Smear politics don’t help win elections

This week, NDP candidate feels the burn of past online comments

Stu Salkeld

The Pipestone Flyer

I can’t speak for anybody else but I’m really disappointed about smear politics, and fairly tired of it too.

Over the past two weeks someone has been digging up any dirt they can find on United Conservative Party candidates. The most recent are UCP candidates Mark Smith of Drayton-Devon constituency (some of our readers are represented by Mark) and Livingstone-Macleod candidate Roger Reid, down in the Fort Macleod area of the province.

I could understand if someone filmed me walking out of a Hells Angels clubhouse a week ago with a swastika emblazoned on my jacket, then I would certainly have some explaining to do, but that’s not what’s happening. Very old comments are being dug up with the intent of pinning them on election candidates for political gain.

On Apr. 2 national headlines blazed up with comments Smith apparently made in 2013 at a Drayton Valley church about abortion and gay relationships. Smith apologized immediately and said he regretted how his comments had been presented. Critics also tried to link Smith’s comments to paedophilia, but I honestly don’t understand what they were referring to. I listed to what Smith said a few times over and they lost me on that one.

The NDP wasted no time in condemning the comments and Premier Rachel Notley’s second in command Sarah Hoffman told CP, “(UCP leader) Jason Kenney must fire him immediately.”

Apr. 2 was a red letter day for muckrakers, as another UCP candidate, Roger Reid who’s running for election near Lethbridge, was attacked for comments made in a church newsletter in 2003. A book review in the church bulletin stated the leaders of the gay political lobby had it out for Christians. Reid was apparently in charge of communications for the church when that newsletter was written almost 20 years ago.

In the same news story the NDP claimed a book Reid promoted was anti-Muslim.

The NDP released a statement on the issue, noting Kenney “…must show leadership and address the racist and homophobic views of his candidate.”

I don’t agree with holding anyone responsible for comments like that made so long ago, including the newsletter article that came out when Ralph Klein was still premier of Alberta, which in my opinion was ridiculous to even bring up.

People change and grow. It’s not unusual for people to change their views as they gain experience. The attempt to hold someone like Reid responsible for something written that long ago is, at best, pathetic.

Interestingly enough, this weekend an NDP candidate was forced to apologize for what appeared to be insensitive religious rhetoric. Joe Pimlott, Calgary-Peigan, shared social media posts in 2011 and 2012 that said “I’ll see your Jihad and I’ll raise you one Crusade.” In my opinion, these comments were insensitive and stupid, but they are so old I don’t see any reason why they were ever brought up other than to point out hypocrisy.

It was also interesting that the NDP had been contacted by reporters about Pimlott’s social media adventures, but declined to comment.

Stu Salkeld is editor of The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and feels candidates and parties should be more concerned with Alberta’s economy and less on what happened in 2003.

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