thumb-2023-010-03-david-parker-take-back-alberta This article is more than 6 months old

Right-Wing ‘Take Back Alberta’ Group Purges Top Organizers As It Plans to Target School Boards Across Canada

Take Back Alberta leader David Parker says his group is planning to set-up ‘branches’ in other provinces

The controversial right-wing group “Take Back Alberta” has removed top organizers as it restructures and shifts its focus to targeting school boards across Canada.

TBA, which grew out of the Coutts border blockade, organized an insurgency inside the United Conservative Party, that ousted former leader Jason Kenney and installed Danielle Smith in the Premier’s Office.

Following Smith’s victory in Alberta’s recent provincial election, TBA leader David Parker says the group is shaking things up and plans to expand to other provinces in order to target school board elections.

“We’re decommissioning the society because we’re creating a federal not-for-profit so that we can have branches all over the country,” Parker told PressProgress. “We’ve had a lot of interest in BC, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.”

“We’ve incorporated the new not-for-profit and there’s a board of five people on that and then we have our normal system of ten captains, two for each region.”

According to public records, Take Back Alberta incorporated itself as a federal non-profit on September 10, 2023. Parker is currently listed as its only director.

Take Back Alberta (Corporations Canada)

The group, which has been a voice for an uneasy coalition of Christian Nationalists, Wexit Separatists and disgruntled rural Albertans, will also see a significant shakeup in its leadership team.

TBA has already cut ties with several top organizers, including TBA Chief Financial Officer Marco Van Huigenbos.

The rift between Parker, who is known for his frequent public tirades, and hardline right-wing figures in the movement became apparent this summer when  Van Hugenbois publicly left the organization in June.

Van Huigenbos, who is currently facing criminal charges for mischief over $5,000 relating to his role in the Coutts border blockade, worked with Parker early-on as they grew the organization.

Parker believes the former CFO is working against him, even if they’re working towards the same goal of bringing supporters out to the upcoming UCP Annual General Meeting, which will include board elections.

“I really want to get more people involved,” Parker said. “Like, even though people that are working against me like Marco and others are doing interviews for this AGM, have you ever heard of five province-wide debates happening for a board of a party?”

Van Huigenbos said the resignation was over attacks Parker made towards UCP President Cynthia Moore in June, referring to the party official as a “power hungry tyrant.”

Parker says Huigenbos was eventually asked to leave the group for later attacking Kris Kinnear on Twitter, a staffer in Smith’s Premier’s office who works as Director of Special Projects.

“There was the whole problem with Marco going rogue,” Parker told PressProgress “If you’re staring down going to jail like he is it’s going to mess with your head. You’re a cornered animal.”

“They did directly break the law so I think he’s up against that and I think it really affected him and then he started attacking Kris Kinnear,” Parker said. “You can’t block borders, right? There’s a big difference between what happened in Ottawa and what happened in Coutts”

Parker also blames Huigenbos for failing to meet filing deadlines for financial disclosure during the last provincial election resulting in thousands of dollars in fines from Elections Alberta to the organization.

TBA’s financials are not available to the public. Parker says the organization didn’t spend money during the election in order to avoid disclosing donor information, but that he put up $150,000 of personal funds into the organization.

Also cancelled is Benita Pedersen who, like Parker, has been active in anti-LGBTQ+ actions throughout the summer.

“I’ve asked Benita to move on,” Parker said. “Like a lot of people in the freedom movement, she doesn’t believe in structure or order, we can’t have people randomly going out and talking for Take Back Alberta as if they’re speaking for the organization. Marco did the same thing,” Parker said.

“We need message discipline because we’re under attack.”

Last month Pedersen organized an anti-sexual education “convoy” outside the Alberta Teacher’s Association building, raising security concerns.

“Benita likes the spotlight,” Parker said.

Pedersen says she worked with Parker to organize a speaking event featuring far-right culture war figure Dr. James Lindsay who regularly spreads “groomer” rhetoric against the LGBTQ2SA+ community and promotes conspiracy theories about a communist world takeover.

Parker was later removed from the board of the elite Canadian Ditchley Foundation in response to the Lindsay event, which TBA organized. Parker claims he was “cancelled” because of “woke mobs.”

Neither Van Huigenbos nor Pedersen could be reached for comment by PressProgress.

Parker also said TBA cut ties with a former regional captain whom he alleges was “defrauding a lot of people on a big project,” adding that he believes there are a lot of “grifters” in the movement.

Parker’s personal rivals over the years include former Premier Jason Kenney, top Kenney insiders, current UCP insiders and Federal conservatives, although he still considers Danielle Smith a close personal friend.

“Danielle Smith is my friend, like on a personal level,” Parker said. “I just have a lot of admiration for her as someone who can come back from what she experienced, which is like total destruction politically.”

Parker denies TBA has any influence over Smith’s government.


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Stephen Magusiak
Stephen Magusiak is PressProgress’ Alberta reporter. His reporting has a focus on public accountability, public services and privatization, and the right-wing war on environmentalists.

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