We saw it in Alberta in 2017: conservative slates for city counsel and school board trustees. Word on the street was there were offers of voter lists and campaign teams, a small stipend of a thousand dollars and all they had to do was pledge their allegiance to the conservative cause. In some areas of Alberta, it worked.
In the Calgary municipal election, a few trustee candidates banded together calling themselves “Students Count“. One of the slate’s original candidates resigned due to issues with behaviour on her social media account. Three of the slate’s remaining candidates, Mike Bradshaw, Lisa Davis and Althea Adams, were elected.
Ties to Jason Kenney, who endorsed the group, as seen through the slate’s members Bianca Smetacek (Venkat) an ardent Jason Kenney supporter and Davis a former PC board member, were shrugged off by Adams. Davis announced her intention to run for the UCP less than a year later.
A number of Conservative supporters also put their weight behind Bill Smith for Mayor. Quito Maggi, President of Mainstreet Research, published polls showing a clear win for Smith. The results were disputed by professionals in Alberta with some suggesting Mainstreet was attempting to influence the election.
The agenda appears harmless enough; Conservative supporters want Conservative policies. But we don’t elect political parties; we elect people.
What the Jason Kenneys and Doug Fords are showing us, is they actually want less opposition to their priorities. Because the leader makes the decisions; not Parties, not Members, and certainly not every supporter.
Many people have an idea of who Jason Kenney is. A decade in Ottawa has allowed him the opportunity to show who and what he supports and also who and what he does not support. Doug Ford? He’s the guy who won’t let a court tell him other people’s rights matter (which Kenney showed support for previously). And that’s why Ford’s tacit endorsement of someone who once tweeted Canada should be “96% Euro-Canadian” is more than a little concerning.
Making headlines in Ontario as Toronto moves toward a municipal election are the overtly Conservative-leaning candidates for Mayor and School Board Trustees. Faith Goldy, former Rebel Media Commentator and alleged Nazi-apologist, has put her name forward for Mayor, to ongoing controversy and Ford’s “confidante”, Sandro Lisi, is running for a trustee role with the Toronto Board of Education.
Federally we have Maxime Bernier pushing the limits of tolerance and respect for our fellow human beings under the guise of “freedom”. When that “freedom” is only afforded to certain people, it’s not really “freedom”, is it?
And speaking of “free”, we can certainly credit Trump for managing to blow a lot of wind into the sails of white nationalism. Unfortunately, like much American spillage, white nationalism has been welcomed in Canada as well.
The outrage over a white Canadian perpetrating a mass shooting at a Quebec Mosque was dwarfed by the outrage over a refugee arrested for murder in B.C.. The outrage over a refugee who allegedly assaulted three girls at a pool in Alberta can still be heard but few are discussing the gymnastics coach who allegedly repeatedly assaulted six young girls.
Many have worked to normalize racism, exalt homophobia, and keep ‘others’ in their place. Their hard work is paying off as individuals use the mask of political parties and connections to gain favour with the general public. But we don’t elect political parties; we elect people.