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Former Wildrose MLA Joe Anglin finds new windmill to tilt at, this time for Freedom Conservative Party

Then a Wildrose MLA, Joe Anglin addressed a crowd from the steps of the Alberta legislature in November 2013 (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Last observed pursuing a claim against Alberta's Chief Electoral Officer alleging abuse of process, colourful former MLA Joe Anglin has found a new way to tilt at Alberta's perpetually swirling political windmill.

Anglin, 63, who is both the former Wildrose Party MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre and the former leader of Alberta's Greens, announced yesterday he would seek the nomination for Derek Fildebrandt's Freedom Conservative Party in the riding he once represented for the Wildrosers.

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney said in a short news release that Anglin has "decided upon a centralized autocracy as a path forward."

"Sadly, it was a Tory autocracy that led to an NDP government," Mr. Anglin's release said. "Tory MLAs must vote as they are told or they will be exiled."

The release went on: "If the current number of rigged Tory nomination races are an indicator of what Albertans can expect from a Tory government -- corruption and incompetence will follow. If the Tories can't follow their own rules, what makes them think they can govern? Obedience to Kenney may help his plans to become Prime Minister, but it does nothing for Albertans."

That's pretty harsh, but not entirely inaccurate.

Boasting that he was the only Wildrose MLA elected in 2012 who didn't cross the floor to join the Conservatives (although he did leave the party in 2014 to sit as an Independent), Anglin said "the Freedom Conservative Party has now picked up the torch that the former Wildrose surrendered when they sold their souls to the Tories."

"My commitment to property rights is unmatched," he said. "Where the Wildrose once tried to silence me, the Freedom Conservative Party wants me to shout loud and clear in support of property rights."

In June 2014, Anglin faced an unexpected challenge for the Wildrose nomination in the riding he represented from Jason Nixon, who just days before had been his loyal constituency association president.

Nixon, nowadays a close friend of Kenney and the UCP's House Leader in the Legislature, won the nomination. Anglin challenged the legality of his nomination under the Wildrose Party's rules and lost. That fall, Anglin quit the party to sit as an Independent. Under the circumstances, you could hardly blame him.

In early 2015, Anglin talked about seeking the Progressive Conservative nomination in the riding, but both sides eventually concluded it wouldn't work. Anglin disputes a PC Party claim it rejected his candidacy.

He ran for the seat as an Independent in the May 2015 general election but came last in a field that included winner Nixon and PC and NDP candidates.

Anglin's dispute with Elections Alberta over the wording of his election signs, and removal of some of those signs, as well as statements made by the Chief Electoral Officer, began during the election campaign and has continued ever since.

In a separate legal action, Anglin received leave from the Alberta Court of Appeal on Nov. 30 last year to challenge a $250 fine levelled against him by Elections Alberta for the wording and the size of the lettering on some of the signs he used during his run as an Independent. Anglin vows that case will continue as well, saying he has several legal questions he hopes to have the opportunity to put before the Supreme Court of Canada.

Fildebrandt, who as regular readers of this blog will recall is a pretty colourful character himself, told me that while Anglin's nomination will ultimately be up to the party's candidate nomination committee, "I certainly welcome his application."

"In our party, the leader has no veto," he noted.

While Fildebrandt is at the moment the FCP's interim leader, he is expected to be acclaimed as leader of the party on Saturday -- doubtless much to the annoyance of Kenney.

For his part, Anglin should have a chance for a grudge match with his nemesis, Nixon.

+ + +

Mentions in Dispatches: You can't make this stuff up!

Andrew Scheer, passing though India, impersonates Her Majesty!

No one's quite sure who Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was trying to be on his rather theatrical state visit to India in February. Trudeau was widely criticized, however, and in Canada at least the trip was judged to be a dismal failure.

But when Alberta Opposition Leader Jason Kenney went to India last month, he was obviously playing the role of the Prime Minister of Canada. The critics panned his performance as well. Another dramatic fail.

Now federal Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer is in India, apparently auditioning for the role of the Queen, turning up with his wife Jill Scheer for selfies with occasional Indian politicians and at various charitable operations whence he tweets nearly identical statements about what wonderful work they're doing.

The lack of interest in the Scheers' unofficial visit has been noticeable. We await additional theatrical reviews with interest, nevertheless. One of the first, from The Globe and Mail, deemed it to be another fail.

Will Canadian politicians ever learn about the perils of campaigning abroad?

Will Conservatives now reconsider their support for repugnant Saudi regime?

Now that Saudi Arabia has taken to kidnapping dissidents living abroad, murdering them, and shipping what's left back to Riyadh via diplomatic pouch, one wonders if the Conservative Party of Canada will reconsider its support for that country's theocratic monarchy?

Alert readers will recall back in August, when the Saudi government expelled Canada's ambassador after Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland tweeted Canada's support for imprisoned and tortured free speech and women's rights activists, it didn't take the Conservatives long to jump to the side of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the power behind the repugnant theocratic regime's throne.

The Saudi tantrum was obviously caused by undiplomatic Liberal Tweets, they all seemed to think.

Now that the Saudis appear to have been emboldened at home and abroad, it will be interesting to see if the Conservatives have anything more to say. Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer, in India pretending to be the Queen, is presumably unavailable to comment.

Hitler's role in 1918 clarified, thanks to Conservative MP

Finally, a political aide is taking the blame for Calgary Confederation member of Parliament Len Webber's recent newsletter article marking the centenary next month of the end of the First World War.

The commentary included the observation that by October 1918, "it became clear the Allies were in a position to defeat Hitler and the German forces, and discussions to end the Great War intensified."

To clarify, the future dictator was still a corporal in the German army in October 1918, much of the month recovering from the effects of a British mustard-gas attack, as a matter of fact. So you could argue Mr. Webber's mail-out got it right, after a fashion, and it's mildly surprising the Conservatives didn't say just that.

Thankfully, Webber's newsletter didn't inform readers Hitler was blown up in a movie theatre in Paris in 1941!

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Photo: David J. Climenhaga

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