Alberta Politics
The original Al Rashid Mosque, which opened in 1938, is now located in Fort Edmonton Park (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

UCP leader’s tweet fumbles response to Islamophobic group’s harassment of worshipers at Edmonton mosque

Posted on January 27, 2019, 2:35 am
9 mins

Perhaps United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney needs to engage someone new to compose his tweets for him.

Mr. Kenney is a bright guy, so I’m assuming for reasons that will soon become apparent he doesn’t come up with his own contributions to Twitter, the antisocial medium.

Soldiers of Odin with a UCP nomination candidate at a party beer and wings night last year; you guess which one is the candidate (Photo: Grabbed from Facebook).

Last fall, when several members of an Islamophobic far-right splinter group calling themselves the Soldiers of Odin showed up at a UCP beer and chicken wings event, the fallout embarrassed the right-wing political party and its leader significantly.

To give the UCP its due, its leadership swiftly made it clear these particular volunteers were no longer welcome at their events, even if it was too late to stop screenshots of the photos of the Soldiers of Odin and their UCP hosts circulating on social media.

One of the three UCP nomination candidates who had accepted the Soldiers’ RSVP didn’t distance himself far enough, fast enough and was soon kicked out of the nomination contest and cast into utter political darkness.

Critics of the UCP and the federal Conservatives who pointed to constant dogwhistling by conservative leaders about the need for cultural practices fink lines and the supposed immigration crisis on Canada’s southern border were huffily dismissed by Mr. Kenney’s supporters.

So when a group of men affiliated with the same radical group – now lightly rebranded as the Wolves of Odin – showed up Friday at a Sabbath prayer service at Edmonton’s Al Rashid Mosque wearing hats with “infidel” stitched on them in Arabic, somebody associated with Mr. Kenney’s Twitter account posted a series of well-meaning tweets intended to make it clear the UCP has no sympathy for this group or its activities.

Little known fact: The Al-Rashid Mosque is Canada’s oldest, operating peacefully since 1938,” said one. (Emphasis, of course, added.)

The wording, needless to say, was all wrong. It didn’t take long for Mr. Kenney’s critics to point out that he never would have said the same thing about a Catholic church, say, if the embarrassing Canadian cousins of a Finnish neo-Nazi group had shown up there to insult to the Pope.

Mr. Kenney’s Twittermeister could have saved his boss a lot of trouble by simply deleting the words “operating peacefully since 1938.” They unintentionally imply an embarrassing and false assumption on the part of the UCP leader, and suggest dogwhistling to please the UCP’s lunatic fringe has become a habit that’s hard to break.

If Mr. Kenney made this mistake himself – and anyone of us can convey unintended implications when we post statements on social media in a hurry – then he would be wise to hire someone with a little less skin in the game to do his tweeting for him.

If nothing else, if he does, there’s someone to blame in the event something really embarrassing happens – say, like the guy who prepared Mr. Kenney’s Elections Canada filings for him.

As for the men who visited the mosque with the obvious intention of intimidating worshippers, there are presumably more appropriate words than “infidel” they could stitch onto their hats.

Whatever their motive, it’s obviously time for the Edmonton Police Service to stop “monitoring the situation” and start taking names and laying charges. This kind of behaviour cannot be tolerated.

Who wants to sabotage investigation into UCP leadership race financing?

Who is trying to keep witnesses from telling investigators for the Office of the Alberta Election Commissioner about “irregular financial contributions” to the Kamikaze candidate alleged to have been given the job of knocking off former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean in last year’s UCP leadership race?

Election Commissioner Lorne Gibson (Photo: Office of the Election Commissioner).

The Alberta editions of Star Metro reported yesterday the news organization has a copy of a letter from Election Commissioner Lorne Gibson sent to several participants in the investigation saying someone is attempting “to dissuade co-operation with investigators and hinder the proper disposition of matters in order to avoid these proceedings.”

“If you have been contacted by any person who has, or has attempted to, influence your participation in this investigation it is very important that you bring this information to the attention of my Office immediately,” Mr. Gibson’s letter said.

A UCP spokesperson said the party is not aware of anyone doing anything like that.

CTF to challenge constitutionality of election advertising fine

Facing a $6,000 administrative penalty for violating Alberta’s election financing law, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says it will challenge the constitutionality of the legislation in court.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation President and CEO Scott Hennig in 2013 when he was the organization’s Alberta Director (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

In a rather overwrought op-ed published Thursday in the Edmonton Journal, CTF President and CEO Scott Hennig termed the NDP’s legislation a “gag law” and compared it to policies of the Chinese government.

Mr. Hennig confirmed that a billboard attacking the NDP government’s strategy for persuading Canadians of the benefits of pipelines was the reason for the fine. He said the organization placed it intentionally within sight of the office of the Elections Commissioner. “We understood putting up our billboard could result in a fine.”

“Our lawyers’ bills will dwarf the fine,” he claimed. But perhaps the CTF, which apparently needs to solicit for donations constantly in order to stay in business, can get a friends-and-family rate from one of those right-wing legal advocacy organizations to which it has ties. John Carpay, for example, whose Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has challenged Alberta’s school gay-straight alliance legislation, is a former CTF Alberta director.

