Like the Music Man, Jason Kenney blew into town with a message: We’ve got trouble folks! Trouble with a capital “T” that rhymes with “P” and that stands for “Progressive!”
The Music Man says we don’t need no “accidental government” to lead this province astray, and we certainly don’t need no social engineering in our education system to confuse the young ones. We gotta figure out a way to make this madness stop.
And like the townsfolk of River City we want to know how the Music Man will rid us of the socialists and deliver us safely into the hands of a “single united free enterprise party” he calls the Conservative Party of Alberta.
Here’s his plan.
One: elect Mr Kenney to be leader of the Progressive Conservative party
Mr Kenney and his supporters are (or will be) card carrying members of the PC party. They’ll infiltrate all 87 PC constituency associations with enough pro-Kenney members to send enough pro-Kenney delegates to the 2017 Leadership Convention to elect Mr Kenney leader of the party he’s pledged to destroy.
One small hiccup.
The Code of Conduct and Ethics requires PC members to support the principles of progressive conservatism, to respect to their duty of loyalty to the PCs and not to harm the PC brand.
Mr Kenney is untroubled by the ethics of his plan. He says we already have three progressive parties in Alberta and sees no need for a fourth party “in the same zone”…(translation: the ends justify the means).
Two: start merger talks with the Wildrose
Once elected Mr Kenney will contact Wildrose leader Brian Jean and negotiate an agreement-in-principle outlining the merger and the creation of the Conservative Party of Alberta.
One small hiccup.
The Wildrose says it will only merge with the PCs under the Wildrose banner and the PCs have rejected merger all together.
Perhaps Mr Kenney can entice Mr Jean and influential PCs like Sandra Jansen and Richard Starke to “move beyond recriminations and pointless divisions” with the promise of a cabinet post in the soon-to-be-elected-or-not Conservative government… (pause here for hysterical laughter).
Three: hold a referendum for PC and WR members to ratify the merger agreed to by Mr Jean and Mr Kenney.
Assuming the Music Man gets this far he has his work cut out for him.
“Progressive” Conservatives are concerned about Mr Kenney’s social conservatism—with good reason. His position on abortion, same-sex marriage, the niqab and the barbaric practices hot line are unsupportable.
Mr Kenney admits the merger will cause members to leave the party and says the loss “at the margins” is inevitable.
What he doesn’t understand is that the “hot button social issues” he’s dismissed as irrelevant are an issue for the general population, not just those “at the margins”.
Four: hold a second leadership race for the new leader of the new merged party
The Music Man’s raison d’être is to merge the PCs and WR. If he succeeds he will be elected the leader of the single unified free enterprise party.
Five: defeat the NDP in 2019
Assuming the Music Man gets this far the free enterprise conservatives will throw money at him like there’s no tomorrow.
Jason Kenny’s biggest problem will be people. The free enterprise party candidates will have spent three years engaged in internecine warfare and playing political games to hedge their bets in case the Music Man pulls it off.
They’ll ride a wave of political intrigue into the next election. They’ll be exhausted and some of them will make horrendous mistakes fighting an election with Notley’s NDP who will be much better prepared than they were the last time.
Add to the mix wild card PCs like Sandra Jansen, Thomas Lukaszuk and Doug Griffiths who’ll make the Music Man fight for every last vote in every riding across the province…well you get my drift.
Mr Kenney says the merger will be a walk in the park because notwithstanding what progressives and the media think ordinary Albertans don’t care about “hot button social issues”.
The Music Man will likely fail at step three. The merger campaign (like the Brexit campaign) will harden animosities between the PCs and the Wildrose to the point where the Right will be divided for another decade.
In the unlikely event that the Music Man makes it all the way to step five he’ll lose the election because as Mayor Nenshi pointed out, after 19 years in Ottawa Mr Kenney is hopelessly out of touch with Albertans who want leaders who care about fiscal and social issues.
In both cases Alberta will re-elect an NDP government and Mr Kenney will join Mr Prentice in political oblivion.
In The Music Man con artist Harold Hill is redeemed by the love of a good woman, librarian Marian Paroo.
If you’re a progressive conservative I’d suggest you start looking for a good librarian.
He figures his smiley face will put him as “The head of thieves”? Possibly so. The Conservatives were outed on two levels because they firmly established themselves as liars, cheats and finally a hat trick thieves. The latter when they took the pension money from Labor and charged it off as poor investment. It was no accident the NDP, representing the voters of Alberta took the office in a landslide.
