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Friday, July 24, 2009

Wildrose Alliance brass confirm Willerton as leadership candidate

Willerton-small Jeff Willerton has made it through a stringent process to become a Wildrose Alliance leadership candidate. Now he has to convince party members he is mainstream enough to be Alberta’s premier.

While the Wildrose Alliance has yet to release the news officially, the Western Standard was the first to confirm today that author and social conservative activist Jeff Willerton has met the requirements to become a candidate for the leadership of the party.

In an interview with the Western Standard, John Hilton-O’Brien, Chair of the Leadership Committee, called the requirements for prospective candidates “stringent.” All leadership candidates must go through the following process:

1) Complete the candidate questionnaire.
2) Interview with the leadership committee.
3) Submit non-refundable, non-tax deductible entry fee of $10,000.00.
4) Sign candidate declaration (non-disclosure agreement).
5) You will be provided with list of all current members. (Excel format)
6) Collect 100 signatures of current members.
7) Confirmation of candidacy.

According to Hilton-O’Brien, to get through this process successfully, a candidate must demonstrate that he or she is “dedicated, personable, hard working, and a good networker with an ability to fundraise,” qualities and skills the party is looking for in its leader. Hilton-O’Brien says the party is “happy” to see Willerton in the race.

Like all candidates, Willerton has a past that his opponents will no doubt use against him and the party. An incident that stands out is Willerton’s involvement in what was described as a “melee” at a June 2006 gay pride parade in Calgary. Willerton was part of a two-man counter-protest that turned violent when parade-goers responded to placards that read “No Pride In Sodomy.”

When asked about this incident and the possible political liability Willerton’s candidacy might bring, Hilton-O’Brien, who has a masters degree in philosophy, answered candidly: “I think Jeff is the kind of guy who learns from his mistake, and the pride parade was one of those mistakes.”

Mistake or not, Willerton’s social conservative views will resonate with many in the Wildrose Alliance, a party Hilton-O’Brien describes as “an alliance of social conservatives and libertarians.” Many social conservatives are concerned, for instance, that the gay rights agenda has moved from a legitimate movement against government prohibitions on the gay lifestyle to an illegitimate movement that threatens free speech and religious freedom, a fear best captured by a recent Alberta Human Rights Commission decision to impose a lifetime ban on Red Deer pastor Stephen Boissoin from speaking critically against homosexuality.

As for whether or not Willerton is the right candidate for the new party, one that hopes to mount a serious challenge to Stelmach’s Progressive Conservative government, Hilton-O’Brien says the Wildrose Alliance is a grassroots party and that the membership will make this decision at the October leadership convention and vote.

Hilton-O’Brien says he has received one other serious expression of interest in the party’s top job, but so far only Danielle Smith, Mark Dyrholm and Willerton are confirmed candidates.

(Picture: Jeff Willerton)

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on July 24, 2009 | Permalink


I had forgotten that Willerton was involved in that scuffle back in '06. Not exactly the kind of image (or open-mindedness) that you'd want in a leader.

If Albertans wanted a radical, we'd have talked Bill Whatcott into running.

Posted by: Leigh Patrick Sullivan | 2009-07-24 8:38:53 PM

Oh my, a politician who stands for something instead of standing for nothing, and that is seen as a negative. So we get the type of politicians that we deserve as our country continues its down-slide.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-07-25 3:24:19 PM

Good grief you are pathetic Matthew. Jeff had every right to stand peacefully with a sign at the gay pride parade and that is what he did.
Until he stepped in and saved me from a beating as you can see me on the ground.
This was a veiled attack on Jeff by you!!!
Jeff did not yell at anyone or do anything other than get that big thug off me.
Some Libertarian you are Mattew. Does Jeff not have the right to picket peacefullY? If Mark Emery has the right to be a dope head then Jeff can do what he did.
You Matthew do not stand for free speech and freedom of expression at all!!!!!
They should revoke any membership you may have in the Libertarian party.

Posted by: Merle Terlesky | 2009-07-25 9:53:33 PM

ok sorry maybe I was a bit hard on ol' Matthew. Yes the MSM are going to talk about this for sure is all I was trying to say really.

