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Alberta oil patch firebrand's campaign against Linda McQuaig will (probably) backfire

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Craig B. Chandler

Brace yourselves, Toronto! Craig B. Chandler's heading your way to campaign against Linda McQuaig, the NDP's candidate in the Toronto Centre riding, who is notorious here in Alberta nowadays for saying aloud that some of our Bitumen may have to stay in the ground if the planet is going to survive.

We don't hold to that point of view out here, if you must know, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives remind us on Facebook ever third or fourth minute. In fact, we find that saying things like that about our sand-impregnated oil is darned unfriendly! And that includes a lot of Alberta New Democrats, if you must know.

No, we're more likely to belong to the Ann Coulter School of Planetary Stewardship out here in the Tarpatch. You know, "God says, 'Earth is yours, take it …" etc. If we kill it off, we figure He'll give us another planet.

Chandler's coming to see you to make sure you understand this, and just to be certain you're paying attention he's formed a group called 'the Alberta Business and Taxpayers Coalition" and sent an 11-page, single-spaced letter to NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, with copies to the media, demanding McQuaig be removed as a candidate. His arguments include supporting quotes from Vladimir Lenin, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and P.J. O'Rourke. (I'm not making this up.)

The ABTC, apparently taken very seriously by the Toronto media, may or may not be much of a coalition, but we know for sure it's got Chandler in it -- so watch out! In fact, Chandler has organized other groups too, like the Progressive Group for Independent Business, which also doesn't seem to have had very many members but was also usually good for a news clip around these parts.

Chandler is a true Westerner -- he comes from somewhere west of Toronto, anyway, maybe Hamilton, where he went to university -- and ran unsuccessfully for public office in Ontario before coming out West in 1995 and doing the same thing.

He's also done things like organizing an event where like-minded conservatives could shoot guns at targets with Liberal Party logos on them, arguing Canadian Christians are a persecuted group, and loudly opposing gay rights. He used to answer his telephone by barking "Happy Capitalism!"

In 2007 Chandler got the Progressive Conservative nomination in a Calgary riding and was then told by premier Ed Stelmach to take a hike. A year ago, then Wildrose leader Danielle Smith publicly told him the same thing, Tweeting, "I would never let you be a candidate for #wrp."

He's the fellow who famously advised Ontarians and other immigrants in 2007 "to remember that you came here to our home and we vote conservative. You came here to enjoy our economy, our natural beauty and more. This is our home and if you wish to live here, you must adapt to our rules and our voting patterns, or leave. Conservatism is our culture. Do not destroy what we have created."

It turns out he was ignored by large number of immigrants to these parts, not to mention plenty of folks who grew up here, and now look what's happened!

None of this background, however, made it into the Toronto Sun's report on Chandler's planned September crusade to Ontario, in which he said he's going to attempt make the voters of Toronto Centre just say no to McQuaig.

"This is an opportunity for us as Albertans to say we're kind of ticked off that we do pay a lot of the bills and we don't feel appreciated,' he told the moribund tabloid. "She seems to be the star candidate so, you know, if she's the star candidate we're going to go in there and try to make a difference ... basically, we just don't want her to win."

Chandler has run campaigns for fringe right-wing candidates here in Alberta and doesn't seem to have a lot of successes. On the PGIB's website, he points to his role in the election of Ric McIver as a Calgary alderman as one. McIver is now interim Leader of what's left of the Progressive Conservative Party, the one that used to be implanted right in our cultural DNA

Back in 2010, McIver was beaten in the race to be mayor of Calgary by a small-l liberal fellow named Naheed Nenshi, who later quipped that McIver was the only person Chandler ever got elected.

That could be about to change, though. If anyone can double his success rate and get Linda McQuaig into the House of Commons, Craig B. Chandler's the man!

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

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