OTTAWA — A couple of Chris Alexander’s rivals in the Conservative leadership race are denouncing what happened at a rally in Edmonton over the weekend, when some in the crowd chanted that Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley should be thrown in jail.
The chants of “lock her up”, which echoed those heard at many campaign rallies for now U.S. president-elect Donald Trump, came as Alexander was speaking about Notley at a rally organized by Rebel Media, an online news and right-wing opinion outlet.
Conservative MP Michael Chong, a rival in the race to replace former prime minister Stephen Harper as party leader, said that while free speech must always be defended, it must also be used responsibly.
Chong took no issue with the rally itself, meant to protest “job-killing regulations and the swelling tax burden,” as he said in a statement Monday.
“This type of activism and political participation is an essential part of how our system works,” he said.
“However, in chanting ‘lock her up’ at one point in the rally, members of the crowd, in their anger, urged undemocratic action more worthy of a dictatorship than Canada’s parliamentary democracy based on the rule of law,” he said.
Chong did not mention Alexander by name, but noted the chanting was not denounced by organizers or by those on the stage.
“As leaders, we should stand up against language and behaviour that undermines the rule of law and legitimacy of our political system and its office holders, whether that language comes from the left or the right of the political spectrum,” Chong said.
Alexander has been criticized for not being seen to do anything to stop the protesters or say anything about the words they were using, but he has since said he disapproved.
“I totally disapprove of that particular chant,” Alexander said Sunday. “I don’t think it’s fair. I don’t think it’s the right thing to say at a rally or elsewhere and that’s why I didn’t join it.”
Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai also weighed in, saying that whether one agrees or disagrees, Albertans gave Notley “a clear democratic mandate to govern” in the last provincial election.
“We’re witnessing Trump-style politics invading Canada,” he said.
He called on the organizers to distance themselves from “hate-mongering and insults.”