He fell into a burnin’ Lake of Fire
He went down, down, down and the flames went higher!
And it burns, burns, burns … the Lake of Fire…
The Lake of Fire…

I speak, of course, of Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Ric McIver, who on Sunday Tweeted pictures of himself attending the Father’s Day “March for Jesus” sponsored by the Calgary Street Church, a group that holds particularly virulent views about gay people.

Last year, as minister of infrastructure in the government of Alison Redford, McIver cut the ribbon to open the group’s annual parade in Calgary.

It didn’t take long for quotes and screenshots of the church’s offensive and dubious interpretation of Christian doctrine on homosexuality and its egregious attacks on the last Calgary Pride Parade to have been widely distributed on the Internet through blogs, Tweets and Facebook commentary.

As a result of that activity throughout the day yesterday, plus the candidate’s lame response to the controversy, which he apparently didn’t expect, his candidacy is almost certainly done like dinner that caught fire in the oven.

The only serious question remaining is how much damage he has done to the entire PC Party’s diminishing re-election chances.

McIver issued a statement that attempted to back away from the parade sponsors’ most offensive views while defending their right to hold and promote them. He insisted he didn’t agree with church about homosexuality — although at least one of his long-time political allies most certainly does.

“If chosen Premier, I do and will continue to defend equality rights for all Albertans as defined in the Charter, including sexual orientation,” he said. “I deplore discrimination against all groups and individuals without exception.”

But he also tried to pass off his support of the event as just his way of encouraging diversity of belief in Alberta, noting that he has attended events by many faith communities. Then, according to some reports, he took a powder and couldn’t be reached by media for additional comments.

So if you were wondering if this was part of a serious attempt to woo the social conservative vote — which it possibly could have been, if he’d stuck to his guns — or just an idiotic blunder, well, I guess we all know the answer now.

Members of the Wildrose Opposition, who have lived through their own excruciating “Lake of Fire” incident, when the blogged observations of an evangelical pastor who was also a candidate may have cost them the 2012 election, would very much like to put the entire subject as far behind them as possible.

Still, I imagine they were discreetly chuckling behind their hands at the Tories’ excruciating predicament. If it showed one thing it’s that the Wildrose is not the only conservative political party with a Lake of Fire problem, and it considerably reduces the heat, as it were, on them.

After all, with a single injudicious appearance, McIver has destroyed two years of concerted efforts by PC strategists to brand the Wildrose Party as a bunch of homophobic loons.

King Solomon, who is reputed to have been quite wise, probably didn’t have the name of any particular parade in mind, but his proverbial advice might be something conservative Alberta politicians may wish to keep in mind just the same: Pride goeth before destruction.

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Rachel Notley makes Alberta NDP leadership bid official with Calgary and Edmonton announcements

No surprise, then, as predicted yesterday, Edmonton-Strathcona MLA Rachel Notley made her entry into the Alberta New Democratic party leadership race official yesterday morning in Calgary.

If anyone had any doubts Notley might not run a committed and enthusiastic campaign, they were surely put to rest by the enthusiastic — and well organized — welcome she received when she returned to Edmonton yesterday afternoon.

When she showed up at a trendy Edmonton coffee shop at 3 p.m., a crowd of about 150 well-wishers had already been herded into place, with green “Ready for Rachel buttons” on their shirts, green and NDP orange “Ready” signs in hand and primed to stomp their feet in time to the beat of the music amplifiers.

Earnest factotums herded the partisan crowd to the best spots for TV shots and warmed them up for Notley’s sometimes tearful, sometimes cheerful arrival.

Albertans wanted change in 2012, she told her Edmonton supporters in her short remarks, and what’s more they were promised it by the PC Government. But all they got the same old same old. “I will not rest until we have brought those Albertans into our movement to bring a modern, progressive government to the legislature in Alberta, because, my friends, I want to be premier.”

Party members will get to choose the leader in mid-October. At the moment, the only other candidate is Edmonton-Calder MLA David Eggen. Forming an NDP government may take a little longer.

These posts also appear on David Climenhaga’s blog, Alberta Diary.

David J. Climenhaga

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga is a journalist and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. He left journalism after the strike...