Why did the Alberta NDP disqualify MNP?
After a string of tweets, the party accuses Marilyn North Peigan of demonstrating a "continued pattern of behaviour," but won't say what it is.
On Wednesday, the Alberta NDP suddenly revoked the candidacy of Marilyn North Peigan, a Piikani woman who won the party nomination for Calgary-Klein in March against two other hopefuls.
The tipping point came in a since-deleted series of several tweets about Calgary city Coun. Dan McLean, who had to step down from all council committee assignments after an image came out of himself sitting alongside right-wing political operatives Craig Chandler and Jonathan Denis while they mocked Indigenous people.
There was also a video of the incident with Chandler and Denis, where McLean isn’t seen in it, but is heard in the background chuckling along.
In her tweets, Peigan accused McLean of being “in a long line of corruption” and unnamed officials of having corrupt wives on the Calgary Stampede board, who have been using tax dollars to party.
Peigan, who is the vice chair of the Calgary Police Commission and a proud member of the Canadian Armed Forces, is no leftist firebrand.
When I interviewed her for The Sprawl during her failed candidacy for Ward 7 — now represented by Coun. Terry Wong — in last year’s municipal election, she eschewed the progressive label, preferring to call herself “grassroots”.
In a video announcing her council candidacy, Peigan said “we should be redefining police work and not defunding [it].”
According to the CBC, the police commission is “reviewing [Peigan’s tweets] from a code of conduct standpoint.”
Peigan’s tweet storm was bizarre, but it’s hard to imagine an organization as large as the Calgary Stampede doesn’t have some degree of corruption in its ranks.
Still, she apologized in an 11-tweet thread yesterday, where she said her words were “untrue, disrespectful, and hurtful,” apologized to her volunteers, the Calgary Police Commission and Calgary Police Service for attracting “negative attention to these respectable organizations,” the NDP and McLean himself.
“We must not let the upcoming provincial election be decided by tweets that are inspired by pain or anger,” Paigan said, accepting disqualification.
Notably, she didn’t apologize to the Stampede.
In a statement to the Calgary Herald, NDP provincial secretary Brandon Stevens said that while McLean’s behaviour was abhorrent, Peigan’s remarks were part of a “continued pattern of behaviour that undermines this candidate’s ability to work with, or stand on behalf of, the Alberta NDP and its members.”
So what was this pattern of behaviour?
I reached out to the Alberta NDP, which provided me with what appears to be the same prepared statement from Stevens sent to other media, didn’t answer my question at all, but noted that the party will “be reaching out to the Calgary Stampede board to affirm that the comments made do not reflect the views of the Alberta NDP.”
“This is an internal party matter and, as such, no additional comment will be provided,” Stevens wrote.
An NDP source told me the pattern of behaviour had to do with mistreatment of staff and volunteers.
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This would be consistent with a letter from 15 NDP constituency presidents and regional VPs, which alleged a “pattern of disrespect and mistreatment of party volunteers,” in the words of Dean Bennett from The Canadian Press. But it’s hard to believe the buck stops with Peigan.
Plus, the NDP are standing by another candidate — also an Indigenous woman and police commissioner — who has arguably done worse.
In Edmonton, Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse attempted to get Coun. Anne Stevenson kicked off commission — a body ostensibly tasked with holding police to account — because one of Stevenson’s advisers is a police critic.
The decision to disqualify Peigan was made by the party’s table officers, which the Alberta NDP’s constitution says are composed of the party leader, president, first and second VPs, treasurer and labour VPs.
The constitution says nothing about the table officers’ ability to disqualify candidates.
Regardless of whether the NDP was justified in turfing Peigan, the lack of transparency from a party within shouting distance of forming government is troubling.
Edited by Scott Schmidt