David Parker, executive director of the Take Back Alberta faction of the United Conservative Party, was tweeting about Alberta Health Services’ new enhanced-masking directive first thing Thursday morning, the day the provincial health authority’s lame buck-passing response to a resurgence of COVID-19 in Alberta hospitals took effect. 

Take Back Alberta Executive Director David Parker (Photo: Ditchley Foundation).

“Masks do not work,” Mr. Parker declared, inaccurately, but full of passionate intensity. 

“The fact that AHS is trying to push them again shows that a hostile and communist ideology has taken over our healthcare system and is defying the democratic will of the people,” concluded the man who boasts he is a “black belt” in political organizing

“They must be removed from any decision making roles,” his mini-rant concluded. 

Yesterday morning, he returned to the same theme, in the same venue: “Dear Leadership of Alberta Health Services,” he tweeted. “We are coming for you, and we will not rest until your evil communist ideology is eradicated from the face of this province. Sincerely, -Take Back Alberta.”

Mr. Parker sounds like a nut, but he has to be taken seriously because supporters of the insurgent group he founded occupy nine of the 18 seats on the UCP’s board of directors. As is well known, TBA aims to grab the rest at the party’s annual general meeting in Calgary on Nov. 3 and 4.

Rick Orman in 2011 (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

If there is resistance from traditional conservatives within the UCP meant to block TBA’s takeover bid, it is not obvious. 

Former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister and leadership contender Rick Orman is seeking the party presidency and has launched a “Unity Slate” of candidates for the nine open board positions, but it’s not clear if he’s challenging TBA or seeking it imprimatur. 

Nor is it obvious if Mr. Parker and other TBA insurgents are even interested in unity – at this point, they may be confident enough to expect to purge the UCP completely of any remaining moderates and traditional conservatives. 

If TBA controls the UCP party machinery, it still won’t be able to force the party’s Legislative caucus do what it wants, but that may not be necessary. It will have enormous influence, and quite possibly the ability to remove the leader, Premier Danielle Smith, who attended Mr. Parker’s wedding last spring to a writer for a far-right Canadian publication. 

In his mid-thirties, Mr. Parker boasts he has worked as an advisor to the likes of Stephen Harper, Rona Ambrose and Erin O’Toole. He brags about his role in the party coup that removed former premier Jason Kenney from power for offending the UCP’s far-right base with his government’s COVID policies. 

Former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, a Conservative (Image: UCP video).

He portrays himself as just an ordinary guy from Central Alberta, home schooled, and successful because he’s in tune with what folks in Wild Rose Country really think.

Say what you will about Mr. Parker, he’s not shy about expressing his opinions, even if they sound unhinged. 

He has called the UCP’s outgoing party president a “power-hungry tyrant” and demanded her removal. Cynthia Moore chose not to run for re-election instead. He’s of the opinion women ought to be at home having babies, not spending their days working or, God forbid, in demanding careers. He demands “an end to the climate cult” and for society to “eradicate gender ideology from our schools.” He seems to think the COVID-19 vaccine makes you sick. He calls ideas he disagrees with communism, as in Thursday’s and Friday’s tweets.

Former federal Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

He has attended anti-LGBTQ rallies throughout Alberta and vowed to have his supporters take over school boards and fire principals who won’t toe TBA’s line on gender and pedagogy. And, to the annoyance of some conservatives who may accept much of his agenda, he’s prepared to take credit for almost every success enjoyed by the right flank of the UCP. 

He gets up lots of people’s noses on social media, too – which is presumably his goal – although he does so without the humour and mordant wit that characterized Matt Wolf, Mr. Kenney’s “executive director of issues management” and personal online troll. (We miss you, Matt!

Indeed, Mr. Parker acts as if he doesn’t have any sense of humour at all, and takes himself far too seriously. 

David Parker and the Ditchley Foundation

So, given Mr. Parker’s strong views about prophylactic medical masking, communism and COVID, not to mention his populist pose as a man of the people, it seems odd that he serves on the board of the Canadian arm of an elite establishment organization that posts a reasonably sensible COVID-19 policy on its website!

Former Alberta Premier and UCP founder Jason Kenney (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Google the Ditchley Foundation of Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, and you won’t find much about what it does beyond that it “holds conferences, with a primary focus on British-American relations,” as a rather skimpy Wikipedia article puts it. It occasionally rents out its picturesque headquarters to wedding parties and TV production companies.

Well, perhaps a certain vagueness is to be expected of an organization that includes a former chief of MI6, the U.K.’s Secret Intelligence Service, among its “governors,” and invited the director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to deliver its annual lecture in July. 

