PHOTOS: George Clark, Alberta’s answer to Joan of Arc. (Screen grab from Below: Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean, who with his MLAs is tacitly supporting Mr. Clark’s efforts; the origin of the #kudatah meme; Preston Manning, a conservative godfather to whom your blogger obviously owes an apology; and St. Joan herself.

Are there any sane conservatives left in Alberta?

Given the events of the past few weeks, this question must be asked.

The answer, of course, is yes. But you wouldn’t necessarily know it from reading the political news of this province.

You certainly wouldn’t think so if your main source of news has been social media, especially Facebook, where the ranting of many Wildrose Party supporters and their even more radical brethren leaves a reader with a strong impression Alberta conservatives are all aboard the Crazy Train, chugging out of the station.

Social media nowadays is a zone where New Democrats are routinely excoriated as “communists” and readers are warned to beware agents of “United Nations Agenda 21” conspiring with the NDP to enslave Albertans by encouraging them to eat locally grown food. I am not making this up!

Then there is George Clark, the construction contractor who acts as if he’s concluded he’s Alberta’s answer to Joan of Arc, and has persuaded a surprising number of social media users this is so.

Mr. Clark stands ready to save the province through a divine, or perhaps magical, “100% effective” intervention on the day the Legislature reopens that will remove the premier from office “legally, peacefully and democratically if she denies our petitions for plebiscites.”

In other words, a legal coup d’état. This became a mocking social media meme – #kudatah – after a comment by one of Mr. Clark’s supporters who either couldn’t spell or, as the popular Sixties metaphor had it, wasn’t about to let French be shoved down his throat with his morning cornflakes.

Anyway, in the snap of a finger, the #kudatah will remove the NDP from power, Mr. Clark insists. “I will make the announcement at 12:15, we will be back in control of the government by 12:30,” he said in a Facebook post on Jan. 3, reported by after it had been deleted.

Exactly how this deus ex machina is supposed to work, Mr. Clark won’t say. However, thanks to an indiscreet post by a supporter, also swiftly deleted, we have an idea: he seems to think that if he can get Albertans to sign a petition demanding a binding plebiscite on a government bill, and if the government says no to the plebiscite, and if a commissioner of oaths agrees the premier therefore isn’t doing her job, then the Lieutenant-Governor must remove the government. Or something.

This doesn’t suggest a comprehensive understanding of the workings of Parliamentary democracy on Mr. Clark’s part. However, it seems to be keeping him and his “Albertans First Plebiscite Warriors” busy trying to get people to sign a petition against the NDP’s controversial farm safety legislation, which was passed on Dec. 10.

More seriously, this foolishness also points to the problem with Alberta’s mainstream conservatives.

Where are the mainstream politicians of the “centre right” who are willing to speak up about this nonsense and tell their supporters to simmer down? Too dignified, or something else?

And why is the media giving Mr. Clark and the social media groups with which he is affiliated such a respectful hearing?

According to the National Post, Mr. Clark “is an avatar of an angry Alberta.” Well, that’s one theory. Judging from what he is saying, he seems more like someone who has drunk the ideological Kool-Aid served by the likes of the Duck Dynasty militia holed up in that ranger’s hut in Oregon.

As for the Wildrose Opposition, they may have very little to say about this in public, but, when no one’s around, their MLAs are helping constituents find and sign Mr. Clark’s petition. That means they’re endorsing this craziness, by omission and commission.

This is the same Wildrose Opposition that called the NDP communists in a by-election brochure last fall – although only the version that was printed in Chinese.

And this is the same party that includes an MLA who warned a public meeting that the NDP may have plans to persecute members of religious farming communities. Sad to say, I’m not making that up either.

So if the Wildrose Party is a mainstream conservative party in Alberta, it’s hard to say Mr. Clark and his allies aren’t part of the mainstream too.

On this, I probably owe an apology to Preston Manning, criticized strongly in this space for his role in the effort to merge the Wildrose Party into the Conservative caucus back in December of 2015.

