Last week, we wrote about the Alberta NDP, a party that has surged in the polls despite having offered Alberta nothing more than a leader, a few photos, and a promise to be better than everyone else. The platformless NDP continues to surge, but it is no longer the biggest news story in the provincial election campaign. Jonathan Denis, current Minister of Justice and candidate for re-election in Calgary-Acadia, has been thrust into the spotlight. The issue? Someone is writing “Penis” instead of “Denis” on his campaign signs.
For the record, Denis says he isn’t responsible for this juvenile behaviour. While he’s clearly more electable when he changes his name, he would never seek an advantage like this over his opponents. Not now, anyway. It turns out that he’s already been there and done that.
A source says that Denis used the Penis trick during an election campaign for the senate at the University of Saskatchewan. Back then, he pretended it was vandalism, but it eventually became “common knowledge” that he had made the changes himself. Back then, the changes were a little more scandalous than they are today. For instance, one sign originally read “Put Denis in your box.”
Denis says the shlong jokes go all the way back to high school and to when his father was in the military. Apparently, the male brain has been capable of crude wordplay for at least two generations.
This time, it feels like things are a bit different. This isn’t some military or high school joke. It isn’t a university election in which some pathetic percentage of the student body will remember to cast an uninformed vote. This is a provincial election. This is an act of higher democracy in which some pathetic percentage of the voting public will remember to cast an uninformed vote. Denis might be on to something.
Like the NDP, who wagers that voters don’t consider anything other than the party colours and the leader’s smile before casting a ballot, Denis might be elevating cynical politics to the next level.
Whether or not he did this, Denis does not seem too upset about it. He might think being “the Penis guy” will give him some name recognition, which might translate to a third leg up in the electoral competition. Is that all he needs to win in this day and age? Again, and as always, we will have to wait until Election Day to find out.