free enterprise. Which means poor citizens pay and corporation get rich.

      Social Credit sell out to petro-elite in Calgary.
      Lougheed raises royalty rates. Defies the petro-elite.
      Getty tries all sorts of financial give-aways to offset petro price declines.
      Klein unravels and reduces all Lougheed’s work on fair royalty rates.

      Stelmach tries a Lougheed, going for AB’s fair share: response by the petroleum mafia is to take him out with propaganda abetted by AB media, and cut donations to PC’s and fund WRP.

      Smith/WRP gets start-up funding from petroleum Calgary mafia.
      Redford promises not to touch royalty rates.

      Albertans are screwed out of an owner’s share.
      compared to Norway, AB is a ‘banana republic’ hosed by the petrostate.
      excerpt: The royalty rate collected on oil sands projects before “payout” is currently one per cent, which according to Warrack is so low it is “like a rounding error from zero.”

      1. Allan Warrack was part of a government that actually did its job and remembered that the people own the resources..

        He wrote about standing in a farmer’s field looking at a nearby gas well, while the farmer asked why he couldn’t use gas in his own home. The provincial government did develop a gas distribution system for rural areas, using rural co-ops.,

  6. Good grief! Nigel Farage was in Canada? I missed that completely. They’re letting all sorts of riff-raff and wingnuts in these days – Ron Paul, George Bush, Dick Cheney, Tony Blair and leave us not forget the lovely Ann Coulter. We have more than enough of our own, thank you.

    As for Manning, his voice will forever be overdubbed by Don Ferguson of the Air Farce extolling the virtues of the Re-FOOOORRRRM Party, which is, of course, what the present government is. The Con name was sold by Peter McKay after breaking a promise to David Orchard. All kinds of wonderful things are launched from broken promises.

    Is the Manning Foundation, if it has charitable status, being audited for overspending on political causes, like the environmental and human rights ones presently being hounded by the CRA? I didn’t think so.

  7. It is public knowledge. Harper was Policy Chief for his, Northern Foundation of 1989. We know just who, donated to Harper’s Alliance in 2002. We know Harper hired Wolfgang Droege and his Heritage front as, security for Preston Manning.

    I have extreme doubt regarding, Harper’s extreme bizarre behavior. I have very grave doubts of anyone, throwing themselves in with Harper.

    1. Hey Joe,

      Anne’s general argument is supported by a fair bit of evidence.
      At the link below, some of that evidence on how Albertan’s have been fleeced by Calgary’s corporate petro-elite.

      Lougheed has been the only politician to defy the racket they’ve been running on us.
      As far as I can determine from their ongoing defense of BIG OIL, WRP is ideologically an insider; i.e. in on the game.

      Can you tell which side you’re on? The house or the citizenry?

      Sam Gunsch

      excerpt: Norway cut a proper deal with oil corporations. Canadians got screwed.
      By Mitchell Anderson, 15 Jan 2014,

      excerpt: “Not only is Norway ahead of Canada by $1.5 trillion, it has fully funded social programs that Canadians can only dream of.* Norwegians enjoy universal day care, free university tuition, per capita spending on health care 30 per cent higher than Canada and 25 days of paid vacation every year. By owning 70 per cent of their own oil production and taxing oil revenues at close to 80 per cent, Norway is now saving about $1 billion per week.

      The so-called “Calgary School” of economic thought would say this stunning socialist success story is impossible in the same way that scientists used to believe that bumblebees cannot fly. Out in the real world, Canada is being trounced on the field of comparative fiscal management.

      Last year, the Fort McMurray School District voted on a proposal to shorten the school week to four days. Why? Because the communities that include some of the largest petroleum reserves on the planet couldn’t afford school bus drivers five days a week. The motion was voted down not because this situation is insanely stupid, but because trustees worried that tar sands workers couldn’t access daycare during a shortened school week.

      Misguided true believers

      Alberta has run consecutive budget deficits since 2008 and since then has burned through $15 billion of its sustainability fund. In spite of Alberta’s vast petroleum wealth, the province has not contributed a penny to the now moribund Alberta Heritage Fund since 1987. The belief that all tax is bad has led Canada’s three western provinces to the bizarre position where they proudly collect less resource revenues on behalf of their citizens than any other jurisdiction in North America.”

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