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NDP-Grit coalition to defeat Rob Anders? Unlikely! This is a Tory civil war

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It's hard to fault Rob Anders for framing his intramural opponents in the new Calgary Signal Hill riding as a conspiracy of Liberals, New Democrats and Red Tories.

After all, it's a well-established fact that nothing frightens Calgary voters quite as much as the idea of a coalition of Dippers and Grits.

As for the idea of Red Tories, it's not at all certain such a thing even exists in the Canada of 2014, or if it ever did in Alberta if you don't count Joe Clark.

So the National Post's Jen Gerson is almost certainly right when she says Anders can never be beaten by a Red Tory, but only by a Real Red Meat Conservative. But so what? That describes almost everybody in this province. Certainly former Alberta cabinet minister Ron Liepert, the first candidate to emerge as an Anders challenger in 2014, but pretty well everyone else as well -- including some of the New Democrats around here!

But dismissing your enemies as mythical Red Tories sure proved to be a great way for the provincial branch of Anders' Conservative Party of Canada, which goes by the name Wildrose, to differentiate its brand from the ideologically identical Progressive Conservative Party of Premier Alison Redford.

So surely, Anders has sensibly concluded, what has worked so well against the provincial PCs for Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith can work for him against the PC friends of Redford, whom he loathes, but for reasons wholly unrelated to ideology.

And as the Member of Parliament widely acknowledged to be Canada's Worst MP, by no less an authority that the normally subservient Calgary Herald, website of record right in his own city, Anders is vulnerable.

It's not just that Anders is incompetent, which he manifestly is. Still, there are MPs who are more incompetent. And it's not just that he’s a buffoon, which is also an obvious truth. Nevertheless, bigger buffoons sit in the House of Commons. Nor is it that he's a bigot, and distinctly a weirdo. All true too, yet both categories in which he is surpassed by others.

It's the whole, as it were, that’s somehow greater than the sum of Anders' parts. Like Toronto Mayor Ford, he is sui generis -- utterly unique -- which is how his qualities mysteriously add up to his being the worst MP in Parliament.

Since the whole world seems to be coming to recognize this, in one way it might make a more sensible challenger attractive to voters in Cowtown, especially if new riding boundaries force him to run in a different electoral district.

On the other hand, because Ford has prepared the way so effectively, it may at least give Anders something to do in the unlikely event one of the challengers now sure to follow Liepert out of the woodwork manages to topple him.

Americans obviously find entertainment value in bizarre and dysfunctional Canadian politicians, and a professional virgin who once worked as a foreign political saboteur in of all places Oklahoma, never mind his opinions about Nelson Mandela and Vladimir Putin, should give Anders an opportunity for a star turn south of the Medicine Line if his long Canadian gig should end in tears.

But despite all this, it needs to be said that no sensible Canadian New Democrat or Liberal, except perhaps some of those few who live in his Calgary riding, want Anders to fall to another Tory.

And so we need to recognize that Anders' claim the NDP and Calgary Grits are part of the conspiracy against him, is not just a reach, but manifest nonsense, no matter how many times the local media repeats it for him.

Ask yourself this: Why would Liberals and New Democrats, on their own or acting in concert, hope for Anders to lose to another Tory, let alone work to see that it happens? After all, given the inclinations of voters in that part of Calgary, they know a virtually identical if better-behaved Conservative will win anyway.

On the other hand, from the NDP and Liberal perspective, an Anders victory in Calgary Signal Hill is immensely superior to his loss in a nomination fight. It sends the message to voters in the rest of Canada who might be leaning toward casting a Conservative ballot that the Tory caucus is peopled by extremists and crackpots, and that voters in the Tory heartland of Alberta do not provide a very good example to the rest of the country.

Opponents like Liepert, who are true friends of the Conservative Party and its neoliberal policies, recognize that Anders' election to the House of Commons is not merely an embarrassment, but constitutes a threat to the Conservative Party's ability to remain in power -- because there's more to Canada, thank God, than just Alberta.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's private view is not all that different, I suspect. For all his cautious statements of friendship with the MP from the riding next door, you'll notice that the PM has never given Anders a post in his cabinet.

Sensible Dippers and Grits recognize that helping another Tory defeat Anders accomplishes nothing, and that keeping him in view of the public has certain benefits.

Ergo, there is no Liberal-NDP conspiracy to bring down Canada's Worst MP.

No, this is a Tory civil war and nothing more. Anders hates Redford and anyone associated with her because in 2004 she challenged him for his job. Liepert was her campaign manager in that effort.

Civil wars are held in the popular imagination to be the worst wars of all. But still, as wise old Quaker told me many years ago, "we Friends hate all war, of course, but at least in a civil war … you know who the real bastards are!"

No, the job of Liberals and New Democrats and Greens in Calgary Signal Hill is to find a way to defeat the Conservative candidate, whether or not his name is Rob Anders.

That will take a miracle, but, who knows, between them, perhaps Anders' camp and Redford's can deliver it!

But if a Conservative has to be elected anywhere in Canada, better it be someone like Anders than someone with an ounce of common sense!

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.

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