Posted by: Merle Terlesky | 2009-07-25 10:06:00 PM

I see my old comment did not last too long eh???

Posted by: Merle Terlesky | 2009-07-25 10:07:04 PM

oops sorry I did not refresh as it is there. Anyhow I was a bit harsh I guess.

Posted by: Merle Terlesky | 2009-07-25 10:08:09 PM

Merle, I agree that Jeff had every right to protest peacefully.

But what we have the right to do is different than what we ought to do.

You are being a bit hard on me. I have a job to do as a reporter, whatever I might think of the Wildrose Alliance or Jeff Willerton.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2009-07-26 12:13:16 AM

yes I know if you read my last post MJ

Posted by: Merle Terlesky | 2009-07-26 12:15:05 AM

p.s I am convinced as well it is what he and I ought to have done, w/o reservation.
Its called having principles to live by.

Posted by: Merle Terlesky | 2009-07-26 12:16:35 AM

And I admire that quality in both of you.

Willerton is willing to call global warming junk science when everyone else has given up this fight. He stands by his convictions.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2009-07-26 1:05:49 AM


Surely you and Jeff had the right to protest. However, had your signage read something to the effect of "I support traditional marriage" or "I support Bill X" your message may have gotten across.

Surely you can't be surprised that your "There is no pride in sodomy" sign was provocative and was going to elicit such a response. You are both very bright - I would suggest that you knew it would elicit such a response.

Unfortunately for you and Jeff, this judgmental behaviour only reinforces the leftist view of the "right-wing lunatic fringe." Furthermore, as you and Jeff are both professors of the Christian faith, I'm not sure it serves either of you particularly well in drawing others to your faith. And isn't that part of the mandate as Christians?

Posted by: libertybelle | 2009-07-26 11:35:48 AM

libertybelle objects to the There is no pride in sodomy sign and attempts to bully or intimidate the people carrying the sign. This is exactly what is wrong and the reason we cannot find politicians standing for much of anything. Anyone who dares utter something that is not PC faces bullying, intimidation and/or physical violence from those who do not like the message along with all of the MSM.

In a better world politicians would openly declare where they stand on issues and the voters would decide whether to support them or not.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-07-27 8:15:36 PM

Maybe Matthew Johnston should join the green/NDP movement that he was part of as a youth?

Posted by: @ABCONSERVATIVE | 2009-07-27 8:56:26 PM


Ha ha ha....I'm one of the least PC people out here - and lots of people know it!

I'm an advocate of free speech for all - it's not even that I personally objected to the sodomy sign but one has to consider context. I admire the fact that Merle and Jeff are both principled, however, we still do have to live with other people who don't necessarily share our beliefs.

I don't agree with the physical violence that Merle and Jeff experienced, however, inasmuch as Merle and Jeff are passionate about their beliefs, the gay community is just as passionate about theirs. Surely one could see the potential for a clash here?

I do have my own personal conviction on this issue - but it's just that - personal! I don't feel the need to share it publicly. I am not interested in running for office so I don't need to share it publicly.

In terms of politicians, I too, hope they would openly declare where they stand on issues and the voters would decide whether to support them or not.


Posted by: libertybelle | 2009-07-27 11:31:09 PM


Are you not the Alain fellow (last name being withheld to protect your privacy) who attempted to run for the Presidency of the Libertarian Party at the 2008 Edmonton convention?

It's my understanding that one of the guiding principles of libertarianism is that you don't get aggressive towards others unless they are aggressive towards you first.

Showing up at a gay pride parade with a sign that says "There is no pride in sodomy" IS aggressive.

Posted by: libertybelle | 2009-07-28 4:25:20 AM

Other politicians who 'stood for something': Hitler, Stalin, Hussein,....

Fairly low criteria for support, if you ask me. I'd rather find a polician who stood for something WORTH WHILE.

Bing! Danielle Smith!

Posted by: Leigh Patrick Sullivan | 2009-08-06 1:31:03 PM

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