At any rate, if Ditchley has a real purpose beyond chit-chat about the troubles of the world, and the Special Relationship in particular, it would appear not to be for the hoi polloi to ponder. 

In a video made by the organization 11 years ago that verges on parody, a plummy voiced narrator explains that, “Here at Ditchley, high level experts from all over the world come to discuss the thorniest global problems.”

A hint about the organization’s goals may nevertheless be found in the fact the Donner Canadian Foundation – generous supporter of such noxious outfits as the Fraser Institute, the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms – includes Ditchley’s Canadian arm on its list of donation recipients

Queen Elizabeth I as illustrated in The Ditchley Portrait by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, thought to have been painted during her visit to Oxfordshire in 1592 (Image: National Portrait Gallery).

Still, Ditchley appears to cater mainly to the upper crust. 

The board of its Canadian wing includes a former CBC director, former Canadian ambassadors to France and China, partners in prestigious law firms, senior bankers, oilsands executives, an actual Trilateral Commission member and Canadian Senator, a former Ontario Securities Commission Chair, a former Governor of the Bank of Canada … and David Parker! 

What does the rough-hewn populist rabble-rouser from the Great Plains of Alberta have in common with this well-heeled crowd? 

It can’t be his boast that “Take Back Alberta was created to remove power from the wealthy elite and put it in the hands of common people.”

Mr. Parker’s biography is an anomaly amid the restrained offerings of the rest of Ditchley’s distinguished establishment insiders, most of whom merely list their impressive credentials in abbreviated curricula vitae and occasionally modestly add a few charitable efforts or personal accomplishments.

Mr. Parker’s potted bio, by contrast, boasts of his role with TBA, an organization he says “was integral in removing Jason Kenney from office, helping elect Premier Danielle Smith as one of two freedom candidates in the UCP Leadership Race, and organizing a slate for the UCP AGM.”

Surely Mr. Kenney would have fit in more naturally with the Ditchley crowd than Mr. Parker. 

As for those freedom candidates, as the video says, the foundation is always looking for new ideas. Perhaps mastering heavy-handed MAGA rhetoric is now a requirement if one wishes to discuss British-American relations. 

Ditchley also posts on its website a perfectly sane COVID-19 policy – dated, granted, 2020, when the pandemic was still being treated as an international public health crisis and not a communist plot. 

The policy encourages remote work and social distancing, and permits the use of masks and Perspex screens to protect staff. Moreover, it firmly states, “Guests displaying symptoms will be asked to leave immediately.”

There is nary a hint that this might indicate communists are marching on Ditchley Park, the foundation’s lovely Oxfordshire HQ, which has been “an idyllic retreat for royalty and power since the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.”

Indeed, the first Elizabeth is thought to have had her portrait painted on that site in 1592. 

Pip! Pip! It’s remarkable that Mr. Parker can stand it! 

Join the Conversation


  1. I’m sure the Calgary Herald and the rest of the Postmedia tripe will be right behind you on this one!

    1. CovKid: Probably not, as you clearly think, but you never know. Now and again they follow up on something I’ve come across and mentioned in this blog – never with attribution or credit, of course. DJC

      1. Maybe like Wee Davey Parker the poobahs at the Herald were home schooled and not taught good manners or the meaning of copyright.

    1. Perhaps one day Jason Kenney will join and the Ditchley circle will be complete: the asylum will have taken over the lunatics.

  2. The Ditchley Foundation was founded by a member of a tobacco importing family:

    I generally connect tobacco companies with climate change denial as often the same people have propagandized for both. And didn’t Ezra Levant and Danielle Smith both work as tobacco lobbyists?

    Oops, I guess you knew that:


    So, it’s a short step from tobacco shill to climate change denying oil shill.

  3. Hello David and fellow commenters,
    I was aware of David Parker’s apparent position at the Ditchley Foundation which, as you point out appears to be a staid organization.
    Reading Parker’s comments, it appears that he is not rational. i presume that these statements represent his position. At the same time, I do have to wonder if these actually represent his beliefs or if they a convenience.
    I think it is ironic that Parker’s stance portrays Parker himself as the “power-hungry tyrant” (to use David Parker’s words) in this drama.

    Just for interest, the site names annual lecturers, 2019 annual lecture being delivered by Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England and the 2022 lecture by the Right Honourable Tony Blair. The site talks about economic development and says that what was discussed can be drawn on but cannot be attributed to anyone. the Ditchley Foundation appears to be conservative in nature ?maybe neoliberal? but that is only an impression.
    The founder was a descendant of the Wills tobacco family, whose company became part of Imperial Tobacco.
    Totally unrelated information to this serious discussion is the fact that the Wills tobacco company introduced cards into their cigarette packages. Since the 1939 card was of Sir Stanley Matthews, I guess I cannot be too hard on them, although, on a more serious note, I understand the dangers of cigarette smoking and would not wish to take up smoking.
    I must admit to being puzzled as to why the Ditchley Foundation would include such a brash individual and irrational thinker as David Parker as a member of its Canadian Board of Directors when there are other conservative-minded and more influential individuals who stay in the background to exert influence quietly.

