Alberta Politics
Conservative leadership candidates Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole, two guys who are hard to find on the same stage, or even at the same Zoom meeting (Photos: Valitas Capital Partners and the Manning Centre).

The federal Conservative leadership race takes a turn both sinister and juvenile

Posted on June 23, 2020, 2:47 am
8 mins

Probably the last thing the Conservative Party of Canada needs right now is a side battle over allegations of dirty tricks and data theft between the campaigns of the two leading candidates in an already uninspiring leadership race.

I mean, it’s not as if frontrunners Peter MacKay or Erin O’Toole are the sort of leaders that stir the blood sufficiently to arouse passionate support among people who normally don’t make a habit of voting Conservative.

Former NDP leader Thomas Mulcair on the night the party’s delegates foolishly sent him packing (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

About the best either of them could have hoped for was to generate a leadership contest with enough suspense to give the impression of a real race for a prize worth winning and then wait prayerfully for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to mess up again like he almost did last year.

Luckily for Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals, departing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer wasn’t even up to the task of being a placeholder leader until someone better was available to step in and whip the team into shape. That someone, presumably, was supposed to be Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, the master campaigner, if only it hadn’t turned out having been given the opportunity to lead somewhere else he’s been proving he actually doesn’t govern very well.

Also luckily for the Liberals, after Jack Layton led the New Democrats to their high tide in 2011 and succumbed to cancer later that year, Dipper delegates to the party’s 2016 convention in Edmonton had the poor sense to skid the leader that replaced Mr. Layton.

Yes, Thomas Mulcair looked pretty uninspiring in comparison and suffered a big setback in 2015, but, it’s said here, he would have been exactly the right person to replace Mr. Trudeau and push Mr. Scheer aside in 2019 — in other words, the only grownup in the room.

Well, that’s all 2020 hindsight, as it were. Both Mr. MacKay, the would-be once and future Tory Leader, and Mr. O’Toole, who seems to be being marketed as Stephen Harper 3.0, are auditioning for the role as the adult candidate in the next federal election, whenever that is.

The former appears to be a young kid of 54, the latter an old man of 47 — proving, I guess, the maxim that for Conservatives there’s no shirt too young to stuff.

So the last thing they needed was for an ugly squabble with allegations of inter-campaign spying and dirty tricks.

The late Jack Layton, the leader who led the NDP to its high tide in Parliament (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

The National Post reports a purloined password from the office of an MP supporting Mr. O’Toole was used to allow 144 of that candidate’s Zoom meetings to be spied on by persons unknown who may or may not have been associated with Mr. MacKay’s campaign.

Now the cops have been called — never a good thing in an organization where more than one person may have dirty linen they’d rather not have aired.

A news release Friday from the O’Toole campaign said complaints have been filed with the RCMP, Ontario Provincial Police and Toronto Police Service against Mr. MacKay’s campaign and “senior campaign organizer Jamie Lall.”

Mr. Lall’s name, of course, is familiar to Alberta readers.

In 2015, he was blocked from seeking the Progressive Conservative nomination in a Calgary-area riding for reasons that remain murky. At the time, premier and PC leader Jim Prentice said only that Mr. Lall had been vetted for good reasons, and his candidacy was disallowed.

Mr. Lall then ran unsuccessfully as an Independent candidate.

MacKay ally Jamie Lall (Photo: Facebook).

After the election, he was banned by Elections Alberta from running again for five years for failing to file campaign statements in time. A judge later reversed that suspension.

Mr. Lall’s response to the O’Toole campaign statement Friday was a tweet stating: “Not a single word of this is true.”

Under Stephen Harper, Canada’s previous Conservative prime minister and, a lot of Canadians hope, its last one, the party was already getting a reputation for too much electoral dirty trickery, robo-calling and voter suppression in the election contest that really matters.

Under Mr. Sheer, the party looked and sounded a lot like young Tories overdoing things at a Model Parliament. After the election was lost to Mr. Trudeau despite the PM’s terrible campaign, it also began to look like a Prairie rump with not much support in the rest of Canada.

