Having worked in politics for close to a decade and having worked over a dozen campaigns in the last 15 or so years, it gets hard to shock me anymore with what some people in political circles say. Sure, there are people who put their feet firmly into their mouths all the time but every so often someone manages to do it on a level that blows the mind. In this period of fighting a global pandemic and economic crises that it created, it should be extreme easy for any elected person to avoid falling into those self-laid traps.
Yet today I present to you the except to this rule. Everyone it’s time to United Conservative Party of Alberta MLA for the riding of Lac Ste. Anne – Parkland Shane Getson. It’s possible that you heard of this guy before, thanks to some truly idiotic comments he made prior to his election to Jason Kenney’s government back in 2019. A quick jump in the way back machine for that piece of info:
Yes folks, back then this person promoted far-right conspiracy theory crap peddled by the Yellow Vesters in Canada “falsely claiming Canada has surrendered control of its borders to the United Nations.” You’ve likely run into some of this insanity in the past somewhere online. Yet while most people would see a candidate sharing that crap and say “yeah, maybe I don’t want him on my team”, Jason Kenney kept him on board when that news came out in March of 2019. It seems that Jason Kenney like the cut of his jib, so he stayed on his team and got elected, where he now sits in Kenney’s government caucus.
So it shouldn’t be a shock that someone with a track record of sharing such crap on social media might not have the best filter when it comes to what they say in public. As we’ve seen many times over, lacking that skill is far from being a deal breaking in Kenney’s UCP; if anything It’s more of a feature than a bug. So with that in mind it would take something really back coming from this guy to really blow my mind. Yet somehow, some way, that’s exactly what Getson did, on video no less:
“Eating Cheezies and watching cartoons”. That’s how Getson described the large number of Albertans (and I assume Canadians at large) who are depending on emergency help during this pandemic. He also goes onto make ad homonym attacks against people suffering from addiction, making the ignorant comment that any money sent to them is wasted. It’s the kind of ignorant crap we’ve heard from far-right politicians about the working poor or those struggling for generations, but it’s even more striking given the moment we find ourselves in.
So many people have fallen on hard times, with no fault of their own at all, because of this global pandemic. Yet this idiot on his high horse decides to look down on them, throwing ad homonym attacks against them calling the very financial lifeline they need “funny money”. Getson tries to paint these people as slackers, takers, lazy and suffering, all because of their own “personal flaws” while completely ignoring what is actually going on out there.
What makes this all the more vile is that it’s UCP government members like Getson who are constantly turning their rhetorical guns on non-Conservative politicians for allegedly kicking the West while it’s down, disrespecting westerners and not caring for those who live there at all. Yet here is Getson, kicking those very same people with a dirty boot in their moment of greatest need, all while attacking the help that the Federal government is giving them in their time of need. And to top it all off, Getson uses a highly insulting analogy in saying “cheezies and cartoons” that’s similar to the former line from Scott Reid about “beer & popcorn”, the same line that Conservatives like Getson have held up as the prime example of Liberals contempt for the West and working people. That wasn’t lost on me in the least and while Reid had the good sense and basic human decency to apologize for his unfortunate use of words, I doubt that Getson will do the same.
What may be the worst part of this crap from Getson is that in this moment of extreme need, you’d think that it would be so much easier to put the vile crap aside and to be empathetic towards your fellow citizens or at the very least, to the people who put you in your seat in the Legislature. It’s not hard for a politician to be a decent human being when we are facing such hard times, and no one was going to call Getson bad names for showing respect and concern for those struggling in these hard times. Yet somehow Getson managed to utter that garbage, in such a dismissive and arrogant tone that pierced the ears and kicked at the guts of those who heard it.
It also sends a message to the people of Alberta, that that’s how he feels and felt comfortable enough in his words that he uttered them in a public venue. He said that crap with the confidence of someone who knew deep down he wouldn’t be punished for those words, because the UCP’s short history shows that he won’t be. Hell, it might actually get him a promotion and an attaboy from Kenney himself. Rachel Notley and the Alberta NDP are right to be calling for an apology from Mr. Getson, Mr. Kenney and the UCP government. People in Alberta are struggling and in despair, and if chickenshit words like those from Shane Getson in the middle of a global pandemic don’t merit an apology from this government, then nothing will. And if that apology doesn’t come, that will send a message to all Albertans about what that government really thinks of them.