George Clark’s parking lot putschists deliver an unintended compliment to Alberta’s NDP Government

Posted on February 21, 2016, 1:49 am
9 mins

PHOTOS: Alberta First Plebiscite Warriors leader George Clark, in a screen shot from a video interview shot not long before someone stepped on the hose from his media oxygen supply. Below: Donald Trump and Calgary’s own Ted Cruz, a couple of U.S. politicians who know how to do the Tea Party thing right.

Don’t you think there’s sort of an unintended compliment to Alberta’s New Democratic Party in George Clark’s announcement Friday he’s asking his supporters to help him hijack the party by signing up 400,000 new members?

Mr. Clark was the public face of a Tea-Party-like phenomenon called Alberta First Plebiscite Warriors that promised to overthrow Premier Rachel Notley’s majority government in a peaceful coup d’état. This came to be mockingly known as the #kudatah after a misspelled Tweet by one of his supporters.

TrumpMr. Clark’s bizarre claim he could pull off a peaceful political putsch in 15 minutes on the day the Legislature opened if his petitions were not accepted by the government became a tool to fan the rural grassroots reaction against Bill 6, the government’s controversial farm-safety legislation. He proclaimed that if the government refused to accept his notarized petitions, the lieutenant-governor would have no choice but to send it packing.

Until it sank in that Mr. Clark’s theories were a major embarrassment, many legitimate conservative politicians in Alberta who must have known better used this group to furiously attack the NDP. It would be interesting to see an accounting of who actually donated money to his effort – he claims to have raised about $20,000 through crowd funding.

The fact Mr. Clark’s legal theories were taken seriously by a large number of Albertans and covered enthusiastically by mainstream media must have led many in other parts of the country to conclude we had all taken leave of our senses. Many in the legal profession saw the spoor of the theories of “Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument litigants” influenced by groups that have bedevilled our courts in recent years. If nothing else, his success was a profound condemnation of the civics curriculum in Alberta schools through 80 years of Social Credit and PC rule!

Mr. Clark’s change of course suggests that, as angry as some Albertans may be at the New Democrats, even the government’s harshest opponents are coming to see the NDP at least for now as truly the governing party of Alberta, not just as electoral fluke as some right-wing politicians keep insisting.

CruzThe similarity between this element’s perception of this government and the last one, by the way, is why the right-wing fruitcake fringe prefers the Wildrose Party to the Progressive Conservatives.

To Mr. Clark and his remaining supporters, I expect, there’s not a lot of light between the NDP led by Ms. Notley and the Progressive Conservatives she defeated on May 5. The PCs, after all, had already indicated a dangerous inclination (from his perspective) to flirt with progressive rhetoric and drift toward the centre.

The rural right’s conspiracy fantasies about Conservative Ed Stelmach’s Land Assembly Project Area Act sound very much like the same people’s paranoia about the Notley Government’s Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act.

Ditto the oil industry’s fury at the suggestion by both Mr. Stelmach’s and Ms. Notley’s governments that perhaps Albertans weren’t getting their fair share from the province’s resources – and its success quickly cowing both governments into dropping attempts to do something about it for the benefit of Albertans.

Tell me I’m wrong, but this suggests members of the rural Plebiscite Warriors fringe will react the same way to any attempt to moderate or control the farm lobby or the oil industry, even if it’s not in their own interests, regardless of which government attempts it.

Naturally, any government charged with actually running this place has little choice but to approach the nitty-gritty of governance by relying on the established constitutional rules of Western democratic jurisprudence.

In other words, at least here in Alberta we ought to be cautious about looking down our noses at the likes of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz (who, after all, was born in Calgary) and their clamorous supporters. You know … people who live in glass houses and all that.

Even if Mr. Clark had 400,000 supporters – and at this point, deprived of the support of the embarrassed mainstream right and the attention of media, it seems more likely he has about a dozen – his latest scheme won’t work.

Just for starters, he seems not to understand the difference in our system of government between the party and its elected legislative caucus. This is not a surprise, really, as he also appears not to have figured out you can’t just waltz up to Buck House in London with a sheaf of petitions in your hand and ring the doorbell for Her Majesty.

