Alberta Politics
Neal Bernard Hancock, better known as “Bernard the Roughneck,” is now the Freedom Conservative Party’s candidate in Grande Prairie (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

The Prodigal Roughneck returns – Bernard the Roughneck throws his hardhat into the ring for FCP in Grande Prairie

Posted on March 22, 2019, 1:16 am
8 mins

The good news for Alberta’s Freedom Conservative Party is that it’s recruited a national figure as one of its candidates.

The bad news for the FCP may be the national figure in question is Neal Bernard Hancock, better known as “Bernard the Roughneck.”

Mr. Hancock, in the role of “Bernard the Roughneck, as he appeared on Parliament Hill in 2016 (Photo: Screenshot of CBC broadcast).

A three-paragraph news story on Mr. Hancock’s nomination appeared on the Everything GP online news site yesterday, with a quote from FCP Leader and sole MLA Derek Fildebrandt saying he is excited by the nomination and expressing the hope “Bernard will be a strong voice for the people of Grande Prairie, and I look forward to serving with him in the Alberta Legislature.”

The thirty-something Mr. Hancock first appeared on the national scene in September 2016, when he showed up on Parliament Hill dressed in coveralls and a hardhat, complete with streaks of grime on his face as if he’d just wandered in from an oil-drilling rig in the middle of Wellington Street.

He was in the company of Mark Scholz, the media-savvy president of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, a man long associated with Alberta’s Wildrose Party and one of the brains behind the online Oil Respect campaign. Also there for the photo-op was Lakeland Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs, former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith’s chief of staff from 2010 to 2012.

The event went swimmingly for all participants. Media lapped it up when Mr. Hancock said, “I’m not a guy from Calgary in a suit; I’m not a guy who’s knowledgeable about public policy or the processes that go on in buildings like this; I’m a roughneck…”

Freedom Conservative Party Leader Derek Fildebrandt (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Within a few days, though, it was revealed Mr. Hancock was a talented amateur thespian who had majored in media, communications, history and political studies at Bishop’s University in Quebec.

By November, according to his own account, Mr. Hancock was Bernard the ex-roughneck, no longer working in that field. Since then, he seems not to have taken part in another CAODC stunt. For a spell it wasn’t clear where he resided.

Since then, Mr. Hancock has shown up here and there, posing for photos with friendly politicians, appearing near ones likely to be less friendly to him, but generally fading from public consciousness.

Well, no more. “Bernard the Roughneck” is back, an official candidate of an official political party.

Notwithstanding Mr. Hancock’s tendency to say exactly whatever he thinks a little more bluntly than the art of politics demands, Mr. Fildebrandt reassured me yesterday he has no worries about his party’s newest candidate staying on message during the election campaign.

“Our candidates are not trained seals,” Mr. Fildebrandt explained. “They are free to speak their minds and vote freely if elected. Candidates don’t have to be a brain-clone of the leader.”

Former PC MLA Richard Starke (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

That said, Mr. Fildebrandt himself had a bit of a reputation as a loose cannon back in the days when he was a member of the Wildrose and UCP Caucuses. Former Wildrose leader Brian Jean tried to fire him from that party, and Opposition Leader Jason Kenney succeeded where Mr. Jean had failed and sent the Strathmore-Brooks MLA packing from the UCP Caucus last year.

Mr. Hancock won the nomination by acclamation.

In response to questions about whether he was now living in Grande Prairie and where he’s working, Mr. Hancock told your blogger, among other things: “Piss off.”

So what happens if Mr. Fildebrandt loses on April 16 and the good voters of Grande Prairie elect Mr. Hancock? He becomes the acting leader of the FCP, right?

Mr. Fildebrandt also launched the FCP’s campaign yesterday, saying the fringe party will have about 30 candidates. He has pledged not to run candidates in seats the NDP has a chance of winning.

There will be an all-candidates’ meeting in the Grande Prairie on April 9. It should be fun.

