ST. PAUL, Alta. — An Alberta United Conservative member is cleaning up after rocks were thrown through the windows of his constituency office in an act he says was partly to blame on inflamed NDP rhetoric.
Dave Hanson says sometime Tuesday night large rocks shattered the windows of his office in St. Paul, northeast of Edmonton.
No one was in the office and nobody was hurt.
Hanson says his office later received an email from a person claiming responsibility and apologizing.
He says the person said the vandalism occurred after reading an NDP tweet saying Hanson’s party plans to give $700 million in tax breaks to rich people and in doing so would cut all supports for the severely disabled.
The United Conservatives say neither is true, and Hanson says the rock−throwing is a sobering reminder that angry rhetoric and fearmongering can lead to extreme actions.
St. Paul RCMP said late Wednesday that a 34−year old man had been arrested and charged with mischief. He is to appear in court Feb. 21.
“With regard to the incident at my constituency office, to be clear, I believe individuals are responsible for their own actions and do not mean to imply that the individual responsible for this vandalism is working on behalf of any party, nor that the NDP is responsible for this act,” Hanson said in a statement.
“That said, with an election expected soon, this incident should be a reminder for responsibility.
“Fearmongering and peddling false claims for political gain can cause undue distress when programs and services people depend on are being used as a political ploy.”
The rock−thrower said he was referencing a tweet from Social Services Minister Irfan Sabir.
The $700−million number cited is tied to a proposition that the UCP will reintroduce a flat tax on income should the party form government.
Premier Rachel Notley’s government eliminated the tax when the NDP took over in 2015 and replaced it with a system that sees high−end earners pay more.
UCP members voted at a policy convention last May to bring back the flat tax.
Party leader Jason Kenney has not committed to a return to the flat tax, although he has said there will be tax changes in the election platform — including an end to the province’s carbon tax.
With a provincial election to be called this spring, Notley’s New Democrats have ramped up criticism over Kenney’s promise to restrain spending.
Kenney has said Alberta can return to balanced budgets with modest spending restraint coupled with economic growth.
The NDP, however, says the UCP would bring in deep cuts that would hurt services and decimate the front lines in key areas such as health care.
Shannon Greer, a spokeswoman for Notley, responded to Hanson’s comments in an emailed statement.
“We condemn all forms of violence and vandalism,” said Greer.
“There is a clear way for Mr. Kenney and the UCP to dispute that they’re planning to cut health care, and that is to commit to not cutting health care.”
Notley and other NDP members have already repeatedly used a statement from Hanson to back up their arguments.
Last September, at a candidates forum for the UCP nomination in Bonnyville−Cold Lake−St. Paul, Hanson was quoted telling audience members: “How are we going to get our province back on course? I’m sorry to tell you but it’s going to hurt. Will it affect you? It absolutely will.”
Hanson won the nomination.