Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Saga of Craig Chandler

When the saga of Craig Chandler broke this fall, I didn't blog about it. As much fun as it would have been to skewer Craig (and after reading this post, you'll fully appreciate just how much fun it is!), the fact was he was just some guy going for the Tory nomination and I didn't think comments of his, no matter how ridiculous they sounded, were really newsworthy until he became an official candidate.

Luckily for us, that day has arrived.

For those unfamiliar with Craig Chandler, as they say in Pushing Daisies, the facts were these:

-If you're from outside Alberta, you might remember Craig Chandler as the guy who showed up with between zero and six delegates (depending who you ask) at the 2003 leadership race and threw his support behind Jim Prentice, much to the dismay of the Prentice team. In the words of wikipedia:

The night before the PC leadership convention, Chandler delivered a platform that the Canadian Press described as homophobic, fundamentalist and "neoconservative to the bone." James Muldoon, a fundraiser for front runner Peter MacKay, described Chandler as "the true black face of neoconservatism. He could live to be 100 and he'll never know the meaning of, I am my brother's keeper." [1]. Chandler's statements were called "bitter and resentful" by MacKay, whom Chandler criticized for supporting of the passage of Criminal Code of Canada amendment Bill C-250 that added homosexuals to the list of groups protected by hate crimes legislation.

-You may also remember Craig as the guy who organized a fundraiser where you could pay to shoot guns at Liberal logos.

-Craig has been a member of the Reform Party, Social Credit Party, Progressive Conservatives (federal and provincial), and Canadian Alliance. He the campaign manager for the Alberta Alliance candidate in Calgary Egmont last election. I remember him showing up at the all candidates debate and asking an abortion question last time.

-In August, Craig got headlines by posting the following online:

To those of you who have come to our great land from out of province, you need to remember that you came here to our home and we vote conservative. You came here to enjoy our economy, our natural beauty and more. 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.

-You can watch the CTV recap here, featuring a great closing tag by Darrell Janz: that Craig has the nomination, I think it's fair to ask a few questions that have been on my mind for quite some time:

1. Ed Stelmach responded to Craig's initial comments by saying "This province has welcomed newcomers and we will continue to welcome newcomers.” Why then, did his communications director use the same talking points as Craig to blame Stelmach's plunging poll numbers on new Albertans?

2. If people have to "adapt or leave" to the political culture of where they live, does that mean that Craig needs to leave a "left of centre" country like Canada? Should Conservatives be forced to leave Redmonton? Or does Chandler's advice only hold true for provinces?

3. If it only holds true for provinces, should Conservatives who move to Ontario be forced to "adapt or leave"? Is that why Craig left Ontario in the 90s?

4. Do current Albertans need to leave too? 53% of Albertans voted against the PCs last election. In fairness, Craig has clarified his comments to say that he meant small "c" conservatism. Still, 42.2% of voters voted for the Liberals, NDP, or Greens last provincial election in Alberta. Should they "adapt or leave" or is it only newcomers who need to? And what of the 60% of Albertans who didn't vote last election? If they didn't feel strongly enough about the PCs to take 15 minutes to vote for them, should they "adapt or leave" too?

5. If "Conservatism is Alberta's culture and we don't want it destroyed", should the culture be protected? But...if conservatives believe culture shouldn't be protected (damn the CBC!) isn't that a contradiction? How should we protect Alberta's conservative culture? Subsidize the Western Standard? Build more statues of Peter Lougheed? As a big culture guy, I'm open to ideas.

6. Chandler says newcomers should adapt to Alberta's "voting patterns". But, if over half of Albertans didn't vote last time, isn't our "voting pattern" just not voting. So, should newcomers simply not vote, then? Or, if he means historical voting patterns, Alberta's historical voting pattern is to kick the incumbents out after 30 years or so...if that's the case, we're due for a government change.

7. Does Chandler feel we should do something to restrict entry into Alberta? Should people take a test in conservatism before they are allowed to move here? Or will defacing a Pierre Trudeau portrait be enough to grant them residency?

8. How does Chandler reconcile these two statements?

Media Release: "Some in our party have become complacent and think we have the natural right to govern because we are conservatives."

Website: "Craig Chandler is seeking the riding nomination for the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party. We all know that whoever wins the nomination will surely become your next MLA."

The obvious conclusion is that Craig Chandler is among the "some in our party" but I don't quite think that's what he's getting at...

9. On Chandler's website he talks about putting Alberta's democratic house in order. Is telling people how they should vote part of this?

10. On CTV, Chandler talks about the conservative philosophy of "not spending, and not going into debt". Given that the Tories increased spending by 17% in their spring budget and are intent on going into debt with a wide range of P3 projects, do they really represent Alberta's culture of conservatism? What does Craig think of the front page "Alberta to take on debt for deal?" headline he no doubt read in the Herald yesterday?

11. If Chandler explains the drop in Stelmach's Calgary support from 59% in January to 30% in August as being because of these foreigners moving to Alberta, wouldn't it mathematically stand to reason that Calgary's population has at least doubled in the last 9 months? If so, how come no one else has noticed?

12. Chandler discounts the poll because it was conducted by Cameron Strategies who poll for Dave Bronconnier. But didn't Cameron Strategies also poll for Lyle Oberg during the PC leadership race?

13. Was Chandler's September 19th press release intended to be satircal or was that just a delightfully enjoyable typo?

> Wednesday, September 19, 2007
> Record Membership Sales After Media Attacks

14. Why did Chandler edit his blog post and "than" lie in a Herald Op-ed about what he'd said originally on this blog?

15. Will Ed Stelmach support the will of a local riding association and sign Craig's nomination papers or will he oust his democratically nominated candidate?

As a constituent in Calgary Egmont, I'm a little torn about this one. Having Craig Chandler as my MLA is a scary thought but, at the same time, it puts a riding that was never going to elect a Liberal MLA before into play. The Alberta Liberals have nominated former Catholic school board trustee Cathie Williams in the riding - quite the catch. Cathie is an accomplished woman who is smart, politically astute, passionate about policy, and not Craig Chandler. These four qualities of hers should make Calgary Egmont a riding to watch during the upcoming provincial election.



  • Ugh. Makes me wish we had a primary-style system for nominations, so that the candidates more-or-less reflect the typical supporter of that party.

    Somewhat interesting: According to this page, the PC riding president for Egmont is David Crutcher. Crutcher was the Alberta Alliance candidate in Egmont in 2004, and was Chandler's preferred candidate for leader of that party in 2005.

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 5:46 PM  

  • First, props to Dan. Another excellent post.

    Second, I've been saying that Kevin Taft's entire speech pattern should consist of "Kevin Taft - Auditor General - Alberta - Stelmach can't govern, just listen to him" or the like. To this delightful mix I would now add "Craig Chandler". Make CC the fucking straw man of the campaign.

    By Blogger matt, at 7:25 PM  

  • Mmm mmm - manna from heaven.

    By Blogger Glen, at 1:20 AM  

  • Yes, excellent, excellent post.

    People like Mr. Chandler are really the worst part of our democratic system - people who hate others who don't agree. Can't we just politely disagree and still like and understand each other? There's people like him in every party, though I admit I'm hard-pressed to name any of his caliber. I'm always sorry to hear this kind of talk, but it is undeniably particularly bad in this case.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 10:11 AM  

  • Fran from Medicine Hat commetns - Calgary Grit this was a refreshing summary, and a qick reference for the Liberal Team of Cathie Williams in Calgary-Egmont. Interstingly, the PC Assn. website is still (Monday a.m.) NOT listing Craig as their nominated candidate. I think that by posting his numbers (a resounding win) the PC Assn. dominated by Craig's buddies are premptively trying to intimidate Stelmach - when you get twice the vote of your nearest contender, it would seem you should be secure. I know that the PC Nomination process is much more lax - but are there any PC Party types who know if there are "rules of conduct" etc. that Chandler will have to abide by? Any chance that Stelmach, after party approval of Chandler to be a Contestant for the Nomination, will have a hope in hell of NOT signing his Candidate Forms? Stelmach has totally lost control of Calgary Nominations - who's the Election Point-Person for the PC Party in Calgary? God help them!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:02 AM  

  • "...the PC riding president for Egmont is David Crutcher." Gee, do I smell another 'PC nomination skulduggery' lawsuit in the offing?

    I've never voted Lie-beral in my life, but if I lived in Calgary Egmont I would in the next election. I would strongly encourage anyone living there thinking of voting NDP, Green, AA or other to vote for Cathie Williams to keep Craig out!

    By Anonymous Iwannapuke, at 2:01 PM  

  • What I sincerely hope happens in Egmont is the widespread realization that this is now a choice between an often irrational, malignant pundit, and an experienced, thoughtful Alberta Liberal candidate with a proven record of leadership and community service.

    While Chandler was making radio shows that had to be pulled off the air because of complaints filed through the Alberta Human Rights Commission, Williams was busy trying to improve our province’s education system through her work as a Separate School Board Trustee.

    This is what the Tories suggest should represent Calgarians, citizens of one of the greatest cities in the world? Give me a break – he couldn’t represent a small farming community in the 1880s.

    This is the New Tory Party. Albertans are expected to get on for the ride. Or leave. Or don’t vote.

    Totally unbelievable.

    By Blogger Matt Grant, at 4:11 PM  

  • This riding may indeed be in play in the next provincial election except for one problem. Cathie Williams has her own problem/baggage. No, I don't mean her tussle with Michael O'Malley (who really should grow up, IMHO). I mean the way she waited until after she filed her nomination papers for re-election to the Catholic School Board and nominations were closed, and THEN said she did not want to run again. As I see it, the only way this kind of behavior would have been excusable would be if she had suddenly received some bad news about her health or the health of a loved one, which apparently was NOT the case. If she wants to be taken seriously as a candidate in the next provincial election, she is going to have to explain this, and explain it good.

    By Blogger Brian in Calgary, at 4:22 PM  

  • Yes, Brian, that is indeed quite the baggage...

    Oh wait, no here is baggage.

    "And so how do you know that these genetic mis-interpretations (homosexuals) are not from the Devil himself? And if they're born with that genetic weakness, maybe there's something we can do to alter that genetic weakness, like hormones, or steroids, or something".

    -Removed from Craig Chandler's Freedom Radio Network website after a settlement arranged through the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

    I wonder if Chandler would have pushed to have these treatments paid for by tax dollars? I find it hard to believe a private system would have successfully addressed this "problem".

    By Blogger Matt Grant, at 4:44 PM  

  • Cathie's reasoning is that she was just so fed up dealing with the province on education that she wanted to run. She could have kept her school board job and run from there like a few trustees and aldermen will likely do, but that would have set up a costly by election.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 5:39 PM  

  • CG,

    As a PC (though not a Calgary-Egmont resident) I am dismayed that Chandler appears to have won the nomination for the next election.

    However, I would point out two things that your post (and some of the commenters in their glee) fail to mention:

    1. The PC party leader does not "rule from above" in nomination races. Unlike the Federal Liberals, or maybe even the ALP (haven't bothered to check), the Leader does not annoint a candidate and forbid others from running - either officially or unofficially. To me, doing so would be the real affront to democracy, yet the Liberal Party has a record of going against their local constituency associations with impunity. Please reconcile.

    2. Three people contested the PC nomination in Calgary-Egmont. Numerous other ridings currently held by a Liberal incumbent in Edmonton have seen multiple contestants for the PC nomination. How many Alberta Liberal nominations ANYWHERE have been contested? Was the apparent "star candidate" Williams annointed, or was she just the only one who bothered to toss her name in? And what of Kevin Taft's prior musings about getting a woman to contest every riding nomination? Your leader and the ALP appear woefully short on both counts.

    I don't contest the idea that the PC's have a possible problem with potential scenarios of a Chandler-type hijacking a nomination, only to possibly lose the real contest to come. But the fact that anyone can run for the nomination is not something to be embarassed about.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:00 PM  

  • Anonymous at 4 p.m may need to be reminded that the federal Tory party has recently dropped two Toronto area candidates Mark Warner and Brent Barr who were were duly elected by their EDA's.

