I can't get my head around how to start this opinion piece. I'm disappointed, I guess. But I'm not really close to the people who have disappointed me. It's kind of like enjoying the first movie so much that you line up for tickets to the sequel ... but it sucks and you feel let down. It's not life-changing ... but it's disappointing.
Ric McIver has let me down. Who's Ric McIver, you may ask? (and why doesn't he have Ks in his name where Ks normally go?). Mr. McIver is a long-serving Alberta UCP politician. The Calgary-based MLA has held ministerial titles in Municipal Affairs and Transportation to name a couple. In my three decades of journalism, I've had the pleasure of interviewing and knowing many politicians like McIver. He's a straight-shooter and a fairly objective decision-maker who hasn't been swayed too much by party-politics or toeing the line.
But on Saturday, he let me down — and probably many others — when he issued a UCP "news" release that can only be described as infantile — at best. Now of course, during this crazy, gravity-freefall of election promises and mud-slinging, we expect the one-two punches from one party that are returned with a block and a counter punch by the other.
"They" are bad... No, "they" are ...No. "You" are ...Who says? ...You did. Jerk-face ...Vote for me."
It's sandbox politics time. And we expect that.
But the press joint press release issued Saturday by McIver and fellow UCP MLA Demetrios Nicolaides — both who have been ministers with fairly weighty government portfolios, and both looking to be re-elected — is something belonging more in a litter box.
Two grown men, both elected representatives carrying the responsibilities of ratepayers and all Albertans through their very important roles have resorted to name-calling, finger-pointing, fear-mongering and "I love you more than they do, Calgary" flag-waving.
Their press release — issued as important news, apparently for Alberta media outlets to feast on — cites a 2021 Calgary city council meeting where a former councillor — now an NDP candidate running in Nicolaides' constituency — responds to news that the Calgary Flames organization was planning to back out of negotiations for a new sports and events centre in Calgary. The councillor, Druh Farrell, posted to social media that the move was likely a negotiations tactic during the funding discussions, but if the Flames were serious, well then, they should leave, and a worthy arena would be built for another team.
Saturday's news release by McIver and Nicolaides "calls out" Farrell for the 2021 comment, and goes further to infer — on official party documents, created, we assume by adults — that "It's no secret that Rachel Notley and the NDP don't like Calgary... this comment is indicative of the NDP's lack of appreciation for Calgary and all that makes us great," states McIver.
Nicolaides' comments in the release doesn't stoop to that level. He doesn't use two sentences from years' worth of debate to poo-poo on someone by saying they're poo-pooing on his favourite city. No — Nicolaides — again, a grown man — stoops lower. He attacks the person; calling Druh Farrell one of several "extreme" NDP candidates with extreme behaviour.
"...and they are a threat to everything Calgarians hold dear," Nicolaides says. "Calgary is a great city and we deserve a world-class arena and downtown that moves us forward and matches our dynamic nature."
For those watching the pre-election performance who are basic enough to boil their vote down a seething hatred for anyone with a counter-opinion, and a new Calgary arena, then the two men's comments will likely not spill any popcorn buckets. But for others — some who were fans of the original McIver — it's political equivalent of the way you felt after watching Avatar: The Way of Water.
A link to the full press release is included in the digital version of this opinion piece.