In 2015 a man I developed a strong respect for as he ran for various political offices ran to become MP of my federal constituency. I had a long phone call with him one night. The most important question I asked him was “I’ve come to know you as a socially progressive, fiscally conservative man, but I’ve also seen such people enter the conservative world and either not be allowed to speak their social progressiveness or simply lose it altogether. How are you going to maintain your principles and prevent that from happening?”
At the time, John Barlow told me that nothing about politics was worth his character, and that he would still maintain it. So I told him “as long as that remains true, you have my support.”
I’m a man of my word.
In February of 2016, Barlow appeared beside actor Bernard the Roughneck, and that was my first glimpse that something was up.
In October of 2016, one year into office, he voted against including gender identity and expression in Human Rights legislation and the Criminal Code as prohibited grounds of discrimination, despite that vote being supported by other conservatives.
Another year later he endorsed Jason Kenney as leader of the United Conservative Party of Alberta.
Over the rest of the term thus far, Barlow has shown himself not to be a social progressive anymore.
This is important to note, because it provides evidence that you are the company you keep.
Jason Kenney’s leadership campaign is under investigation for fraudulent emails and votes. His campaign is also linked to allegations of a “kamikaze” Jeff Callaway whose only job was to siphon votes from competitor Brian Jean. So far a $15,000 obstruction of an investigation charge, and thousands of dollars of fines for irregular donations has been handed out. An application for an injunction to the investigation was quashed by an Alberta judge. And that is just so that Kenney could become leader of the new UCP.
It's not the only place this kind of nonsense has allegedly occurred. In my own backyard, former MLA for Highwood Wayne Anderson and Carrie Fischer (two people I have come to respect despite having lost to them in the 2015 election) have both submitted complaints of irregularities in the nomination race for Highwood. Alongside these complaints are allegations of sexual misconduct within the Highwood constituency association. Frankly, these allegations do not come as a surprise, because linked to both the Highwood constituency association and the kamikaze campaign is conservative operative Wendy Adam, who also once called the #MeToo movement an affront to her gender.
Across Alberta we see UCP Candidates being removed from candidacy for not having been forthright with their contributions, xenophobic comments and homophobia. Before that we saw many nomination candidates in hot water for xenophobia in Edmonton, Brooks-Medicine Hat, Calgary-Glenmore, Calgary-Shaw and Calgary-North, not to mention the homophobic attacks planned in Calgary-Shaw and the acceptance of illegal corporate donations in Red Deer South.
Even within the folds of the candidates who are remaining standing there is a litany of homophobes, xenophobes, climate-change deniers and misogynists. Start with one candidate who called homosexuality akin to pedophilia, move over to a candidate who sought to fund Nazi and anti-Semitic propogandists, carry on to another who claimed the United Nations was trying to take over Canada’s border, strafe to two candidates (and a failed one) who stood shoulder to shoulder with white nationalists, shuffle to a replacement candidate who seems to have supported a “gay conversion” program, slide to a misogynist demanding women give their husbands “respect and sex” to make their husbands better, shimmy to a climate-change denier who called environmentalism “unspeakable stupidity”, and glide to another candidate who called climate change a “hoax”. And don’t forget leader Jason Kenney has a history of his own in denying basic human rights to people who identify as LGBTQ+.
Moreover, each of the UCP candidates and their volunteers must be okay with all this attack on humanity. Kenney and the UCP Board have the right to deny any of these people from flying the UCP banner, but they don’t, and in some cases they even support the “diversity of opinions”.
There is a difference between “diversity of opinions” and “hate”.
Calling Muslims “Satan-worshippers” is hate.
Calling homosexuality akin to pedophilia is hate.
Denying homosexuals the right to visit their partners in the hospital is hate.
And this isn’t limited to the UCP, although obviously the UCP has the bigger budget. The Alberta Advantage Party makes no bones about wanting to do away with GSAs, and being selective about immigration.
So it comes as no surprise when we see swastikas, racism and phallic symbols drawn on election signs across the province.
If you can’t stand the NDP that much (which, frankly, I won’t blame you for, as they have some serious problems including a $2 billion electricity boondoggle, poor management of minimum wage, an incomplete pipeline with no solution in sight, and much more), there are other options that don’t require you to abandon your human decency.
If what you really want to do is stick it to the rest of Canada who doesn’t seem to give two beavers about Alberta, go for the Alberta Independence Party (although do be prepared for an infrastructure deficit as they move to get rid of all taxes).
If that’s not your main goal, but rather you would like to stick it to the NDP, consider the Alberta Party who have some pretty sound and researched policies (although do be prepared to have another government who wasn’t prepared to govern).
If you hate the corporate world, consider the Green Party, but don’t expect much more than environmental policy … they simply have no plan elsewhere.
For just a moment, forget that you hate the NDP. Forget the reasons why you hate the NDP. We as Albertans need to decide if we really are okay with homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, climate-change denial and electoral fraud.
Because if you are, go ahead, vote UCP, and be the company you keep.