CALGARY – Outspoken Calgary MP Rob Anders is already taking aim at a potential rival who may challenge him at an upcoming Conservative party nomination meeting.
Former Alberta cabinet minister Ron Liepert says he is part of a group who wants to see Anders replaced, but says he is still deciding whether to run.
Anders has little doubt that Liepert, who was campaign manager for Alison Redford when she unsuccessfully challenged Anders for the nomination in 2004, will be his chief competitor.
Anders says the group, which has adopted the motto “It’s time to do better,” is a collection of so-called Red Tories who want to put together a progressive coalition of Liberals and New Democrats to win the nomination.
“It’s kind of a classic red versus blue battle. We’ve done this many times before — myself and Redford facing off in 2004,” Anders said.
“A lot of them are kind of the old Joe Clark red Tory crew and so they’re going to try and put together a progressive coalition of Liberals and New Democrats who wouldn’t normally vote for the Conservatives during a general election and will take out memberships in the short-term.”
Anders, 41, has represented Calgary West since 1997. The riding name is changing to Calgary Signal Hill under federal redistribution.
Liepert brushed off Anders’s suggestion that his opponents aren’t real Conservatives.
“I’ve been a Conservative since before Rob Anders was born,” said Liepert.
“What we want to do first off is engage Conservatives to get active. So many people, including myself, gave up their membership federally for a number of years because it was almost a silent protest against the MP.”
Anders describes himself as a social conservative who is pro-life.
He opposed honorary Canadian citizenship for Nelson Mandela in 2001 and labelled him a communist and a terrorist.
He is vitriolic in his dislike of China. He once compared the 2008 Beijing Olympics to the 1936 Berlin Games.
In 2012, Anders was dropped from the Commons veterans affairs committee after he lashed out against a veterans support group which had criticized him for falling asleep during a committee meeting.
He later apologized for saying his critics were NDP “hacks.”
Liepert said the federal Conservatives had been in a minority government in the past and were unwilling to do anything about Calgary West since Anders was just “a bum in a seat” but that has changed now.
A date for the nomination in Calgary Signal Hill has not yet been set.