Chris Alexander distances himself from 'lock her up' chant but says 'anger is real'
Published Monday, December 5, 2016 1:30PM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 5, 2016 6:03PM EST
Federal Conservative leadership candidate Chris Alexander says he “absolutely disassociates” himself from members of an Edmonton crowd who chanted “lock her up” in reference to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley outside the province’s legislature Saturday.
At the same time, Alexander tells CTV News Channel he doesn’t think it’s the job of “politicians or media to chastise a crowd who is saying something very spontaneously on the basis of real emotion,” adding: “The anger is real.”
“We’ve got to stop lecturing people on how they should feel and what they should say and start listening to them,” says the former immigration minister who lost his Toronto-area seat in the 2015 election.
Alexander notes that an estimated 100,000 Albertans have lost their jobs due to the downturn in the oil sector. He says the carbon tax, imposed by Notley’s NDP government with the federal Liberals’ blessing, will lead to even more job losses.
“Lock her up” was frequently chanted when Hillary Clinton’s name came up at Donald Trump rallies during the U.S. election campaign. Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state was under investigation, but she was not charged with any crime.
Alexander said this “chant that came from south of the border” was “unpleasant in every way,” that he was “shocked” by it and that “we should never be calling for unconstitutional, illegal approaches to our politics.”
The candidate has been criticized for not intervening to stop the chant. He tells CTV News Channel “it took me a while to understand what was going on” and that he tried to “take the chant back to ‘let’s vote her out’.”
Asked whether he would intervene at future rallies if he hears “lock her up,” Alexander said: “Yeah, I’ll be even more energetic than I was this time.”
‘People acting like idiots’: Ambrose
Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose told reporters in the House of Commons Monday that the chant was “not only unoriginal (but) completely inappropriate.”
“I don’t know what to say,” said the Alberta MP. “People acting like idiots.”
“We don’t lock people up in Canada for bad policy,” she added. “We vote them out. That is how we live in a democracy.”
Fellow Tory leadership candidates Michael Chong and Deepak Obhrai have also condemned the chants.
Chong, an Ontario MP, said the chanters were urging “undemocratic action” that “would be more at home in a dictatorship.”
‘This has got to stop’: Obhrai
Obhrai, a Calgary-area MP, told CTV’s Power Play the chant is proof of “intolerance creeping into Canadian politics since Donald Trump came onto the political scene.”
“People are expressing (their anger) in a very, very intolerant way and going to the extreme that was emphasized by Donald Trump,” he said.
Obhrai added that it really bothers him that Canadian politicians travel around “giving lectures on democracy” and “then in our own home cannot stand up to that test.”
“We as politicians have to be thick-skinned,” he said. But when such a line is crossed, according to Obhrai, “you’ve got to stand up and say, ‘No, this is not right. This has got to stop.’”
Obhrai, who immigrated from Tanzania, said he was also concerned by anti-immigrant flyers handed out at the rally.
“In my 20 years in political life,” he added, “I’ve never, never seen this thing happen to this far an extreme.”
With files from The Canadian Press