The current Conservative contretemps sounds both sinister and juvenile — which are the two things the Conservative Party of Canada can least afford right now.

Meanwhile, back at the asylum, the lunatics are running Alberta

Speaking of what happens when you let the lunatics run the asylum, yesterday afternoon the Alberta Legislature passed a motion by Central Peace-Notley UCP MLA Todd Loewen saying, wait for it …

UCP MLA Todd Loewen (Photo: Chris Bolin, Creative Commons).

“Be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly urge the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General to explore options to establish a voluntary civilian corps to assist law enforcement in Alberta.”

What could possibly go wrong?

One can only imagine what Mr. Loewen, who has been known to bait NDP MLA Rod Loyola in the House about his Latin American roots, had in mind. The Twittersphere, naturally, went wild, with many references to brown shirts and other unfortunate historical precedents.

Fortunately, the Justice Minister need not look very far to find a good reason to settle this down, if he chooses. The RCMP has run an auxiliary program since 1963 that uses trained, volunteers, aged 19 years and older and willing to give two years to the program. The volunteers are unarmed and required to wear an identifiable uniform.

Given this, there will be no need to hear from Mr. Loewen again for another three or four years.

11 Comments to: The federal Conservative leadership race takes a turn both sinister and juvenile

  1. Jim

    June 23rd, 2020

    So now the UCP is taking ideas from the Obama campaign? That plan never actually happened and everyone seems to have forgotten about it, because it’s a bad idea and was eerily similar to groups from the past. Oddly enough the Civilian National Security Force only seems to show up on right wing websites now in a bad light. Perhaps the UCP thinks the current crop of keyboard warriors can be transformed into actual get outside types, good luck with that. And yes the uniforms would of course have to be brown.

    Reply
  2. Dave

    June 23rd, 2020

    I think a key to long term political success is to be the right person in the right place at the right time. It certainly worked for Mr. Trudeau whose rise happened as Canadians were starting to tire of almost a decade of Harper, whose government seemed to be becoming more petty and mean spirited as time went on.

    It didn’t help that Mr. Mulcair, while competent, seemed to perhaps be a bit too similar in personality to Harper but just with an opposite ideology. Unfortunately for Mr. Mulcair it wasn’t just the ideology Canadians were tiring of, but the leadership style. He was not the right person for that time.

    Now we have two Conservatives trying to be the right person, if we tire of Mr. Trudeau sooner than we did of Harper. Somehow I think Mr. O’Toole seems a bit too angry and too old to appeal to many swing voters.
    Perhaps Mr. McKay with his more youthful and lighter image will appeal to those who really want a Harper light, although at one time they hopefully said the same about Scheer too. While there don’t seem to be huge ideological divisions between these two candidates, one wonders if with these recent allegations if things are about to get very nasty on a more personal level and the real rift will occur there.

    On paper Harper seemed to leave his party in fairly good shape, but it was not as good as it appeared. Perhaps Mr. Kenney along with other high profile Conservatives made a good decision to leave shortly after their defeat. However governing, even in a province that safely leans Conservative like Alberta, is not necessarily as easy as one might think. I get the sense that Kenney’s timing may be a bit off with the economy here and he consistently seems a bit too rigid in his approach. So back to my original point, perhaps not the right person at the right time, which is why I expect his Alberta break may not last as long as others expect.

    Reply
  3. Bill Malcolm

    June 23rd, 2020

    Con clowns gathering to produce horse manure without the aid of equines describes the CPC leadership “campaign”. Not even trying to include Quebecois, and three of them right up Kellie Leitch’s alley. Never having been able to understand the clogged Con Brain after Joe Who, I never worked out how rural Ontario and the prairie provinces succumbed to the call back to earlier social times and essential racism. How did Tommy Douglas attain power in Saskatchewan? That’s a mystery for the ages. Still, as a country, we instituted segregation by putting First Nations on reserves in the middle of nowhere, going the brainwash route with residential schools, and today there is a parallel society existing in the country with radio programs and awards shows and TV network. No integration whatsoever, no understanding, no magnanimity, empty apologies.

