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Susan on the Soapbox

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Susan Wright is a lawyer with over 26 years of experience in oil, natural gas, petrochemicals and pipelines. She believes that engaged citizens can change the world. She writes a political blog called Susan on the Soapbox. The Soapbox received the 2013 Clawbie award for the best legal blog for a non-legal audience. Follow her on Twitter @Susanspbx.

Alberta's scuppered 'Kudatah' is no laughing matter

| March 16, 2016
Image: Facebook/George Clark

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Ms. Soapbox is deeply troubled by last week's failed Kudatah.

The Kudatah (or "coup d'état" for those who know how to spell) was George Clark's attempt to overthrow the NDP government.

George blames the NDP for the economic downturn. He wants the old guard back. It's not clear whether he's referring to the old-old guard, the Progressive Conservatives, or the new-old guard, the Wildrose.

George wants a two-tier welfare system that supports laid off oil workers but not bums "who never worked a day in their lives" and "recent immigrants who haven't found work yet."

He wants to eliminate the Temporary Foreign Worker program until all Albertans get their jobs back. Apparently he doesn't know that the TFW program is a federal program outside of the NDP government's jurisdiction.

It's not clear how George would force OPEC to increase oil prices to a level high enough to convince oil companies to come out of their bunkers and start to reinvest in the oilsands.

George's plan

These questions don't concern George or his followers because George has a plan.

Plan A was to collect thousands of signatures on a petition and present it to Alberta's lieutenant governor. The petition would ask for a plebiscite on the carbon tax and the farm safety bill which presumably would topple the government. The plan failed.

George moved to Plan B -- the Kudatah.

George would invoke a clause in the Elections Act and instantly throw the NDP out of power. Apparently the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose failed to notice this clause but George was so confident he'd found the silver bullet that he was going to "make the announcement at 12:15 [and] we will be back in control of the government by 12:30."

On March 8, George and his supporters staged a Kudatah rally on the steps of the Legislature in support of Plan B. The plan failed.

George then moved to Plan C which may have been part of Plan A. He told his supporters to join the NDP party and change it from within (a reverse Kudatah?)

All along George said he was committed to the power of love -- the Kudatah would depose the NDP government in a democratic, legal and non-violent fashion.

 

The Kudatah

George was wrong.

The NDP are still in power and the Kudatah turned into an angry demonstration with participants shouting homophobic slurs, waving posters emblazoned with swastikas and "Final Solution" slogans (in connection with killing the farm safety bill), making what looked like Nazi salutes and calling for someone to "kill the bitch Notley".

George did nothing to bring his followers back from the brink.

So here's the really troubling part -- almost nobody called him on it.

Brian Jean, leader of the Wildrose, appears to be quietly supporting George. Ric McIver, the interim leader of the Progressive Conservatives, said George was doing a great job, then deleted the post because like his march with anti-gay pastor Artur Pawlowski, it might not sit well with the electorate.

The mainstream media is treating George as a joke, not worthy of real coverage. Journalists failed to fact check George's claim to 160,000 signatures, they failed to confirm how many supporters actually showed up for the Kudatah and most importantly, they failed to write editorials denouncing the presence of of a confused mob waving swastika posters to oppose farm safety legislation and using homophobic rhetoric to decry an anti-bullying bill and lord knows what else on the legislature steps.

The act of censuring George Clark and his followers fell to social media, which did an admirable job.

 

Anger as a political motivator

George Clark tapped into the anger of Albertans who've been let down by the Progressive Conservative government's mismanagement of their natural resources.  Albertans have a right to be angry. They're in a deep economic hole.

In the Throne Speech (which was delivered on Kudatah day) the NDP government outlined a strategic plan to address this problem. It will increase access to energy markets, get serious about diversification and a greener economy and help Albertans impacted by the economic downturn.

George Clark is unconvinced. Like Donald Trump's followers in the gong show south of the border, George prefers the conservative government that that threw him into this hole over the NDP government that's trying to dig him out.

The real story

This isn't about George Clark and the Kudatah. It's about how George and his followers failed to recognize who abused them and turned their anger on others they perceive to be  more vulnerable.  And it's about the politicians and media who let George and the Kudatah get away with it.

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation says there's no single way to eliminate racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and hate;  but no effort is too small and discrimination, wherever it appears, must be challenged.

Shame on Alberta's politicians who seized upon George and the Kudatah as a political opportunity.

Shame on the mainstream media who dismissed the whole thing as a big joke.

And heaps of gratitude to the social media bloggers and tweeters who fought it with everything they had.

This post originally appeared on Susan's blog.

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Image: Facebook/George Clark

 

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