Saturday, May 21, 2011

Who The Hell Is Jim Hillyer?

Living out here as we do we don't get a daily newspaper delivered to our door.  We get our news electronically (save for the venerable century-old Pincher Creek Echo, which these days is venerable only because it's a century old).  I suppose I could drive 3 miles to the country store to buy a newspaper every day, but I'm not even sure they carry newspapers other than the "weekend" editions - and even then they're usually the national fish-wrappers, not the stately (but thin) Lethbridge Herald.  Thus it was only this week that I learned of the controversial mystery man who now represents that fabled city of my birth in Parliament.  To say that the seat was safely large (and small) "c" Conservative is a vast understatement, ie. whoever wins the Conservative nomination automatically goes to Ottawa.  Thus the nomination has traditionally gone to a well-known farmer/lawyer/businessman who has paid his dues in the community over several decades to the extent that his/her name immediately registers with the voters.  Sort of an award for good service to the community.  Not this time, however.  The new man is a complete unknown.  My source inside the constituency association tells me that the Mormon faction of the party was determined to crown one of their own when incumbent Rick Casson retired, and carefully executed a plan of skulduggery to get their man the nomination.  Mr. Hillyer promptly shunned all interviews and public forums during the campaign to the extent that he was dubbed "The Man Who Wasn't There".  (Refreshingly, he has now given a 30 minute interview to the Mormon-owned radio station in Lethbridge.)  As the Calgary Herald put it: "Enter Hillyer, a 36-year-old Raymond man who garnered headlines throughout the election for going missing in action...Dozens of people decided to bring the forum to Hillyer last week and gathered outside his office to ask questions. Hillyer stayed away, but his campaign manager offered the disgruntled voters pizza...A local student group ramped up the intensity last week by questioning the veracity of Hillyer’s resume.  The students accused Hillyer of emphasizing his graduate education in campaign literature but not mentioning he studied at a non-accredited university.  Hillyer earned a master’s degree in political economy at George Wythe University in Cedar City, Utah, and also took PhD courses in constitutional law...[a long-time Conservative worker] said 'The Mormons have their own educational institutions and systems...'[don't get me started] ...'We’ve always voted Conservative,' said an insurance broker who voted on his lunch break. 'But if this guy is scared to talk to his constituents, what is he going to be like in Ottawa?'  Good question.  Lucky thing this didn't happen a few months earlier when my very sage father (a lifelong card-carrying Conservative, constituency board member, and secularist) was still alive or his words would have scorched the editorial pages.  As it is he's probably rolling in his grave.  Time to wake up, Southern Alberta.