Even before former health minister and deputy premier Sarah Hoffman’s NDP leadership campaign launch was over Sunday, the first tweets insulting her physical appearance began to appear on the social medial platform previously known as Twitter. 

Take Back Alberta’s David Parker, who’s now setting the tone for the entire United Conservative Party (Photo: Ditchley Foundation).

So you can see why Ms. Hoffman made a point in pre-launch interviews last week, and in her remarks to the hometown crowd in her Edmonton-Glenora riding Sunday morning, of pre-empting the garbage she had to know would soon be flowing her way. 

“Women like me aren’t supposed to be in politics,” she told the packed Woodcroft Community League Hall. “I’m fat, I’m sassy, and I have a really hard time trying to be something that I’m not.” That brought one of the loudest cheers of the boisterous event.

Ms. Hoffman had made similar remarks to journalists and commentators who sat down with her to discuss her planned announcement late last week, obviously honing what she knew would have to be a key talking point.

Of course, we all know there is a long tradition in North America of men who lack intellectual horsepower denigrating women in politics by mocking their appearance rather than challenging their ideas. 

This kind of behaviour may have fallen into disrepute in most parts of Canada, but inspired by Donald Trump and his acolytes in those parts of America that desperately want to be great again it seems to have thoroughly infested Alberta’s MAGA right.  

Where the heck are old Progressive Conservatives like Ric McIver, now that we need them? (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Ms. Hoffman had barely stepped onto the stage to make her announcement before a vile tweet about her appeared on the X account used by the founder of the far-right Take Back Alberta faction that now dominates Premier Danielle Smith’s United Conservative Party. 

To wit, Danielle Smith’s friend and advisor, self-described Christian and anti-woke activist, David Parker.

It’s significant that this tweet came from Mr. Parker because he is an influential figure in the UCP, leader of the group that controls the party’s board and is apparently the driving force behind Ms. Smith’s ugly war on trans kids, and, so it would seem, a source of considerable fear, even terror, among the members of the UCP Caucus in the Legislature. 

Arriving at 11:25 a.m., Mr. Parker’s childishly nasty tweet was immediately followed by a number of similar comments, several emanating from accounts that showed signs of being automated bots, the origin of which of course is unknown, as is certainly the intention of whomever controls them.

Not that this is likely to much bother Ms. Hoffman. She’s used to it and shrugs it off with the disdain it deserves. 

Indeed, Mr. Parker’s pathetic attempt at undermining her is about as likely to succeed as the infamously malicious 1993 Conservative attack ad mocking Liberal Leader Jean Chrétien’s facial deformity, caused by Bell’s palsy. Those ads were greeted by voters with contempt and revulsion, and were soon followed by the most crushing defeat in the history of the federal Conservative party.

But that was then. Here’s the thing now: Because of Mr. Parker’s association with members of the party board, his influential relationship with the premier, and his childish need to constantly attract attention to himself, the UCP Caucus in the Legislature can’t just blow this off and pretend it has nothing to do with them. 

Perhaps some influential UCPers have tried to persuade Mr. Parker to zip his lips – although getting that guy to shut up would be a formidable task.

Indeed, when I suggested on social media Sunday that some respectable member of the UCP cabinet needs to speak with Mr. Parker about his the impact of his misogynist abuse – on the party if not his victims – the great man himself not only continued with more of the same but published an infantile tweet boasting that “I’d like to see the politician that tries to tell me what opinions I should have.”

Of course, as everyone in the UCP Caucus and Cabinet knows perfectly well, the problem isn’t Mr. Parker’s opinions, hateful and paranoid as they may be, but his abusive language, irrelevant insults, and his refusal to engage in civil discourse.

So surely the time has come for someone within the UCP to publicly condemn the kinds of things Mr. Parker has to say. 

Where are cabinet ministers like Ric McIver, Rick Wilson, Brian Jean, and Nathan Neudorf? Gentlemen, your silence about this appalling behaviour so close to the centre of your party speaks volumes.

It’s time you said something to Albertans about this, lest we conclude you think this kind of behaviour is entirely appropriate.

Indeed, what else are we to conclude? 

And where is the minister of Status of Women, Tanya Fir? One would think, ex officio, she would see the need to take Mr. Parker to task.

If no one in the leadership of the UCP has anything to say for themselves, or even for their party, the only reasonable conclusion is that the entire UCP sees denigrating women by mocking their appearance as a perfectly acceptable part of political discourse. 

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  1. Though Ms. Hoffman, as health minister, deserves credit for some worthy achievements, the fact remains that, overall, healthcare continued to deteriorate under her watch. She and the NDs share some blame with Conservatives for the mess we are in today. That’s nothing to crow about.

