Don’t Hate the Player; Hate the Game

K.C. Green, Gunshow, 2013

Last week ended with more allegations of lies and crooked party politics within candidate nomination races.  For the first time in over a year, these allegations weren’t leveled at the United Conservative Party (well, there was one against them but let’s save that for another post).  These allegations were against the NDP.

2018 was a pretty busy year for the UCP fielding seemingly endless complaints about nominations processes, party interference and fraud.  Jason Kenney and the UCP have been consistently called out for “massaging the truth” and deliberately spreading misinformation.  The NDP, unfortunately, is making up for lost time.

Premier Rachel Notley came under fire back in November after Robyn Luff, the MLA for Calgary East (who was removed from the Party after making a public statement against “bullying” within caucus), sparked interest in the possibility that the NDP was hiding allegations of sexual harassment complaints against caucus members.  The Premier said she had no knowledge of such complaints just before her office admitted there had been two.  The Premier then stated the identities of those MLAs would remain confidential to protect the accusers.

Alberta Party MLA Karen McPherson (Calgary-MacKay-Nose Hill) has been the steady voice from the legislature in requesting transparency as the NDP has remained firm in their refusal to name names.  I have to say that if the accuser of former Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Don MacIntyre can give a press conference after his sentencing and still maintain her anonymity, the Premier seems more inclined to protect the accused than the accusers.

Last week we were inundated with a twisted little story about Shannon Philips, Minister of the Environment, who announced cancellations of the in-person town halls for the Bighorn Park proposal.  The Minister claimed there were police investigations into allegations of bullying and intimidation (which turned out not to be true). The Minister apologized, saying she misspoke, but the hounds had already been released.  

The UCP’s Jason Kenney and Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel both called for the Premier to remove Minister Philips from her appointment for misinforming the public.  If the Minister did knowingly and purposefully mislead Albertans, the calls for her resignation are reasonable.  They should also serve as a warning for future Ministers though I doubt “team players” will bother holding their own to account.

Before the week was out, what has become a regular problem for the UCP finally hit the governing Party, a complaint alleging fraud within an NDP nomination contest in Calgary North – East.  Similar to the many complaints about the UCP’s willingness to overlook internal Party issues when the preferred candidate is successful, the complainant asserts the NDP also ignored allegations of fraudulent activity. 

I admit I am an idealist; I want good people elected to do good things for my province.  If they have to lie, cheat and steal to do that, should it really matter?  People often say, “don’t hate the player, hate the game”.  As Albertans, we should already be painfully aware governance has consequences that extend well beyond the allotted playing time.

This post contains both fact and opinion. 

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean

[email protected]

@Mitchell_AB @thisweekinAB