Wildrose leader to Albertans: You’re gullible and stupid!

Pastor Allan Hunsperger in exile, as seen by the Wildrose Party’s leadership. Below: Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith (mean photo by Dave Cournoyer); the real Allan Hunsperger; party strategist Tom Flanagan; Wildrose House Leader Rob Anderson.

Despite an amusing Pierre Poutine moment before it started, the Wildrose Party’s one-day annual general meeting in Edmonton yesterday seems to have gone swimmingly for Leader Danielle Smith, whose key messages were transmitted uncritically by media and apparently accepted in a similar spirit by members.

Reading between the lines of the media coverage, Ms. Smith’s three main points to her right-wing supporters were as follows:

  1. Bozo eruptions by bad candidates, not Wildrose policies, caused the party’s election loss on April 23
  2. Nothing substantive in the Wildrose economic agenda needs to change, but the party may have to be sneakier about some of its members’ social conservative views
  3. Albertans are gullible and stupid and were easily fooled by fear-mongering Tories into not voting Wildrose

OK. I admit it. I’m not a Wildrose supporter! I wonder what gave me away?

But really, people, how else are we to interpret Ms. Smith’s statements, as channeled to us by the Edmonton Journal?

It’s certainly apparent that poor old Pastor Allan Hunsperger, the Lake of Fire guy, is going to be made to to wear last spring’s election loss for all of eternity by the party brass.

It’s said here that most Albertans would have forgiven the party the pastor’s Bronze Age theological views – after all, he seemed sincerely concerned about the fate of certain voters’ eternal souls no matter how quaint his interpretation of how they were endangering them may have seemed to Albertans in this secular age – if they hadn’t so distrusted the party’s economic policies, particularly on health care.

But in the Wildrose worldview, the policies are fine, the problem with them is caused by fear-mongering, smear campaigns and Tory perfidy. Well, fair enough – Tories are pretty perfidious! It’s just that nowadays here in Alberta, they’re also sticking pretty close to the centre, and voters obviously liked the centre a whole lot better than the far right fringe.

Ms. Smith, at least, showed some recognition of this reality, calling for reassessment by party members of such contentious policies as “conscience rights” (code for allowing discrimination against gays and inconsistent application of reproductive rights), abolishing the Human Rights Commission (which smacked of encouraging bigotry to a lot of Albertans) and such nutty relics of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s independentiste Firewall Manifesto as replacing the Mounties with an Albertan-speaking provincial police force and heaving the Canada Pension Plan over the side.

This is progress of a sort, even if it doesn’t quite add up to the “fresh, innovative and forward-looking” policies Ms. Smith promised.

In addition, bozo eruptions by ill-prepared candidates will no longer be tolerated. While Ms. Smith won’t come right out and admit it was a mistake to stand by her men last April, she did note that “if the candidate created such a controversy that it’s going to bring down the entire party, that it’s going to affect our ability to form government, I hope they would have the respect for their colleagues and choose to fall on their sword.” And if they won’t, depend upon it that an able swordsman will be found.

As for the economic agenda, the Wildrose Party will continue to be sneaky about its plans for health care – describing the U.S.-style market system it wants to impose as “European” and emphasizing its own brand of fear-mongering about debt financing and fair taxes.

That’s OK too. There are lots of voters who support such views in Alberta just as, quite obviously, there are more who prefer a more centrist approach.

As for Point 3, well, here’s her argument and what she said: The whole party got smeared with Pastor Hunsperger’s bozo eruption – just as, you know, Wildrose supporters of Joan Crockatt’s federal campaign in Calgary Centre are trying to get supposedly anti-Alberta comments by Liberals Justin Trudeau and David McGuinty to stick to the Liberals’ popular candidate in that riding. (Psssst! This is called politics.)

“Frankly, I didn’t think Albertans would fall for it,” Ms. Smith said. “I was wrong. I thought people would understand that having a couple of candidates make controversial comments doesn’t cast a pall on all 87. I was mistaken.”

Sorry, as noted, it was Wildrose policy that caused voters, who it is said here were in a mood to punish the Tories by handing them a minority government, to stampede back to Ms. Redford when the polls made it look as if they were about to elect a far-right Wildrose majority.

Or, as Wildrose 2012 campaign manager Tom Flanagan accurately told the Globe and Mail, the strategy didn’t work in part because the party hadn’t expected to be as far ahead as it was by mid-campaign. “We thought our job was to scratch up to parity, not to defend a big lead.”

The party wheeled out (figuratively speaking) the ancient Dr. Flanagan, who has a well-known sideline drumming neoconservative nostrums into the heads of University of Calgary students, with a more believable assessment for the crowd of what went awry on April 23.

To wit, said Dr. Flanagan, 68, while the Tories were losing their most right-wing supporters to the Wildrose, the government’s pitch to those closer to the centre was working.

Plenty of folks on the left side of the political spectrum will agree with Dr. Flanagan’s prescription that, “we have to liberate those left-wing voters to go back and vote where they would actually vote.”

