Alberta Politics
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Governor General Mary Simon on the day of her appointment, July 6 (Photo: Justin Trudeau/Flickr.)

Pandemic election an outrage: Alberta Conservatives. Pandemic over, we’re open for good: Also Alberta Conservatives

Posted on August 16, 2021, 1:45 am
10 mins

It’s an outrage, practically a crime against humanity, for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to call a federal election in the midst of a global pandemic, Alberta’s Conservatives say. 

The pandemic is over and thanks to the wise leadership of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, we are open for good, enjoying the Best Summer Ever ™ here in Alberta, Alberta’s Conservatives also say. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau without his mask (Photo: Justin Trudeau/Flickr.)

What’s more, they seem to be able to do this in almost the same breath, without a hint of irony. 

I’d say you can’t make this stuff up, but back in 1948, George Orwell did. He called it doublethink, and it was flourishing in Conservative circles in Alberta yesterday as soon as Mr. Trudeau made his long-anticipated trek to Ottawa’s Rideau Hall to ask Governor General Mary Simon to dissolve Parliament, to be followed by a federal election on Sept. 20, which she duly did. 

Alberta’s Conservatives have been screeching that Mr. Trudeau must go since the 2019 election left his Liberals with a minority government, and now they’re shocked, deeply shocked, that he’s called the election at a moment a lot of polling suggests he enjoys a significant advantage over Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole. 

Well, that’s the way the Westminster Parliamentary system works, as the last Conservative prime minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, illustrated back in 2008. Alert readers will recall that Mr. Harper used the same cynical argument then that Mr. Trudeau did yesterday, to wit, that the minority Parliament had become dysfunctional.

Many people observed throughout the day yesterday that focusing on the timing of the election doesn’t seem like a great strategy at the best of times, even for a party that hadn’t been insisting Canadians want to see the last of this prime minister. 

I’ll give the back-up quote to Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt, since he was the first person I noticed making this point. “If the opposition parties focus on whether the election should be called as the ballot question, that is a losing strategy,” he said before 9:30 yesterday morning. 

The pandemic argument might have carried some weight around here if the Kenney Government hadn’t been trying so hard for so long to downplay the danger of COVID-19, and to declare the pandemic almost, nearly, just about over. 

Conservative Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole (Photo: Erin O’Toole/Flickr).

We also know that elections can be conducted safely during a pandemic – leastways, they have been in New Brunswick, B.C., Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Yukon since COVID-19 arrived on our shores. 

Mail-in ballots are a helpful tool, although you have to know it will be a challenge for Conservatives to keep their lips zipped and resist the temptation to start sounding like crazy Qanon believers south of the 49th Parallel when the topic of voting by mail comes up.

If that doesn’t get much traction, there’s always Afghanistan. Forgetting, perhaps, how that unhappy country has been in turmoil for 20 years since the Americans first invaded the place, the same Alberta Conservatives were yelling by the end of yesterday that Mr. Trudeau should be concentrating on doing something about the collapse of the side we backed in the country’s long civil war, instead of a calling an election they’d really prefer not have to deal with right now. 

Of course, it’s hard to imagine a situation in which Canada has less influence or less ability to act independently than Afghanistan now. 

Northern Alberta Conservative MP pulls plug; candidate found in UCP ranks

Fort McMurray-Cold Lake MP David Yurdiga (Photo: Conservative Party of Canada).

The name David Yurdiga probably doesn’t mean much to most Canadians. Elected in 2014, the lacklustre MP for Fort McMurray-Cold Lake largely escaped notice in the nation’s capital until his petition last spring calling on the House of Commons to stop using the term “assault rifle” when MPs are talking about assault rifles. That aroused some snickers and eyerolls.

More recently, in June, the former reeve of Athabasca Country put out a news release saying he was opposed to a federal bill banning so-called “conversion therapy,” a practice that treats sexual orientation as if it were mental illness. 

