“Kudatah”: It’s not a joke

Ms Soapbox is deeply troubled by last week’s failed Kudatah.

The Kudatah (or “coup d’etat” for those who know how to spell) was George Clark’s attempt to overthrow the NDP government.

George blames the NDP for the economic downturn. He wants the old guard back. It’s not clear whether he’s referring to the old-old guard, the Progressive Conservatives, or the new-old guard, the Wildrose.


George Clark at the Kudatah

George wants a two tier welfare system that supports laid off oil workers but not bums “who never worked a day in their lives” and “recent immigrants who haven’t found work yet.”

He wants to eliminate the Temporary Foreign Worker program until all Albertans get their jobs back. Apparently he doesn’t know that the TFW program is a federal program outside of the NDP government’s jurisdiction.

It’s not clear how George would force OPEC to increase oil prices to a level high enough to convince oil companies to come out of their bunkers and start to reinvest in the oilsands.

George’s plan

These questions don’t concern George or his followers because George has a plan.

Plan A was to collect thousands of signatures on a petition and present it to Alberta’s lieutenant governor. The petition would ask for a plebiscite on the carbon tax and the farm safety bill which presumably would topple the government.  The plan failed.

George moved to Plan B—the Kudatah.

George would invoke a clause in the Elections Act and instantly throw the NDP out of power. Apparently the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose failed to notice this clause but George was so confident he’d found the silver bullet that he was going to “make the announcement at 12:15 [and] we will be back in control of the government by 12:30.”

On March 8, George and his supporters staged a Kudatah rally on the steps of the Legislature in support of Plan B. The plan failed.

George then moved to Plan C which may have been part of Plan A. He told his supporters to join the NDP party and change it from within (a reverse Kudatah?)

All along George said he was committed to the power of love—the Kudatah would depose the NDP government in a democratic, legal and non-violent fashion.

The Kudatah

George was wrong.

The NDP are still in power and the Kudatah turned into an angry demonstration with participants shouting homophobic slurs, waving posters emblazoned with swastikas and “Final Solution” slogans (in connection with killing the farm safety bill), making what looked like Nazi salutes and calling for someone to “kill the bitch Notley”.

George did nothing to bring his followers back from the brink.

So here’s the really troubling part—almost nobody called him on it.

Brian Jean, leader of the Wildrose, appears to be quietly supporting George. Ric McIver, the interim leader of the Progressive Conservatives, said George was doing a great job, then deleted the post because like his march with anti-gay pastor Artur Pawlowski, it might not sit well with the electorate.


Ric McIver and Brian Jean

The main stream media is treating George as a joke, not worthy of real coverage. Journalists failed to fact check George’s claim to 160,000 signatures, they failed to confirm how many supporters actually showed up for the Kudatah and most importantly, they failed to write editorials denouncing the presence of of a confused mob waving swastika posters to oppose farm safety legislation and using homophobic rhetoric to decry an anti-bullying bill and lord knows what else on the Legislature steps.

The act of censuring George Clark and his followers fell to social media which did an admirable job.

Anger as a political motivator

George Clark tapped into the anger of Albertans who’ve been let down by the Progressive Conservative government’s mismanagement of their natural resources.  Albertans have a right to be angry. They’re in a deep economic hole.

In the Throne Speech (which was delivered on Kudatah day) the NDP government outlined a strategic plan to address this problem. It will increase access to energy markets, get serious about diversification and a greener economy and help Albertans impacted by the economic downturn.

George Clark is unconvinced. Like Donald Trump’s followers in the gong show south of the border, George prefers the conservative government that that threw him into this hole over the NDP government that’s trying to dig him out.

The real story

This isn’t about George Clark and the Kudatah. It’s about how George and his followers failed to recognize who abused them and turned their anger on others they perceive to be  more vulnerable.  And it’s about the politicians and media who let George and the Kudatah get away with it.

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation says there’s no single way to eliminate racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and hate;  but no effort is too small and discrimination, wherever it appears, must be challenged.

Shame on Alberta’s politicians who seized upon George and the Kudatah as a political opportunity.

Shame on the main stream media who dismissed the whole thing as a big joke.

