James Andre submitted his resignation as a trustee for the Battle River School Division following controversy over racist and homophobic jokes he re-tweeted on Twitter. The offensive retweets on his now defunct twitter account were in such bad taste that there were significant questions raised about whether he was competent to serve as an elected official in Alberta.
The east central rural region that Mr. Andre briefly represented as a trustee is an unquestionably conservative area of the province in terms of voting patterns both federally and provincially. But the reaction to his behaviour demonstrates that even in stereotypical “redneck Alberta,” it is unacceptable for public officials to promote these types of racist and homophobic “jokes.” And for those who think that this type of behaviour only exists in the Alberta’s deep rural regions, think again.
In the sprawling metropolis of Toronto, Rob Ford remains firmly planted in his job after six months of controversy surrounding the existence of a video that allegedly shows the mayor smoking crack cocaine and making racist and homophobic remarks. This month, Toronto’s police chief confirmed the existence of a video that was “consistent” with media reports, which led Mr. Ford to admit to smoking crack cocaine in a drunken stupor about a year ago.
Tune in next week for our post-election #yegvote hangout, where we will dissect what happened on October 21 and what’s next.
In related news: The latest polls show Don Iveson in the lead with 53% support among decided voters, but everything will depend on who gets out to vote on October 21. The polls show the other candidates in a distant second and third, but don’t expect Karen Leibovici or Kerry Diotte to take their feet off the gas in the final weekend.
In other interesting news, one candidate is looking for help in distant places. The Edmonton Journal is reporting that two weeks ago Ms. Leibovici’s campaign imported a political organizer from Toronto who worked on mayor Rob Ford‘s 2010 campaign.
It has become clear to this political watcher that Edmonton’s mayoral election has become a race between two candidates with distinct competing visions for Edmonton. And those two candidates are Don Iveson and Kerry Diotte.
Mr. Iveson’s growing campaign is built on a foundation of solid ideas and driven a feeling of excitement about the opportunities available to Edmonton in the future. And with less than two weeks remaining in the election campaign, he needs to continue building positive momentum and avoid being distracted by attacks from his opponents.
Kerry Diotte’s four key issues – potholes, snow removal, spending and debt – have been the consistent focus of his campaign since the summer. The well-known former journalist’s message is appealing to a significant number of Edmontonians who feel disenchanted and disconnected from the city’s establishment and the decisions made at City Hall over the past nine years.
While Mr. Diotte would like to return Edmonton to where it was before Stephen Mandel became mayor, he has shown little evidence that he has the ability to build a coalition on city council in order to achieve his goals.
In the closing days of the campaign, expect Mr. Diotte to focus on wedge issues that will fire up his base of supporters (read: government spending and bike lanes). I would not be surprised if he tries to channel Rob Ford, who rocketed to office in Toronto by focusing on the issues that appealed to disenchanted voters in that city’s suburban communities.
Ms. Leibovici’s declaration that Edmonton will “grind to a halt” if she is not elected mayor is comical and insulting. Edmontonians have enough common sense to know that the fate of civilization is not tied to the success of Karen Leibovici’s political career.
Ms. Leibovici’s uninspiring campaign is disappointing, because I do think she would be a competent administrator. Unfortunately, with her campaign showing little sign of upward momentum, it has become clear that Ms. Leibovici’s has decided that her only path to victory is by demonizing her opponents.
Edmontonians have two clear choices when they visit the polls on October 21: we can either move forward as a city with Don Iveson or move backward by focusing on the bare basics with Kerry Diotte.
Thanks for all the comments and responses. Not surprisingly, this post has sparked some interest in the campaign and has become one of the most well-read during this election.
I took a little heat on twitter from supporters of some mayoral candidates and from Edmonton Journal blogger David Staples, who, in a blog post implied that this website is an extension of Don Iveson’s campaign.
I want to be clear: there is no conspiracy. I wrote this post on my own accord. My blog includes my opinion and does not have any input from any political campaign. I have been publishing daveberta.ca for eight years and, similar to the role of columnist working at the Edmonton Journal, I use this space as an opportunity to publish opinions and observations that are my own.
But when it comes to my support in the October 21 election, Don Iveson is the clear choice in my mind and I am happy to lend my support to his campaign. I have publicly stated my support on this blog and during the #yegvote Google Hangout.
“We’ve been following the story of your mayor with great interest,” Climenhaga said.
While Climenhaga said he’s not a fan of even “polite conservatives” , he admitted the visit to City Hall was a bit of “tourism” and (with a bit of prompting) even acknowledged it was a case of “disaster tourism.”
“You’re putting words in my mouth but yeah, I’d call this disaster tourism,” he said.
Cournoyer said visiting Ford’s office made sense while they were in town.
“We thought about going to the CN Tower but we thought the mayor’s office would probably be a more exciting visit considering everything that has been going on,” Cournoyer said.
Next stop on the disaster tourism tour: Senator Mike Duffy‘s summer cottage in Cavendish, PEI.
But looking beyond the high-profile face of the Wildrose Party, which polls from the first week of the campaign suggest could be poised to form government, Albertans should be asking important questions about who would serve as cabinet ministers in a Wildrose Party government? The Premier is only one person at the table. Which Wildrose candidate would serve as Minister of Justice, Minister of Education, Minister of Finance, and Minister of Health?
Ask most Albertans to name a Wildrose candidate outside their own riding, and they will probably respond with a puzzled face. The lack of “star-candidates” is likely a product of timing. The Wildrose Party began to hold its candidate nominations in 2010 during a time when the party was seen to have peaked and was sitting in the mid-teens in the polls. What the party ended up with were plenty of well meaning candidates, but not many who would be defined as “star candidates.”
The recent success of the federal NDP in Quebec provides a textbook example of why any party should take seriously the candidates it nominates to run under its banner, even if it does not look like they might form government at the time.
If the Wildrose Party are to form the next government in Alberta, an important question needs to be asked about whether their candidates are the kind of politicians that Albertans want running the show. Here is a look at some of the Wildrose candidates who could end up serving as a cabinet minister under Premier Danielle Smith:
- Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock candidate Link Byfield is the former publisher of the right-wing Alberta Report magazine. As has been noted elsewhere, Mr. Byfield was the president of the Society to Explore and Record Christian History and the founder of the Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy, which stands, among other things, “against expanding influence of the Charter of Rights.”
- Edmonton-South West candidate Allan Hunsperger is the self-described pioneer in the establishment of Alberta’s private schools in the late seventies and founder of Heritage Christian Schools.
- Edmonton-Glenora candidate Don Koziak‘s short-lived mayoral bid in 2010 was kicked off by a promise to halt LRT expansion, calling the public transit “enormously environmentally unfriendly.” When asked what he would do differently, Mr. Koziak trumpeted the construction of more “interchanges and wider roads.” Toronto Mayor Rob Ford would be proud.
- A number of Wildrose candidates running in Edmonton constituencies have indicated over the past year that they would re-open the acrimonious City Centre Airport debate, even though elected City Councillors have already made the decision to phase out operations of the tiny downtown airport.
These are the highest profile stories around these candidates, the truth is that outside of Ms. Smith and the four established Wildrose MLA’s running for re-election, surprisingly little is known about the party’s candidates. And the Wildrose Party has done a superb job of focusing the media’s and voters attention on what they want, namely Ms. Smith and ensuring that she, rather than their candidates are the ones making headlines.