"If you want cocktails join the Group downtown. If you want something done join the PGIB."Stephen Harper, April 1999, PGIB National Convention, Calgary, Alberta
And the PGIB certainly got things done for Mr. Harper, including throwing support behind his leadership bid, that may very well have been the deciding factor during the race. The Progressive Group for Independent Business, also take credit for the election of Mike Harris and Rob Anders.
Anders has been a long time supporter of PGIB and has even filled in as host on their Freedom radio station. Anti-racist activist David Lethbridge has raised some concerns about PGIB, and expresses them in his article Prescription For Fascism: Alternative Medicine and Right-Wing Politics, He believes that there are some groups under their umbrella, who appear to fronts for fascist and neo-Nazi organizations.
He doesn't suggest that PGIB is, but suggests that:
Wherever we find tendencies to irrationalism and conspiracy-mongering, there we find fertile ground in which fascism can grow, or a movement which fascism can exploit. These tendencies are rife within the ever-expanding and overlapping alternative medicine, New Age, and tax refusal circles. While the class basis for these tendencies is essentially petit-bourgeois, it is by no means restricted to this class; certainly, sectors of the working class are being strongly influenced by these same forces. It would be foolish to dismiss fascism's entry into these areas which are often considered purely marginal or simply bizarre. On the contrary, much political and agitational work needs to be done on this front, as on so many others, where fascism has found a new foothold. (1)The founder of PGIB, Craig Chandler, is controversial himself. When he was running for the PCs in the provincial election of Alberta, he stated that any newcomers to Alberta must vote conservative or leave:
Rather rich that he talks about getting into debt, when his run for the federal PC leadership, on a platform of Uniting the Right, he got himself into so much debt that he had to hold a very disturbing fundraiser.
Few took fringe candidate Craig Chandler seriously when he ran for the federal Progressive Conservative leadership this spring. Even harder to take is the fundraiser he plans to help cover the cost of his failed bid. Chandler is inviting guests to a Calgary shooting range to fire live ammunition at targets emblazoned with the federal Liberal party logo.And guess who loved the idea and thought he'd like to copy it?
"For 100 bucks, you get a 9-mm or equivalent, bullets, and you get a day pass at the Shooting Edge (firing range) and you get a steak dinner – Alberta beef, of course," he says. (2)
The idea makes Calgary West Alliance MP Rob Anders "giddy."Next: Rob Anders and Falun Gong. What is This Really About?
"It’s a perfect fit for an Alliance fundraiser," the MP says. "I can’t picture NDPs or Liberals doing it." He’s considering a similar fundraiser, minus the Liberal-logo target. John Harvard, chair of the Liberals’ western caucus, rightly calls Chandler’s Aug. 23 event "distasteful." Chandler, who splits his time between Calgary and the Guelph area, is a proponent of uniting the right. He and his Alliance supporters accuse critics of his ill-advised fundraising scheme of having a knee-jerk anti-gun and anti-western bias.
But this isn’t an argument about political correctness. It’s about the frightening prospect of a group of people using loaded weapons to express displeasure with another party’s viewpoint. Chandler and his ilk should stick to shooting off their mouths, not guns. (2)
1. Prescription For Fascism: Alternative Medicine and Right-Wing Politics, By David Lethbridge, April 2001
2. Chandler’s fundraiser criticized, By Jon Forest, The Toronto Star, July 8, 2003