Apparently there are some oddly tender souls running for the NDP in this current election. So tender, in fact, that they cannot bear the kind of scrutiny that comes with being a political candidate.
And so now they are running wherever they can run to in order to be coddled.
Enter stage left: NDP candidate Michael Connolly. as wet-nosed a pup as there has ever been in Alberta politics. Connolly is practically a parachute candidate from the University of Ottawa. Apparently the NDP couldn’t find an actual resident of Calgary-Hawkwood, so they few Connolly home to do it.
Enter stage right: Ezra Levant, founder of The Rebel.media. He cracked a few gentle jokes about Connolly’s age and Connolly whined about it. So Levant made a few more jokes, and later on reported on some intemperate remarks Connolly had made about Christian gun owners.
Apparently Connolly, a young man who would like to be an MLA, can’t handle even that much scrutiny. So he wrote on the Facebook page of an Edmonton-area political commentator that he was having an emotional meltdown:
“You know, I put my name forward because I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to make Alberta a safer space for LGBTQ people in this province, and I wanted to create a healthcare system that would actually work for everyday Albertans. But after today, after the continuous attacks from Ezra Levant and his trolls this week, I have never been closer to checking myself into the hospital because of suicidal thoughts. I usually have a thick skin, but after everything that has happened today I have never wanted anything more than to be done with it all.
I put my name forward because I wanted to help people, not because I had to or because I want a large salary, it’s because I wanted youth and LGBTQ people to have a voice in the legislature. Maybe I’m not the smartest fucking person in the world, and maybe I’m not the best fucking candidate in the province, but I put my damn name forward because I wanted to make a difference.
I know the issues and I know the numbers and I’m pretty damn good at talking to people, but apparently if you’re not a 45+ year-old, white, straight, cis, conservative male you have nothing to offer this damn province. The people running in this election are real, and they read everything you write and say about them. Just think about that next time you want to belittle a political candidate.“
Having suffered from mental health issues myself I’m not without sympathy for Connolly. But by the same token, I haven’t put my name forward as a political candidate while apparently expecting to go unscrutinized.
Remarkably, while Connolly had every intention of erecting a massive hugbox around himself, he certainly hasn’t shied away from attacking his opponents, particularly in a very aggressive fashion. Here’s a Facebook post Connolly wrote about his Progressive Conservative opponent, Jason Luan:
“This evening, my PC opponent Jason Luan stated that he has always supported and promoted equal rights for LGBTQ people. This is unequivocally false. Yes, Mr Luan did rise in the legislature and speak out against Bill 10, however, when it came to voting on the Bill, he decided his best course of action was to be absent. This is not supporting nor promoting equal rights. This is backing down when LGBTQ youth needed him most. Alberta deserves better than the inactions and empty promises of Jason Luan and his PC colleagues. Albertans deserve an NDP government that will stand by what we say and protect the rights and freedoms of our most vulnerable.“
There’s no sign that Connolly ever bothered to ask Luan why he may have been absent from the legislature on the day of that vote, but it doesn’t really seem to matter. Michael Connolly, the NDP candidate who seems obsessed with protecting himself from scrutiny, wrote a Facebook post inferring that his principal opponent is at best disinterested in LGBTQ issues, and at worst secretly homophobe. This despite the detail that he spoke in favour of LGBTQ rights.
It’s simply not reasonable for a political candidate to attack his opponent this viciously on one day, then turn around and demand that the political debate be a “safe space” — in this instance, a “safe space” being defined as one in which he cannot be criticized, scrutinized, or even mocked — the next. I’d be tempted to describe it as childish but frankly most children know better than this.
Regardless of what anyone may think Albertans need in government, it’s clear what they need in their democracy: a vigorous debate in which all candidates are vetted and scrutinized. Any candidate who cannot take such scrutiny need never stand; and Albertans should require them not to.