    1. You’re kidding. Sarah Hoffman got us the southern Alberta cancer centre long promised by the conservatives during some fat oil price years, and she did that during an oil price recession! I never had a problem getting a family doctor in the NDP years, now I see Canmore doctors aren’t taking new patients. Think again. Sarah Hoffman is a skilled and experienced Alberta New Democrat.

      1. Sarah Hoffman was an excellent health minister. She didn’t just rush into something just to look good. She studied the problem then made a plan. I was fortunate to have an extremely long discussion about a problem I had in an Edmonton hospital.
        If the UCP had carried through with her plans, we would be better off now.

    2. I’m going to have to disagree. It was under Ms. Hoffman that EMS received it’s first funding increase since the AHS takeover, this despite Calgary having added 210K people to our population. It was a time of relative peace in healthcare, unlike the war the UCP has been waging on it since Day1.

    3. John: The cuts, and they were very foolish ones at that, to the public healthcare system in Alberta, were the fault of the Alberta PCs, and Ralph Klein. Under his bad leadership, nurses were laid off in droves, doctors were treated like crap, hospitals were so poorly maintained, that this created a big mess. People’s lives were put in peril, because of this. This extensive damage still affects us now, and the NDP couldn’t have rectified this in a four year term. Not with oil prices that slid down, before they were in power, and certainly not with a bare pantry, caused by the Alberta PCs doing very pricey shenanigans, for a very long time, while reducing Peter Lougheed’s savings to almost nothing.

    4. It was under Ms. Hoffman that the Edmonton SW Hospital was officially started. Unfortunately it stalled the moment that the UCP were elected and sits as an open field right now.

    5. And just what does that have to do with the issue at hand? Your comment is no more relevant than is Parker’s vile commentary.

      1. D. Frey: I am sure this was a comment on my assertion, which I stand by, that Ms. Hoffman was the best health minister in Alberta in memory. DJC

        1. Dear D. Frey
          I was taken aback by your vitriolic response in such a civil forum as this. What’s really vile is to equate my well-meaning opinion about Hoffman with the ravings of David Parker. (In fact, we could equate your response with the tactics Parker would use).

  2. First they came for the trans kids. Then they came for the women. First they wanted to ban trans women from league sports, then they wanted to ban women from politics. Oh, wait, isn’t their figurehead a woman? Looks like she’ll have to be replaced by a man…not just any man, but a mealy-mouthed coward of a man. Any idea who that might be?

  3. Yeah, we’re not going back Mr. Messiah Parker. Been there, done that. ‘May the Lord open’ as political strategy ain’t flustering the ladies any more. Under his eye- stick it in yours.

  4. Y’all recall when we called out the anti-vaxxers, Freedumbers and border terrorists? And they scolded us, in bad faith, saying we needed to be gracious and kindly in face of their ignorance and fear?

    Nah. Our society will be better off when we hold the racists and misogynists to account.

  5. There may very well be more than a few UCP MLAs and cabinet ministers who are quietly cringing over Parker’s behavior. Although, I’m not sure if anyone is brave enough to speak up. He seems to have a Rasputish hold over key parts of the party.

    One might have thought with the Kenney gang gone, the past frat boy behaviour of the UCP would be moderated and improved, but perhaps not. It may have just morphed into another virulent form that the woman currently leading the UCP can’t entirely control.

    So we should probably not expect anyone leading the UCP now to say to Parker, “Have you no sense of decency?” If it is to be said and he is to be held to account, it will probably have to be by someone else.

    1. Where are the cabinet ministers? Would suspect the answer is that they are hiding behind the coat tails of their leader, like her too afraid to wipe their own backsides without permission. Keeping mum should help the opportunists among them to swoop in and replace her as party leader when chance materializes.

  6. Go on any social media platform there is, or on any other platform, and this includes comment forums on Postmedia newspapers, and the abuse that is hurled at Sarah Hoffman is quite immature, pathetic, and very sickening. It’s been going on for quite some time. Would these people say that to someone’s face, and not face repercussions? Social media sites, like YouTube, which news outlets (there are also ones that claim to be news outlets, but really aren’t) use, need to have their comment sections disabled, so these ignorant comments can’t be posted. Anyone who believes the comment sections should remain open, is basically enabling this type of thing to persist. But, it’s free speech! People can’t say anything they want to, and feel they shouldn’t face the consequences. There is very little that is done to deal with these abusive comments, so it’s best if the ability to post comments are shut off. Whoever is running these social media sites, and other platforms, where comments get posted, has to have better moderators, or stricter measures to deal with this. If that can’t happen, it’s best if the comment sections are shut off. By shutting down the comment sections, vile garbage can’t get posted. A lot of comments may very well be bots. There are others that aren’t. There are news outlets who do shut off their comment section on YouTube, because their staff knows that bad comments can get posted. As for David Parker, if he is posting unacceptable crap on X, his account should be suspended. Nobody even elected this person, so what gives him the right to meddle in our political system?

    1. Anonymous like our lawyer friends have pointed out for years you can bet these idiotic comments are from seniors who should be a lot smarter but sadly aren’t. Young Albertans don’t have time to write on these blogs nor do they care about politics. These seniors have made it their passion and their ignorance is hard to hide.

  7. MAGA – Making Alberta Go American. The UCP caucus, which includes Ms. Fir, has been notified by David Parker what their opinion is on the matter. Hence the crickets.

    The wives, daughters and female members of the UCP caucus have heard the message loud and clear and have started their diets. As for the men folk, keep stuffing your faces, not an issue.

    1. Cool Xenu: That’s a very good question. In the 1920s, in Austria and in Germany, there were a very small group of people who were clearly up to no good. When the complacent people in these two countries did nothing to stop these miscreants, the results were catastrophic and very devastating.

  8. The blogger refers to Mr. Parker as “a self-described Christian and anti-woke activist.” Curious to find out how a self-proclaimed Christian can do business I referenced Quora.com: “Have you ever met a self-proclaimed Christian who is actually a terrible person?”
    “Not me, but many. I came to realize that the loudest of them are also the most judgmental, ready to jump at your throat for not being ‘Christian enough’, or for not following ‘the real Christian way.’ They know best because God’s will somehow coincides with their own. These are the people willing to burn you at the stake for as much as asking a question, let alone dare to have a slightly different opinion than their own.”

    1. Tom in Ontario….something I just had pointed out to me
      “Prosperity Theology “…..is a religious belief among some Charismatic Christians that financial blessings and physical well being are the will of God for them and that faith , positive speech and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth. “—
      (in relation to the shooting at the Mega Church in Texas, the head of this church, Joel Osteen, goes by this philosophy) …
      Which imho- means you CAN fool some of the people, all of the time.
      And if ‘Mr Parker ‘ claims he is a Christian, he must have been asleep when his mother was schooling him, or else the bible she was using is one of those “revised ” editions that was written to justify their personal beliefs, because his actions are anything but Christian as far as I can see….
      Jesus was NOT a power monger.

      1. From J.C. Superstar:
        Neither you, Simon, nor the fifty thousand,
        Nor the Romans, nor the Jews,
        Nor Judas nor The Twelve, nor the priests nor the scribes,
        Nor doomed Jerusalem itself,
        Understand what power is,
        Understand what Glory is,
        Understand at all.

  9. “self-described Christian…” – An individual was once asked if he was a Christian. The response was, “I’m the wrong one to ask. Ask others – the grocer, the banker, my neighbours, those with whom I do business. They will tell you.” Surely the golden rule of doing to others as you would have them do to you, could be a clue to identify Christian. “Self-described Christian” seems like an oxymoron.

  10. I recall the UCP and their fellow travellers would be up in arms at the intolerance for anyone mocking Jason Kenney and the clear and present obviousness of anything ressembling traditional family values in his life. But he was kicked to the curb, so there.

    As for Queen Danielle, she’s child-free and loving it. All she can speak of is younglings who are her nephews, neices, and cousins, and there’s not a peep about it from the UCP rank and file. But she’s obviously an expert on anything involving children and there development because she knows Rand Paul. (Oh, boy.)

    But it has long been the favourite attack of the alt-right, denouncing a health minister because they don’t have the right body type. Same with attack a defence minister who never served in the military, an attorney-general who can’t practise law, or a foreign minister who has never set foot in a foreign land. But, policy-wise, do any of these things really matter?

  11. I said it somewheres before, but I am so astonished that not one of the UCP MLAs will stand up and call David Parker and his follower Danielle Smith out for his outrageous diatribes.

  12. This is nothing new. In ALL forums women are first and foremost judged on their overall “attractiveness”, including weight, age, make-up, clothing, and even their voices. After all physical attributes are judged, there may be some mention of the reason the woman is in the spotlight at all. Or not. There has to be a complete shift in the way women are approached by media, by courts, in education and business, and in schools. Not that this hasn’t been pushed for decades. As long as there are people who still think of women in terms of their worthiness in a physically attractive manner – this BS will not change.

    1. This Parker guy is so lacking in intelligence and manners, he makes comments such as you describe.

      What i find interesting is this type of comment is usually directed at women. Can’t remember the last time, since Chretien, that a politician was lamponed for their physical being. I suspect some of it comes from when they were children. Boys could say things to other boys and usually get a punch out. Girls, not so much. Not much changes with some males as they grow older. Don’t know what the Alberta Human rights code says, but I’d be checking it so see if there is room for a complaint.
      I none of the UPC MLAs, etc. call Parker out on this, might make a nice ad and remind women this is the party who thinks this is O.K. to say. How would your children feel if directed at them. Has Parker looked at the contribution of fat shaming has made to the suicide of women? I’d suggest he wouldn’t care. He’s a nasty piece of work.

