David Parker is one happy man.
Former premier Jason Kenney is gone. Premier Danielle Smith is firmly holding the reins of power.
And, last weekend at the UCP’s packed-house shindig with a record-breaking crowd, those souls once sidelined, discounted and name-called by the old conservative establishment were in the majority by a country mile.
And they were calling the shots.
“The old PC guard is going to die. It’s not going to be negotiated over. It’s not going to be brought back into the fold and allowed to have its little corner,” says Parker, the founder of Take Back Alberta, the self-styled fighters against elitism.
“If your idea of politics is to be a gatekeeper you might as well leave because we’re going to rip down your gates.”
So far, Parker loves what Smith is doing but he is not letting down his guard.
The man from Take Back Alberta preaches constant vigilance.
“I love Danielle Smith’s mind. What I like about Danielle Smith is she’s a phoenix.
“How often do you see someone rise from the ashes and become what she’s become? It never happens.
“Most people, they experience what Danielle Smith went through and they never recover. They go off and they are bitter and they are angry and they never come back.
“She sits down and decides to take the heat on the radio for years to repair her reputation. She repaired her reputation to the point where people were willing to listen to her when she came out and said: ‘Look, I have some ideas on how we can fix the problems we’re facing. Please give me the opportunity.’
“We’ve given her the opportunity. Is she going to fix the problems? We have yet to see, but I believe she’s working on it.”
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This is where the not letting down his guard comes in.
“I don’t care if they’re an MLA. I don’t care if they’re a cabinet minister. I don’t care if they’re the chief of staff. I don’t care if they’re Rob Anderson or the premier herself.”
Anderson heads up the premier’s office.
“If they don’t respect democracy, they will have me to deal with. That’s what it comes down to.”
At the UCP love-in, Smith defending parental rights got her a standing ovation and the loudest cheers.
A Parental Bill of Rights was approved by almost every person voting at the UCP gathering.
Also getting a ginormous ‘Yes’ was requiring schools to get the written consent of parents before a student under 16 could change their name or he/she pronoun at school.
“It’s the idea the State can know things about their child that they don’t know. That is absolutely unacceptable,” says Parker.
“The parent is the primary authority. Period. If you take that away, you destroy what I believe is the core of Western civilization, which is family.”
Parker says he doesn’t care who the family is, a man and a woman, two women, two men, one woman, one man, the family is the core.
“These parents are in charge of their children, not the school.”
The TBA organizer has heard it said parents might be bigoted.
He fires back.
“There is almost not a single parent who cares less about their children than a teacher does.
“Teachers have 23 of them. They’re just trying to survive. They don’t care about your child the way you care about your child.”
Parker mentions the “huge freedom issues” and the culture wars and Alberta’s fight with Ottawa.
He mentions getting rid of the electronic counting of ballots, another idea getting a huge ‘Yes’ at the UCP gathering.
Parker doesn’t say there is cheating but adds there are enough who believe there is cheating so hand-counting the votes while people watch the count is the way to go even if it takes longer and costs more money.
Parker acknowledges for at least 40 years there have been individuals out there talking up the battles most of the crowd at the UCP gabfest are just now interested in fighting.
“People did talk about it and they were called nutjobs,” he says.
Yes, many of the people on the front line only got involved recently.
“You know what it took? People being personally affected. COVID did that. People realized their government could take everything from them. I don’t think they realized that before.”
Parker is quick to brush aside what he says he’s been called by the press. Racist, bigot, misogynist.
“They have nothing left. Nothing can be said about me that’s worse than what’s already been said.”
Then he smiles the smile of victory.