It took so much work by so many people to pull the Wildrose Party and the Progressive Conservative Party together. So many folks had to set aside old gripes. People had to swallow some pride. People had to make compromises. Despite all those tall personal orders, people put their priorities straight and got the job done. We now have a United Conservative Party that is primed to unseat the Notley regime even before getting a new leader.
Our work as a party is still far from done. While we are indeed united, we still have some sensitive spots. We still have people who’s support is tentative and we still have some old wounds. That makes the United Conservative Party vulnerable from the inside and nothing challenges internal party unity more deeply than a leadership race.
What I am getting at is based on a Facebook exchange this evening.
For those unfamiliar with me or my wife’s backgrounds, we were both founders of the Wildrose Party. We have both been on the executive of the party in multiple incarnations and have both run for the party before. We have volunteered on countless campaigns and been a part of all sorts of party efforts.
All that being said, Jane and I are still individuals and we are not always on the exact same political page. For example, I joined the PC Party well over a year ago in order to help promote Jason Kenney’s unity plan. Jane on the other hand refused to leave the Wildrose Party. We were in different parties with different views on how to best move forward yet still comfortably shared the same bed. With the formation of the UCP we are now in the same party again.
Jane was asked to serve on the UCP Leadership Election Committee and she accepted. That is why I have been uncharacteristically quiet in this leadership race so far. While Jane is her own person, we just didn’t need to bring on the headaches and inevitable complaints that would come if I had been active on one of the leadership campaigns while she was on the committee.
Yesterday Jane decided to leave the committee. It wasn’t a bitter, sour grapes sort of thing or anything like that. Jane posted her reasoning in full here.
Along with explaining her resignation Jane intimated that she would be choosing to openly support a leadership candidate as well and would be posting that today.
Jane’s post led to a Facebook posting by a Kenny supporter who speculated that Jane was going to endorse Brian Jean. Nothing wrong with that. All part of political discourse.
It is in the response from a couple other posters where we see the dangerous, combative attitude of some pretty fervent people who truly can cause some unity issues within the party.
Trevor Norris as a rather vocal little fellow on social media. His antics have force him to mercifully put his twitter account into private mode but alas, he still prowls on Facebook.
OK, so apparently if Jane were to endorse Brian Jean, that makes me a “fucking sellout”. How nice. I guess I am obliged to control my little woman and tell her who she may or may not endorse? Demonstrates that Norris has about as much acumen with marital relationships as he does with political ones.
I have to admit, I let this irk me and responded to him. This led to him labeling me as a some sort of hypocrite. It really doesn’t make much sense.
Norris’s buddy (with a Kenney banner on his picture no less) added his thoughts while he was at it.
Hardly the first or last time I will be called such. Certainly not reflecting well on Team Kenney at this point however.
Either way, other folks popped into the conversation and Norris put his personal skills back to work.
This is where things get concerning as it appears that Trevor Norris with his badgering and belligerent insults managed to drive a long time politically active person right out of that discussion forum.
Gina Bossert had interjected essentially calling for calm. Trevor implied that she supports the “slimeball” Jean.
Gina debated for a little while and dejectedly finally left.
While this may seem to be a simple single incident, I am afraid that it isn’t. These little happenings are going on in all sorts of social media platforms and at gatherings such as debates.
While the majority of supporters of the leadership candidates are passionate yet respectful in their allegiances, there are some nasty and virulent ones in the minority who are causing some real damage to the party and the campaigns that they claim to support.
I don’t blame Brian Jean, Jason Kenney or Doug Schweitzer for the actions of these people. Leadership teams and candidates are busy and sure as hell don’t have time to try and crack down on every divisive wingnut who is being an asshole on social media.
We as a party have to check ourselves. We need to call out people (as I am doing now) when they become fanatical, insulting and divisive within the party before these people can spread more internal damage.
It is OK to be critical of leadership candidates but when you start personally attacking their supporters you are creating wounds and rifts that may never heal.
There can be nothing good in calling people idiots, hypocrites and supporters of slimeballs who are not worthy of respect just because you may feel that they are supporting the wrong candidate. How in the hell do you earn converts that way? I assure you we need them.
When the general election finally comes to Alberta, I can’t think of a better way to ensure that Notley gets re-elected than by having a party full of wingnuts who insult and berate all of the undecided or those who they think support Notley. Many people supported Notley. That is why she is unfortunately our Premier right now and if you keep tossing shit at the folks who put her there, they sure as hell won’t consider coming to the UCP. Rest assured, we need that protest vote back.
We have a lot of work to do after the leadership race. We are still essentially building a new party from scratch and we sure as hell don’t need deep caustic factions within the party which will distract us from our more important goals.
There is no better time to stomp out this divisiveness than right now. Like any illness, it will spread and be tougher to cure later. Leadership teams need to look within and try to address their problem spots before they flare into catastrophes later.
As a final note, Jane endorsed Doug Schweitzer and myself I support Jason Kenney.
Norris guessed wrong on both fronts and managed to alienate many folks for no good reason.
We can’t let folks like him divide us and drive out those party workers that we will need so dearly in the days coming ahead.