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GUEST COLUMN: There’s no good reason to keep Andrew Scheer

Andrew Scheer doesn’t believe in himself. Why should we?

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Andrew Scheer lost more popularity during an election than any leader of a major political party in modern Canadian history, short of Kim Campbell. He lost popularity against the economically insane, fear mongering, scandal ridden, blackface wearing, deficit increasing, carbon tax imposing, Justin Trudeau. Now he is claiming that Justin Trudeau is scared of him and that any challenge to his leadership helps the Liberals. That is absurd. 

The truth is that the only people who are afraid of Andy are his staff and caucus. I don’t know a single Liberal who isn’t giddy at the idea of running another campaign against him. In fact, behind closed doors they all tell me they hope we fail to get rid of him.

Politics has always been a war of words and ideas. Scheer’s team is attempting a series of arguments to convince conservatives that he should be allowed a second chance. 

Here is why they are wrong: 

One: An Andrew Scheer led Conservative Party of Canada brought Justin Trudeau down to a minority government.

The Bloc Quebecois are the reason that Justin Trudeau does not have a majority government. Had they not surged during the campaign; Justin Trudeau would be leading a majority government right now. 

Two: Andrew Scheer is like Stephen Harper and deserves a second chance. 

I can’t believe I have to say this. Andrew Scheer is not Stephen Harper. He’s not even Manchester’s top Stephen Harper tribute band. Stephen Harper stood for things. Stephen Harper united the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative parties and then won the leadership of that new party by 56.2% on the first ballot. Andrew Scheer couldn’t eke out a lead during his leadership race until14th ballot.   

Three. The only reason we lost was the media and the unions. 

Are you suggesting that in the next election the media and the unions will stop attacking Conservatives? Are you suggesting that these same media and unions didn’t attack Doug Ford or Jason Kenney? A leader doesn’t blame external events for his or her failure. They take responsibility and then articulate a path to success. Andrew Scheer has failed to do this. 

Four. If not Andrew Scheer, then who?

This is probably, on its face, the strongest argument for keeping Andrew Scheer. We are conservatives after all. We don’t like change and we are afraid of things getting worse. Well, they can’t get worse. During the election, the more Canadians got to know Andrew, the less they liked him.  We owe our party donors, volunteers, and candidates at least a chance at victory. Andrew Scheer will never beat Justin Trudeau. The left doesn’t just hate him, Canadians in general don’t like him. 

Five. Andrew Scheer won the popular vote. He got more votes than any Conservative Leader in Canadian history! 

Come on. Does anyone actually know someone who voted for Andrew Scheer himself? Someone who otherwise would not have voted Conservative but was so compelled by their love for Andrew Scheer to mark an X on their ballot? No. The only reason the CPC won the popular vote is because Westerners hate Justin Trudeau with such a fiery passion that they would have voted for anyone.

Six. You are dividing the party. We must stay united under the strong leadership of Andrew Scheer or the Liberals could win a majority. 

The party is not divided. In fact, I am finding it very difficult to find anyone outside of staff and caucus and close personal friends who will even admit to supporting the guy. Andrew Scheer is a unifier; he is unifying people across the conservative political spectrum against his leadership.  The only current division in our party is between those who stand to benefit from his continued leadership with jobs and titles, and the rest of us who want to win government.

Seven. Andrew Scheer is the best that social conservatives will get. If he loses, the Red Tories will take over the party. 

The most important question that social conservatives need to ask is whether or not Andrew Scheer can win the next election. If he can, then their support for him makes sense. If he can’t, then imagine the backlash they will receive if they supported him again and he failed to deliver victory. I think you all know in your heart of hearts that Andrew Scheer will not win and that it is time to find a new candidate you can support instead of further escalating the resentment towards social conservatives in the party. 

Further, what did Andrew Scheer even do for social conservatives? He tossed many prominent social conservatives under the bus and won’t even allow for backbenchers to speak freely.

We can do better. Let us not allow the fear mongers to tell us we can’t. If you doubt me, the next time Andrew Scheer is giving a speech on TV, your mobile phone, or computer screen, turn off the sound. Simply watch his delivery. You’ll quickly come to realize why Canadians will never connect with him. 

Andrew Scheer doesn’t believe in himself. Why should we?

