PHOTOS: Part of the Wildrose Chinese-language brochure that compared the NDP to communists. Below: Wildrose Calgary-Foothills candidate Prasad Panda, former Tory education minister Thomas Lukaszuk, NDP candidate Bob Hawkesworth, former Wildrose House leader Rob Anderson and former Wildrose leader Paul Hinman.

What words should we use to describe the Chinese-language brochure the Wildrose Party wrote up to use in the Calgary-Foothills by-election, which takes place on Thursday, the one that accuses the NDP of trying to advance “ideas of communism”?

Panda“Despicable”? “Gutter political statements”?

Those were both terms used by Wildrose House leader Rob Anderson – later as before a Progressive Conservative MLA, now a lawyer in private practice in the Calgary-area city of Airdrie – to describe some of the terminology used by then-education-minister Thomas Lukaszuk in a bitter 2011 Twitter battle over a comparison of Tory land use policy to deadly Communist Party activities in Ukraine in the 1930s.

Accusing Wildrose MLA and former leader Paul Hinman “of comparing PCs 2 Stalin,” Tweeted Mr. Anderson, was “Shameful Thomas.”

“Somehow in Thomas’s rather sick mind, he turned that into one of the most despicable gutter political statements I’ve seen in a long time and he should be absolutely ashamed of himself for politicizing such a tragic event,” Mr. Anderson later snarled to a Sun Newspapers reporter.

Lukaszuk-RAfter that, everybody seemed to behave themselves for a while, and accusations of communist tendencies in Alberta temporarily went the way of Nazi analogies in political discourse – sometimes resorted to in emotional circumstances, but always regretted and generally frowned upon in polite company.

Well, that was then, I guess, and this is now.

Some Wildrosers are now Conservatives, some Conservatives are now Wildrosers, and some of them are so mad at the NDP for having the temerity to decisively win the 2015 Alberta general election on May 5 that the WRP C-word (“Communist,” that is) is making a comeback in Alberta political discourse.

This is pretty laughable when you consider that the Alberta NDP as led by Premier Rachel Notley is somewhere mildly to the right of Peter Lougheed, who founded the Tory dynasty 44 years ago last Sunday, but it does tell us something about what passes for normal political commentary in Wildrose circles nowadays.

In some ways, the Wildrose brochure is considerably worse than the exchange of Tweeted unpleasantries among Messrs. Anderson, Lukaszuk and Hinman back in 2011 because Twitter is, after all, an antisocial media, and everyone got mad about an issue that mattered to them and the discussion slipped off the rails.

hawkesworthBy contrast, the Wildrose Party had plenty of time to think about the brochure distributed by the campaign of candidate Prasad Panda for the seat left open by Alberta’s last PC premier, Jim Prentice, who resigned on election night as soon as it was obvious he couldn’t be premier any more. Unlike the 2011 Twitter insults, it was cooked up with malice aforethought and in a sneaky way to boot.

Malice aforethought, because whoever wrote and approved the text had time to think about the wisdom and fairness of the accusation they were making. Sneaky, because the offensive statement was put only in the party’s Chinese-language brochure, and it’s reasonable to suspect this was done in the belief it would be effective with the target audience and unlikely to be noticed by anyone else.

So, I’d add “malicious” and “sneaky” to “desperate” and “offensive,” plus disrespectful to the Chinese community, the descriptions used by NDP candidate Bob Hawkesworth, a former Calgary city councillor and MLA, to describe the document.

AndersonWe know from the Calgary Herald’s story about this situation that Cam Davies, Mr. Panda’s campaign manager, had the translation accurately explained to him and approved the wording anyway.

Furthermore, instead of apologizing for the slur and admitting it was an error of judgment, Mr. Panda’s team doubled down. They argued at length they were justified accusing the NDP of communist tendencies in a statement described by the Calgary Herald as a news release. The release or whatever it was it does not seem to show up now on either the candidate’s website or the party’s. Judging from the Herald’s account, however, it was rife with additional falsehoods, and even blamed the NDP for past Progressive Conservative policies.

Meanwhile, Wildrose supporters on social media are even less restrained, bandying about the WRP C-word in attacks on the NDP or anyone else who sounds like they might support the government.

Since the riding is a traditionally conservative one with a large population of oilpatch managers, and since the Wildrose Party has the benefit of volunteers from all over Alberta while potential NDP doorknockers are also involved in federal campaigns elsewhere in Alberta, it is fair to describe the Opposition party as the frontrunner.

HinmanIn addition to Mr. Hawkesworth, who is putting up a strong campaign despite the traditional challenges faced by government candidates in by-elections, the riding is being contested by Progressive Conservative Blair Houston, Green Party Leader Janet Keeping, Alberta Liberal Ali Bin Zahid and the Alberta Party’s Mark Taylor, a former president of Wildrose’s Highwood riding association in the days when Danielle Smith was that riding’s MLA.

Since polls open so soon, it’s obviously a little late for the Wildrose Party to do much about this brochure now, although I would think the party’s leaders would want to have a quiet word with Mr. Panda and Mr. Davies about the appropriateness of this kind of language.

