Progress Report #159
Your weekly update on Alberta politics for March 25, 2019
The election is on. Now’s the time to step up
We’re 24 days out from the provincial election and things are looking tough. Notley packed the room at the Polish Hall in Edmonton, where she announced 2000 new long-term care beds for seniors and a solid investment in the $25-a-day daycare program if re-elected. But there’s more to this province than Edmonton, and in rural areas especially the polls are in the UCP’s favour.
If you haven’t stepped up to get involved in this election now is the time. We urge you to get involved with a candidate you support while there’s still a chance of keeping the UCP out. If you don’t want to be involved with a political party, then volunteer with us–just reply to this email and I’ll get you on board. If you have money but not time, please pitch in to support the campaign. Despite all the UCP gaffes and scandals they’re still leading the polls and we need to fight hard, every day through to election day.
Two UCP campaigns immediately implode
We’ve officially been in election season for not even a week and two UCP candidates have already bozo’d themselves right out of the race.
In Calgary-Mountain View Jason Kenney had personally installed Caylan Ford, formerly a policy adviser with the foreign affairs department, as a star candidate. Ford’s candidacy obviously meant a great deal to Kenney, who waived the UCP’s normal residency restrictions, knocked another candidate (Mark Hlady) out of the way, and even had Laureen Harper out knocking on doors for her.
Tuesday morning Press Progress reported that another conservative activist had leaked conversations to them in which Caylan Ford expressed white supremacist opinions. Among other things Ford wrote that she was “saddened” by the “demographic replacement of white peoples in their homelands.” By the end of the day, she was out, having resigned in disgrace. For more context on exactly why this ‘demographic replacement’ canard is such dangerous talk I would point you to this excellent Twitter thread by Avnish Nanda.
Ford’s political implosion was repeated only a few days later as the UCP candidate for Calgary-South East, Eva Kiryakos, was revealed to have posted quite the collection of bigoted comments on both Twitter and Facebook. As seems to be rote for problematic UCP candidates at this point Kiryakos directed most of her ire at two groups: Muslims and trans people. By yesterday evening, Kiryakos was out too, but not before releasing an absurd sorry-not-sorry video that I imagine the UCP wishes she hadn’t.
Neither candidate offered any apology for their statements, and both now claim to be the victims in their respective scandals. Kiryakos’ posts are so bluntly and plainly awful that we’ve probably seen the last of her. But Ford’s more academic language seems to have muddied things enough that one imagines she’ll be getting a Quillette or Post Millenial column soon enough. For now Ford continues to enjoy the support of a number of prominent UCP activists and candidates.
- The NDP threw one of the hardest political punches I’ve ever seen at Jason Kenney this week with the release of a ‘mini-documentary’ video detailing his participation in a campaign that overturned a spousal rights law in San Francisco–specifically the rights of gay men, at the height of the AIDS crisis, to visit their partners in hospitals and to access their shared effects after a partner had died. The cruelty involved in taking that right away is practically absurd, but Jason Kenney boasted of how doing it “brought him closer to the church.” The testimonials in the video are chilling.
- In Edmonton, public school board trustees are calling for new funding for the 15,000 or so new students who will be entering the public system next year. It’s a clear display of disapproval from the EPSB towards announcements by the UCP that if elected, Kenney would freeze education funding.
- Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel decried the wastefulness of AHS still issuing paper health cards, proposing that if elected he would ensure the province moved to issuing digital health cards. Yes, the same Stephen Mandel who was health minister as recently as 2014, but who didn’t just do it back then for whatever reason. Not an exciting policy week for the beleaguered Alberta Party really.
- Some nonsense occurred with a traffic sign at a Kenney media scrum on Friday. Not nice?
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