      1. Ditchley would be the UK equivalent of CNP in the US.

        Council for National Policy, far right libertarian (aka palengenetic ultra nationalists) , many evangelical Christian or traditionalist far right Catholics.

        But while the US remains majority 60% Christian, the UK only has about 2% and Canada about 30-35%.

        Their agenda is to maintain the white, male wealthy corporate status quo at the top of the hierarchy controlling energy and global economy. And to maintain hegemony of global trade.

        Now, look up which religion has the greatest economic holdings.

        It’s Christians by a landslide. Catholics, Mormons, Mennonites, Hutterites, JW’s, SDA. They own everything.

        Muslims and China a distant second. Hindus and Buddhists much lower than I had thought. Jews barely make a blip.

        Christians are colonizing the globe.

        It’s called the Great Commission.
        What’s the best way to convert people to a new faith? Or force them to abide by biblical laws?

        Withhold resources they require for survival.

        Works every time. Our will to live is stronger than our religious faith.

        Key faiths have divided up the planet. The new Plural Hegemony key partners have already divided up the planet and its resources.

        Russia, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Australia, Israel, UK, US (GOP). Canada is just a resource grocery store. The problem is the removal of indigenous people who make land claims.

        Australia just voted to NOT give aboriginal Australians a voice in parliament.

        Parker is a trained orator. He’s dangerous because he knows how to motivate the Christian army of men and women caught up in cult of Trump-like populist politics.

  4. The crazies have definitely taken over Alberta. Give them an inch, and they will take a hundred thousand miles. It is sickening to see what Alberta has turned into, under the UCP. Will Danielle Smith endure as the UCP leader? I’m not sure about that. As of late, she is upsetting a lot of Albertans. It could also be that the UCP will end up fracturing, if the party members are divided, with TBA and the moderates clashing.

    1. The idiots who attack us on the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald blogs certainly prove it and they are all seniors whom you would think would be a lot smarter but aren’t. I wonder what it’s like to be that stupid?

  5. Is the Ditchley circle a den of international spies? Why is David Parker of Nowhereville hanging out with the CIA and MI6? He’s neither public school educated in the British sense, nor public school educated in any sense. Isn’t his kind prone to believing in lizard queens?

  6. This guy really burns my garters. Masks don’t work? Does he even know what a germ is? Even if he was home-schooled in a barn, farmers have common sense about basic hygiene. So, what would his little TBA group do? Fire doctors who wear masks in the OR? Would he be A-OK with rubbing up against someone with Ebola? What idiocy.

    Not to mention, his ridiculous tweet about taking power away from the wealthy elite and giving it back to the common people makes HIM a communist. A downright Bolshevik, even. The fact he is mixed up about his own politics makes a powerful case for public education.

    If his goal is to get people riled up, I guess it’s working. With me, anyway.

  7. I have emailed Ditchley to find out if they agree with Parker that most of their members are to be mocked and shown no respect. Hopefully I’ll get an entertaining response.

  8. Just a sidebar— a little Saturday morning humor (because we REALLY need it)
    my sister and I in conversation regarding politics north & south were both struck by a uncanny resemblance…..So the Conservatives spent $3 million, on an ‘makeover’ to make PP look like George Santos…??? It’s uncanny when you put the pics side by side, with/without the glasses, suited or casual wear….and the “misinformation ” they both like to spread.
    Now if we could just get some actual Progressive* conservatives to oust Skippy…but I suppose that’s just wishful thinking.

    * PC’s have gone by way of the dinosaurs and as usual the taxpayers are left cleaning up the toxic sludge….

  9. In my three years in Calgary I didn’t realize so many Communists poked around Alberta. I don’t think I met even one. Now Dave tells us wily Commies lurk around every corner. Is the Red Mile safe to walk on?

    1. Probably due to his specific kind of pastor-informed home schooling, he doesn’t know the difference between a social democrat and a communist. Then again, there are only communists and David Parker in David Parker’s world. Commies everywhere! He might want to read up on Joseph Stalin. They have more in common that he realizes.

