On August 13 Naheed Nenshi wrote a column for the Calgary Herald titled “Labels confuse our political understanding” in response to a comment Wildrose Alliance leadership candidate Danielle Smith made. Smith herself responded in print on August 16. (Shane over at Calgary Rants has his take on the exchange.) While this conversation is a good – and interesting – one that I normally would be happy to enter into I wanted to instead comment on something that grew out of the ensuing conversation that occurred on Twitter.
Jeremy at PolitiCalgary beat me to the punch a little bit by publishing the text of the Twitter conversation (although he is missing a few of the comments in the exchange). I agree with him that it was a bizarre conversation between Naheed Nenshi defending his position and someone only identifying themselves as “Alberta Conservative” arguing the need for political labels. I entered the fray at this point. I shouldn’t have but I did, because I feel political labels (not to be confused with party labels) add a layer of annoyance to the political process that hinders a lot of citizens’ ability to discuss the issues on their individual merit. Especially at the municipal level where there are no parties. I immediately tried to exit the conversation as it went in a bizarre direction I wasn’t interested in following. But I digress.
At one point in the conversation, long after the original debate had been abandoned in favour of speculation about conservative and liberal slates for the upcoming 2010 Calgary municipal election, Alberta Conservative mentioned, “@Nenshi If Calgary adopts civic parties like @RicMcIver may do your chances would be very slim in 2010.” Naheed then replied with “@ABConservative PGIB [Progressive Group for Independent Business] ran a slate for years and elected no one, BCC [Better Calgary Campaign, of which Nenshi is part of] had all but 2 endorsed candidates win last time (inc. Mciver – I’m a fan)”.
Now, and this is what this blog post is ACTUALLY all about, Craig Chandler, who is a part of the PGIB entered the conversation with this tweet:
@nenshi PGIB ran a slate once and in that slate Ric McIver was elected. We have endorsed since and all have won every time! Do your Homework
I couldn’t bite my tongue at this comment. Having just finished some reading on the 2007 election a few days earlier I saw this interjection for what it was: a lie. This kind of political hyperbole is something I just can’t stand. If you are going to make a comment as direct and challenging as that, the least it should be is accurate. In my opinion it is comments like this that make people outside politics have such distaste for people inside politics. It is what Stephen Colbert would call “truthiness”. If you say something that sounds true, with enough emphasis and determination, it doesn’t matter if it is true or not because people will begin to believe it. I’m not about to let that happen. So I interjected with:
I know I shouldn’t be surprised that it is Craig Chandler who undertook such a tactic (he doesn’t have a great track record with staying on people’s good sides). But this is the kind of thing we need LESS of not MORE of.
A surprising number of people have been trying to encourage me to run in the 2010 election. I’ve been saying the whole way along I’m not convinced I want to run. But if the rumours are true and Chandler is eyeing up an aldermanic seat, I’m half-ways convinced to run against him. Wherever he may run. If anything just to make sure this kind of rhetoric stays as far away from our council chamber as possible. No, make that three quarters convinced to run. (As you can tell, I really don’t like this kind of commentary.)
Our council has been bitterly divided on too many issues these past three years. False comments like this from from an alderman would be the exact opposite of the kind of camaraderie and cooperation we need to help Calgary fix the issues we are facing. Let’s pray that doesn’t happen because the results could be disastrous.
By the way, in case you are wondering, Chandler hasn’t replied to my “homework” yet. It was sent four days ago. I’ll provide an update if he does.