Alberta Politics
Myron Thompson with his supposedly culturally significant hat in his heyday as a Conservative-Reform-Alliance Party MP (Photo: Screenshot of CTV news clip).

Sundre hospital renamed to honour MP Myron Thompson, long-time foe of equality for same-sex couples

Posted on October 18, 2020, 12:28 am
9 mins

“They’re trying to take away our culture, they’re trying to take away our history,” Donald Trump complained back in 2017 about activists who call for the removal statues of Confederate and colonialist heroes.

Mr. Trump’s supporters have been loudly making their agreement known ever since, including here in Alberta where the U.S. president has plenty more fans than just Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen, famous for being photographed in a red MAGA hat in New York City toasting Mr. Trump’s victory four very long years ago.

The UCP dignitaries and conscripted AHS officials gathered in Sundre yesterday to honour the often-offensive Parliamentarian Myron Thompson (Photo: Government of Alberta).

So what will they say if the offending monument, in this case a plastic sign celebrating a loud-mouthed Member of Parliament with offensive views on a fairly wide range of topics, has only been in place for a day or two before some of their fellow citizens take offence and call for it to be knocked over and hauled off to the dump?

Would this too be an assault on our precious Alberta history, culture and heritage?

I speak of the sign proclaiming the Sundre Hospital and Care Centre to be the Myron Thompson Health Centre, in honour of the Reform Party, Canadian Alliance and Conservative Party Member of Parliament for the Wild Rose Riding best known for proclaiming that the term family only meant “Adam and Eve … not Adam and Steve.”

The Wild Rose Electoral District was north and west of Calgary in southwestern Alberta’s Reform Party heartland until it was abolished in 2013. The town of Sundre (pronounced Sundry) sat within its boundaries and for many years was home to Mr. Thompson, who died last year at 82 after representing the riding in Parliament from 1993 to 2008.

In 1994, when the Reform Party passed a resolution to deny family benefits to same-sex couples, Mr. Thompson demonstrated what still passes for a liberal attitude in that precursor to the Conservative Party of Canada, stating, “I do not hate homosexuals — I hate homosexuality.”

On at least one occasion during his Parliamentary career, he talked about shooting members of the media. He cultivated a cowboy image throughout his years in Ottawa, seldom being photographed without a battered Stetson. He often compared his hat to such religious and cultural head coverings as Sikh turbans or the feathered headdresses associated with the First Nations of the North American plains.

Only a certain kind of white person would say such a thing in Canada. Y’all know what I mean.

Premier Jason Kenney and the spinmeisters in Alberta Health’s PR department emphasized the history angle in their announcement yesterday — billing the “cowboy-politician” and former Sundre Mayor “a historic community leader.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

“We are connecting this place of care, healing and hope to the memory of Myron Thompson,” Premier Kenney was quoted saying with his characteristic piety in the government’s news release. “By putting his name on this hospital, we will remember the man who dedicated his entire adult life to his community,” the premier went on. Leastways, to those parts of his community that met his definition of the right kind of citizen.

“Myron was Sundre’s most famous son. He had a huge heart, and personified Alberta’s ethic of community service,” Mr. Kenney added, somewhat inaccurately.

I don’t know who is writing the premier’s lines now that his controversial speechwriter seems to have taken his racist views and moved along, but while Mr. Thompson may have been Monte Vista, Colorado’s most famous son, he certainly wasn’t Sundre’s, for what should be obvious reasons. That presumably would have been Nels T. Hagen, first postmaster of the place, current population 2,700.

In addition to Premier Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Environment Minister Jason Nixon, who is also the local MLA, and Alberta Health Services CEO Verna Yiu were on hand for the dedication.

“Mr. Thompson … fought passionately to make life better for all his neighbours,” (some of them, anyway) said Mr. Shandro. He represented “the residents of his community with his honest voice and sincerity,” agreed Mr. Nixon. I suppose one could even make a case that part was true.

The once-upon-a-time Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day, who was embarrassed by Mr. Thompson’s shenanigans (Photo: U.S. Mission Canada).

Dr. Yiu seems to have had the good sense to keep her lips zipped. While nothing was said about who made the decision to bestow Mr. Thompson’s name on the hospital, you can count on it that it wasn’t anyone at AHS.

The rather florid news release described Mr. Thompson as a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, a selling point in many corners of southern Alberta. More sober sources suggest he was a veteran of the less glamourous U.S. Army.

It also included the oft-repeated yarn that Mr. Thompson once tried out for the New York Yankees and played semi-pro ball. Whether or not Mr. Thompson actually played for the Denver Bears, once a Yankees farm team, remains a topic of minor controversy. The Sporting News Baseball Yearbook once told a reporter there was no record of anyone with that name playing for the team.