And heaps of gratitude to the social media bloggers and tweeters who fought it with everything they had.

NOTE: Ms Soapbox received a few comments that will not be published because (1) they allege Ms Soapbox is harbouring hate or (2) they attempt to shame another commentator.  The Soapbox provides a forum for people to discuss the issues and agree or disagree as the case may be, but not to make personal attacks.  This is not the comments section of a newspaper.

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49 Responses to “Kudatah”: It’s not a joke

  1. Thank you again for a post that is substantive and shows the seriousness of the consequences of complacent compliant progressives in Alberta

  2. Rose MacKenzie-Kirkwood says:

    I’ve never known a swastika to be a positive symbol. I thought we had moved past this type of action. Shame on him.

  3. Robin Wortman says:

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke This isn’t a new phenomenon in North America during dire economic circumstances. In 1933, Prescott Bush, the father of George H. W. Bush and grandfather of George W. Bush, was part of an elite group of financiers and businessmen who seriously planned to fund a coup d’etat against President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in order to install a Nazi government and implement the policies of Chancellor Adolf Hitler in Germany. Their plans were revealed and never carried out despite efforts to organize and fund an army of 500,000 troops; none of the conspirators were charged. http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/july2007/240707fascistcoup.htm On January 2, 2007 former President George H. W. Bush eulogized another former President, Gerald Ford (the only non-elected President in U.S. history and a member of the Warren Commission), and alluded to a successful coup d’etat (15th to 17th second) that took place in his home state: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ft3eGWZd7LE

  4. Nobohi huno says:

    As one of those who fought the good fight while mainstream media kept enabling the delusional to embarrassing the province I can only say; Your Welcome.

    • Nobohi: I used to be somewhat leery skeptical about Twitter’s ability to present news but it was the only medium that covered the Kudatah as it happened with comments and photographs from both sides; those who supported George Clark and those who did not. But for Twitter, Facebook, blogs, some radio comments and online media like Vice you’d never know it happened.

      • Morbeau says:

        There was an Edmonton Journal article at least. Maybe not a great article, but there it is.

      • Thanks Morbeau. If nothing else the article explains why George Clark isn’t worried about forcing OPEC to raise oil prices. If I understand him correctly he says everything was fine at $10 oil so everything should be fine at $35 oil. If that were the case oil companies are playing an elaborate hoax on Albertans and laying off staff and shutting in projects just for the heck of it.

  5. Lin Tan says:

    Thank you Susan. Wonderful and insightful article. Please write to the papers.

  6. Elaine Fleming says:

    Apart from not knowing what the swastika represents, these folks don’t understand that the party that wins an election gets to govern. Many, many Albertans did not support the 40 plus years of PC governments with their cronyism, incompetence, corruption, self-serving entitlements, and pandering to big oil and other corporate interests- but we had to suffer through them until we could toss them out in a democratic (mostly) election. You are right, these folks “know not what they do”, or whose interests they are really serving. It is so easy to dismiss this ignorance, but as we can see from the U.S. political situation, these people can be manipulated and prompted to dangerous and irrational action. And, like in the U.S., Alberta has political parties and back room “interests” who are very willing to use them for their own purposes. We need heightened vigilance on the vigilantes.

    • Elaine, George Clark’s plan made no sense but that didn’t stop thousands of people from signing his petitions. It reminded me of Trumpmania. It doesn’t matter if the guy makes no sense, his supporters believe he speaks from the heart and that’s good enough for them. And we’ve seen where that got the Republicans. They’re trying to figure out how to stop Trump before he takes the party down. What a mess.

      • Sam Gunsch says:

        Glen Greenwald’s just written a post that makes similar critique of media and Trump, as in this blog post.


        Greenwald’s post made me think about the similarities and lessons from USA media coverage that has so far enabled Trump…
        and regarding ABs MSM coverage of George Clark’s agenda/followers,
        what Susan wrote: ‘they failed to write editorials denouncing the presence of of a confused mob waving swastika posters to oppose farm safety legislation and using homophobic rhetoric to decry an anti-bullying bill’

        AB media on the right, devote daily columns criticizing NDP policies, often with no reference to actual evidence, and insisting that their critiques are serious and substantive vs. NDP… but as Susan points out, mostly crickets on Alberta’s George Clark’s and others.