Everybody does it, Kenney claims of Kamikaze mischief, appalling former PC candidates

You have to admit it was pretty bold of Opposition Leader Jason Kenney, under attack for having his United Conservative Party leadership campaign cooperate closely for months in 2017 with the “Kamikaze Campaign” of candidate Jeff Callaway, to accuse Stephen Khan, Byron Nelson and Richard Starke of doing the same thing in the Progressive Conservative leadership race Mr. Kenney also won earlier that year.

I don’t know Mr. Nelson, a Calgary lawyer, but I do know both Mr. Khan and Dr. Starke, and while I respectfully differ with their conservative views, they are two of the finest people I have met in politics and both are old-fashioned gentlemen of a sort that has apparently gone out of style in the politics of the right.

Former PC MLA Stephen Khan (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Anyone who knows them would have trouble believing Mr. Kenney’s claims, apparently made as an excuse for his own campaign excesses on the grounds everybody does it. Well, we all know what our mamas had to say about that!

Dr. Starke, former MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster who was the only remaining PC in the House until the election writ dropped, described the Opposition leader’s claim as “absolutely false” and “totally ridiculous.”

“I’m a private citizen, I’m done,” Dr. Starke, a veterinarian, told the Edmonton Journal. “But if something is said that involves me in a lie, I’m going to call it out.”

I’m sorry to have to point out to you, dear readers, that that’s a politely old-fashioned way to call Mr. Kenney a liar.

Mr. Khan, who was the MLA for St. Albert before the 2015 election and briefly a minister in Alison Redford’s cabinet, told the Journal, “three of us were each trying to win, unequivocally.”

He went on to describe the Kenney-Callaway Kamikaze Conspiracy revealed in a cache of leaked emails as something that “reaches far beyond diabolically dirty political tricks.”

9 Comments to: The Prodigal Roughneck returns – Bernard the Roughneck throws his hardhat into the ring for FCP in Grande Prairie

  1. David

    March 22nd, 2019

    I think Bernard the sometime roughneck, sometime not might actually fit in quite well with the FCP. In other places aspiring performers work as waiters, but hey this is Alberta and the oil rigs attract all kinds.

    The FCP are unapoligetically right wing and don’t seem to care much if what they say offends those that probably wouldn”t think of voting for them anyways, that is not their target market. His fabio hair might be a bit odd, but presumably he wouldn’t do something really bad like say shoot deer on private property, in other words the FCP bar for crazy behavior may be a bit higher than for other parties.

    Mr. Kenney is mistaking or mis-characterizing a mutual dislike of him, his methods and ideas as a PC conspiracy against him. Maybe he did feel like a skunk at the garden party, but the other candidates were long term PC’s, when he suddenly showed up from Ottawa to run for the leadership and claiming to be there to help. Lets not forget his aggressive behavior that also got him fined and drove two women candidates out of the race. Sometimes the feeling that everyone is plotting against you is just paranoia. A real conspiracy is supported by more than a vague feeling of dislike, by real things like say secret meetings, numerous emails, taped conversations including the words Kamikaze campaign and suspicious large last minute cash donations that seem to magically appear when needed.

    Reply
  2. tom in ontario

    March 22nd, 2019

    The Roughneck’s heavy slogging on the rig has prepared him well for the rough and tumble of electoral politics. His would-be change of vocation is off to a good start by telling the blogger to piss off when asked about his place of residence. Now Bernard, if you want to be a strong voice for the good people of Grande Prairie you must get used to complex questions like where you’ve been hanging out. Maybe in mom’s basement like the current leader of the United Conservative Party?

    Reply
  3. Too Coy By Half

    March 22nd, 2019

    Your website is a dumpster fire that makes Jason Kenney’s career look like, er ahh, ok then, a dumpster fire! I’ll give you that! But your site is still a sucking tragic hole! Your’s Truly! Coy Boy!

    Reply
  4. Scotty on Denman

    March 22nd, 2019

    “Piss off!” What cheek!—especially as it was presented (“among other things”) to the finest political blogger in Alberta (and points beyond). But, who knows?—maybe the “Roughneck” will be perceived as a potential vote-splitter on the right end of the spectrum and provoke the UCP KeKKenneyoids to respond in kind, a “piss off!” pissing-match in Grand Prairie: UCP versus “never did you see pee like this!” And maybe the Dippers will eke a win in the resulting split-pee soup-up.

