Craig Chandler would be the perfect test case for Alberta Opposition Leader Jason Kenney's new database for identifying and rooting out would-be members, volunteers and candidates whose views are too extreme for the United Conservative Party.
If Chandler doesn't set all the alarm bells ringing, the database doesn't work properly.
Seriously, the guy's got enough nutty ideas to fill eight blog posts. I know, because I wrote them.
It's too bad the database Kenney was musing about on Tuesday wasn't ready last summer, because Chandler -- who seems to be the whack-a-mole of Alberta conservative politics -- resurfaced in July as a volunteer organizer for a United Conservative Party nomination candidate.
And it's too bad it wasn't ready last week, when Chandler popped onto the public radar again, this time accusing an Alberta Party candidate of having "no morals" on a Calgary radio station’s Facebook page.
When Angela Kokott shot back with a reminder that Chandler was kicked off the Progressive Conservative Party's Provincial Board last year for accusing Earl's Restaurants of promoting terrorism by doing business with a meat-packing company that sells a line of halal meat, the self-described "businessman, pundit, and political and religious activist" doubled down. "For the record, I stand by what I said, and have never apologized and never will," Chandler said in the exchange that was spotted by the sharp-eyed editors at Press Progress.
His hasty exit from the PC board wasn't the first time Chandler has been in trouble with his fellow conservatives. He has the rare distinction of having been sent packing for his opinions by the leaders of both the PC and Wildrose parties!
Both PC premier Ed Stelmach and Wildrose leader Danielle Smith obviously saw Chandler as a burning Lake of Fire on the verge of overflowing.
In 2014, after her party's politically fatal experience with the original Lake of Fire in 2012, Smith learned Chandler was seeking a Wildrose nomination. "Your views & how you express them are wrong for Wildrose and Alberta. I would never let you be a candidate for #wrp," she Tweeted to him.
Back in 2007, a horrified premier Ed Stelmach gave Chandler the bum's rush after he somehow got nominated as the PC candidate in the Calgary Edgemont riding. This happened soon after a group he headed called the Concerned Christian Coalition published an anti-gay epistle that attracted the negative attention of the Alberta Human Rights Commission. (Chandler said he didn’t write the letter.)
Of course, he is most famous for telling folks from elsewhere in Canada that if they want to move to Alberta, part of the deal is they have to vote Conservative. "You came here to enjoy our economy, our natural beauty and more," he famously said in 2012. "This is our home and if you wish to live here, you must adapt to our rules and our voting patterns, or leave. Conservatism is our culture. Do not destroy what we have created."
Well, that was before Albertans elected an NDP government.
Chandler is a true Westerner. That is, he comes from somewhere west of Toronto. Maybe Hamilton, where he went to university. He ran unsuccessfully for public office in Ontario before coming to the greener pastures of Alberta in 1995 with the same result.
In his years here, he has done things like organize events at which supporters could shoot real guns at targets with Liberal Party logos on them. He argues Christians are a persecuted group. He used to answer his telephone by barking "Happy Capitalism!"
In addition to his strongly held and frequently repeated hostility to LGBTQ rights and Islamic beliefs, Chandler (or groups he is associated with) have at various times attacked multiculturalism, human rights commissions, "forced bilingualism," unions, First Nations sovereignty, improvements to the Canada Pension Plan, and international environmental agreements.
He is not against everything, however. He supports wide-open gun laws, privatization of public services, selling off the Workers Compensation Board, and U.S. style "right to work" laws.
In 2015 he formed a group called "the Alberta Business and Taxpayers Coalition" and sent an 11-page, single-spaced letter to then NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, with copies to media, demanding the party dump Toronto candidate Linda McQuaig. He included supporting quotes from Vladimir Lenin, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and P.J. O’Rourke.
In the federal election that fall, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who was running in the same riding, solved Chandler's problem -- although probably in a way he didn’t approve of -- by beating McQuaig.
He once called your blogger, by the way, a "modern day Nazi who attacks anyone of faith" for criticizing some of TV host Ezra Levant's comments on a secular topic.
I think by now readers will get the picture.
Meanwhile, getting back to Kenney's database, he told reporters at the Legislature that "what we can maybe do is look into the dark corners of the Internet to some of these hate sites, come up with names of people who are associated with some of these extremist organizations."
"At least we have a database of those people so if they apply for a membership, a flag comes up," he said in response to reporters’ questions about Adam Strashok, the young fellow who oversaw Kenney's leadership campaign call centre while dabbling in a website that sold white-supremacist T-shirts and do-dads.
Actually, Kenney doesn't really need a database to find out all about Chandler. And yet, unlike the PC and Wildrose parties, he still seems to be welcome with the UCP.
This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.
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