        In contrast, I’d say it’s a safe bet that there would have been 3 inch headlines and front pages spreads in the Sun and Herald and the National Post, if environmental or First Nations had held a rally with similar content to George’s.

      • Sam, what an excellent article! I would agree with Greenwald’s comment that the acquisition of national media outlets by corporations is to blame for the rise of “journalistic neutrality” (which is essentially non-reporting). His rationale made sense: corporations turned media into a business. Businesses don’t like to engage in controversy (alienates consumers) or offend those who wield power (bad for business). On a different but related the point, a few posts back I talked about Post Media entering into a deal with Mogo, the payday loan company. Every weekend since then, PM has devoted a full page to a suggestive Mogo ad. Two weeks ago it was “you can even do it on your mother’s couch”. This week it was “she’s so hot (line break) when she’s on top (line break) of her debt”. A full page for payday loans but zip for George Clark’s Kudatah. This is not journalism.

  7. Derryl Murphy says:

    You would think that since the Kudatah didn’t start until after 12 noon that Brian Jean and the WRP would have been awake and alert enough to spot the problem here. Maybe if Clark had started his protest earlier in the morning then Jean could have truthfully told everyone he didn’t know what was said or done. As opposed to clearly Having No Idea, which is only true in some circumstances.

    • Derryl your comment about the Having No Idea excuse reminded me of the Wildrose speech in the Legislature against the Bill 6, the farm safety bill. I assume that Brian Jean knows what his MLAs are going to say in the House before they embark on long speeches to oppose proposed legislation, but Mr Jean did nothing to curb the over the top rhetoric of Wildrose MLA Ron Orr (Lacombe-Ponoka) who said the NDP intend to replace the free enterprise farm with socialistic “economic planning” and want to “destroy” farmers. His source was the CCF document written in 1933. Wow.

      • Val Jobson says:

        Wildrose MLA Rick Strankman was also fear-mongering at a public meeting about police maybe showing up at 4H

        and Hutterites maybe being persecuted:

        and also apparently suggesting people break the law:

      • Val thanks for these clips. I note that the date on the clips was Dec 17, which is seven days after Bill 6 was passed and the NDP government assured the Wildrose MLAs (including Rick Strankman I presume) that Bill 6 would be triggered by a farmer/owner’s relationship with wage earners, not his family and children. They promised amendments that would make this crystal clear. The clips confirm that the Wildrose continued to spread misinformation even when they should have known better. Mr Strankman’s comment that children in 4H clubs could be prohibited from selling a cow is a good example. In addition to creating the impression that the NDP and/or police would be watching for infractions, Mr Strankman used emotive phrases like “that’s not who we are” and the Hutterites came to Alberta to “escape persecution” and now look what was happening. No wonder the farming community was whipped up and continues to be so if the Kudatah is any indication.

      • Val Jobson says:

        My university history class visited a Hutterite colony a few decades ago and I remember we met with the leader, I got the feeling he expected to be persecuted by the government.

  8. GoinFawr says:

    “George prefers the conservative government that that threw him into this hole over the NDP government that’s trying to dig him out.”

    Exactly! Well said Susan. That is precisely what the last democratically determined mandate was all about; why something so straightforward is still apparently so difficult to understand for so many Albertans is a mystery to me.

    • GoinFawr says:

      reminds me of a line from the 1999 film “Fight Club”,

      “I’ll bring us through this. As always. I’ll carry you – kicking and screaming – and in the end you’ll thank me.”

      • GoinFawr, you asked why so many Albertans fail to understand what the last democratically determined mandate was all about. The answer might be because their guy didn’t win. Or to put it another way, when the conservatives win democracy is served, but when they lose its because the democrats (socialists?) hijacked the system. Reminds me of Karl Rove’s reaction to Fox News calling Ohio for Obama. Rove was OK when Fox called a number of states for Mitt Romney but flat out rejected Fox’s call when Ohio went to Obama–the methodology was sound if it produced a Republican victory but grossly flawed if it produced a Democratic victory. Go figure.

  9. Jim Lees says:

    This fellow makes ‘the Donald’ look like a reasonable alternative for the USA…..great post Susan, more people need to see this.