Of course, no party – especially a fairly radical ideological party like the Wildrose – can be expected to rein in its most extreme supporters’ social media activities.

Still, it’s said here Wildrose Leader Brian Jean owes it to Albertans to issue a strong statement that his party does not support the kind of extremism evident in the Wildrose brochure, and to actively repudiate this crazy idea in the strongest terms possible.

If he doesn’t, his silence will speak for itself. It will strongly suggest any sense of proportion or moderation left the Wildrose Party with former leader Danielle Smith and Rob Anderson.

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  1. Didn’t Brian Jean exact a promise from Rachel Notley’s government that they not make any spending announcements during the by-election?

  2. I don’t think Prasad’s campaign is far off the mark. Comments made by the Alberta and Canadian NDP candidates in respect to Alberta’s oil sands projects are reminiscent of the USSR. They are proceeding outside the bounds of democracy. This can only be described as communist management. It is a sad day for Alberta.

    1. Can anyone explain how this posting makes any sense? C’mon Climenhaga, you have to do a better job of attracting responses that don’t border on the idiotic.

      1. Relax Tom in Ontario.

        There is a method to what Climenhaga is doing. By posting the nonsensical rantings of the far-right fanatics, he is exposing their idiocy. How else would others know or recognize the Neocon stupidity?

  3. For crying out loud the only communists in Canada these days are the ones from China buying million dollar houses in Vancouver.

  4. Wow. I get that David Climenhaga is a NDP supporter so it isn’t surprising that he would write something that is so pro-NDP and anti-WRP, however, this article gets so much wrong.

    First of all, let’s get it straight. The NDP are socialists. They were founded by socialists and have always been socialists at heart. Of course some are more socialist than others. Some in the party hold Hugo Chavez in high regard and there’s video to prove it. Calling the NDP socialists is calling it like it is. Apparently, in Chinese, the words for socialist and communist are inter-changeable. There is nothing wrong with using that terminology in Chinese especially considering that a lot of Chinese-Canadians left China for Canada because of the communist government there. It’s important that Chinese-Canadians understand that is what they’re getting from the NDP. In actuality, this isn’t any different than politicians using the term Separatist in English and Sovereignist in French when referring to Quebecors who want to leave Canada. There wasn’t an error in judgment here. There is nothing to apologize for. There is nothing malicious or sneaky about this. It’s just calling a spade a spade. If Bob Hawkesworth has a problem with the party he belongs to being labelled socialists, then he should find a new party.

    And then we hear David Climenhaga claiming that Rachel Notley is governing from the right of Peter Lougheed? Peter Lougheed wasn’t anti-resource development, he wasn’t anti-jobs, and he didn’t put forth ideas to have the minimum wage increase by 50%. That is laughable. The NDP has barely been in office and we’re going to find out soon enough what these socialists have planned for the next 4 years.

    And then David implies that the WRP has an edge over the NDP because of the federal campaign? Really? It is a disadvantage. Bob Hawkesworth and the NDP in Calgary Foot Hills actually gets more publicity from Thomas Mulcair and the Federal NDP who are campaigning around the country and including Alberta. There is no advantage from MLAs in the province. Last I checked the NDP has 54 MLAs while the WRP has 21. There are plenty more sitting MLAs helping Bob Hawkesworth than Prasad Panda. And I wont even start with the Union support that the NDP has.

    And David says the WRP is the frontrunner. Maybe because of the fact that its a traditionally more conservative riding; however, considering that the NDP just got elected with 54 seats, they should really be labeled the front runner. They’re the ones with momentum. They’re the ones whose popular leader led this “orange wave” throughout the province. Claiming that the WRP is the frontrunner is epitomizes prematurely lowering expectations in order to mask disappointment if they don’t win.

    Also, I would say its the NDP is the most radically ideological party in the province in the eyes of most Albertans.

    So much in wrong with this article but really, what should I have expected?

    1. what you should expect when you have your ears, eyes and thinking faculties locked up inside a filter, is to get purely filtered world views.
      Give your head a shake bud, go outside for a walk. There is much more nuance going on than you’re aware of. It might even scare you, but don’t be afraid; it’s just normal.

    2. Excellent observations, Mike. I’m neither an NDP or WRP supporter. Your analysis is one of the most sensible descriptions of what’s going on here.

  5. Ok, so as long as we are playing the name calling game (so high school). I’ll call the Wildrosers a bunch of fascists.

    There, so where does that lead us? I suppose insulting each other’s moms is next.

    On a more mature note; it’s probably best to consider the source when a political party calls another communists.

  6. I believe the WRP are right to condemn the scourge of international communism that is sweeping the west, before the domino effect takes hold.

  7. This ‘communism’ stuff is an example of the rhetoric/ideological gap getting smaller between WRP and that of Republican presidential candidates or the actual Tea Party.

      1. The truth is that communist operatives like you are alive and well and infiltrating our NDP government, with a goal of turning Alberta into a communist state. $15 minimum wage, 20% corporate tax increase, 50% personal tax increase, royalty review. All part of your communist agenda. The Wildrose has flushed you out and now you go into denial mode.

  8. The Communist Party – Alberta is deeply offended at this cheap political shot and demands an immediate full apology from the Wildrose party.

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