This post is a continuation of the list of PC candidates I hope will be defeated in tomorrow’s election.
Before I continue, I want to say that all of these candidates are likely good people. In fact, they probably truly believe in what they are doing and that their political ambitions and methods are admirable. As a progressive person, my own ideas, methods, and beliefs just happen to be different than theirs. Neither of us is necessarily more “right” than the other. It’s important that we try not to dehumanize politics so much that we are attacking people for their views, even though I’ll admit I’ve been guilty of it.
With that said, below are candidates five through one, plus a few honourable mentions.
Stephen Mandel was the former mayor of Edmonton who Premier Prentice appointed as Minister of Health a-month-and-a-half before either of them had been elected to the Legislature. Eventually winning in a byelection in Edmonton-Whitemud late last October, Mandel has been Minister of Health for two major catastrophes (in just seven months!):
- Health Care Premiums: After Albertans stated unequivocally that they did not want to see health care premiums return (and instead wanted corporate taxes to increase), the PC government decided to reimplement health care premiums and leave corporate taxes as they are.
- Two-site Cancer Centre: Rather than improving the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, which is right next to the University of Calgary, Mandel as Minister of Health has decided to split the Centre and develop it in the far SE of Calgary. This expansion, which has already been delayed by the PCs for nearly a decade, has been slammed by both staff and patients.
Do you remember in 2008 when the PC government decided to centralize health care in an AHS “superboard” to streamline care for patients? Mandel has decided to decentralize the board again. That’s two massive changes to health care bureaucracy in seven years; no wonder Alberta puts more money per capita into health care than any other province—PC mismanagement. Meanwhile, front-line workers take the brunt of it through cuts and increased workload demands (without adequate compensation).
The race in Edmonton-Whitemud is not expected to be close, with the NDP polling almost two times ahead of the second-place Mandel.
A few months ago, Rick Hanson was the highly-respected Chief of the Calgary Police Service. Hanson worked with school boards to educate youth on the importance of positive relationships. He was Chief of Police when the Youth at Risk Development program was implemented to provide mentors to at-risk youth. Clearly, Hanson thought it important to deter youth away from criminal activity before they became adults.
When the Prentice government announced it would be closing the Calgary Young Offenders Centre, recent PC nominee Rick Hanson was strangely quiet on the subject. Here was the man who had advocated for preventative and rehabilitative measures nearly all his career, and he had nothing to say? Much like Bruce McAllister’s silence on education after crossing the floor, it seems Hanson’s life-long beliefs take a back seat to the wishes of the PC party. Every other party has committed to keeping the Calgary Young Offenders Centre open, so only the re-election of the PCAA will see it shut down and the kids shipped 300 km away to Edmonton.
Hanson’s riding of Calgary-Cross is currently a three-way race, with a slim lead going to the NDP. Hanson is a smart, committed man with values—it’s a shame he chose the PC party.
I have no problem with Jagdeep Sahota, the PC candidate in Calgary-McCall.
What I have a problem with is that Craig Chandler, perpetual loser in provincial and federal politics, is working on her campaign. This is the guy who, as CEO of the Concerned Christian Coalition, was vocally opposed to homosexuality and same-sex marriage. An executive director with the CCC, Stephen Boissoin, wrote a letter that the Alberta Human Rights Commission ruled broke human rights law and may have been connected to the attack on a gay teenager in Red Deer. In 2007, the Stelmach PC government refused to support Chandler’s nomination for the party. In April 2014, Wildrose leader Danielle Smith told Chandler, “I would never let you be a candidate for [Wildrose].” In other words, the two right-wing parties decided Chandler was unsuitable. And yet, here is Chandler working on another PC campaign. “Progressive” Conservatives? How is that?
In April, Chandler hosted a very creepy Ladies Night in which women were required to text or call Chandler on his personal cell for details of the location.
Yesterday, Chandler engaged someone on Twitter who was questioning the Sahota’s recent silence and subsequent increase in communications from Chandler. His response?
— Craig Chandler (@CraigBChandler) May 3, 2015
Good to know that Chandler is using the list of electors for his own political leverage on Twitter. Is this how PC campaign volunteers typically behave? A few days earlier, there were reports of a Sahota campaign volunteer becoming abusive while door-knocking. There’s no proof it was Chandler, but it nonetheless reflects poorly on Sahota, who refused to comment despite multiple requests by the media.
Although he is head of the party that has done one of the quickest dives in Canadian political history, Prentice only earns the no. 2 spot on this list—but not for lack of trying!
During the leaders’ debate, Prentice (who was clearly flustered by NDP leader Rachel Notley) quipped that “math is difficult,” which was largely interpreted by the public as being condescending, sexist, and patronizing.
In response to Dave Beninger on a radio talk show, Prentice declared that “In terms of who is responsible [for Alberta’s financial situation], we need only look in the mirror. Basically, all of us have had the best of everything.”
The PC budget negatively affected virtually all Albertans—except for corporations; Prentice refused to increase corporate taxes despite implementing 59 other tax increases in the budget. One of those tax hikes came as a decreased charitable donation benefit (even while donations to political parties remained untouched). Although this decreased benefit would later be removed from the budget proposal, it reaffirmed Prentice’s commitment not to Albertans, but to Albertan corporations.
The health care premiums, mentioned previously, are largely attributable to Jim Prentice.
