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Wildrose tells Craig Chandler to get lost; Tories might be smart to do the same

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Craig B. Chandler

If Alberta's Progressive Conservative Party leaders were smart, they'd quickly find a way to send the same message to Craig B. Chandler he just got from Opposition Leader Danielle Smith.

On April 10, Smith, concerned Chandler was suggesting he was just the guy to bridge the gap between her Wildrose Party and the foundering Tories, Tweeted to him: "Your views & how you express them are wrong for Wildrose and Alberta. I would never let you be a candidate for #wrp."

So, tell us Ms. Smith, what do you really think about Craig Chandler?

For the moment, at least, the current generation of Alberta PCs hasn't found the intestinal fortitude to deal with Chandler, so the "businessman, pundit, and political and religious activist," as he is described on his Wikipedia page, is continuing to seek the PC nomination in the Calgary Shaw riding.

His announcement last week got a surprising amount of media attention, presumably because of his controversial history on the fringes of the social conservative right plus the fact journalists somehow got the idea Chandler was going to announce a bid for the leadership of the PC Party.

Chandler has a long and well-established history of activities with fringe political parties, frequent and unsuccessful bids for political office, and controversy surrounding his vociferously expressed anti-gay-rights views.

Chandler, who migrated to Alberta from Ontario in 1995, also thinks Christians are the victims of persecution in modern-day Canada and has demanded that newcomers to the province vote conservative or go home. He used to answer his telephone by barking "Happy Capitalism!"

If Chandler had launched a leadership campaign, as he did once before, it would have gone a long way to eliminating the few tatters of credibility and respectability still clinging to the Redford-Hancock Government. 

If the PCs want to avoid embarrassment and send Chandler packing, there's a precedent. In 2007, a horrified then-premier Ed Stelmach gave him the bum’s rush after he somehow got the nomination in the Calgary Edgemont riding.

Indeed, in his latest candidacy announcement, Chandler's handout made reference to Stelmach's decision, and went on to say that "as a result of this denial Craig Chandler helped found the Wildrose Party which is now the opposition party in Alberta." The Wildrose Party says Chandler had nothing to do with its establishment.

Regardless of that dispute, which they can settle themselves, the reasons Stelmach skidded Chandler as a candidate were the same as the things that had Smith's hair standing on end last week.

Chandler, by the way, responded to losing his nomination in the 2008 general election by running as an independent candidate against the man the Tories found to replace him, Jonathan Denis, who is now the attorney general and a rumoured leadership candidate himself.

Remember, the Wildrose Party has already quite possibly lost one election because of statements made in a similar vein to some of Chandler's commentary by a loose-cannon candidate. Once bitten, twice shy, they are obviously not going back for another dip in the Lake of Fire if they can avoid it.

If it's any comfort, it's not just gay rights the intemperate Chandler has issues with. He once called your blogger a "modern day Nazi who attacks anyone of faith" for criticizing some of TV host Ezra Levant’s comments on a secular topic. Go figure!

It is reasonable to conclude that Chandler is electoral poison to any party he has anything to do with. The Tories are going to have to skid him again sooner or later. It's said here Premier pro tempore Dave Hancock would be smart to stiffen the sinews and summon up the blood right now, just as Smith did, before the guy becomes the PCs' Pastor Alan Hunsperger!

If they wait, it's only going to get worse.

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

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