    • Jim the comparison to “the Donald” is what started me thinking about the Kudatah in the first place. Like “the Donald” George Clark’s plan was loony, however regardless of what we think about his plan George managed to mobilize hundreds if not thousands of Albertans unhappy with the NDP’s policies and brought a group of them to the Legislature to voice their discontent. This deserved more mainstream media coverage than it got. Perhaps this is one reason why MSM is losing money, it’s no longer covering local issues that are relevant to its readership.

  10. Jeremy Nordstrom says:

    Where did the atrocious spelling of coup d’etat come from? The only nazis I want to see are grammar nazis.

  11. Gwen Moncayo says:

    Love the post. Keep up the great work

  12. Ted says:

    Advice for George: Stop digging.

    • Good advice Ted. George has moved on, he’s calling on his supporters to work for the Wildrose candidate in the Calgary-Greenway by-election. I imagine the Wildrose welcomed him with open arms.

  13. Jack Nemisis says:

    You are such a reasonable, intelligent person Susan. I aspire to be the same.
    However, I think society is reaching a point where, lamentably, it is impossible not to shove back. Whoever you might be.
    Malthus was right, a long time ago. laugh

  14. Carlos Beca says:

    First of all writing KUDATAH because they thought it was French is quite telling.
    George Clark, nazi flags, silly petitions ….on and on. All the signs of a society under stress.
    Unfortunately I do not think that what is happening here and elsewhere is just manipulation.
    People are reaching their limit with what has been going on for decades and turning to this kind of politics is just the easiest way out in a society where nothing else works. The political systems stinks, the lack of real justice is obvious, the economic system is unsustainable and yet we are so addicted to power and greed that we continue arguing about petty stuff like ‘The government broke another promise by bringing in 25 thousand refugees by February instead of December’.
    Our new prime minister continues going around saying that Canada is back. Is that really necessary? If he wants to show that Canada is no longer on the path to a extreme right wing nirvana, work harder for it. We are all tired of commercials.
    The political class is fully responsible for this state of affairs. The have been warned for years that this pursuit of corporate interest with obvious under the table benefits would end in disaster. Now the bill is here and as always it will be us that will pay for it. Just like the banks in 2008 they will get away with it. Not for long though. The crises are getting closer and larger and will eventually overwhelm the system itself and we will witness the fall of another political system just like the monarchies after the First World War. Unfortunately it seems to be the only way we smart humans understand change.

  15. These are excellent points Carlos. Chris Hedges and Thomas Frank, two American political writers, place the blame squarely on the shoulders of Democrats who shifted so far to the right in order to woo the corporations and stay in power that they forgot to fight for their working class base. Hedges says even if Trump loses to Hillary, this simply postpones the upheaval for four years when a new Trump will emerge who’ll be even more odious. I’m looking for the link to this article and will post it when I find it. This explanation makes sense but it also mystifies me when you put it into the Canadian context. Here in Canada at the federal level we can choose to vote conservative, liberal (which often looks like progressive conservative) or NDP, which under Mulcaire was a mashup of conservative and NDP principles, but historically has been the party of the working class. You’d think more people would be voting NDP wouldn’t you.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Susan your last question has an answer, my answer of course.
      I would like to vote NDP but I know for a fact and we have examples around, that it will not make any difference. In fact Alberta is already becoming an example of it. They will not change anything of magnitude for two reasons:
      1) Because they are not socialist or social democrat in their souls.
      2) They will not be able to
      The almost paralysis that is slowly displaying in Alberta is just the beginning.
      This is why Greece failed, why Jeremy Colbyn in the UK is walking on eggshells and why Podemos is surviving because it is on a proportional representation system and they are controlling the vote.
      The world economy is in the hands of half a dozen that control it all. From my past experiences and looking at the present situation I do not know it is possible to change the current situation with true democracies never mind with the pseudo models we have.
      Mulcair, for example, is nothing but a red Liberal which in the current context seems like extreme left.

  16. Diana Brockhurst says:

    Brilliant & spot on as usual “susanonthesoapbox.” Thanks for putting my thoughts into words -so diplomatically!! 💕 💕 💕

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