This weekend at a Conservative Party of Canada rally for leadership-hopeful Chris Alexander in Edmonton, Alberta, on the steps of the provincial legislature no less, this politician allowed his “constituents” to boo and otherwise malign the current Premier Rachel Notley for her NDP government’s controversial carbon tax policy. What started as a rally-cry of “Vote her out!” quickly turned into one of “Lock her up!” The latter was a common chant at Republican Donald Trump rallies throughout the United States in one of the most vicious, mudslinging campaigns in modern politics. When there weren’t legal grounds to raise this particular alarm during the US election against Democrat Hillary Clinton, there is not one justifiable reason for Alexander to allow it at his rally.
In the US election, the chant was used to deride Clinton over what became known as the email scandal. While serving President Obama as Secretary of State (2008-2012), Clinton established a private server in her own home for personal and government-related emails instead of using a government email address and it’s servers. What’s more, Clinton was loathe to immediately release all of those emails to government officials. And, yet, after several intra-governmental investigations and two more conducted by the FBI, Clinton has not been criminally charged or found to be in breach of her duties. Not once.
But the truth has never stopped Donald Trump, and his supporters know it. During the second debate, Trump declared he would appoint a “special prosecutor” to address the ongoing email scandal and have Clinton put in jail once and for all. Like so many Trumpian pronouncements, like the concrete and steel wall that Mexico will pay to build, the obliteration of Obamacare, the removal of illegal immigrants and all Muslims on Day One of his presidency, he quickly back-pedalled from this assertion, too. It’s populist politics at it’s finest – Bait and Switch, a classic advertising method that has brought Trump his share of lawsuits throughout the United States. In politics, however, the electorate’s gulliblity is Trump’s perfectly legal stomping ground.
In Alberta, however, it makes no sense for a group to chant “Lock her up!” regarding Noley’s tenure. Capitalizing on voter anger and the desire for political change, her government swept to power in 2015 – with the highest voter turnout since 1993 – the Orange Wave decimated the Conservatives and left the Wild Rose searching for a dinghy. Notely won the election and set out to institute her publicized, well-known policy changes and, in some cases, bring Alberta up to speed with the rest of Canada.
Of course, change is rarely welcomed by everyone, and Notley has had more than her share of detractors. It’s one thing to disagree with Notley’s policies and want a change in governance during the next election, but it’s embarrassing that a legitimate contender for the Conservative Party of Canada would allow this specific chant at his rally, and not even feign attempts to prevent or discourage it. What, exactly, has Notley done to deserve such treatment? She won the provincial election. Her government has used it’s majority to pass controversial legislation, but policies that a majority of Albertan voters accepted when they gave the NDP it’s mandate to govern. Tackling climate change was one of those planks. (You mean we don’t get to pick and choose what we, as voters, want from a majority government!?)
At nine percent, the unemployment rate in Alberta is at it’s highest point since 1996. Many Albertans are struggling to make ends meet. Does Alexander, and his supporters, give Notely and the NDP credit for their ability to control and manipulate the global oil and gas market or the US response to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in late 2014 and early 2015 which had a disastrous impact upon Canada’s economic outlook, especially in the oilsands? Did Bill 6, legislation that finally brought Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Health & Safety to bear on commercial farming operations, further weaken the provincial economy? Is it also the Premier’s fault that investment in the oilsands was in decline and unemployment on the incline under Premier Jim Prentice? Does Alexander believe that stopping a future carbon tax, now a federal policy despite what the AB NDP has done, will help current Albertans in financial turmoil?
Regardless, are the aforementioned policies so egregious, so offensive to the provincial legislature, as to send a politician to jail? Has Rachel Notley demonstrated reckless abandon at the helm of Alberta governance? If voters actually think that’s true, someone certainly should have gone to jail when the AB Conservatives, swimming in pools of cash like Scrooge McDuck, decided on the brilliant policy of making it illegal for future provincial governments to run budgetary deficits.