What follows is a "six degrees of separation" travel through the terrain of Alberta politics and the intellectual lunacy that calls itself the CPC.
The Alberta Alliance Party just selected a new leader this past weekend - Paul Hinman, their sole elected MLA took the job.
I know nothing about Paul Hinman, so I won't spend too much energy slagging him. What caught my interest was a few other bits from the Calgary Herald article that was in the clippings file from the Alberta Liberals:
David Crutcher was the Calgary hopeful. His supporters wore T-shirts emblazoned with Media, Manpower, Money. "I have an army behind me," Crutcher told the crowd, claiming a network of fundraisers and media contacts unrivalled by anyone else seeking the top job.
Media contacts? Not at the Herald. Not to sound self-important, but I've never heard from the man, nor in fact heard of him until a few weeks back.
Jason Fekete, the Herald's earnest and intense young political reporter, talked to him once.
"Every time you write something, it's a jab," says Craig Chandler, Crutcher's hulking campaign manager. OK, here's something nice about Chandler. He's a gregarious sort. There.
Chandler has some history, handling the nomination campaign for Tory MLA Art Johnston, where he cranked up a little conservative Christian froth to help Johnston beat well-known restaurateur Al Browne. Browne should have won, plugged in to the Tories as he is.
He didn't, partly because Chandler and his types played up that Browne owned a Hooters restaurant. Women's breasts and A-1 chicken wings are evil, and the Bible-thumpers helped Johnston to the legislature.
Hmmm - I've heard the name David Crutcher before...I'm not sure where (yet)...sure enough, after about five minutes with Google, I hit paydirt. Unquestionably, I've heard of Craig Chandler - and I really don't want to hear of him again - but like a bad smell, he keeps reappearing.
Chandler's the man behind quite a few random groups out there now: Concerned Christians Canada; PGIB; and Free To Speak and Freedom Radio Network. Having seen him run Alderman Ric McIver's campaign against Sue Higgins a few years ago, Chandler is a goon. Period.
A brief read through Chandler's bio turns up this little gem:
Mr. Chandler has also debated many political representatives such as former Ontario Attorney General and Ontario NDP leader Howard Hampton, MP Stan Keyes, MP Beth Phinney, MP Jason Kenney,
Ah - there's the link I was looking for. We've now (at least partially) linked Jason Kenney (my MP) back to the Christian Reich that has been a seething horror in the bowels of the CPC. Just for giggles, I decided to see if I could find more linking Jason Kenney to Mr. Chandler's efforts.
Sure enough, I start digging and I find plenty that links Jason Kenney to the intolerant side of the Religious Reich:
Donating items to a fundraiser
Of course, LifeSite's reporters like him: Alliance Leadership Race, but I think I've made my point about Lifesite's credibility already.
and he's apparently still quite active in the so-called "Pro Life" lobby in Alberta:
Life 2005 Conference
Granted - I've never liked Jason Kenney in the first place. Not when he first appeared on the scene along with Rob Anders and several other complete nitwits running under the Reform banner. The man's links to organizations that I simply disagree with from stem to stern serve to reinforce my mistrust of the man as an MP. If you believe that the Religious Conservatives are no longer a "major force" in the CPC, I strongly suggest you look again.
And then consider Harper's "mushy" stances on things like abortion - where he's left the door open to having a private member's bill introduced:
June 3 — Stephen Harper says he would allow a free vote on abortion if an MP introduced a private member's bill. "Absolutely ... I would generally continue the practice of allowing free votes on all private member's legislation." He also says he wouldn't rule out using the notwithstanding clause to prohibit gay marriage.
In other words, while Harper will have "plausible deniability" with regards to legislation of "social conservative" topics (e.g. they won't be introduced by cabinet members), you can bet that there would be a lot of legislation being "written by back bench MPs" that just happens to get support from the cabinet MPs.