UCP Nomination Contests Provide More Drama

Another addition to the seemingly never-ending saga of the UCP nomination races came on Saturday when apparent front-runner S. Todd Beasley in Brooks-Medicine Hat either was asked to withdraw or resigned over “inappropriate posts” he “makes no apologies for“.  According to a recent Facebook post by Darryl Kropielnicki, the former candidate for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, he has yet to receive a response as to why his candidacy was disallowed.  Grassroots Guarantees aside, the UCP looks like it is putting together the team they want to run in 2019 rather than the representation members are looking for.

Photo: Monty Kruger/CBC

Back at the “Ralph Revival” UCP fundraiser last November, a “youth outreach team” was announced.  Their goal was to try to build the conservative base with younger Albertans.  As many people point out at Conservative town halls or get-togethers, the audience tends to skew heavily toward the 50+ age group.

50+ year olds are great for donations and unquestioning loyalty, but they don’t secure the future of the Party as well as younger members.  As one acquaintance suggested, the UCP is creating a “progressive-looking veneer” with fresh-faced youth.  To disagree with former candidate S. Todd Beasley’s blog post “MLA is not an Entry-Level Position“, when you’re building a team of potential yes-men; the younger, the better.

The UCP has also taken criticism for not having as many female representatives as other parties.  It should be noted the candidates for nomination who have been given notice in the 11th hour in Fort Saskatchwan-Vegreville and Brooks-Medicine Hat were both male.  They were also both the only male candidate contesting the nomination in each riding.  While they obviously made the right decision with respect to Beasley, it’s looking less like an exception and more like a rule.

There is a third possibility as well, or perhaps a third “strike”.  The “merger” of the PC and Wildrose parties put all members on “equal footing”; or so they thought.   While a number of women from the legacy Wildrose party have been allowed to run, the men appear to be finding less support for their potential candidacy.

Fildebrandt was disallowed from running in the riding of his choice, and five other legacy Wildrose MLAs aren’t running again; Don MacIntyre (for obvious reasons), Scott Cyr, David Schneider, Pat Stier, Brian Jean.   The inner circle of male members have all received a pass so far but others are facing contested nominations.

While outsiders may argue this tactic of picking winners and losers further degrades the democratic process or “grassroots” input, and it does, that isn’t the point.  This doesn’t seem to be about fairness or the membership or even representation.  It looks like this is about who will work for the Party.  Future nomination candidates may need to take a good look in the mirror and figure out if they look, and will act, the part of this new “team”; and save both their time and money if not.

This article contains both opinion and fact.  Links to supporting documentation provided.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean