Alberta Campaign 2012, Day 1: Fear & Loathing on the Shaganappi Trail

The “chicken ranch” proposed for Calgary back in 2003 by Danielle Smith, now leader of the Wildrose Party, may not have been exactly as illustrated. (You didn’t seriously think I was going to post a picture of a house of ill repute, did you?) Also not exactly as illustrated, below: Redford strategist Stephen Carter contemplates being sent back to the minors; Premier Alison Redford.

Well, it’s been a wild week already out here in Alberta and it only started yesterday morning – unless you count Sunday, of course, which was pretty quiet.

First thing Monday morning, Alison Redford got up and flew up to Edmonton, where she was apparently delayed by fog, which is a bad omen for reasons we’ll discuss in a moment. Then she called an election for April 23. She could do this because she’s the premier of Alberta and all.

Then the election campaign got an entirely new issue – to wit, the practice of prostitution in red light districts, specifically red light districts in Calgary, which is normally not the sort of town that would go in for that sort of thing.

But apparently Danielle Smith, the leader of the far-right Wildrose Party, which apparently takes its orders directly from Old Harpoon the Free-Marketer down at 24 Sussex, is in favour of red light districts. Leastways, she was in Calgary according to a newspaper article she wrote back in 2003. (Let that be a lesson to all you journalists and bloggers who are contemplating your own political careers: everything you have ever said has been taken down and will be used against you!)

This became an issue because a court in Ontario said it ought to be legal to work in a Common Bawdy House, which nobody’s called one of those places since a B.C. Cabinet minister got caught in one back when I was a cub reporter. This just goes to show, I guess, that those places are never anything but a peck of trouble for politicians.

Anyway, the Ontario court ruled, Ontario prostitutes cheered, and someone on Premier Redford’s staff noticed that back when Ms. Smith was toiling in the vineyards of the Calgary Herald she wrote “city council should establish a red-light district and begin to clean up the neighbourhoods — and the profession.” (The profession she was referring to, by the way, was not politics.)

And so far I haven’t even made anything up! Well, really, you can’t make up stories as good as these.

Anyway, the stuff likely won’t really hit the fan until a little later this week, when a canary of my acquaintance says a well-known and legitimate polling company – like, say, Leger Marketing – will release a poll that puts Ms. Redford’s Progressive Conservatives and Ms. Smith’s Wildrose Party neck and neck.

At that point, presumably, the press won’t care any more what Ms. Smith said way back in Aught-3, seeing as they’ll all be busy declaring her premier again, as they’ve been doing off and on for the past couple of years. Even more Harper aides will fly out from Ottawa to join the Wildrose bus, which – thankfully, under the circumstances – has had its wheels relocated to a more demure location.

What’s more, the journalists will then all officially conclude that Ms. Redford’s Tories are up to their asses in alligators, which, notwithstanding Conservative strategist Stephen Carter’s well known penchant for winning races by coming from behind, is probably not where you want to start a campaign you could have won with a massive majority by calling the election three weeks earlier.

Some people will do anything for a challenge, I guess. But the problem is that, after former front-runner Gary Mar’s defeat and Ms. Redford’s seeming flight so close to the sun, anything but a majority even more massive that unlucky Ed Stelmach’s 72 seats in 2008 is going to look pretty shabby, no matter how entertainingly nasty and off-putting the intramural right-wing rhetoric gets.

So even if Ms. Redford manages to hang onto her job as premier, even if she manages to hang on to a majority government, rebellious Tories are going to be grumbling under their breath about how they probably could have done better with Mr. Stelmach, let alone with Mr. Mar.

If that’s the result, you can expect Mr. Carter to be shipped back to the minors to manage municipal campaigns for the rest of his career. Who knows what Mr. Mar may do, seeing as he may be looking for a job now that his cushy posting as Alberta’s “envoy” to Asia has hit a bumpy patch?

Oh, and speaking of Mr. Mar, I almost forgot that fog. Does anyone else recall whose plane was delayed by fog on the day of a crucial campaign launch?

The headline on this blog read: “Delayed by fog, dogged by health system allegations, Gary Mar’s campaign has less than stellar start.” A less than stellar finish, too, as it turned out.

Sound familiar?

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

4 Comments on "Alberta Campaign 2012, Day 1: Fear & Loathing on the Shaganappi Trail"

  1. Anonymous says:

    Irony. The day Redford made her comments on prostitution she helped launch Heather Klimchuk's campaign for Edmonton-Glenora. Klimchuk's MLA office is kittycorner to The Platinum Club, a bodyrub parlour, and down the block from another similar place. They are examples of a number of places using massage as a cover for what are essentially brothels. What happens at these places is legalized prostitution. As Minister for Services Alberta Heather Klimchuk promised to close loopholes in acts covering massage to make it more difficult for bodyrub parlours to use massage as a cover. This promise was never kept. As MLA for Edmonton-Glenora Heather Klimchuk turned a blind eye to two bodyrub parlours less than a block from her office. She ignored the complaints of her constituents who pleaded with her to get these establishments out of a residential area. And now Redford critiques someone else on the prostitution issue? Rich. People in glass houses…

  2. Nordic says:

    Calgary is “not the sort of town that would go in for” red light districts? You have to stop writing such humorous columns!

    James Gray’s “Red Lights on the Prairies” documented Calgary’s rich pioneer history of brothels. Someone once dryly noted the brothels usually employed more people than the meat packing industry in early Calgary. No doubt this is still true today.

  3. Anonymous says:

    You can never put an end to that industry.

    So why not legalize it, ALL the gals/guys get papers/testing etc., set up an area of town (much safer than the cold streets) and the pimps/managers/agents/handlers/dealers/boyfriends get left out in the cold

    PLUS, taxation revenue, If having the government run it doesn't kill it off nothing will

    mohammad

  4. jerrymacgp says:

    Remember, prostitution is not illegal in Canada. Most of the activities that surround the "world's oldest profession" are, including: "living off the avails" (pimping), "soliciting" (i.e. recruiting customers), and "keeping a common bawdy house" (operating a brothel), but the actual act of exchanging sexual activity for money is not illegal. I'm sure there is some obscure rationale in Canadian legislative history why this is the case; it does seem to be a bit of an anomaly in the Criminal Code.

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