Craig Chandler is a controversial figure at best, but has been instrumental in the rise of Stephen Harper and the Reform movement.
You might call him right-wing fringe, but when he ran to lead the old PC Party, as part of the right's bid to take it over, he launched a rather, shall we say interesting, campaign.
Few took fringe candidate Craig Chandler seriously when he ran for the federal Progressive Conservative leadership this spring. Even harder to take is the fundraiser he plans to help cover the cost of his failed bid. Chandler is inviting guests to a Calgary shooting range to fire live ammunition at targets emblazoned with the federal Liberal party logo."For 100 bucks, you get a 9-mm or equivalent, bullets, and you get a day pass at the Shooting Edge (firing range) and you get a steak dinner – Alberta beef, of course," he says.Cheryl Gallant has twittered (from Cowboys for Social Responsibility) that the budget provides $21 million dollars to gun owners, a rather odd allocation of funds for a party that is supposed to be worried about our economy (The RCMP wanted less than a million but were turned down).
The idea makes Calgary West Alliance MP Rob Anders "giddy.""It’s a perfect fit for an Alliance fundraiser," the MP says. "I can’t picture NDPs or Liberals doing it." (Chandler’s fundraiser criticized, By Jon Forest, The Toronto Star, July 8, 2003)
Stephen Harper's success since 2006, has been primarily because he attempted to pose as a moderate. But that facade is crumbling, because his actions are pretty radical. However, when the Reform-Alliance was getting started, they drew much of their support from the radical right, a group they have since tried to distance themselves from, at least publicly.
A recent NANOS poll suggests that Canadians are beginning to lose trust in the Conservatives, and there is at least one group calling for a leadership revue.
My fear is that this election, Harper will go back to his "base" to garner the needed supported. This means all of the radical gun lovers and religious extremists, who were there in the beginning, and may be up for a new campaign.
And what will he promise them? The same thing he promised them several years ago. An end to women's rights, gay rights, immigration, multiculturalism. Everything that defines us a nation.
If there was ever a time for progressives to unite for a common cause it is now. Those of us familiar with the early days of Reform, know just how nasty they can be. Selling bullets to shoot at the Liberal logo, will be mild in comparison.
Stephen Harper is afraid, and when he gets afraid he is like a trapped animal.
I have to be honest, I'm a little frightened. And that's not fear-mongering. The $21 million promised above, says a lot. He's reaching out to the wrong crowd. Notice Gallant specifically mentions 'sports shooters', not the usual plea for 'farmers' needing guns.