The move was cynical, to be sure, but I’m prepared to admit now that the godfather of Canada’s conservative movement obviously knew far more about just how nutty his side was getting to be out here in Alberta than those of us across the aisle!

Who can blame him, then, for encouraging the Wildrose to subsume its worst instincts and merge into a caucus led by then-premier Jim Prentice, if only to keep the people now emerging as leaders of the right from doing any real harm?

So are there any sane conservatives left in Alberta? Yes, former Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith is among them. And in the diminished ranks of the PC Party’s legislative caucus there are people like Sandra Jansen. The Alberta Party’s only MLA, Greg Clark (no relation, I’m guessing), is pretty sensible too, and he’s basically an old-style Red Tory.

But if Mr. Jean’s proposed reverse takeover of the PCs takes place, not one of them will have their hands anywhere near the levers of power. That’s only a problem, of course, if the NDP can’t manage to remain the government through an election or a #kudatah attempt.

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  1. David, the reference to a commissioner for oaths is a tip-off that this movement is related to the loony Freemen on the Land group (see

    Commissioners for Oaths are perfectly respectable people (most legal assistants in Alberta are Commissioners) who can attest to affidavits and the like. They of course have no governmental power at all. This entirely crazy concept was discussed at length by Alberta’s Associate Chief Justice J.D. Rooke in Meads v Meads in 2012 (

    1. Yes, as one provincial judge urged defence lawyers to prepare for Freemen: read Meads…read Meads. Freemen are sometimes mentally ill, and sometimes con men taking advantage of mentally ill people frustrated by the legal process. Sadly, they can be intimidating and even dangerous sometimes.

  2. Thanks for explaining that kudatah thing. It honestly puzzled me. I wasn’t interested enough to google it, and was unwilling to do so also because of concerns about what kind of lunacy I might find, in this year of the Trump and the Bundy.

    Regarding Clark’s magic trick, could he be about to pull some “sovereign citizen” thing out of his nether regions?
    Ah, my Alberta. Makes E.C.Manning look like a centrist.

  3. Mr Clark & his band of bad spellers are going to be “back in control” of the government. I’m very grateful they never were, nor will they be, the governors of our province.

  4. Feel inadequate because you don’t have your own pitchfork? Tiired of being embarrassed at those rallies? Well then, come on down to ‘Pitchforks R Us’! We can outfit you with a high quality pitchfork, at a reasonable price, that will make you proud! Available in primary colours red, white *and* blue. So hurry on down today and buy your pitchfork while supplies last!

  5. They’re all very funny but it’s not going to be funny any more if they win the next election which I am beginning to worry is a real possibility given how badly the NDP is being sabotaged by their own bureaucrats (the high level ones are all Tory appointees with obvious ties to the party so I’m suspicious that the sudden failures like with Bill 6 can all be blamed on massive incompetence). There are plenty of young people who could be hired by this government to replace the ones in the system who have demonstrated their incompetence when it comes to everything from the handling of Bill 6 to the failure to publicize the saving of the Castle Wilderness to what’s going with Alberta health.

    The threats about a coup d’état – regardless of spelling – need to be taken seriously just as a ring-wing government would take that if it was left-wingers calling for a coup d’état. The threats of violence against Notley and her fellow MLAs needs to be taken seriously and investigated. Those making the threats need to be treated as the law about making threats requires. It is absolutely not ok to just laugh these off as fringe loonies.

    1. Very good points, Gail. Believe me, I am not just laughing them off. I particularly agree with you local police, the RCMP and Legislature security all need to be on alert when the Legislature opens, and that doesn’t just mean the Legislative Building’s front porch, but all the streets and buildings around it. Guns and right-wing politics are linked in Alberta just as they are sound the U.S. border. The humour serves a pedagogical purpose, and the lesson is that a sane electorate doesn’t want to elect a crazy government. DJC

    2. Could not agree more Gail,

      The NDP’s first job was to establish the legitimacy of the state apparatus in Alberta after 80 years as a unitary, authoritian regime. They missed that opportunity by failing to purge the civil service, the appointed Boards and Commissions, and all the industry-captured Regulatory agencies.

