Calgary

Conservative activist plans slate of candidates for Calgary's next municipal election

A conservative activist and head of a small business group is organizing a slate of candidates for Calgary's next municipal election in 2021.

Group will support Councillors Sean Chu, Peter Demong, Jeromy Farkas and Joe Magliocca

Craig Chandler with the Progressive Group for Independent Business plans to run in Calgary's 2021 municipal election, along with a slate of conservative candidates. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

A conservative activist and head of a small business group is organizing a slate of candidates for Calgary's next municipal election in 2021.

Craig Chandler with the Progressive Group for Independent Business made the announcement at a western separatist rally in Calgary on Saturday.

Chandler plans to run in Ward 12, which is currently represented by Coun. Shane Keating, and says his group will support Councillors Sean Chu, Peter Demong, Jeromy Farkas and Joe Magliocca. CBC News has yet to receive comment from those four councillors on the slate.

The group will also run candidates in the other 10 wards with the goal of defeating incumbents.

'Worst type of politics'

Coun. Keating said slates don't work because councillors lose the ability to vote independently on each issue.

"Slates are the absolute worst type of politics at the municipal level," he said. 

"We don't have parties here. We should never have parties here. We should never have slates. Now there's nothing wrong with a group of individuals who want to run but the moment you add slates in front of it you're actually adding an independent party."

Chandler said Keating would not be running again. Keating did not confirm whether or not he plans to run in 2021.

Slate politics is always interesting at a municipal level because, I mean, we're supposed to be non-partisan…- Coun. Jyoti Gondek

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said slates have fared poorly in past municipal elections because Calgarians don't want to see political parties at city hall.

"We see that, you know, in every single council meeting there is a vote split that has never before been seen — and I think that's cool. I think that's good, it makes my job way harder. Imagine if I had a purple party and I could just get whatever I wanted done! But I don't mind … going to council and not knowing what the results will be and making sure that there is debate," he said.

One of the councillors targeted for defeat by the group, Jyoti Gondek, said she's not sure what candidate the group would want in her stead.

"Slate politics is always interesting at a municipal level because, I mean, we're supposed to be non-partisan … what cracks me up to no end is you've finally got a councillor in north-central Calgary whose being told to sit down, shut up because she's talking too much about the needs of her constituents," she said. "Maybe they should look at my record … I don't know how you can be more business-minded than that."

Chandler is a current member of the United Conservative Party and a long-time conservative political operative.

He also has controversies under his belt.

In 2016, he stepped down from the Progressive Conservative party's board after accusing Earls restaurants of supporting terrorism by purchasing beef from a company that also offers halal meat for Muslim customers. In 2007, Chandler was forced to apologize as part of a Canadian Human Rights Commission settlement for anti-gay comments. He was rejected as running as a candidate for the PCs that same year.

With files from Scott Dippel

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