    Thank you, DJC, for reminding that respect between partisans of different stripes has been known to exist, as exemplified by the three former Progressive Conservatives whom Jason KeKKenney’s aimed his tinkler at, although I do lament that their gentlemanly reputations of which we have first-hand testimony here must now be qualified as “old-fashioned.”

    Neither am I conservative by partisanship, but I do lament the ongoing demise of ethical Tory communitarianism and usurpers of its heralds, quartering self-proclaimed “Soldiers of Odin” and other Aryan Nations venting their pure-blood eruptions that dangle distally beyond the nether extreme of a once great polity.

    Frankly, I can’t wait for coverage of the Grand Prairie all-candidates’ meet, although by the sounds of it, it might be advisable to attend with a Mac—or at least an umbrella.

    Reply
    • Jerrymacgp

      March 23rd, 2019

      I plan to attend that All-Candidates Forum on the 9th—hosted by the GP Chamber of Commerce—and it should indeed be entertaining. On E-Day it will also be interesting to watch the local results closely to see if right-wing extremists like Mr Hancock and the Alberta Independence Party candidate Ray Robertson siphon off votes that would normally go to the UCP. This is a newly redrawn urban constituency quite different from the old split urban-rural districts of 2015 and preceding. The NDP’s candidate, Todd Russell—a city fire department Captain—ran a highly credible campaign in the old GP-Smoky constituency in 2015, and came within a hair’s breadth of beating his Wildrose opponent, Todd Loewen. But this time around, Loewen is running in the redrawn rural district of Central Peace-Notley, up against the NDP’s Margaret McQuaig-Boyd, Energy Minister in the Notley Government, and Russell’s campaign experience in 2015 should see him do well. Whether he can win is another story, but there is a path to victory for him here.

      Sadly for me, I can’t vote for him; I live in the new GP-Wapiti constituency, where the NDP’s candidate is the one-time City Council candidate, Métis Local 1990 V-P and AHS Indigenous Health manager Shannon Dunfield. The race in Wapiti is simpler, with only three candidates nominated to date, from the NDP, UCP and Alberta Party. Wapiti still includes an eastern slice of the City, from the North-South CN Line east to city limits, and most of the rural portion of the former GP-Wapiti riding, represented before dissolution by the now-retired Wayne Drysdale.

      Reply
  5. Simon Renouf

    March 22nd, 2019

    I see in today’s news that Kenney has denounced a “long term foreign campaign” against Alberta oil, and proposes to use $30 million Alberta government dollars to fund a “war room” to respond to “lies and myths”. In fact, $30 million would be but a drop in the bucket of big oil propaganda. The Guardian reported today that the largest five stock market listed oil and gas companies spend nearly $200 million a year lobbying to delay, control or block policies to tackle climate change. The Guardian didn’t add, but it seems obvious, that a lot of that lobbying money is generated by profits made in Canada.
    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/mar/22/top-oil-firms-spending-millions-lobbying-to-block-climate-change-policies-says-report

    Reply
    • Bob Raynard

      March 23rd, 2019

      Simon, does that mean that foreign money is being used to impede Alberta’s climate change strategy? Funny how the Kenneyites never seem to worry about that.

      Reply
  6. Hurtin Albertan

    March 23rd, 2019

    Candidates nominated for 2019 election:

    Alberta Advantage Party: 17/87
    Alberta Independence Party: 51/87
    Alberta Party: 87/87
    Communist Party: 4/87
    Freedom Conservative Party: 25/87
    Green Party: 24/87
    Liberal Party: 49/87
    New Democratic Party: 87/87
    Reform Party: 1/87
    United Conservative Party: 85/87

    Source: daveberta.ca

    With the threats of climate change, pollution, and rapidly increasing species extinction, I find it sad (but not suprising) that there is no green party candidate in many Alberta ridings.

    It is also troubling that right-wing candidates advocating for separtism and flirting with or boldly supporting all kinds of other odious causes are so numerous.

    Reply

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