      Aside from oil prices, there are several real concerns the nut bar right have grabbed. The most important in the farm context are property rights and the abusive regulatory processes put in place to facilitate the energy industry.

      However the NDP have yet to show any intention of repealing the land and energy legislation put in by the Redford, Hancock, Stelmach and Kline administrations.

      I keep telling myself a week is a lifetime in politics, but after my whole adult life under a single party state, I’m a little impatient.

    3. This is nonsense. The NDP government appear to be without vision. Without a plan. Without leadership. Without a real direction. And if they have these things, they’re clearly not sharing. They don’t know what they’re doing and at this point, they ought to know. I mean, there’s a learning curve, but they ought to be up to speed by now. You can’t blame the bureaucrats. The NDP hired issue managers who trump the bureaucrats. They’re in control.

      1. So, Tobias is that a yes for a Kudatah? Don’t forget to bring your tin foil hat and bring snacks.

  6. It’s becoming more and more apparent, now that the patina of respectability and righteousness conferred by a couple of generations of control is gone, that the right wing, or conservatives, or free-marketeers, whatever they are called are just plain stupid.
    It has been a great wonder to me why the kookiness, the incompetence, the nepotism, the fibs and lies and the corruption within the Albertan gov’t was perceived as some great Alberta advantage.
    Still, today, all over the local media there are people spouting off crazy nonsense that no one seems to want to call out. In most places in the world (not America, obviously) the kind of foolish crazy nonsense that would get you locked up or hospitalised. But here, hey it’s just folks expressing their POV.

  7. In some of my other weekend reading David, I came across a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King that I think might be an appropriate way forward.
    As Thich Nhat Hanh, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Dr. King, has often said “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.”
    It’s called “Loving your Enemies” from a sermon in 1957 but it’s quite appropriate today, I hope. It’s a speech Dr. King wanted to give every year.

  8. Modern conservatism is based on magical thinking – Perfect haired Stephen Harper astride a blue unicorn, carrying a flaming sword of truth! Look!
    Facts matter not when desire rules the temple.
    Reams of data and statistical information collated clearly and presented honestly will always be actively discounted and disparaged should they not fit the predetermined premises of the modern Right.

    That said, I must disagree with the idea that Preston Manning was ‘encouraging the Wildrose to subsume its worst instincts and merge into a caucus led by then-premier Jim Prentice’.
    In my opinion, it was far more like a cynical consolidation of power – drawing together both the rabid social conservatives (fearful of what their self-ignorant shadows might portend to their angry cloud master, but ultimately caring more for the destination of their own impoverished souls)…and other antisocial Right wingers who might not necessarily agree with their snake-handling cousins’ biblical jeremiads, but who are at core selfish enough to want that others may go without while their own comfort levels increase – and thus are prepared to tolerate the sorts of morally-based social incursions into the affairs of smaller ‘others’ that a true conservative (small c) or liberal (small l) would find repellent.
    This blended demographic of self-satisfaction and prim disapproval, combined with the sort of ennui felt when many others think of elections and politics (coincidentally often leading to low poll turnout) would have ensured further PC hegemony…and exponentially more behind-the-curtain shenanigans and hanky-panky, with much cake for the haves and less crumbs for the have-nots.

    The sane are nowhere next to power in Alberta’s conservatives anymore, only their ghosts.

  9. The NDP government prorogued the Legislature and not a peep was heard anywhere. I guess it’s not a threat to democracy unless a Conservative government does so.