Mr. Yurdiga was heard from again last week when he published another release complaining that civil servants shouldn’t be forced to get vaccinated against COVID-19. “Canadians deserve the right to liberty, whether they choose to be vaccinated or not,” he fulminated last Tuesday. “It is our job to stand up against this tyrannical idea that forces discrimination based on what Canadians choose to do with their bodies.”

Just-named Fort McMurray-Cold Lake Conservative candidate Laila Goodridge (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Yesterday, a federal Conservative spokesperson announced Mr. Yurdiga would not be seeking re-election, citing unspecified medical issues. Cory Hann told Fort McMurray Today that the MP advised Leader O’Toole of his decision on Saturday. 

Illustrating that there is no light between the federal Conservatives and their Alberta provincial counterparts, the federal wing of the party wasted no time appointing Laila Goodridge, the United Conservative Party MLA for Fort McMurray-Lac la Biche, as their candidate. 

Ms. Goodridge immediately resigned her seat in the Alberta Legislature, where she was Parliamentary Secretary for la Francophonie, seeing as she speaks French, a rarity among Alberta politicians. She was also chair of the Legislature’s Standing Committee on Families and Communities. 

A provincial by-election will have to be held sometime within the next six months. 

The Cons’ trashy Willie Wonka ad explained

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as seen in the Conservatives’ crude and creepy attack ad (Photo: Screenshot).

Many social media users were shocked and appalled by Conservative Party’s first election attack ad, which began appearing online last week, showing Mr. Trudeau’s head crudely superimposed on the body of a character from the 1971 movie Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. The general consensus can be summarized as, if this the best the Conservatives can do, they might as well quit right now. 

Not so fast, people. An October 2019 report in the Guardian explains the technique, suggesting that while it’s crazy, it may be crazy like fox.

The article focuses on the work of New Zealanders Sean Topham and Ben Guerin, a pair of right-wing digital propagandists who created successful online campaigns that manipulated Facebook’s algorithms for British and Australian conservatives. 

“Purposefully low-quality memes based around popular shows such as Game of Thrones were used in a bid to drive interactions – good or bad – at any cost, on the basis that this would boost the reach of future Facebook posts,” wrote Media Editor Jim Waterson.

“‘We’d make them really basic and deliberately lame because they’d get shares and lift our reach,’” said an anonymous source quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald, Mr. Waterson wrote. “‘That made our reach for the harder political messages higher.’”

“Political opponents lined up to mock the image, inadvertently sending it viral and ensuring it was seen by a wider audience.”

16 Comments to: Pandemic election an outrage: Alberta Conservatives. Pandemic over, we’re open for good: Also Alberta Conservatives

  1. Abs

    August 16th, 2021

    The next month will be the longest year of the pandemic.

    Reply
  2. Dave

    August 16th, 2021

    Yes, if the opposition is complaining about the timing of an election that usually means they don’t feel they will do well. A minority government is always an uneasy truce. Whether it is the opposition or the government, someone will eventually bring it to an end when they feel their chances have improved enough to do so.

    Of course, a number of provincial elections have already been held despite COVID by Conservative, NDP and Liberal governments (in that order I believe). All these elections were held before many Canadians were vaccinated. Some were minority governments that got a majority and all were reelected, so the Trudeau’s risk here seems to be fairly well calculated.

    Perhaps Mr. Yurdiga’s medical condition is foot in mouth disease, or as it is also known as in political circles, chronic bozo eruptions. It provides a great opportunity for an ambitious young MLA. However, Kenney may not be eager to hold a byelection any time soon, but I suppose that is not Ms Goodridge’s concern now as she contemplates packing her bags for bigger things. While Kenney may not appreciate this unexpected sudden loss, surely he at least understands ambition and opportunism well.

    I doubt the Afghanistan situation will affect our Federal election much. It is an international problem mostly affecting bigger world powers more than us. Fortunately, at least Canada had the foresight to get our troops out of there years ago.

    As for that Conservative video, it even made a number of Conservative MP’S publicly cringe – not a good sign for O’Toole, but at least they got rid of Yurdiga quickly and without too much fuss.