According to the Globe and Mail, Perfesser Flanagan also trotted out a suspect Abingdon Research opinion poll that supposedly shows the Wildrose Party firmly back in the hearts of Alberta voters. The word from the trenches of opinion research is that a poll replete with loaded push-questions about Daryl Katz’s political donations has been making the rounds, so supporters of Ms. Redford should probably wait for another survey before lining up to jump off Edmonton’s High Level Bridge.

In an interesting historical aside, the Globe revealed in its mini-interview that Dr. Flanagan said he himself wrote the infamous 2001 Firewall Manifesto, which then-premier Ralph Klein wisely tossed into the recycling bin. I wonder if the other noted western separatists who signed it, men (all men) like Prime Minister Harper, disgraced B.C. political advisor Ken Boessenkool and Ted Morton, the worst premier Alberta never had, remember the drafting process the same way?

OK, about that Pierre Poutine moment. Some naughty person – another perfidious PC, presumably – circulated an email to party members a couple of days before the AGM reading in part, “Rob Anderson needs our help if he’s going to become leader of Wildrose!” The email suggested that names candidates to support for party office to “be successful at forcing a post-AGM leadership review.”

It concluded: “With your help, we will make this a reality and elect Rob Anderson as Premier in 2016!” Mr. Anderson, a Mormon bishop who is party House leader and a particular favourite of the Wildrose social conservative wing, would no doubt love to be premier, but he really has pledged his fealty to Ms. Smith.

Anyway, the fun was soon spoiled by an email from Wildrose Chief Administrative Officer Jeffery Trynchy: “Please be advised that this email is fraudulent. We are currently taking steps to determine the identity of the sender.”


This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

9 Comments on "Wildrose leader to Albertans: You’re gullible and stupid!"

  1. Arcy says:

    Well…. conservatism (and particularly, Wildrose-style conservatism) cannot fail, David. It can only be failed!

  2. James Steinhubl says:

    In the end, I disagree. But brilliantly written. The RHETORIC of style, emotional appeal and logic, full marks.

    FYI PC MLA Dorward is Mormon too.

    Answer me this.

    Should those who planned,those who actually defaced election signage, and those who published imagess be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, both as attacks against our democracy and hate crimes?

    In that the next election will certainly be a battlefield of escalated payback.

    • david says:

      Is James Steinhubl suggesting that because the Harper Conservatives broke the law last time, other parties will do the same thing next time? Is her seriously suggesting that defacing election signs is an affront to democracy on a par with organized vote suppression by a political party, including sending identified opposition voters to polling stations that don’t exist? Is he suggesting that speaking out or acting against Conservative policies amounts to a hate crime? Sort of sounds like it. If so, he’s wrong on all three points. I very much doubt supporters of the Liberals or NDP will stoop to the tactics of the Harpercons, and certainly not at the head-office level as appears to have happened in the 2011 federal election. In my limited experience as a candidate, I would say most damage to election signs is done by apolitical kids on bicycles or otherwise reasonable people who have been driven to distraction by sign clutter in their neighbourhoods. Do I think such offenders at least should be prosecuted? Well, no. The final point is so bizarre I’d need more explanation to even attempt a response.

  3. Lars says:

    Y’know, Dave, I see Flanagan here and there on a fairly frequent basis, and while I’ve never taken any chance that I might have had to gaze deeply into his orbs, I’m reasonably sure that he doesn’t have glowy little reddish eyes such as are depicted in the shot that you always use.

  4. Bobbie Saga says:

    And I was just about to say, not a clone of Mitt Romney! Darn! Thanks for the history lesson. Full marks for this one, but now it’s back to the trifecta in Calgary Centre.

  5. K. Larsen says:

    Face it, Wildrose represents a world view and set of policies which have been “tested to destruction” over the past 30 years and now they have nothing to offer beyond glib bile and hatred. Their idea of economic development is to tear up the floor boards and stick them in the fire place a little faster than the Conservatives are doing.

    Gullible? Perhaps Wildrose knows its constituency.

  6. Brian Dell says:

    Wildrose headquarters, at least during my time with the party, was laissez faire with respect to its constituency associations (CAs) to the point that it was almost inevitable that candidates who were, shall we say, less than mainstream would be nominated.

    I wasn’t aware of party HQ making any effort to recruit candidates, at least in the Edmonton area. You leave all that to the CAs and of course the most motivated person in the CA ends up being someone gung ho to nominate his brother or his pastor or what have you…

  7. fubar says:

    So that’s why Ms. Smith toured the US looking for answers to the WR loss. And she got them courtesy of the tea-bag republicans. Hey, if it works for PM Harper and the Con’s – Why not?

    Can’t wait to see the results of the year long ‘policy reviews’. Should be a tortured read I am sure. I will make my great prediction on the outcome and their future election platform (no, no, you don’t have to thank me now):
    “Debt very bad, awful in fact, how can you live with it? Tories very bad, awful in fact, how can you live with them? We are the virtuous WR, why won’t you vote for us? We promise no tangible policy issues other than broad meaningless feel-good statements – WE ROCK! WR candidates – shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!”

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