The eulogistic news release didn’t mention Mr. Thompson’s frequent appearance near the top of various “worst MP” lists, or that time when he helped hire a private detective from the United States to dig up dirt on the Liberal government. That turned into a significant embarrassment for Canadian Alliance Leader Stockwell Day.

A Denver Bear, not Myron Thompson (Photo: eBay).

Well, whatever. Sundre’s health centre is probably stuck with the name of the town’s famous non-son, even if some Albertans complain that public buildings really ought not to be named after people who advocate discrimination against and show disrespect for members of our larger provincial community.

Our history and heritage, not to mention talk of “cancel culture,” are bound to crop up if anyone dares to suggest that.

Well, at least they didn’t build a statue of the man, lest somebody drive out to Sundre and knock the damned thing over!

The news release concludes: “The Myron Thompson Health Centre … will continue to operate as the hospital for Sundre and area, with 24-hour emergency services, 14 acute-care beds, five long-term care beds and four restorative care beds.”

And so it will remain, at least until Mr. Shandro decides to shut it down to save a buck.

17 Comments to: Sundre hospital renamed to honour MP Myron Thompson, long-time foe of equality for same-sex couples

  1. Just Me

    October 18th, 2020

    Given this example of the level of bone-headiness that Alberta has been lowered to, suspect that naming the next science and technologies facility after Stockwell Day cannot be too far behind.

    Naming a hospital after Myron “Fred Flintstone” Thompson is a laughable act. I trust that the special faith-healing ward will be among the services that this hospital will provide.

    I guess it’s true that every caveman will have their day.

    Reply
  2. Keith McClary

    October 18th, 2020

    Why aren’t the Americans going after Devin Dreeshen for foreign interference in their “democratic” elections? Should we tell them about him?

    A few weeks ago Kenney and other rightist law-and-order types were frothing about aboriginal blockades. Now that their fellow white folks are terrorizing aboriginals in Nova Scotia, I haven’t heard a peep from them.

    Reply
  3. Dave

    October 18th, 2020

    I don’t know much about Mr. Thompson, other than seeing him on TV from time to saying outrageous things. He seemed like a bit of caricature of himself. I am not sure how much of it was real and how much of it was a populist improv act, designed to delight the locals (or as you said, some of them – presumably enough of them to vote for him), some members of his own party and to try provoke the political opposition. I suspect his views and character were not too far removed from what he said, however, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some exaggeration for effect. In some ways Thompson reminds me of that big orange showman who now seems larger than life and tries to dominate Thompson’s other home country, although Thompson was perhaps shorter in financial wealth and perhaps more scrupulous in doing his taxes.

    I notice that Thompson was for a while, perhaps at the height of his political career, a go to person for some of the national media, looking for a stereotypical Alberta MP, who would probably say something news worthy, cringe worthy or perhaps both. I suspect Thompson enjoyed the attention. I also suspect the Liberals secretly really didn’t mind this so much, after all it only reinforced the views eastern voters had of the Reform Party being a bunch of rednecks. I suspect some in his own party would have preferred he not speak his mind so much or at all.

    Was Thompson obnoxious and opinionated at times? Yes. I don’t think he was kind or fair to various minorities or even cared about or tried to really understand them. However, in many ways I prefer his type of a more plain spoken red neck character, rather than the current more surreptitious Conservatives who seem more clever about trying to take away rights by stealth, while denying it and mouthing nice platitudes. In the end, he was probably more a danger to his own party than anyone else. Fortunately he was at an age where he could just retire, so they didn’t ever have to push him out, like say Rob Anders.

    So, I suppose in some ways it is fitting the current Alberta Conservative leadership is trying to mythologize him now. He said and thought the things they probably really want to say, but don’t have the guts to because they know it would cost them electorally. Perhaps Mr. Thompson’s getting a small local hospital named after him will be more than what any of the current weaselly crop of Alberta Conservative leaders will ever get, unless there is a something like a Kenney sewage lagoon in the future of one of Alberta’s larger cities.

    Reply
    • Just Me

      October 18th, 2020

      When Thompson kicked off his mortal coil, I rejoiced that another dinosaur had joined the extinction gang.

      And when Ted Byfield’s son, Link, passed, I also rejoiced and sent a missive to his personal blog, proclaiming that the father saw his son die before him. Excellent news.

      As their numbers dwindle, whether because of old age, terminal illness, or the keen foresight to off themselves because it pains them to live in a world that has left them behind, I will be dancing on many, many graves.

      These are truly the best of times.

      Reply
      • Bret Larson

        October 18th, 2020

        Rejoicing at people dying. You must be enjoying the covid toll. Marlin is that you?