Although Bill 10 ultimately falls on him as Premier, I believe there is a bigger failure-to-act in Gordon Dirks.
Overall, it is the perceived arrogance and lack of connection to the average Albertan that I believe will ultimately do in Prentice. His connections to big business haven’t done him any political favours—especially when corporate bigwigs publicly state that if Albertans don’t vote in the PCAA they will stop donating to children’s charities.
There have been disputed reports of how Calgary-Foothills will go. Some put Prentice in first, while other reports have him trailing. Ironically, the worse the PCs do in the rest of the province, the more I want Prentice to win his seat. I’d love nothing more than for him to be the Leader of the Third (or even Fourth) Party.
What can I say about Gordon Dirks that hasn’t already been covered by a hilarious hashtag initiated by Marty Chan?
As far as Prentice’s Ministers go, Dirks has proven himself least competent of the bunch.
When Dirks was first appointed Minister of Education, his ties to Churches preaching that homosexuality is a sin were called into question. Fairly, he was defended by Kris Wells, who stated that his faith should not prevent him from serving in government. Dirks’ conflict between his faith and his responsibilities as Minister of Education would later come into question with Bill 10.
When Bill 10 was introduced in December 2014, it seems completely counter-intuitive to its theoretical purpose. The bill, which dealt with GSAs in Alberta schools, seemed like a cop-out for the PC government. The bill made it possible to move GSAs off school property. The bill gave school boards the right to deny a GSA. The bill would require a student whose GSA request was denied to appeal to the courts to have a ruling overturned.
Just to make sure that’s perfectly clear, the PC government was going to require a student—likely a junior high or high school student, 12-18 years old—to make an appeal to the Court of Queen’s Bench.
This was nothing like Laurie Blakeman’s GSA bill—Bill 202—which had been proposed earlier but was killed by Bill 10.
Throughout all of this, Gordon Dirks was no where to be found. He did not table the bill. He barely said three words during the debate on the bill. He said nothing to support the details of the bill. As Rob Breakenridge wrote, we can only speculate that Bill 10 conflicted with Dirks’ religious beliefs. Since he wouldn’t speak on the matter, I can only agree with Rob.
In March 2015, the PC government drafted an amendment to Bill 10 that did a much better job of protecting GSAs from the whim of a socially-conservative school board or school. Although Dirks and Prentice took a lot of credit for this, the real champions of that fight were the students and supporters who rallied the government during the Legislature’s winter break. It is quite clear that if not for this rally for the cause over the winter, Dirks would not have tabled this amendment and forced through Bill 10 as it was. In fact, when Dirks later took credit for making sure “every student who wants a gay-straight alliance will get one,” he faced quite a public backlash on social media.
Dirks has made a number of lavish claims that are simply untrue. Greg Clark, leader of the Alberta Party and fellow Calgary-Elbow candidate, did a wonderful fact check on Dirks’ very own printed advertisement. In it, Clark calls Dirks out on his lies, silence on issues, and shady practices.
On April 28, an education forum was held at Mount Royal University in Calgary-Elbow. That’s a forum in Dirks’ riding on the topic of which he is the government minister. Dirks failed to appear.
Finally, Dirks has been accused by the Alberta Ethics Commissioner of “blatant political opportunism” for approving a number of developments at a school in his riding just days before the byelection that would see him elected to the Legislature. At that point, he was Minister of Education but not yet an MLA. The Ethics Commissioner’s declaration was ignored by the PCAA, with no apparent sanction or change of party procedure.
Dirks faces a very tight race in Calgary-Elbow with the NDP and Greg Clark. The Liberal Party took criticism after adding an eleventh-hour candidate, who it is believed will steal votes from Clark. We shall see if this decision costs Clark his seat.
In 2012, Christine Cusanelli was forced to repay over $10,000 in expenses incurred within the first five months of joining Cabinet, including $4,000 for flying her mother and daughter along with her to the London Olympics.
During this election campaign, Cusanelli appears to have accessed an email distribution list for Catholic schools in her Calgary-Currie riding for her own political gain. Her email to constituents—and the response from one of those constituents—can be seen in the attachment.
There were reports of Cusanelli campaigning on school property in 2012 and there have been reports of her campaign signs directly next to schools in this election. As a former principal and cabinet minister, Cusanelli should really know better.
Cusanelli’s riding is currently very close, with a slight edge in the polls going to the NDP.
I am somewhat reluctant to add Thomas Lukaszuk to this list. In many ways, I think our social philosophies are closely-aligned. He has been the most vocal opposition to stupid policies from within the PCAA, including his open opposition to the initial drafts of Bill 10. He is witty, committed, and truly appears to care for his constituents in Edmonton-Castle Downs.
However, he was the Minister of Advanced Education in the Redford government when they promised a 7.2% increase in funding and instead slashed funding by 2%—coming in at 9.2% less than promised. Those kinds of cuts will take years to recover from, although if the PCAA is re-elected more cuts are coming. Although Lukaszuk’s willingness to engage on Twitter during these times can be seen as admirable, his sassy “#winks” and tendency to block those with dissenting opinions put him more in the ad hominem category than the good debater category.
Lukaszuk’s riding of Edmonton-Castle Downs seems to be favouring the NDP. In this case, I truly believe Lukaszuk’s affiliation with the PCAA is hurting him more than it’s helping.