A few months ago, former Alberta PC Finance Minister Ron Liepert defeated current Conservative MP Rob Anders for the Conservative Party nomination to run in Calgary-Signal Hill in the 2015 federal election. In many circles, Calgarians rejoiced, thanking “God Almighty” that they were “free at last” from the 17-year MP, who has been described as racist, homophobic, sexist, sleepy, and a fashion nightmare. Okay, that last one is just my opinion. At any rate, it seemed that Anders’ fall from grace had lifted a big burden off Calgarians’ shoulders. The city was like Europe post Black Death, like Toronto post SARS, like the Canadian Alliance post Stockwell Day. There was a genuine belief that things would be better now. Unfortunately for the believers, their future now looks uncertain.
Recently, Rob Anders announced that he would seek the Conservative nomination in the riding of Bow River. His resurgence is very unlike SARS or Day, who disappeared after their 15 minutes of fame. It confirmed that, when dealing with Anders, the plague comparison is most apt. But what does this mean for Bow River?
Bow River might be in for an “anyone but Anders” campaign. That’s exactly what happened in Calgary-Signal Hill, where the race was a lot like the current Toronto mayoral campaign. People in Toronto support candidates because they are not Rob Ford, just like people in Calgary supported Ron Liepert because he was not Rob Anders. Was that warranted?
More importantly, in this context, could it be warranted again? Lest we lump the two in together simply because they’re both named Rob and a lot of people hate them, it’s worth noting the differences between Ford and Anders. Ford falls asleep when he’s stoned or hammered drunk, while Anders falls asleep because John Duncan is a lousy public speaker.
While Anders displayed a plausibly racist contempt for Nelson Mandela (he called Mandela a terrorist), Rob Ford probably doesn’t know who Nelson Mandela was. The people of Bow River are in for a doozy.
This is, at best, an untested assumption that Anders is indeed the worst candidate possible. So let’s test it. If Anders truly is the worst, his competitor need only meet two criteria in order to beat him: (1) must be willing to run, and (2) must have a pulse. Sure, it would be helpful to be popular, intelligent, charismatic, and maybe even a decent person, but those characteristics are all unnecessary in an “anything but…” campaign. Aim low, Bow River. Pick someone who could beat only Anders. Alison Redford could roll out of bed in Calgary-Elbow and land on your doorstep. She’s worth a gander, because if she can win, you know anyone can.