David Parker is a lifelong Conservative activist and member and has worked for Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney, and Ed Fast

Opinion

MORGAN: It’s time for Joe to go

Cory Morgan writes that other politicians have been driven from office for much, much less than what Joe did.

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With news that the Calgary Police Service has asked the RCMP to begin an independent investigation into Councilor Joe Magliocca’s expense scandal, it becomes clear that it is time for Mr. Magliocca to step aside from his council seat.

Citizens have little patience for well-heeled politicians abusing expense accounts on the backs of taxpayers. In 2012, a $16 glass of orange juice expensed by Conservative cabinet minister MP Bev Oda caused such outrage that Oda eventually resigned in disgrace. It may have been small peanuts and the controversy overblown, but it was a symbol of disrespect to taxpayers, rightly or wrongly. Magliocca’s abuse of his expense account is much worse than anything Oda did.

This wasn’t a one-off – or even an accident – for Joe. A forensic audit concluded that there has been a pattern of personal expense abuse carried out by Magliocca for years. From room upgrades to luxury hotels, to airline seat upgrades, to what appears to be the outright fraudulent efforts to cover up the event hosting expenses by falsely adding names of attendees who were never there, it is clear that Magliocca has a serious and ongoing problem with abusing the taxpayer’s trust. Any private organization would have fired Magliocca years ago.

Conservatives are few and far between on Calgary’s city council. Councilor Joe Magliocca had been considered one of them. That makes Magliocca’s repeated and flagrant abuse of taxpayer’s dollars for his personal benefit all the more odious and damaging. Nothing undercuts calls for fiscal restraint more effectively than hypocrisy. How could or would anybody take Magliocca’s calls for the city to tighten it’s fiscal belt when he has so brazenly gorged on the taxpayer’s flesh himself?

It’s not as if Magliocca wasn’t paid enough as a counselor to begin with. With a base salary of $113,416 plus benefits and pension, along with an already generous expense policy, there was no excuse for Maglioca’s abuse his expense account so flagrantly. It is a slap in the face to taxpayers who are currently wondering how they are going to make their mortgage payments in light of ceaseless city tax increases and who can’t afford to go on vacations, much less lavish ones fully expensed by their employers.

So far Magliocca has been silent and keeping a low profile. Yes, he paid back a few thousand dollars, but that was of course only after he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Joe knows he can’t justify this, so I am guessing that he hopes that if he keeps his head low that this will blow over. This is not going to blow over.

At this point, the only acceptable response from Joe Magliocca should be his immediate resignation as a city councilor. This may even serve Joe’s interests in a sense, because if there does indeed turn out to be criminal wrongdoing found and he is convicted, at least some evidence of remorse will have been shown prior to sentencing.

The next best thing at least would be for Magliocca to openly announce that he will not be running in the next election. His brand is befouled and there is no way he could win his seat on council again. It would leave Joe as a lame-duck councillor, but at least the path would be cleared for for principled candidates to begin campaigning to replace him in 2021.

If Magliocca does run again, he could cause damage to the entire outcome of the election. Joe could split the vote with a real conservative and put yet another free-spending councilor at the table at a time when Calgary can least afford one. Magliocca’s presence in the election would likely turn into a sideshow where his ill-behavior is used to try and discredit conservatives running in other wards or even for Mayor.

Joe Magliocca’s political reputation is irreparably damaged even if he doesn’t know it yet. The best thing Joe can do for the city of Calgary now is to step aside. This election is much too important and we can’t allow this circus to keep us all from finally getting the fiscally responsible mayor and council that we so desperately need.

Politicians have been driven from office for much, much less than what Joe did. It’s time for Councilor Magliocca to do the right thing.

Cory Morgan and a columnist for the Western Standard and a business owner in Priddis, Alberta.

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Opinion

BARNES: Albertans deserve the right to make the big decisions in referenda law

Guest column from Drew Barnes says that Alberta’s referendum law should be expanded to allow votes on big constitutional issues.

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Guest opinion column from Alberta MLA Drew Barnes

“I am and I will remain a populist, because those who listen to the people are doing their job.” Matteo Salvini.

At its core the word populism is the action that government policies should be determined by the will of the people, not the will of the elite. Direct democracy is the institutional populism in action.