    By Blogger Loraine Lamontagne, at 6:59 PM  

  • From his site:

    "The Freedom Radio Network is owned by 4 partners of which Craig Chandler is one of them."

    With copy like that - how could he not win?

    By Blogger Ian, at 7:01 PM  

  • Cathie's reasoning is that she was just so fed up dealing with the province on education that she wanted to run.

    CG - Interesting reasoning, but it doesn't quite cover it in my opinion. It is not her decision to go provincial that can cause her problems but the timing of her decision. If she wasn't "fed up" at the time she filed her nomination papers, then she will have to explain what happened to make her fed up, and when it happened. If she was already fed up, then she will have to explain why she filed nomination papers in the first place. And, if by chance she only decided to go provincial (after she filed her nomination papers) because of an offer or request of some sort by the Alberta Liberal Party, then the Liberals themselves will also have to explain themselves.

    By Blogger Brian in Calgary, at 10:31 PM  

  • Craig Chandler will be a huge headache for Ed.

    Craig has been critical of Ed and has a poor record as a team player.

    You can bet that Calgary - Egmont will send a full slate of 15 delegates who will vote for a leadership review when the time comes.

    But really is that a bad thing? I'm ready for round to and I hope Dinning is as well.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:53 AM  

  • Fran Irwin in Medicine Hat comments: Brian in Calgary, you observed that: "Cathie Williams has her own problem/baggage...the way she waited until after she filed her nomination papers for re-election to the Catholic School Board and nominations were closed, and THEN said she did not want to run again."

    Brian, I recalled reading that there have already been 2 or 3 PC Candidates nominated or seeking nomination who were just elected in our Municipal Elections. Happened to have saved this (being from southern AB and all) From
    Local News
    Macleod mayor to run for MLA
    Nov 1, 2007, 22:32
    "Shawn Patience has launched a new campaign. The re-elected mayor of Fort Macleod is running for the provincial Conservative nomination in the Livingstone Macleod riding. Win or lose, he says, he'll continue working for the citizens of the town." (Just checked PC website, he was unsuccessful.)

    So Brian, the Alberta PC's have been scrambling to fill some of their Nominations with folks already elected Municipally - I can't comment this Mayor from Ft. McLeod - perhaps he is a "wishy washy" sort who just couldn't decide where his political future lies - or maybe the PCs were really desperate - or maybe he was recruited by voters - have no idea. But the argument you present against Cathie Williams in Calary-Edgmont is pretty weak in the light of PC Nomination Candidates who were actually elected a few short weeks ago and now have jumped ship to try their run Provincially. This stuff happens in politics, for a variety of reasons, and many of those reasons have nothing to do with the character of the individual involved - and can indeed reflect the pressures all parties have to recruit the best, the most winnable candidates possible, neither of these conditions, I would argue, could be applied to Craig Chandler's candidacy...he is what most would describe as a "wing-nut" (no offence Craig! because you were successful in the tried and true game of PC nominations - 1) take over the Constituency Assn. with your supporters; 2) buy/sell those $5 memberships like crazy;
    3) get your vote out (rented buses and taxi vouchers work really well)
    4) bus in the local Hutterite colony (OOOPS - guess you didn't have one nearby, that is reserved for rural PC constituencies).
    I see Stelmach this a.m. has scheduled a meeting with Craig, who was quoted as saying that he is "a changed man." Nothing like a "born again born again!" Chandler is now listed on the PC website as their Candidate after 4 days of delay. It seems it's a done deal.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:27 AM  

  • "Craig, who was quoted as saying that he is "a changed man." Nothing like a "born again born again!" "

    Especially since the silly video on his website has him promising never to "roll over" at a caucus meeting. What a moron.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:44 PM  

  • Chandler leaves Stelmach caught between a rock and a hard place.

    Sign off on him as a candidate, and Stelmach signals a shift in the party to the radical right; refuse to sign off his candidacy and Stelmach sends a lot of "hard liners" that backed Morton off to the Alberta Alliance or Wild Rose parties.

