Abandon hope, all UCP who enter here? Ted Byfield may have opened the gates to Lake of Fire 2.0

Posted on November 10, 2017, 1:29 am
7 mins

PHOTOS: Social conservative publisher and ideologue Ted Byfield (Photo: Screenshot of Youtube Video). Below: United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney, NDP Education Minister David Eggen, and Calgary-West UCP MLA Mike Ellis (Photo: Screenshot of CBC broadcast).

It’s fair to suggest Ted Byfield always dreamed of being able to direct Alberta’s political agenda.

Now, perhaps, he’s actually doing so!

Mr. Byfield, who is 88, was founder of Alberta Report magazine and its various journalistic permutations. As such, he was the ideological inspiration of his many acolytes and former employees, who despite Mr. Byfield’s own commercial difficulties continue to proselytize his far-right social conservative ideology to this very day in both mainstream media and the online organs of the loony right.

The proprietor of Rebel Media, for example, was once one of Mr. Byfield’s employees, as are numerous senior editors and influential columnists in the failing Postmedia empire and other still-influential mainstream Canadian media operations. I’m not going to try to name them all. Their name is Legion, for they are many.

As has been said here before, Mr. Byfield is a talented rhetorician, a devoted propagandist for extreme social conservative causes and a proponent of a highly politicized interpretation of the Christian message, which is not the one that’s found in the Gospels. He is a skilled and entertaining writer, although a highly tendentious one.

His like-minded son Link, who died in 2015, ran in Alberta’s meaningless “senator-in-waiting” election in 2004 and, unsuccessfully, for the Wildrose Alliance party in 2008.

Among the many bees in Mr. Byfield’s bonnet over the years have been women’s reproductive rights, new-fangled ideas about how to teach arithmetic, and the rights of our fellow LGBTQ citizens. He is against them all.

Accordingly, he was quick to adopt as his champion the social conservative politician Jason Kenney – who is now leader of the United Conservative Party of Alberta. Mr. Kenney is just the man to save Alberta from, as Mr. Byfield sees it, the dangers of socialism, social license and “sex clubs.” We’ll get to the “sex clubs” in a moment.

Tempers are flaring in the Legislature as the NDP Government and UCP Opposition square off over Education Minister David Eggen’s Bill 24, An Act to Protect Gay-Straight Alliances. Both parties clearly see this dispute as a wedge that can be used to their advantage in the general election expected in 2019.

Another of Mr. Byfield’s magazine’s alumni, a Postmedia political columnist well-known in Alberta, argues the UCP strategy of identifying itself with social conservatives whose views border on outright bigotry is a devilishly clever way to trap the NDP – smoking it out as intolerant in its excessive tolerance, I guess, or so aggressive in its inclusiveness it makes bigots feel like lonely outsiders.

In the midst of this brouhaha, Mr. Byfield mounted his metaphorical charger and rode to the rescue of Alberta’s perpetually beleaguered Moral Minority.

The last and best known of his commercial periodicals, Alberta Report, having folded in 2003, Mr. Byfield recently fashioned a second coming for himself writing an online blog, not unlike a number of other frustrated former journalists. Yesterday, he published on it a post outlining, as he sees it, “the real danger of its sex clubs which the government doesn’t discuss.”

It’s a classic Byfield jeremiad – tendentious, apocalyptic, only casually related to the facts and, like a bad car wreck, impossible not to stare at in horror as you pass. It offers dubious interpretations of U.S. health statistics to blame LGBTQ people for the depredations the American private health care system and socially accepted anti-gay bigotry have inflicted on them.

Near the climax of the piece, Mr. Byfield asks, rhetorically, of course: “If my son or daughter, having reached, say, the age of ten or eleven, is lured into a school sex club, is persuaded that he or she must be homosexual, acts accordingly, acquires HIV and then AIDS and remains crippled for life, whom do I sue? The government, or the minister that helped bring this tragedy upon us?”

When this cringeworthy nonsense was published yesterday, it hit the Alberta political scene like a pie in the face.

“Byfield’s blog post makes a powerful argument for why Bill 24 is necessary to protect LGBTQ students,” wrote an appalled Graham Thomson, one of Postmedia’s few sensible political columnists, as soon as he could post it to the Internet.

Later in the day, perhaps inspired by Mr. Byfield’s literary excesses, Calgary-West UCP MLA Mike Ellis, hair apparently afire, suggested in debate in the Legislature that the NDP is using the bill as an excuse to sneak secret gay propaganda into the school curriculum. Postmedia’s headline writer called it “covert sex ed,” a pretty bizarre charge, seeing as GSAs by legal definition are student clubs in which LGBTQ kids and their allies can find a respectful, safe, inclusive, bullying-free place on school property outside instructional hours.

Alert readers will recall Alberta’s infamous Lake of Fire Moment, publication of a blog post by a candidate for the Wildrose Party, the precursor of the UCP, that warned gay Albertans they risk eternity in a lake of fire if they don’t repent their ways.

The blog was discovered in the midst of the 2012 election campaign and arguably saved the day for Progressive Conservative premier Alison Redford, whose party, which had been trailing the Wildrose Party in some polls, won a comfortable majority a few days later.

Mr. Byfield’s column sounds a lot like Lake of Fire 2.0.

If it is, he will finally have influenced the political fate of Alberta as he so long has dreamed of doing – just not in the direction he wanted it to go.

14 Comments to: Abandon hope, all UCP who enter here? Ted Byfield may have opened the gates to Lake of Fire 2.0

  1. Better Before

    November 10th, 2017

    Ted Byfield is exactly the sort of person Jason Kenney wants the UCP to represent. Jason’s idea of a “united” party was really just the elimination of the centre-right PC party, to allow the worst elements of the Wildrose to surface unopposed. He believes moderate right wing Albertans will hold their nose and back his pack of social conservative crazies, rather than vote NDP again. He is wrong.

  2. Simon Renouf

    November 10th, 2017

    Wow, Ted’s blog is really, really extreme. His homophobic antics on full display:

    e.g.”The “safety” of the child is uppermost in the government’s mind, says the minister. He means safety, not just from the perceived dangers of the parent, but also from the common ridicule of the mob. Jeers like “fag, fairy, fruit, pansy” have their equivalents in every language of humanity. (Consider his comment: “My mother, by the way, never referred to homosexuals as ‘pansies,’ not because she didn’t like the word, but because she could never remember the flower. She kept calling them ‘geraniums,’ which confused people and left all but the immediate family wondering what on earth she was talking about. I recall her once telling a circle of people, ‘He walks like a geranium, you know.'”)

    But also look beyond Ted’s posts to the comments which seem to come from Social Credit dead-enders (now no doubt UCP supporters) who like to refer to the “faulty, parasitical and dysfunctional Banking System.” (You might not like banks either, but I think you know full well what – or who – that coded expression was getting at.)

  3. brett

    November 10th, 2017

    Ted Byfield? Preston Manning?

    Surely we have moved past this in contemporary Alberta.

    Alberta voters are no longer a bunch of hillbillies who willingly swallow the Kool-Aid. Well, at least most of us are not.

    If they want to ‘play’ they should come out from behind the curtain.

    • Death and Gravity

      November 11th, 2017

      I hope you are correct, but I doubt it. Alberta voters have favoured right wing or far-right wing parties by majorities of at least 50% to more than 70% in every election going back to 1955 (when I got bored with the checking). With a unified party of reaction like Kenney and Manning’s Zombie Reform Party, it will be extremely difficult for the NDP to retain a majority in the leg. I wouldn’t say it’s impossible, but I just don’t see how it can happen; not with the inbuilt near-majority of blue voters, and the entire media landscape in the hands of the enemy. A Liberal Party or an Alberta party would have to drain something like 40% of the former PC parties 2015 electorate. Maybe a concerted effort in the agricultural ridings from Red Deer north could bring this about; the NDP strategy, it seems to me, is to help the minor centre parties capture a whack of PC votes, but few NDP votes. Rooting for injuries, in other words…I wish I could imagine PC voters from those ridings jumping to the NDP, but I think that may be a bridge too far.

      Does anyone see a realistic path to electoral victory for the NDP? Because I don’t think we can on Kenney being revolting *enough*.

  4. Scotty on Denman

    November 10th, 2017

    The tighter the corner, the shorter the plank, the more unshakable the thirst, the higher the flights of rhetoric.

    It’s appalling to see them want to be seen reading from the same script — like a hymnary!