There is debate over whether populism should be termed as a movement or an ideology. Since the actions of populist engagement can transcend the ideological spectrum, I believe it should be viewed as a movement, that can sometimes manifest itself ideologically. As a movement, populist participation can take place on all points of the spectrum. Ultimately, that is what is wanted from a democratic society – engagement from all points of the spectrum.

Now more than ever, we need a new grassroots-populist approach to politics. Grassroots politics by its nature suggests that it is a movement that is sparked from the bottom-up. Politicians who came from grassroots movements must never forget where they came from, or lose sight of what they came to do. We need more of the bottom-up approach to politics, and make listening to the people that elected us a priority.

This is taking place in some measure here in Alberta. Political party policy processes allow for constituency associations to generate policy proposals for conventions, where they are voted on by the membership. Every party in Alberta – with the exception of the NDP – uses a ‘one member, one vote’ system.

Another grassroots/populist tool is referenda, that when used the right way are a valuable democratic tool. Referendums however, must stay true to their purpose, and the process for bringing them forward must allow for citizens to craft their own – fair – wording on a question. This is not to say that any question – however subjectively worded – that anyone wants to ask should be put to a referendum. Therefore, the rules on the use of referendums must not be overly onerous, nor overly temperate.

Switzerland is a prime example of a country that takes full advantage of referendums, including citizens’ initiative. In their democratic system, referendums can occur up to four times annually. All citizens registered to vote can cast their ballot on issues affecting decisions within both their federal government and their cantons (autonomous provinces). Before each vote, all registered voters receive a package of booklets in the mail which provide details on the coming referendums. Since these referendums began in 1848, just under half of the referendum proposals have passed. Even if they don’t always pass, the process is crucial to starting conversations and keeping citizens involved in debate. Referendums also force political parties to reach beyond partisan lines to reach consensus.

Alberta’s legislature recently passed a bill that guides referendums on non-constitutional matters. While this is a positive step forward, there are issues in this bill that need improvement. 

For example, Albertans initiating a referendum might go through the process of collecting hundreds of thousands of signatures, only to have the cabinet alter the wording the question. While fair wording of the question is critical to the integrity of direct democracy, that issue is not best dealt with by politicians who may have a stake in the result. Instead, clear guidelines should be established in law on question wording, and left to non-partisan officials at Elections Alberta. 

And while the new referendum legislation is a big step forward over the status quo (that is, nothing), it deliberately bans citizens-initiated referendums on constitutional questions. This means that if Albertans wished to force a vote on adding property rights to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that they would not be allowed. Similarly, Albertans are barred from forcing a vote on reforming the Senate, equalization, or internal free trade. Ominously, Albertans have no right to force a vote over the heads of the legislature on independence or other forms of sovereignty. 

I believe that Albertans can be trusted with the right of citizens’ initiative on all questions, both constitutional and non-constitutional. 

We trust the people to elect a government to run our systems, so why can’t we trust them to bring their own questions forward? 

Drew Barnes is the UCP MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat

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Opinion

LETTER: Erin O’Toole isn’t “woke” enough to beat Trudeau in the East

A reader says that Erin O’Toole isn’t “woke” enough to beat Trudeau in the East.

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In this ‘Era of Wokeness” along with the ascension of Black Lives Matter into the public consciousness, I believe that it would be detrimental to the Conservative Party of Canada to have Erin O’Toole as
it’s leader.

Mr O’Toole recently refused to use the word ‘racism’ and did not answer clearly when pressed on whether he believes it even exists. Erin O’Toole will hand the Trudeau Liberals an easy victory during the next election, should he become Tory leader. Canada cannot afford another four years of Justin Trudeau. 

Like it or not, most people in Ontario and Quebec (where all federal elections are ultimately decided owing to their number of allotted seats), are very much ‘woke’ on the issue of racism, as well as
sexism, homophobia, ect. In my experience, this also includes most Conservative Party of Canada voters in Eastern Canada.

Right-wing populism and social conservatism does well in Western Canada – but centrist Red Toryism is all they are prepared to accept in most of Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. CPC members in Western Canada need to keep this in mind when voting for their next leader. 

CPC members need to be sensible and realistic if they want to win the next federal election. 

Gila Kibner 
Edmonton, Alberta

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