S. Todd Beasley has been in the news for the past couple of weeks but that isn’t new to him. Mr. Beasley held a Facebook Live event tonight and at one point there were 135 people viewing. There will be many more after his story gets out.
I spoke to Mr. Beasley last Friday and he mostly reiterated things he had said on Danielle Smith’s show. Tonight though, he was well prepared. He began by acknowledging he “went over the line” with the comments he had made. Unfortunately, he had not made that absolutely clear previously. He probably realized that after the press kept coming… either that or he’s found his “politician’s legs”.
Todd’s story isn’t exceptional. He has been very successful in business, been a very active community volunteer and received recognition for both. He’s also not happy he was disqualified from seeking the UCP nomination. More specifically, he’s not happy with the way Jason Kenney and the UCP are handling the democracy the Party claims to hold so dear.
The latter began prior to his disqualification. He said the UCP board had requested a nominee election to be held in the fall, after harvest, as many people in rural areas are especially busy over the summer. That was denied. The call to open the nomination process was rushed, he explained, as the Party opened the nominations on a Friday night and provided a closing date for applications one week after.
Michaela Glasgo, Cypress Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes’ former constituency assistant, was also running for the nomination. She had become fairly active on the #ableg feed on Twitter months before. Everyone who pays attention to that knew she was running. What people in the riding may not have known at that time is that she might have been what Beasley referred to as a “preferred candidate”.
After the nomination deadline closed, Glasgo received endorsements from Rachel Harder, MP Lethbridge, Garnett Genuis, MP Sherwood Park – Fort Saskatchewan, MLA Drew Barnes and, “for geographical reasons”, the mayor of Medicine Hat, Ted Clugston. Even though her resume consists of graduating in 2016, working for Drew Barnes and a few conservative projects, she received the UCP’s nod. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that.
One person attending the event in person asked how they managed to get Beasley’s name off the ballot as he was notified on the Friday evening before the vote was to take place on Monday. As a person who was, briefly, involved on the inside of political event planning, I know how quickly things can turn and still come out looking like it was meant to be that way all along. But it’s still a good question. In the recent Innisfail-Sylvan Lake nomination process a person who thought they were a candidate discovered his name was not on the ballot only after he arrived.
While Beasley said a number of times throughout his speech that he realized he “went over the line”, that he apologized for the statement but not the sentiment (of fighting against hate), he maintains strong convictions on the subject. Quoting Stephen Harper in 2015, he said “(t)he international jihadist movement has declared war. They have declared war on anybody who does not think and act exactly as they wish they would think and act.”
And then he said something really interesting; in reference to Muslims who are not jihadists he stated “the peaceful majority is irrelevant”.. As examples, he brought up Germany under the Nazis, mass starvation in Russia and China and war crimes in Japan. “They were hijacked by the minority” he said. The peaceful majority is irrelevant when they are silent. Preach.
I half expected him to relate this silent majority to what he alludes is going on in the Party. He did not. I did. Even so, he was somewhat clear on one thing: people must support the United Conservative Party. Unfortunately, listening to his story, even a member of the audience asked “how can we, in good conscience, support the Party?” Exactly the point.
With reference to a vote split, Beasley doesn’t believe that is possible. “We could run 5 year-olds and they would win in 90% of the ridings” he declared. While this could be referring to the people’s faith in the Party, it also speaks to the fact that there are too many voters who don’t care at all who they are voting for, so long as the word “conservative” is by their name. And that’s what Beasley also said is wrong with the current decision-making process for UCP nominations and candidates.
“Mr. Kenney, if you’re listening, you’re not doing right by the people of Alberta.”
Beasley stated his confidence in saying the “election and the result (in Brooks-Medicine Hat) are illegitimate. If this is allowed to stand this is an incredible injustice to the people of Brooks-Medicine Hat.” He encouraged people to write the party and the newspapers. “Not in support of me” he said, but in support of a fair election process where the people have a say.
After his speech, I’m not at all certain the UCP did the right thing. While they have the right, even the duty, to select candidates that will be palatable to the general electorate, Todd Beasley is open and honest. He doesn’t hide what he believes. Other UCP candidates are looking for a “foot in the door” to introduce policies to restrict women’s rights.
Did he make some poorly worded comments? Absolutely; but the UCP proudly stands behind a guy who fired a woman who reported sexual harassment, nine guys who suggested the carbon tax was equivalent to the Holomodor, another guy who said “gays can marry, but not each other” and removed information about gay rights from citizenship guides… this is a partial list but the point should be obvious; rejecting a candidate for a couple of comments, since deleted and even retracted, appears unjustified.
Does he hold some unpopular views on immigration? Not in his riding, no. And these opinions are not new. The idea that immigrants “must accept Canadian values” as he so simply put it, is exactly what I thought as an untraveled, inexperienced and over-protected 13 year-old Manning supporter in a white, Christian, English-speaking rural Alberta town.
This is what Kellie Leitch advocated for as a Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate. This is what Michelle Rempel uses to galvanize big-C Conservatives across the country. This is from the top. And Jason Kenney, for all his work as Minister of Immigration, is part of this. Maybe he considers himself part of the peaceful majority. In reality, he may turn out to be the king-maker of Conservatives in Alberta. They will take Alberta back if they get the chance; back to when, exactly, is a topic of steady debate.
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Categories: Alberta Politics