  5. David

    November 10th, 2017

    Mr. Byfield is the grandfather or perhaps the godfather of social conservatism in Alberta. He was a regular fixture in the media in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, when they were looking for someone to represent the west’s view (even though his 1950’s view of the world did not even really represent well Alberta even then, but it played to certain stereotypes) and he led an anti gay rights crusade for decades. Therefore, I suppose it is not too surprising he would have something to say about GSA’s, although given his children probably finished school in the 1970’s or 1980’s they probably have little personal relevance to him and I doubt he has any real first hand experience with them.

    Even though his influence has waned greatly since the demise of his Alberta Report magazine, I suppose there is still a certain number of some strongly religious conservatives he speaks for and he certainly still has some important disciples both in the media (who worked in the past for Alberta report) and politically, such as Jason Kenney. When the PC’s ran in the 2012 election saying that they were not their fathers (or perhaps grandfathers) party, it was definitely a rejection of the social conservative views of Mr. Byfield and his disciples.

    Mr. Byfield while passionate was never a stranger to extreme exaggeration to make his point. I was never sure if he truly believed some of the stranger things he said or they were just a cynical way to try persuade others who might not know better. Given that, I suppose that he now sees “sex club’s” everywhere should not be a surprise. I am not sure whether he should be condemned, pitied or mocked. The danger, as we have seen elsewhere in the world, is some people will actually believe such crazy exaggerations.

    Alberta has come a long way in the last 10 or 20 years. It is not the province that Kenney left in the 1990’s to go to Ottawa at the start of his long career in Federal politics. It never really was quite as socially conservative as some stereo-typically made it out to be, as the PC’s eventually figured out. I hope the latest eruptions are more like the last gasp of a movement well past their best before date, rather than the beginnings of movement to make us “great” again by turning back the clock 30 or 50 years.

  6. Brian Janot

    November 10th, 2017

    If you wander into rural Alberta, you might as well be in Mississippi or Alabama. I think you’re quite naive.

    • RJ

      November 11th, 2017

      Yup . . . that’s how “King Ralph” got to destroy 40 odd years of Alberta’s future – he just cruised through rural Southern Alberta to sow his seeds of Corporatism – and disguised it as “It’ll be good for you, really . . .”

    • Farmer B

      November 13th, 2017

      So y’all thinks we a bunch of hillbillies out here in the country do ya?! Well I have to say that is quite amusing. Have you visited a modern farm? There is certainly a huge difference between how I view the world and how you do certainly influenced by where I was raised but that doesn’t mean I am backwards. We use GPS guidance in our machinery to maximize efficiency. Drones for monitoring crop progress and weed densities. Soil testing to optimize crop nutrition and yields. Marketing plans to cope with fluctuating markets. Just because I am not a fan of big government doesn’t make me a hillbilly lol.

      When I was young I enjoyed reading the Alberta report magazine. Having said that it appears Ted is getting out of touch in his later years. I think peer support groups can be a very useful tool to help kids cope with the sometimes less than inclusive world of junior and senior high school. I think GSA’s certainly are a good thing and I certainly am disappointed in how politicized this issue has become.

      • Colino

        November 14th, 2017

        Mr. Farmer B:
        Modern faemers are definitely not Hillbillies. It is true that the machinery and technology of the modern day farms is truly marvelous. However this modernization has led to the demise of the family farm. Over the last 20 or 30 years there has been a steady decline in the number of family farms. Large corporate farms now encompass huge acreages replacing the many small farmers. This has created a situation where fewer urban dwellers have ties with the land. Thirty years ago almost everyone had family farming or were close friends with farmers. But now most people have no connection with food production, as a result the voting power, that shaped our politics, has moved to the large cities as was demonstrated by the last election.

  7. Anne JW

    November 10th, 2017

    “Their name is Legion, for they are many.”

    Nicely done!

    • David Climenhaga

      November 10th, 2017

      Thank you, Anne. I thought no one would notice … except Mr. Byfield, perhaps, who knows his Bible too. DJC

  8. brett

    November 11th, 2017

    Is Alberta that much like Alabama?

    Perhaps Kenney’s UCP hope so but I suspect most clear thinking, moderate voters do not.

    Let’s hope they can see through the artificial fog.

    These folks are purveyors of Fear, Uncertainly, and Doubt.

  9. Colino

    November 16th, 2017

    I’ve read some of the teachings of Jesus Christ and I’m confused. As an atheist looking at Ted Byfield, I have to ask, what would Jesus have in common with religious right wing conservative ideology?


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