    Reply
    • Stephen

      August 23rd, 2021

      Your title seems to miss the term of Doctor, as Doctor Dave qualified to denounce what Mr.Yurdigas health issue could be and without exam claim the health issue to be insignificant. Merely an assumptive attack of anothers character.

      Eye roll this and O’Toole should know this more than others. Any member or veteran of military knows that using gun control headlines with assault rifles as the gun of choice is is wrong. Canadians should know that gun is not an all encompassing term, gun is hand held or holstered, Shotgun is not a rifle because it is used to scatter different size pellets. A rifle is and has always been a tool for long range need of accuracy. Assault rifle neither represents rifle but is an innocuous term used to make any owner of a rifle a adversarial individual. Mr. Yurdiga knows that a rifle is as important a tool as your keyboard is to you Dave. Being that you seem to want to use your keyboard to assault the character/integrity of people then the recent bills against free speech should include misuse of the assault keyboard. Recognizing the difference between typing and assault keyboarding is difficult but important if free speech needs governance. Now go and register your weapon Dave, we need to know who owns the assault keyboards.

      Reply
  3. Anonymous

    August 16th, 2021

    I think the UCP have stuck their foot in their mouth so many times, that it will make the CPC defeated in the next federal election. Canadians do not need what Alberta has, with these pretend conservatives and Reformers in charge of things. What the UCP is doing is quite the contrast to the great things Peter Lougheed was doing for Alberta.

    Reply
  4. Bob Raynard

    August 16th, 2021

    I personally do not think we need an election, especially with the pandemic. The NDP were supporting the Liberals and Parliament was working.

    That said, I would be delighted if this election turned into a referendum on vaccine passports, and could ultimately prove the election to be a good thing. During the pressers with the various party leaders yesterday, Erin O’Toole was asked at least twice (I think more) if he would support vaccine passports, and he sidestepped the question each time – in other words, he refused to endorse them.

    This, in a nutshell, is the CPC’s problem. The base of the party, the one that Erin O’Toole successfully courted, which ultimately chose him over Peter MacKay, would not accept such a concept, even if public health experts say it is a good idea and it has the support of a majority of Canadians and even the business community.

    If the election does become a referendum on vaccine passports, what will Jason Kenney do? I am thinking of a scenario where the CPC loses 3 or 4 seats, and perhaps even a majority of the popular vote.

    Reply
  5. A little bird

    August 16th, 2021

    “That made our reach for the harder political messages higher.’”

    When will this be exactly ? The federal conservatives “policy” ideas are all DOA.

    Their leader is ERIN O’TOOLE a guy most Canadians couldn’t even pick out of a lineup. Looking forward to them sending that conservative bobble head viral.

    Reply
    • Abs

      August 16th, 2021

      Sure we can. He’s probably the guy in the “Erin O’Toole 2023” T-shirt, which should be selling for a deeply discounted price later today. lf uncertain, we could always ask him to roll up his pants. Airbrushed legs are a dead giveaway, and I’m pretty sure that stuff is tattooed on.

      Reply
  6. Just Me

    August 16th, 2021

    As much as everyone wants to paint this election as completely unnecessary and a dangerous option given Canada has fallen into the fourth wave of the pandemic, I take a completely different view of this election call.

    This election is total neccessary because it will accomplish the following …

    Point up once and for all the evil marriage that exists between the CONs and the GOP death cult in the US.

    And drive Jason Kenney’s political career that much closer to its destruction.

    Erin O’Toole has already shown his true colours, that is beliving in the nonsense that “personal responsibility” is all that is needed to turn back the pandemic.

    While he claims to believe in the efficacy of the vaccines, he will NOT mandate his candidates nor anyone else in the CPC to get vaccinated. This proves that he intends to fall into the same pile of misjudgement and idiocy that Doug Ford and Jason Kenney have applied in Ontario and Alberta. While there may still be hope for Ford, Kenney is a lost cause, because he is such a man-child who adores his own cunning and Machivellian shennanigans.

    In fact, I have no doubt PMJT will make this election about O’Toole’s dangerous laissons with Kenney. I’m sure Liberal War Room have already accumulated an arsenal of Kenney-O’Toole memes that will do considerable damage to the CPC election chances.