    As a white South African student at Acadia U 55 years ago told us, when we got on him about apartheid, we had essentially nothing to be proud of and pointed out our treatment of what we then called Indians. I essentially knew NOTHING at the time about our sins as a country in that regard. Nothing was mentioned in high school – it was a blackout. What a precious NDP dolt I was then, as were many of my peers, let alone the Libs and PCs.

    The Cons continue the lie to this day, and add any racialist minority for good measure, despite the current black Con leadership candidate who unconvincingly argues something or other. And the police beatings and murders continue unchecked, so what is “rule of law” anyway? A point to argue against China? Give me a break. Assault and battery by state representatives here is okay and not really punished, plain as day, and China sees that absurdity as they are guilty of the same thing. One law for police, another for the white majority who keep their heads down and looking the other way, yet another for First Nations, and if you’re black, brown or yellow, watch out for the police and racist thugs. I’m as guilty as the next white man because so far as action goes against this nonsense, I’ve done bugger all, and am now so old I’m not physically capable of doing much and confined to creeping around with a mask to avoid death by virus – there, that’s my non-excuse. What’s everyone else’s?

    Conservatives. Useless as pimples on your ass as societal leaders.

    Reply
  4. !?

    June 23rd, 2020

    How is it that we STILL have an American leading a Canadian party?
    Why is that not illegal?

    Jagmeet Singh should table a bill requiring only Canadian citizens to sit as MPs.

    Reply
  5. tom in ontario

    June 23rd, 2020

    Mr. Loewen might consider moving to a community which takes a strong approach to individual rights and where he could assist law enforcement.
    Foxnews.com December 11, 2019: “The sheriff of Culpepper County Virginia says he will deputize his residents if state lawmakers pass their gun control plan.”
    Sheriff: “Raise your right hand and repeat after me, ‘I’m a deputy.'”
    Citizen: “I’m a deputy.”
    Sheriff: “You’re a deputy.”

    Reply
  6. Expat Albertan

    June 23rd, 2020

    Put a pair of pointy ears on this Loewen character and he’d be a dead ringer for Mr. Spock (or is it just me?)! Alas, logic seems to have escaped him.

    Reply
    • Jerrymacgp

      June 25th, 2020

      Mr Loewen was the last — well, the only — Wildrose Party MLA for what was then called Grande Prairie-Smoky, which was a mixed urban-rural riding that encompassed the northern half of the City of Grande Prairie, & a swath of rural countryside from Sexsmith over to Valleyview, Little Smoky, & — if memory serves — Fox Creek. Mr Loewen beat out GP City firefighter Todd Russell, running for the NDP, and incumbent PC candidate Everett McDonald, former Reeve of the County of Grande Prairie No. 1, who actually came in 3rd. He ran for the Wildrose in 2 or 3 previous elections before the one he won.

      GP-Smoky had previously been, for those of us with long memories about Alberta politics, the seat once held by Walter Paszkowski & Mel Knight, each of whom held Cabinet posts in the Klein & Stelmach cabinets, respectively. You may even remember Marv Moore, who held the seat when it was called Smoky River, and who served in the Getty & Klein cabinets, including as Health Minister.

      Reply
  7. Scotty on Denman

    June 23rd, 2020

    Perhaps if the K-Boy had contested the CPC leadership, post-Harper, he might have won; and then he might have prevailed over the lacklustre JT in 2019. Yet I don’t think it was about personality, really —it wasn’t as if the brand merely needed a renewed personality to regain power: it only ever had it by default and Harper wasn’t merely a tired tomato, either: he was never loved in the first place. Nope, the whole brand—which wasn’t really conservative, anyway—has soured voters and, as soon’s a viable alternative presented (again), it was flushed. The leadership contenders ever since make it seem like it should have been flushed sooner.