    2. Reminds me of CBC coverage of one of the convoy trials. The writer took pains to describe the appearance of a female witness but just reported what the male witnesses said.

  13. It’s too obvious to point to the U.S. and reflect on how disgustingly and cravenly Republican Party members accept the ugly vitriol of their leader.
    Of course nobody in the UCP is going to speak out against such personal insults.
    This is now a baked-in ingredient of right-wing and so-called anti-woke parties. And, it seems to be working quite well for electoral success.
    Many moral norms of politics and social cohesion have been truly broken in recent years. Large numbers of people seem angry enough to support the politics of exaggerated personal insult. It has become commonplace.
    Our prospects don’t look good. But, three worthy candidates for the NDP leadership make the future here somewhat brighter!

  14. If no one in the UCP will condemn Parker’s vile misogyny, what does it say about the UCP in general? How much more proof do Albertans need to accept that the UCP itself is a collection on vile like-minded fascists? It’s depressing to think we have another 3 1/2 years for more proof to surface.

  15. That’s rich coming from an ugly smarmy looking short neanderthal whose knuckles are dragging when he walks and has an ego the size of his imagined trans free, women in the kitchen, no choice, Bible thumping, anti education, climate change denying heaven.
    He’s gunning for UCP leadership, with plans to oust his puppet Duh by the Ides of March 2025.Why? He’ll find a reason.
    You don’t grub around headline grabbing to be a backroom organiser. Duh. Pave Darker makes Duh look like a wimp who should ve knitting baby slippers. He is a fascist fecker coming for Alberta. Take Back, literally.
    To most progressives, people become physically repugnant to us when their politics horrify us. PP2.0? Ew. Smith? Ugh, especially when she poses gushing over the likes of Cucker Tarlson, felon Conrad and feck face Peterson.
    As Hoffmann says, Bring it on.’I know who I am.’ The more the UCP shows their women hating colours, the more swing votes will land with the NDP. Now, we just need him trashing abortion. That worked very well for Dems in the US…

  16. Unless we are going to judge everyone by their appearance than this should stop!! Outside of being sexist, misogynist, it also a sign of how superficial of the person who thinks this way.

  17. Hoffman should spit in their eyes and lean into it by legally arranging to make KD Lang’s “Big Boned Gal” her theme song!

  18. Can anyone identify any of the people standing behind Ms. Hoffman in the picture. I am afraid I can’t, and I do know what most of the Edmonton MLAs look like. Perhaps a lot of MLAs from Edmonton are keeping their powder dry until the field of candidates is better defined, but it is striking that Kathleen Ganley had a number of prominent NDPers backing her up – including Shannon Phillips, who I thought might fancy the leadership herself, Amanda Chapman, Irfan Sabir, Julia Hayter, Jasper Deol….. .
    Might be reading too much into this, I admit.

  19. Well at least they are consistent,”everyone gets a turn “ according to Steve Allen supreme being narratives
    Mastectomies to Down syndrome, everyone has a turn

  20. Bravo to both Sarah and you. “…but inspired by Donald Trump and his acolytes in those parts of America that desperately want to be great again it seems to have thoroughly infested Alberta’s MAGA right.” UCP magats abound in Alabama North. It takes more courage to stand against them than to be amongst them.

  21. Mr Parker has failed to read his bible I see. All people are made in God’s image, and therefore worthy of respect. His comments on Sarah Hoffman’s body shape are an insult to god. Parker if you see this, it is time to seek forgiveness from Sarah, and make a confession to the lord meekly kneeling on your knees. Otherwise you offend the Lord your God. Somehow I don’t expect David Parker will do this, observing the fruit of your work though.

  22. Hello DJC and fellow commenters,
    As other commenters have pointed out, David Parker says appalling things. Interestingly, the Ditchley Centre stated that soon he would no longer be eligible to be on their board.
    David Parker seems to be out of touch with how civil society functions. He does not appear to have normal reactions to events, for example his comment that he was coming for members of the AHS board. And now this incident, People ordinarily don’t behave that way. Do UCP supporters support David Parker’s outbursts?

  23. However disgusting the comments, censorship is not the answer. Do you really want misogynists, bigots, fascists, etc. lurking in dark corners? Censorship is a very flawed way of getting the deplorable to reform; it doesn’t work. What does work? People like Parker discover, sooner or later, that there is a point at which even their most ardent supporters are turned off. Of course it takes time, but self-imposed limits are far more reliable than those imposed by the very people at whom the vitriol is directed. The only exception: calls for violence.

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