Musings —04.22.2012 10:13 AM—
Harper didn’t just win by uniting the right, however. He did something else, too. For a decade, Chretien defeated conservatives by highlighting every boneheaded, xenophobic utterance by (mostly) Reform Party MPs and candidates. Harper watched this and learned, too.
As soon as he won his new party’s leadership in 2004, Harper started moving out the Reform troglodytes who had become associated with anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-aboriginal and anti-abortion themes.
Quietly, and sometimes not-so-quietly, Harper expelled the extremists who had been a proverbial albatross around the neck of the federal conservative movement for a decade.
Once he’d cleaned house, Canadians gave him the keys to 24 Sussex. Simple.
Danielle Smith, the former TV talking head now propped atop the Alberta Wildrose Alliance Party, should have heeded Harper’s lesson. When she had a chance to do so, Smith could have expelled the far-right lunatics who now make up a sizeable segment of her candidates.
She didn’t. As a result, she had a week filled with stories about Wildrose craziness:
– Edmonton Wildrose candidate Allan Hunsberger declared public education is “godless,” and that gays will burn in “a lake of fire” in hell.
– Calgary Wildrose candidate Ron Leech said he’s a better candidate than non-white candidates because he’s “Caucasian.”
– Barrhead Wildrose candidate Link Byfield achieved fame by publishing a magazine that published anti-Semitic articles about “Jewish-owned” businesses and a fictional Jew tax (leading to a complaint by Sun News host Ezra Levant).
– Wildrose’s platform wants to kill a section of the Alberta Human Rights Act that prohibits posting of signs like “no blacks” and “no Jews” for employment or lodging or service.
Unlike Harper, when asked about each of these things, Danielle Smith has shrugged. Instead of condemning the nuttiness in her party, she has defended it.