  10. He isn’t the only one I have heard preaching the lie that masks don’t work . I had to straighten another idiot out two years ago. I was in hospital at the start of COVID and the only defence the doctors and nurses and I had before the vaccine, were masks. I still hear idiots saying that if vaccines work why are people still getting COVID . Of course they are too stupid to realize that those of us who got vaccinated ,yes did still get COVID , but we are still alive and the fools do didn’t are dead. My friends and I still have a hard time believing how stupid a lot of our fellow seniors are, yet it doesn’t surprise the police officers in our group, they have had to deal with the stupid seniors who fell for some of the dumbest schemes con artists could possibly dream up.

  11. “power knows the truth already, and is busy concealing it”.(“When it becomes serious, you have to lie.”) , or the case of the elitist that is pretending to be a ‘populist’.

    “He has worked in politics since he was 14 years old and served as an advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former ministers Shelley Glover, Ed Fast, Rona Ambrose, and Erin O’Toole.”

    Networks, patrons, and/or benefactors are generally unacknowledged for the assistance that they provide in helping certain ‘vetted’ (One must be properly vetted in order to be let inside the playground. That is, “People within (these systems) them, who don’t adjust to that structure, who don’t accept it and internalize it (you can’t really work with it unless you internalize it, and believe it); people who don’t do that are likely to be weeded out along the way, starting from kindergarten, all the way up.”) individuals and their ascent in ‘elite’ prestige/power hierarchies. No conspiracies are needed and/or necessary, it is simply the way human social systems work.



  12. Unfortunately I know a few painters who will always mask up when they’re spraying but insist masks don’t do a thing?! Must be anti-communist. Lost a relative in the cold war, you know.

  13. Communism. Is not. The problem here. It is a scapegoat. A word to get people riled up.

    Just because people give health advisories does not mean it is communism. You are free to ignore them. You are putting yourself and others at risk, but you can ignore them.

    Covid isn’t gone. Cases still pop up. Two of my immediate family members work in hospitals, and the last thing I need is to worry about them getting sick because this guy wants to fearmonger and call mask wearing communist ideology.

    During the pandemic my grandfather was in the hospital dying due to a fall he had sustained, but we were only able to go into his room one at a time because of Covid restrictions. He passed away not being surrounded by family, but alone. So maybe I’m biased against this man because he doesn’t know the hurt that not taking proper precautions against illnesses can cause other people, by making a pandemic last longer than it needs to, but I just can’t stand that he thinks that establishing precautions going into flu season is some sort of plot by communists. It’s not the Cold War anymore, can we stop blaming everything on the Red Scare?

    Not to mention the other things the article mentions that he believes in, like the climate change stuff or the view that women belong at home.

  14. Thank goodness we have the house Republicans south of us, otherwise… our Alberta political savants of the UCP could claim the title supreme crazies in power.

    I suspect most ‘Lougheed’ conservatives have already left the UCP and one might expect more will leave as Parker strengthens his grasp on the party.

    As most Albertans are Canadians first and Albertans second the Take Back Alberta agenda will have limited traction in the future. This means the NDP will evolve to the centre and be the government at the next election. One may hope at any rate.

    1. @Ian all the Lougheed conservatives I know, even former conservative MLAs, certainly have and we all agree Notley is far more conservative like Lougheed than any of these UCP fools but as long we have rural Alberta redneck country hillbillies believing every lie they feed them and only vote for the name conservative I think we are in deep trouble. They don’t even care that their friends and relatives have had their farmlands rendered worthless due to the abandoned oil wells or their towns screwed out of taxes by the oil industry thats how stupid they are. Those of us former bank managers still can’t believe how they let Ralph Klein help the packing plants screw them out of millions of dollars during the BSE crisis then couldn’t wait to re-elect him. They had nothing but praise for him.Talk about shooting yourselves in the foot. But that’s how stupid they are.

  15. I don’t know what kind of mask to wear at the UCP gathering ,I have three choices lined up ,can’t wait ,what will that slogan on my tshirt say is the bigger question

    1. Chairperson– might I recommend one like my sister has , it’s garlic cloves design…I believe she got it at a Ukrainian restaurant/ shop.

    1. I have seen varying descriptions of which politicians he worked for and would be interested in learning who he worked for longest. Did he learn dirty politics from Kenney, Harper, or someone else?

  16. David Parker is suffering from projection, no doubt, regarding dictatorial tendencies no doubt, concerning boards and agencies. The Ditchley Foundation is exhibiting good taste. Another cup of Red Rose, my darlings? Pity about the Tsars wasn’t it then.

  17. I am so surprised that it has taken this long for you to comment on
    David Parker and his association with the Ditchley Foundation – a now past Director no less. He and the Foundation are great column fodder and by all the preceding comments, has now been exposed.
    Hopefully soon he’ll fade into annals of another quirky Alberta empire builder.

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