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Jason Kenney and John Carpay face barrage of criticism following pride flag slur

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A certain kind of stuff has certainly hit the fan since it was reported here and elsewhere that John Carpay, the well-known social conservative warrior, had dipped his toe into Alberta's always-dangerous Lake of Fire.

Since the story broke over the long weekend, Carpay and his old comrade in social conservatism, Jason Kenney, have been subjected to a ferocious barrage of criticism, and not just on social media.

There's been no shortage of Albertans demanding that Kenney, leader of the Conservative opposition in the legislature, revoke Carpay's membership in the United Conservative Party for his odious comparison of the rainbow pride flag to the banners of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Kenney's even had a Postmedia political columnist -- a breed not usually associated with criticism of the UCP -- gently suggest that now might be an excellent time to advise Carpay his assistance is no longer required.

Columnist Don Braid called Carpay's comment "a dark, ugly slur," and reminded readers that "the jackboot march to real totalitarianism always starts by demonizing minorities."

Carpay's inadvisable commentary also reminded folks of the kind of things Kenney says when he's among friends, like that time last year when he compared Carpay to Rosa Parks, the civil rights activist best known for her role in the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott.

That was said at a fundraiser for Carpay's so-called Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which earlier this year tried to get a court injunction to halt enforcement of the Alberta law preventing schools from informing parents when students join gay-straight alliances.

At that point, Premier Rachel Notley entered the fray, tweeting that "John Carpay is no Rosa Parks" and telling Kenney "that is the second most offensive comparison I've heard this weekend. If you want to distance yourself from Mr. Carpay's hateful views, you need to condemn -- in a clear, unequivocal way -- all of them." (Emphasis added, of course, since there are no italics on Twitter.)

Kenney had published a tweet Monday morning calling Carpay's opinion "vile" -- without actually mentioning Carpay -- and another one a minute later reminding everyone that Carpay had apologized, never mind that it was a political non-apology apology.

Kenney's second tweet went on to try to divert the conversation by saying "this tendency to trivialize the unique meaning of Nazi and Soviet terror must stop." That got even more people yelling at him.

Even Kenney's sock-puppet accounts seemed strangely subdued, complaining plaintively that Kenney was being damned for something he said a long time ago.

No sooner had they trotted out that excuse than another old recording of Kenney surfaced. In this one he was smugly praising former Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day for fighting to end "taxpayer-funded abortions in Alberta," ban adoptions by gay couples, and use the Notwithstanding Clause to overturn "the outrageous Vriend decision in the Supreme Court of Canada," which proclaimed that same-sex couples were entitled to equal protection under the law.

One just has a feeling there's plenty more where that one came from.

So, Monday was not a good day for Jason Kenney and John Carpay. Yesterday wasn't either. 

A couple of things about Cardus that readers should know

You may have heard the reports that a think-tank has issued a report concluding it would be a good thing if Alberta doubled or tripled the number of students enrolled in private schools.

This would "foster innovation and reduce the 'monopoly' of teachers' associations," was the way the Edmonton Journal summed up the conclusions of the report, called "Better is Possible," by the Cardus Institute, which describes itself as "a non-partisan, faith-based think-tank."

Well, OK. Cardus doesn't openly support a given political party. But there are some things readers should know about Cardus just the same that are likely relevant to its position in this debate.

First, Cardus got its start with money from the Donner Canadian Foundation, a vast fund for financing right-wing opinion and argument, to conduct research to undermine unions. This may explain the report's characterization of teachers' unions like the Alberta Teachers Association as a "monopoly," and its assumption that weakening them would be a good thing.

Cardus President Michael Van Pelt -- presumably no relation to the girl who keeps snatching Charlie Brown's football away -- was hired away from the Sarnia Chamber of Commerce, which is likely not a hotbed of pro-union sympathies.

Other Cardus reports have attacked rules in other provinces restricting bids on some public contracts to unionized contractors and favouring the approach to labour relations advocated by the Christian Labour Association of Canada, or CLAC, as it is better known.

Cardus also has a connection to the better-known but similar Fraser Institute in Deani Van Pelt, a "senior fellow" with both organizations.

There may be a more formal relationship -- although it would take some digging to prise out the details -- between CLAC, whose no-strike approach is extremely controversial in the Canadian labour movement, and Cardus, both of which have their roots in the Christian Reformed Church.

The CRC is a Protestant denomination dominated by people who are certainly conservative in the theological sense, and often in a political sense too.

Regardless, the CRC operates private Christian schools in Alberta.

Now, I have not yet had the opportunity to read the Cardus report. So I will leave formal analysis of its findings to others for now. But the relationships noted above, while not enough to discredit the Cardus conclusions automatically, should lend a healthy sense of skepticism to anything presented by the group as conclusive.

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.

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