    I’m convinced that if a real conservative party were to present itself to voters, it’d do very well at regaining erstwhile Tories who’ve left the CPC because of its growing extremism, at keeping those who struggle to remain in the CPC for the same reason, and at recruiting new supporters from younger cohorts of voters. But a new party had better hurry up before anybody who even remembers what real conservatism was like finally attrits to silence and novices have to read about it online.

    MacKay brags he’s got the creds for “bringing together” diverse strains of the right—which, as former Progressive Conservatives well recall, really meant treachery since most of them didn’t want to join with the Western Reformers who’d destroyed, a long with Westerners’ perennial Quebec enemy Bouchard, their venerable party, and didn’t want their new leader Peter MacKay —who’d signed an agreement with a runner-up David Orchard not to join the CPC in order to secure his delegates for the leadership win— to betray them a few months later to Stephen Harper’s new party. MacKay is just dense enough, a scion of an old Tory MP father like Bernier, to now brag about his treachery as if it were diplomacy, apparently under that old nostrum that people’s political memories are short. But he’ll have no trouble reminding CPC members and Canadian voters that he’s as sincere as the day is long: he’d assiduously availed the tried and true rule of patronage as reward for his sordid PC treaching, accepting guaranteed cabinet portfolios for which he was never competent. O’Toole is fifty times as smart as MacKay—but so’s the average house cat.

    Kenney could have whipped the lot of them just like Prentice might have. I think Ockham would have settled on the simplest reason why the K-Boy didn’t contest the first leadership convention, post-Harper: for the Canadian neo-right, Athabascan Bitumen had formed the nucleus for membership in the globalized clique of stateless corporatists, and Kenney had to first re-secure the political control Prentice had lost as premier of Alberta, ergo the K-Boy was forced to return to Calgary and put Humpty back together again, first by capturing the defeated Alberta PC party which had the desired effect of chasing suspect Redford Progressives out, and second by inviting in the extreme right factions which had been forming and floating around the right like fizzy peanuts in a bowl of beer.

    However, as noted, tanking bitumen prices and COVID19 put ointment in Kenney’s fly. Could the prospect of another coffin maker driving nails home in Ottawa have come at a worse time for the K-Boy? Well, he is dogged and knows too well how to whistle through the guts and feathers of macerated right-wing parties like the Bulroney PCs, the Manning Reformers, the Day Alliance, and the Albertan PCs and Wildrosers. Maybe a foundering, factionalized and fractious federal CPC is actually the tenderizing Kenney needs to make his triumphant return to the nation’s capitol.

    Surely he can’t risk facing Albertans again in 2023.

    Reply
  8. brett

    June 24th, 2020

    Wait a minute….

    Are you saying that the discussion has switched from bathrooms to dirty tricks?

    Finally. Was the great bathroom debate not gaining them any more votes from the socons in the party? Whats next?

    Who can pretend to be the most socially conservative Conservative leadership candidate -the one who can turn off the most urban votes and ensure that the next election is a cake walk for the Liberals? Must be a hidden strategy.

    Reply
  9. David Bridger

    June 24th, 2020

    The cpc candidates are not only lackluster, they are seemingly intent on staying in opposition by promoting exactly what the majority of Canadians don’t want – more neoliberalism which favors wealth only.

    As for Mulcair losing his NDP leadership, it was because he revealed himself to be a neoliberal at heart. The fool snatched defeat from possible victory (the NDP were leading in the pre-election polls and all he needed was to keep his mouth shut in regard to balanced budgets) A disastrous campaign tactic if there ever was one. Arguably if he had stayed progressive like most party supporters and soft Liberals. But no out comes his gun and he shoots himself and dippers in the foot and elsewhere.

    So both opposition parties seem intent on keeping Trudeau and the Liberals in power for many years. If the CPC got on side with voters in canada they might have a chance at governing again.

    Reply

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