NDP MLA Trevor Horne won’t seek re-election

Spruce Grove-St. Albert MLA Trevor Horne on May 5, 2015 (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Spruce a Grove-St. Albert MLA Trevor Horne has now confirmed the widely held assumption he will not seek re-election in the Alberta provincial election expected this spring.

Mr. Horne’s Spruce Grove-St. Albert riding disappeared in the 2017 redistribution of Alberta electoral districts, and he decided to challenge St. Albert-Edmonton MLA Marie Renaud for the NDP nomination in the new St. Albert riding.

Having lost that contest in December, Mr. Horne told St. Albert’s community newspaper last week he has decided to complete the MacEwan University degree he was working on when he surfed the Orange Wave to office in 2015.

9 Comments to: UCP leader’s tweet fumbles response to Islamophobic group’s harassment of worshipers at Edmonton mosque

  1. Bob Raynard

    January 27th, 2019

    “… it’s obviously time for the Edmonton Police Service to stop “monitoring the situation” and start taking names and laying charges. This kind of behaviour cannot be tolerated.”

    While I definitely share your outrage, I imagine the police aren’t interested in laying charges unless there is a reasonable likelihood of getting a conviction, and it is quite possible the Crown Prosecutors feel the creeps did not cross the line into criminal behaviour. (We were there because we wanted to join the faith – we didn’t know what the writing on our toques said)

    If so, the good people at Al Rashid might want to consider the restraining order route, barring the knuckle draggers from coming back. This would make police proceedings much easier if there was a violation of a court order.

    Unfortunately this could very easily set up a game of whack a mole, where the Odins keep sending someone new, and leave the Mosque with a lot of lawyer bills as they pursue yet another restraining order.

    This sounds like a job for John Carpay and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms! This situation fits their mission statement to a T:

    “The freedom of each and every individual or community, in public or private, to peacefully express their distinct religious beliefs through worship, observance, practice and teaching without censorship or limitation.”

    https://www.jccf.ca/our-vision/

    I would love to see the jccf reaction to a request from Al Rashid for help. Would they help? Would they defend the Odinites’ ‘freedom’ to intimidate people in their own place of worship as freedom of expression?

    Reply
  2. Rocky

    January 27th, 2019

    There are grounds, and plenty of evidence, for a charge. There’s the culprits’ own video, for heaven’s sake.

    Reply
  3. David

    January 27th, 2019

    One thing Mr. Kenney is very good at is dog whistles. He spent many years in Ottawa fine tunng them and is an expert at it if he were to ever write a book he could call it The Art of the Dog Whistle.

    What seems to us to be a clumsily written post in fact is exactly at the right pitch for his intended audience. Sometimes you don’t want the dogs to bark and in a case like this an intemperate post by a UCP candidate or member could be embarrassing or politically damaging. Hence putting in the word peaceful as a signal to his supporters that this is not the time to go into an anti muslim rant. It also inadvertently says two things, first Kenney knows some of his candidates and supporters are inclined to intollerance and second he is concerned they may not be smart enough to know when to zip it. Using the word peaceful also implies many muslims are not, thus reinforcing their views and assuring them Kenney really still sees things they do. Its just that he doesn’t want anyone saying anythig embarassing right now or on this occassion.

    Part of the art of the effective dog whistle is training obedience. I suppose it is much more a top down vs graasroots approach.

    Reply
  4. Hank O'Hare

    January 28th, 2019

    Wolves of Onan? So now they’re a bunch of jerkoff furry fetishists…
    Wonder what they’ll be next week.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      January 28th, 2019

      Did I actually write it that way? If I did, it was an unintended typo. Just the same, I think I’d be inclined to leave it that way. DJC

      Reply
  5. Jerrymacgp

    January 28th, 2019

    Firstly: whether it be Brownshirts mobbing a Munich synagogue in 1930, or white-hooded Klansmen in front of a Black church in the Deep South in 1955, or the “Wolves of Odin” at en Edmonton mosque in 2019, racism is racism is racism, and hate is hate is hate. Neither have a place in Canadian society, and must be challenged forcefully by every (lawful) means available.

    Secondly, while it is indeed likely that Mr Kenney is not himself a racist, the party he leads has created an atmosphere in which racists feel welcome and attracted to their party. You don’t see these nutjobs at NDP, Alberta Party or Liberal Party events, do you? Of course not. That is not happenstance.

    Reply
  6. Graeme

    January 29th, 2019

    This is news-worthy? If this is all that the far-left has on Kenney, then the UCP should win about 80 seats in a couple months.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      January 29th, 2019

      This is a commentary blog. Although it has a fairly significant readership, it is written mainly for the amusement of the author. Come to think of it, perhaps that is why it has a significant readership, in that it doesn’t sound exactly like all the drivel produced by the mainstream media in the guise of news and commentary. Regardless, the commentaries here are almost invariably based on news coverage in mainstream media, which paid a lot of attention to this story. So if Graeme has a concern with the newsworthiness of the story, he should take it up with the Calgary Herald, the Edmonton Journal, Global News, the Toronto Star, the CBC, Vice, the Medicine Hat News, and others. As for Graeme’s election prediction, he could very well be right or could be completely wrong. Commentary at AlbertaPolitics.ca is likely to continue apace regardless. DJC

      Reply

Leave a Reply

  • (not be published)