        Reply
  4. Abs

    October 18th, 2020

    How to spin the exodus of doctors from Sundre: name the hospital after Sundre’s most famous son?

    Please don’t tell me the rest of the hospitals in Alberta will be renamed after UCP folk heroes, Remember, there are many swamps and storm sewer collection ponds in this fine province that are unnamed. If it’s good enough for Ralph…

    Reply
  5. !?

    October 18th, 2020

    “I do not hate homosexuals — I hate homosexuality.”
    also known as: ‘hate the game, not the player’
    Succinctly explains Kenney’s success.

    One wonders if this putting lipstick on a pig will be a UCP trend to soften the blow of the slaughtering of rural health care?

    Reply
  6. Bob Raynard

    October 18th, 2020

    I wonder if the local MP, Devin Dreeshen’s dad, Earl, was also invited. Because of the masks its hard to tell if Mr. Dreeshen Sr. is one of the 2 unidentified people in the photo above, but it doesn’t look like it. That begs the question, was Mr. Dreeshen just not able to attend the event, or is the federal CPC party wanting to distance themselves from Myron Thompson’s views. Dreeshen did tweet his support for the event, however.

    Given Mr. Thompson’s views on homosexuality, it isn’t hard to imagine he was also a closet racist. Verna Yiu must have really had to hold her nose to contribute to the honoring of Mr. Thomson.

    Reply
  7. David Grant

    October 18th, 2020

    This isn’t surprising because so many buildings are named after ghouls like Myron. I do it find it cool that my Junior High School was named after John Ware-a black cowboy!!

    Reply
  8. Dale Perret

    October 18th, 2020

    It is long past time to stop naming publicly funded buildings after ANYONE that is political. It is also time to stop having plaques in or on infrastructures built by taxpayer funds that state the names of all then politicians who were elected at that time. A plaque, if needed at all, should state “Built by the taxpayers of (insert province)” if entirely provincial funds and if federal funds were contributed then it should read “Built by the taxpayers of (insert province) and Canada”. As for putting up people statutes with public funds then that too should be abolished. They were doing a job they were elected AND PAID to do. We should be expecting them to do a good job and no further award is needed.

    Reply
  9. Bret Larson

    October 18th, 2020

    I guess the four years of politically correct lip service is over. I can’t say I am unhappy about that. I would rather good governance and aligning your policies to allow people to be equally impacted by government, rather than highlighting differences in an effort to divide and conquer.

    Reply
    • maximum

      October 19th, 2020

      The policies of right wing governments like the UCP privatize economic gains and socialize economic losses, resulting in monetary benefit almost exclusively for the wealthy 1%. Definitely unequal impact and certainly not good governance. Unless of course, your business plan is to suck up subsidies, pay minimal royalties to exploit Alberta’s resources, then leave the unfunded liabilities for taxpayers. In that case, the UCP is your dream come true.

      Reply
      • Bret Larson

        October 19th, 2020

        Ahh, the progressives favourite dog whistle scape goat, the 1%, is trotted out as a banner of allegiance.

        Its a shame people fall for such ploys.

        If individuals make alot of money by providing cost effective services in a free market, its right and good for them to have that benefit.

        Course, if they get their loot from government and are setup by politicians to make that cash(what group does that remind you of?) on the back of tax payers, then of course thats a bad thing.

        You know, like pumping up the balloon of green energy.

        The only answer is to minimize government and its simply because big government is going to be more intrusive.

        Reply
        • maximum

          October 20th, 2020

          For any thinking person, the writings of Thomas Piketty and Paul Krugman about the effect of the 1% on our economy carry much more weight than one of your rambling screeds.

          You’re living in a dream world if you think that the extraction industry you are part of has a viable plan to cover the $200 Billion shortfall for oil well remediation that doesn’t involve taxpayers being on the hook.

          No wonder investors and insurers are abandoning you and your “minimal government”.

          Reply
  10. Bruce Turton

    October 18th, 2020

    Just wondering…. Will there be new doctors coming to Sundry? Will there be enough nurses coming to Sundry? Will there be anyone to work for a pittance in the new hospital in Sundry? Is this whole project one of those “if we build it, they will come”?!!

    Reply
  11. Mike in Edmonton

    October 18th, 2020

    Wasn’t Myron one of the Reformers who were muzzled by Stephen Harper in his first minority government? Something about preventing embarrassing bozo eruptions? I don’t recall ol’ Myron getting smarter after that, just quieter.

    Reply
  12. Jim

    October 18th, 2020

    It’s one thing to keep names on building or statues from bygone eras that may not meet today’s standards, Grey Nuns hospital jumps to mind, but one would think continuing this practice would be over. What’s next the Stockwell Day centre for religious diversity?

    Reply

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