Rod Loyola was born on February 28, 1974 in Santiago, Chile, and relocated to Canada in 1976. He graduated from the University of Alberta in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural and Economic Anthropology and History. Since then, Loyola has held a number of union and NDP organizational positions, and ran in the 2014 Alberta NDP leadership race, finishing in last place with a meager 2% of the vote (Rachel Notley won with 70%). Loyola ran for the NDP in Edmonton-Ellerslie in 2012, garnering only 16% of the vote to Progressive Conservative Naresh Bhardwaj’s 43%. Finally, in 2015, Loyola won the Edmonton-Ellerslie seat with a shocking 61.5% and a margin of more than 7000 votes over PC candidate Harman Kandola.
That’s the story that Loyola and the NDP would like the public to believe. They’d like the public to believe that Loyola is a good, hard working man who picked himself back up after defeat to crush his competition the next time around. They’d like the public to believe that Loyola is a principled man who will work for the best interests of the residents of Edmonton-Ellerslie. Unfortunately for the NDP, this isn’t Loyola’s entire story. On the contrary, this isn’t even scratching the surface.
On May 2, 2015, three days before the Alberta general election, a former Alberta legislature staff member, Blake Robert, came across a Youtube channel run by Rod Loyola, in which Loyola was recorded making speeches in praise of now-deceased Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. Oddly enough, within minutes of Robert posting a link to this Youtube channel on Twitter, it was taken down. Thankfully, Robert did manage to grab 19 seconds of the video before it was taken down. In this clip, which you may view below, Loyola is heard preaching, “Long live Hugo Chavez!” in Spanish.
— Blake Robert (@BRinYWG) May 3, 2015
Of course, there’s even more to Loyola than this video. During the NDP leadership campaign, Loyola openly spoke of his support for 60% oil royalties, stating, “Maybe even 60. I know those corporations won’t go because there’s other jurisdictions that get 80% and still don’t pull out”. In a 2008 article in “People’s Voice”, a communist magazine, Loyola (under his hip hop stage name Rosouljah) took it a step further, supporting 80% royalties, explaining, “When a country like Venezuela gets over 80 percent of its petroleum back – for us this is a foretelling of a socialist future to come. Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba: they all want more for their people”. On March 9, 2013, Loyola organized a vigil for Hugo Chavez, held at the Alberta Avenue Community League Hall. In an ad listed in the Marxist-Leninist Daily, Loyola described the event as “an opporutnity to express solidarity with the Venezuelan people and support for the Bolivarian Revolution. The event will also share with the media and local community the hard work, dedication and achievements of President Hugo Chávez and his government”. In a December 2014 Facebook post, Loyola stated that Canada should take lessons from Venezuela, “especially regarding democracy and social and economic justice. We have much to learn from our sisters and brothers in the south”. In a Vue Weekly article, Loyola also praised Cuba’s Communist Party, comparing it to Edmonton’s community leagues.
Hugo Chavez was greatly criticized by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for his silencing of news organizations and policies of locking up or murdering pretty much anybody who disagreed with his policies, and harrassing/threatening human rights organizations. In 2002, it was revealed by former high ranking Venezuelan military officers that Chavez had given $1M to Al Qaeda in celebration of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centres and the Pentagon. In the aftermath of these attacks, Chavez made a speech in Venezuela, stating “The United States brought the attacks upon itself for their arrogant imperialist foreign policy”. Furthermore, Chavez was a strong supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah, assisting these two terrorist organizations financially in their attacks on Israel. He is also believed to have assisted Iranian militia in committing attacks on the Israeli embassy in Argentina in 1992, and on the AIMA Jewish Community Centre in 1994.
Yes, Alberta, this is what Rod Loyola aspires to be, and that should be greatly concerning for every single resident of Edmonton-Ellerslie. Why did the NDP allow Rod Loyola to run under their banner twice whist knowing all of this? Was this another Deborah Drever type case, where they simply didn’t vet their candidates, or is there more to it? During the election campaign, former PC MLA Thomas Lukaszuk revealed that Rachel Notley often wore a Che Guevara swatch into the legislature. Could Loyola’s beliefs actually be the party’s beliefs? As an Albertan, I hope not.
Knowing all of this, the NDP would be wise to distance themselves from Rod Loyola as soon as possible. They have a fairly large majority, and losing one member from that wouldn’t hurt them very much. However, ditching Loyola would be a principled move that would definitely reflect well on the NDP’s moral compass. Will they do the right thing, or will they allow this extremist to remain in their caucus? Personally, I expect the latter. This is the NDP’s lake of fire, but unlike that of the Wildrose in 2012, the media simply didn’t care.
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