    By Blogger Grog, at 10:15 PM  

  • Ahahahha I love that Craig Chandler was nominated! The PC's are going to look like incompetent goofs! What would be even more delicious would be if Chandler ran and won a Federal Conservative nomination. Harper can shush Myron and Rob Anders, but I doubt anyone can control the mouth of Chandler! Beautiful! Heck, if I lived in that riding, I would vote for Chandler just so the Alberta legislature would shake up a bit and the opposition parties can get some more airtime for their outraged responses to Chandler's bigotry.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:20 AM  

  • Chandler spent 6 months of his life and an insane amount of money running for this nomination.

    He's not going to take getting disqualified lightly.

    If he is disqualified there are two things that will happen I predict.

    1. A whole swarm of lawsuits. Tons of lawsuits.

    2. Chandler will spend all his energy and a ton of money attacking the PC's and helping either the Alliance or the Wildrose Party (or both) nominate candidates in as many ridings as possible.

    Whatever happens this just shows that Ed Stelmach is not a leader. If Unsteady Eddie were a leader he would have cut off Chandler's candidacy months ago.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:15 AM  

  • I wondered the same thing myself. Why didn't Stelmach put a stop to his candidacy in the nomination process? I believe it is because the party did not realise Chandler had a chance of winning.

    The papers are also reporting now that they suspect the lack of party support ( due to the high level of Dinning support in Calgary, now dwindled into PC apathy) the crazy social conservatives somehow slipped past the party brass.

    Oh what a mess.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:28 AM  

  • This I know for sure, what ever you may think of Mr. Chandler, had someone at a similar hearing asked if a potential canidate was a homosexual or perhaps a muslim? Well we know the crap would hit the fan. Its ok with all of you though to ask if he believes in Jesus Christ?
    That is what happened at his hearing with the PC's and their witch hunt.
    That is called hypocrisy.

    By Blogger merlet, at 12:38 AM  

  • Craig Chandler is a moron. I can't beleive the Stelmach gov't didn't crush him after he made all the Anti Gay comments about how they like to molest kids, and spread diseases.

    Then he makes a bold statement "if you come to Alberta you better vote my way or leave". Who does he think he is?

    Well I can tell you a little insight as to Craig. He is a spoiled kid. His Dad own's Chandler Oil and this is where he gets majority of his money from not PGIB or CLI or any of the other networking clubs he started with Dad's money to help his political career along. That money he spent was probably his father's money on his campaign as well.

    Stelmach should have never let him run and hopefully will end his career. I think Stelmach thought he would never win. Craig spent a lot on advertising and marketing and promoted himself to win, most of the time its not the best candidate, its whoever has the biggest budget for advertising unfourtnately.

    By Anonymous anitcraig, at 4:16 PM  

  • Anti Craig is spreading a lot of falsehoods about me. I have never commented about gays as is being indicated. Words attributed to me are not accurate and slanderous.

    Chandler Oil? Never herad of it and I am in business with my brother.

    PGIB & CLI make 90% of their money from other things, not clubs.

    Here is a question would Calgary Grit be responsible for hosting these lies on his website, even though he did not write them?

    We will find out.

    By Anonymous Craig Chandler, at 2:55 AM  

  • I was wondering why Chandler moved to Alberta. AH AH Ontario couldn't handle his redneck attitude, so Chandler thought; where can I move? Ah Yes redneck Alberta. Sorry moron, Alberta is not as redneck as you think.
    Of course, the guy has never held a legitimate job, so where can he mostly get elected and have a free ride. Alberta of course.
    I hear him yapping his mouth off about Premier Stelmach. God this Chandler guy is a vile person.
    Chandler, do us Albertans a favour and move back to Ontario quickly.
    I think the KKK still exists in the southern states, perhaps you would be happier there.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:44 PM  

  • Action speaks louder than words. Chandler says he is a changed man(Calgary Herald), sure! Prove it and perhaps in the next several years, people might like you.

    Talk is cheap.

    By Anonymous moretolifethanpolitics, at 9:31 PM  

  • Since when does opposing the homosexual (ie. aids destroying, immoral, family dysfunctioning, child abandoning) agenda make one homophobic. We can love people but hate their lifestyle much as we don't condone pediphelia. Viva Craig Chandler, and I guess tonight, viva not Liberal.

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