    1. Chris: That’s probably because the NDP didn’t prorogue the Legislature, they adjourned it. The 29th Legislature will resume on March 8. What happens then will be known as the Second Session. The First Session ran from June 13 to Dec. 10. I’ve never heard of anyone – on either side of the House or in any part of the media – arguing that an adjournment of a Legislative session is undemocratic. That argument was made about prorogation of the House of Commons under Stephen Harper because it ended all business, and therefore prevented a vote of confidence that would have brought down the government. Of course, even if that argument could have been made in the case of an adjournment, it would be trumped by the fact the NDP has a majority, so it would be extremely unlikely for a vote of non-confidence to succeed.

  10. David, I’m beginning to wonder about Rabble. Your post is not on the front page, as your posts typically have been, nor is it in my RSS feed. Only my search for “kudatah” found it. Apparently they’ve buried it.

    1. Funny, I thought I’d seen it on the front. I’m insufficiently computer literate to worry about RSS feeds.

  11. There are at least two conservative parties in Alberta and I would argue they could be broadly categorized as the kooky and the not so kooky.

    In the PC attempted takeover of the Wildrose, they tried to get the less kooky to come over to their party and leave the more kooky ones with a shambles of a party. However, the kooks are usually surprisingly resilient and hard to get rid of.

    I don’t know the attitudes of the people currently running the PC’s, but I would guess there is not a lot of enthusiasm for them to merge with the kooks. I suspect their silence is a good political strategy – when one of your opponents is doing or saying really stupid things sometimes the best thing is to say or do nothing to take away attention from that.

  12. Another excellent article, thanks again.

    By the way, I’m finding your articles via links in that august establishment Quatloos, which although not a poster to I’m an avid reader or lurker of, in :

    Board index TAX FRAUD, TAX PROTESTERS, & SOVEREIGN CITIZEN SCAMS Sovereign Citizen and Redemption Scams Canada
    thread Eugene Yankson – Bernie’s Freeman Brother Sues Calgary!
    Post by Burnaby49 Thu Jan 21, 2016 7:13 am

    Thanks to you I now know what kudatah means. While reading in passing I assumed that it was likely another of those Canada indigenous peoples’ original language words, or perhaps a Moorish Nation invention or such like. I would never have guessed that it’s a corruption of coup d’etat. Hilarious. Fantastic. My cup of plenty is full.

    Like people who tattoo themselves with makaveli and such like vernacular spellings, evidently often not knowing that it comes from Machiavelli. Which, I confess, I had to look up to check the spelling myself just now, having realised that what I first wrote, from memory, looked wrong.
    Sovrun lunacy, the magic bean tree that just keeps on giving delight and joy. Kudatah, indeed. My almost tourette’s is kicking in and I can tell that I’ll likely be saying this to everyone from now on, till I find the next jolly word or phrase to take its place.

    Has anyone done a t shirt and baseball cap with kudatah in florid gothic script emblazoned on it yet. And some appropriate logo, how about a skull and crossbones or perhaps a picture of guns. Um, more work needed on that one. Shall I register so that, come the revolution, I can help the comrades burn down the evil failed civilisation and impose a new order of shiny purity. I fancy a necklace with the word in chunky gold letters which I can wear with pride on the street, to the corner shop, to get a beer, and back. Harumph. Nurse, I’m getting over excited, can I have some more of my pills now, please. Etc.

    Oh, one more thing, a bit off topic but sort of semi relevant here (if you don’t mind me adding to your comments in this manner, apologies if not), another great find from Quatloos, which I’ve been entertaining my friends with for a couple of weeks now, a song for all of our Sovrun bruvs and sisters to consider re their imminent fate if they push their madness to the max, on Quatloos referenced to Mr Dean Clifford, one of Canada’s finest sovrun gurus, who’s just got 22 months in the big house :

    Hi Dad – I’m in Jail by Was Not Was

    source Re: Dean Clifford: Sentencing & Beyond
    Page 33Post by bmxninja357 Sun Jan 10, 2016 6:49 am

    I’m going for a walk now (here in London, England), to enjoy the free air and free local park and free views of trees and the river and freedom. However, that doesn’t make me a freeman, I know that I’m a mere slave to the system, being ground underfoot by evil TPTB (the powers that be)…

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