Please welcome Alberta NDP Leader Janis Irwin......
Wait a gosh darn second I could have sworn that the party was led by Rachel Notley. Well it is, but maybe some in the party should remind themselves of that with the recent onslaught of posts of/by Janis Irwin.
I know that this may cause some to stop listening to the show or agreeing to be on the show, but enough is enough. I can't stand by anymore and watch the Irwin-train get longer and the NDP fall further and further into the cult of Janis Irwin.
Now before I go into the long rant, I will start by saying in early 2019 after the NDP was defeated, I reached out to Janis Irwins office for an interview for the show. At the same time I reach out with Edmonton Centre MLA David Shephard. I got a 'for sure' from David's office, and a emphatic one word answer from Irwin's team, 'NO."
Now it's their choice to do interviews I get that. I wasn't actually expecting anything back from their office, I was a podcaster from Northern Alberta - she was an MLA from Edmonton. probably not knowing that I was the former MLA for Calgary Cross' husband. To each their own. But I've had people say no to the show before, but they said 'No' with a reason attached - who my husband was, the length of interviews, the people I've had on the show prior, the number of streams/downloads of my show, the number of active listeners, etc. (I've head them all, only thing I haven't heard before then was a full on NO. But to each their own, I moved on and did a one two block-a-roo of her social media accounts, dont give me a reason dont need you coming on the show. (This action will come up later in this story so stick with me)
I honestly couldn't stand the amount of cat photos she was posting. I'm more worried about the state of the government than a cat, but I digress.
Jump forward to 2021. June to be exact. This was the moment I started noticing the turn the party was going.
On June 11th 2021, Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley posted a photo of her, MLA Irwin, and MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark Jasvir Deol to facebook with the caption, "It's that time of year again... where the Alberta NDP drop the Pride Flag the day after the UCP quietly displays it for one day."
Now this was a normal post. Didn't seem to get much attention - as of publication 1.9K reactions with 70 comments and 113 shares. Not unusal but ok.
Now flash forward not even 6 days later. June 16th the team at the Alberta NDP posted another photo but this time with Edmonton-Meadowlark MLA Jasvir Deol cut out. This time with a caption on the photo, "When the UCP won't raise the flag, you better believe we'll fly it ourselves!"
Now I'm not sure of the behind the scene details of the choice to edit out MLA Deol, but to edit out one and not the other makes me wonder if the NDP doesn't see Deol as being supportive of the LGBTQ+ movement, or if Deol asked to be removed. If so why did he ask to be removed?
Now this post got more attention than it's original post - as of publication 2.8K reactions with 280 comments and 112 shares.
Now during this time I was dealing with Cancer treatments and trying to keep my mind occupied, with recording interviews for the show and just trying to stay positive but it seemed as tho the NDP went all in on the Irwin train during the summer and early autumn. She was the third most photographed, engaged, and retweeted MLA out of the Alberta NDP Caucus, only after Rachel Notley and Sarah Hoffman.
Just recently something was brought to my attention that I couldn't understand. In a recent post from leader Rachel Notley, the Party put out a call for applications for a sessional research assistant.
That would be fine, but the social media people at the Alberta NDP wrote the caption - 'Want to work with Janis Irwin? Now's your chance?'
Ok now I'm not a sessional research assistant, but I have worked in party politics back in Ontario. They might do things different out here in Alberta but to my knowledge a sessional research assistant works for all caucus MLA's and not just one. I could be wrong though, so please correct me if I'm wrong.
Now this is the first post of this nature about the sessional research assistant. So maybe two three days from now they might say "Want to work with Chris Neilsen? Now's your chance?' or maybe 'Want to work with Irfan Sabir? Now's your chance?'.
FYI - those are two of the 5 MLA caucus members who weren't retweeted, commented on, or mentioned alot during the summer of 2021.
Now remember back when I said I did a "one two block-a-roo" to Janis Irwins accounts. Lets get back there for a second. This was 2019/2020 when this happened. I went on my little ol'way doing my show not caring about the MLA. She didn't know who I was, and why should I care about what she posted. Simply put out of site out of mind.
Now in August 2021 we launched the third season of the Cross Border Interviews, we focused on the municipal campaign here in Calgary. Not to toot my own horn but our numbers blew up. In August and September alone we were doing fantastic. Then in late September, CBC/Global did an article on our show- and BAM! the show numbers/audience grew over night. People from all across Alberta who I reached out to started reaching out in regards to being on the show.
I guess not knowing who I was and then knowing that I was that "cancer podcast guy" everyone wanted to tell their stories on the show. I obliged to as many as I could. But here they were lining up to have their stories told, kinda overwhelming.
It was in late November, when the show still on a high from the election had a guest on the show who was friends with MLA Irwin. I had posted that they were going to be a future guest on the show and Irwin responded with something about not being able to see the message due to being blocked.
Didn't bother me that she was blocked, but it must have upset someone because the hate and vile I got via our website blew up. "How dare you block Janis Irwin", "You Fucking Hate Lesbians", "Homopobe", "Asshole" are some of the few comments that I got in a 72 hour period.
Taken back, No. Surprised, No. Upset, not really. Pissed off, not even close. Confused that the people who once wished me well in my marriage were now name calling, you know it!
Now flash forward to middle of January. The Irwin army came out to play again. I'm recovering from my surgery on the old cranium, and Irwin reached out to me via a third party, asking what she did to get blocked on social media.
Now I'm not a MLA, have spoken to alot in my time as Host of the Cross Border Interviews, but I would imagine that it is alot of work even if your in opposition. I can imagine that your focus is strictly on the people who elected you and not someone who blocked you on social media. If thats the case maybe, and its a big maybe, its time to reduce those salaries and get a part time job if your more worried about who has blocked you than the work the government is doing - but thats just my opinion.
This last two months has shown me that the party is more worried about protecting Janis Irwin than actually being the government-in-waiting.
If the party is looking to set Janis Irwin up as the heir apparent to Notley if she decides to step down, maybe its time for the party to take the Irwin-train on the road. Let us see who this MLA is, potential cabinet minister, potential next leader.
There are already rumblings down here in Calgary about the future of the NDP if Rachel Notley resigns, and the common theme I'm hearing right now is, "Janis Irwin is the only option" which begs the question. If people are already looking for your replacement is Rachel Notley done as leader if she doesn't win in 2023?
Either Irwin has higher aspirations, or the Alberta NDP are all on the Irwin-Train. Either way the party has started the train, and If any indication is to believe (Erin O'Toole and the Federal Conservatives, Jason Kenney and the UCP) once the train has left the station its hard to stop, and I'm afraid that the Irwin-Train is coming and the Alberta NDP isn't going to slow it down anytime soon.