He was also unaware, apparently, that under the NDP’s constitution, the party secretary has the right to skid members who don’t adhere to party principles – “assuming anyone actually follows up on Clark’s call to action,” as journalist Paula Simons put it in a thoughtful column on this topic. Last night he appeared to be trying to come up with a revised plan.

That said, Mr. Clark’s idea, while unlikely to succeed, is not so different from the strategy used by some groups frequently at loggerheads with PC policy over the years. That is, they ensured they had PC Party activists among their membership who could take part in internal party policy debates.

The Alberta Teachers Association contributed not just party members, but MLAs and cabinet ministers to the PC Government in days of yore. For that, they have been unfairly mocked as the Alberta Tory Association in this space. Other union members have done much the same thing, also with the support of their unions.

You can argue about whether that’s a good idea, but in a place that for 80 years was effectively a one-party state, you can certainly understand the motivation. It made sense to many people who in other provinces would have been Liberals or New Democrats.

Maybe the same instinct is asserting itself on the right.

Or perhaps Mr. Clark just realized that if he handed his petitions directly over to the NDP Government, acting party Provincial Secretary Chris O’Halloran would know who the Wildrose Fifth Columnists were before they donated their dollar and tried to make a nuisance of themselves.

Whatever. With Mr. Clark deprived of the oxygen of publicity and the advice and donations of his enablers, I doubt we’ll be hearing much more about this nonsense.

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5 Comments to: George Clark’s parking lot putschists deliver an unintended compliment to Alberta’s NDP Government

  1. Sam Gunsch

    February 21st, 2016

    re: ‘why the right-wing fruitcake fringe prefers the Wildrose Party to the Progressive Conservatives.’

    In their comments, George Clark, the WRP base & leaders, & most of MSM media editorials seem to share a Manichean logic similar to this stuff:

    Vic Toews…’you’re with us, or the child pornographers’

    George W. Bush

    ‘ either with us or you’re with the (abndp) terrorists’

    • Sam Gunsch

      February 21st, 2016

      re black and white politics in AB these days from the right…

      Comment below from another AB political blog last night:

      Apparently the NDP are the Alberta ‘haters’. yeesh


      February 21, 2016 at 2:22 am

      “The NDP have destroyed the province with their socialist policies. They hate oil and gas, they hate our schools, and they hate our farmers. They have made it even harder for companies and businesses to invest in our province, and have been very passive in pipeline projects. We need to vote for the Wildrose for a strong economy, for jobs, lower taxes, and accountability in government.”

  2. Suzanne

    February 21st, 2016

    His followers are seriously unstable. Im not sure how stable he is. Every ltitle thing that happens, the paranoia trots itself out and becomes “the NDP have sent the boogeymen after us.” His most….ardent female follower, who appeared next to him at his most recent press conference, had computer issues and suggested, most seriously, on her facebook page, that it must be NDP supporters breaking into her computer. If you try and have a balanced conversation with them online, and interject rationality and actual understanding of how the legislative process works, because it’s clear they haven’t a clue, you are branded a spy and threats and disgusting messages are sent to your inbox.

    For a group who says they’re acting from/coming from a place of love, their words and actions prove otherwise. The filth and disgusting names and threats they spew in Premier Notley’s direction, in the NDP’s direction, and the direction of anyone with a clue who is trying to save them some embarrassment is beyond the pale. It’s confirmation of low intellect and the fact they’re in this for their 15 minutes and that they would best serve the needs of the far religious right and anti-government nutters in the US, than it is that they will ever truly make a difference in Alberta.

    Frankly, any and all of Clark’s upper echelon should be watched closely by authorities, especially when it becomes painfully clear that this has all been in vain because they haven’t a clue how it all works, because I think a mental fracture is going to occur and their instability will increase and they may actually become dangerous.

  3. TENET

    February 21st, 2016

    Hypoxia, conspiracy theory, separatism, gun toting and coveting, and Sasquatch! The religious right, Tea Party wannabes, Trump fans.
    Snake oil salesman thrive in our outback. If you dare wander too far from the urban refuge beware of “Dueling Banjos” (Clark and Jean).


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