Campaign gears up to oust Rob Anders

Website promises to challenge controversial Calgary backbencher

Adrian Wyld/CP

Conservative MP Rob Anders may be facing a battle to earn his nomination in the next federal election.

On Monday, the website timetodobetter.ca surfaced, which encourages residents in the MP’s Calgary riding to sign up for a Conservative Party membership ahead of the next federal election, so they will be able to nominate a candidate other than Anders.

The website reads:

This year, 2014, will mark Rob Anders’ 17th year as a Member of Parliament. We think it’s time for a change and the team is in place to make that happen. More details will be announced soon. We would like you to join the movement for change by purchasing a membership and providing us with an email address so we can keep you informed.

The site was created by Calgary lawyer David McKenzie, reports the Calgary Herald. “It’s become apparent there is a fairly general dissatisfaction with our current federal representation,” McKenzie told the Herald in an interview. “The view a lot of people express to me is that when they hear Mr. Anders in the media, they have difficulty being proud of what they’re hearing.” McKenzie says there is a candidate who will compete against Anders, but the candidate has not yet been named.

Anders hasn’t exactly been in his constituents’ good books in the 17 years he’s represented the riding. The long-time Conservative backbencher is infamous for calling Nelson Mandela a terrorist and a communist when Canada gave him honourary citizenship in 2001. Anders half-heartedly resurrected this belief upon news of the South African leader’s death in December.

Other Anders’ gaffes include that time he suggested the late NDP leader Jack Layton wasn’t taking care of himself properly in the months before he died from cancer, and that current NDP leader Tom Mulcair “helped to hasten Jack Layton’s death.” Anders later apologized for those remarks.

Then there was that time he was caught on camera falling asleep in the House of Commons during question period. And that other time he allegedly fell asleep during a presentation about veterans’ homelessness and then proceeded to call the group giving the presentation a bunch of communist NDP “hacks.” (The presenter at the committee was actually a member of the Conservative Party.)

The timetodobetter campaign is getting underway as the riding boundaries in Anders’ current riding are set to change to accommodate Calgary’s growing population. Calgary West, Anders’ riding for nearly two decades, will split and Anders plans to seek the Conservative nomination in the newly created riding of Calgary Signal Hill.

This isn’t the first time someone has challenged Anders for the riding nomination. Current Alberta Premier Alison Redford, who was then working as a lawyer, challenged Anders for the Calgary West nomination in 2004. During that campaign, Anders said he was confident in his abilities to win the nomination “unless she’s got some magic support base of people who like feminist lawyers.”

For his part, Anders told The Globe and Mail that this most recent challenge is a battle between blue conservatives and red conservatives, who “are a threat to real conservatism.”

The next federal election is scheduled for the fall of 2015.