    Who installed O’Toole in the CPC leadership? Kenney.

    Who pulls O’Toole’s strings? Kenney.

    Who does O’Toole share a brain with? Kenney.

    Then, reveal the disgusting primative backwater that Alberta is and say no more.

    Let the onslaught come.

    Once the liberatrian/contrarian/conspiracy crazies run from the CPC’s tent and bolt to the Maverick or PPC parties, and the CPC moderates run to the Liberals, the ugly spawn of Stephen Harpo will be expunged from the face of the earth.

    Reply
  7. Hana Razga

    August 16th, 2021

    “It is our job to stand up against this tyrannical idea that forces discrimination based on what Canadians choose to do with their bodies.” Mr. Yurdiga says.

    But when it comes to women wanting to choose what to do with their bodies, people like him all get up in arms. Hypocrisy much?

    Reply
    • jerrymacgp

      August 19th, 2021

      Ms Razga: Thank you … I was thinking the same thing. The cognitive dissonant clangs like a cracked church bell.

      Reply
  8. Carlos

    August 16th, 2021

    Climate Change is without a doubt the greatest challenge we are facing today but we are getting distracted with it and we cannot see what is right in front of our eyes.
    Our democracy is a disgrace and this election call just reflects clearly how distorted our perceptions of it are. The liberals want a majority so that they can run Canada as a dictatorship. This is done over and over and for what? We need political reform as fast as we need to take care of climate change. Our system is not a democracy and the fact that we are making decisions only based on majorities is dangerous and completely outdated. This commercial by the Conservatives is disgusting and should not even be allowed.
    If we want to have a future we need to wake up and realize we are in 2021. Pollution levels on carbon are not the only threat to our future. We now have higher levels of all kinds of Chronic diseases that are connected to chemicals in our foods in our water and our air and we have even started to talk about it.
    Our political system is a disgrace and controlled by big money, lies and corruption. Expecting a future from a recipe of awful ingredients is what idiots do and we better stop and think clearly what is it that we really want for our Kids and grandkids.

    Reply
  9. Just Me

    August 16th, 2021

    As for David Yurdiga’s recent bow out from seeking re-election, I can only hope that given his recent bozo-broadcasts concerning vaccines/COVID-19 and support of conversion therapy he was given the option, by O’Toole, of leaving federal politics or be expelled.

    I suspect that given O’Toole’s conflict with many in the CPC caucus concerning the appearance of his movement to the CINO side of things, it maybe that, for appearances sake anyway, he’s trying to drag the whole lot kicking and screaming into the 21st C.

    This may explain the sudden disappearance of Pierre Poilievre and Michael Cooper, two of the SoCON firebrands from the Andrew Scheer Era. However, Garnett Genuis has decided to not STFU and has decided to attend various Euro-white nationalist conferences, so O’Toole is losing playing Wack-A-Mole with his causus’ looney inclinations.

    Reply
  10. Alan K Spiller

    August 16th, 2021

    Don’t forget it was Reformer Erin O’Toole who was promoting Stephen Harper’s plan ,in their 2012 budget , to cut $36 billion off health care payments to the province in a first step plan towards gutting our public health care system and promised to eliminate the CBC.

    In other words while these reformers pretend they will create jobs like Kenney did they have no problem eliminating them. While Kenney promises to cut the jobs for 11,000 health care workers and kick out the RCMP. Putting the CBC employees on the unemployed list is just plan stupidity.

    Reply
  11. Mike J Danysh

    August 16th, 2021

    “Doublethink.” So much snappier than “cognitive dissonance.” AKA “bat-s–t crazy.”

    Reply
  12. Bob Raynard

    August 17th, 2021

    With regards to David Yurdiga’s departure, I wonder if he realized that, with either a Liberal majority, or an NDP supported Liberal minority, Justin Trudeau’s policy of requiring federal employees to be vaccinated will kick in, and he will have to get vaccinated.

    Reply
  13. Neil Lore

    August 17th, 2021

    Fantastic headline. You can’t make this stuff up.

    Reply

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