Cyberclark. It’s interesting you mention his smiley face. He flashed a smile when he announced he was running for the PC leadership. It appeared in a sentence about “hope”. Quite insincere I thought, but hey, I think he’s a bald faced opportunist so I take everything this man says with a huge grain of salt.
Loved the “hat trick thieves” comment!
Thank you Denise!
Susan, just wanting to check and see if you wrote this post. I noticed grammatical errors that I have not seen in your blog.
Linda, if you’re referring to the grammatical errors in the first part of the post they’re a deliberate attempt to play off the song from The Music Man. It’s full of words like “tryin'” and “mass-teria”. Any other grammatical errors are unintentional. Point me in the right direction and I’ll fix them. Thanks!
Speaking of brilliant – thanks so much for this!
Well that just about said everything that needed to be said, indeed brilliant!
Incredible! You found Kenney’s grandfather! Kenney should make this his campaign song.
I will slip some comments in here but have been of line quite some time and feel out of touch. First I would like to know how these folks on facebook come up with these surveys (namely Marion Shirley) that show 73 % of albertans do not like the job that Rachel is doing with her ndp
people and yet folks I meet say that is all made up and totally irelevent. This Marion individual spends the whole day on facebook spouting her political randings mostly at Rachel and Justin.
With regards to Kenney and his ambitions I can see him getting no where as people have not had enough time to forget Redford, Prentice and all. I think he will have to take Danielle’s method of going to a ranch to better understand how ranchers think and letting a horse dump on her while shoing it engenders empathy to the cause. Anyhow it seems to me the pc people are more incompetant at organizing than they were at governing.
Welcome back Tom! Danielle Smith puts Kenney’s chances at 50/50. She says the big question is whether conservatives will choose someone who is both a social conservative and a fiscal one. The rural WR supporters may warm to Kenney but they already have a leader so unless Kenney plans on mounting a palace revolt he’s not going to gain much traction there. The urban progressive conservatives won’t accept him. This whole thing is nuts…but it will be entertaining nonetheless 🙂
I place his chances at 20% if a vote turns out and 70% if no vote turns out and corporations run the show.
Ms. Soapbox, your “Music Man” con man analogy is brilliant and entertaining – but Kenney’s singing of Harper conservatism’s swan song isn’t.
Kenney is the godfather of Harper conservatism – with apologies to the Mafia.
Kenney also reminds me of Pepper in “Modern Family” in more ways than one but Kenney’s stage presence is anything but amusing.
Very true ABCanuck. Very true. My BS antenna started to quiver when Kenney was asked who he voted for in the 2015 election. He said he couldn’t remember, but he did remember that he voted for McIver in 2012. The press reported that Kenney and Rob Anders were strong WR supporters and I’d wager Kenney supported the WR candidate in his riding, for him to conveniently “forget” who he voted for is just too convenient.
I marvel at the arrogance that the right wing just assumes that some how the progressives and the center will just fall in line with what they intend to do. Some how they assume that they are bless by God and so speak for the rest of Alberta.
It is sad to see a respected party as the Progressive Conservatives built by Peter Lougheed be brought to its knees by greedy, entitled and self interested people starting with Ralph Klein. It will be even worse to see the party destroyed by a power play of the Harper, Kenney and Manning bunch who succeeded in doing that very thing to the federal Progressive Conservatives. First the rot sets in, then the opportunism.
My hope is that in 2019, Albertans show the right-wing the door. However all parties in Alberta need to be mindful of one fact…you are suppose to work for all Albertans and not just the ones who follow your ideology. Alberta can be great we just need to ensure we have great people leading it and inspiring people to build that great Alberta. Once again Susan excellent piece.
How true Einar. It never ceases to amaze me that people like Kenney invoke the name of Lougheed and Klein in the same breath. Theresa May, the new Conservative PM, did the same thing. In her attempt to reshape the image of the Conservatives she hearkened back to Churchill and Thatcher, smoothly gliding past the fact that Churchill’s war council created the public services (public health and education) that Thatcher worked so hard to cut back with her austerity measures. May went to Oxford. She’s not stupid, but she knows that simply mentioning Churchill (saved us from the Germans) and Thatcher (“saved” the economy through austerity) will give her some kind of wonky credibility.
Perhaps because of where I live (rural Alberta) and what I do (full time farming) I’m not sanguine about Kenney’s prospects of becoming Premier.
Much to my disgust Alberta’s Agricultural Check-off groups, the top 4 of which take about $31million each year from farmers, devote most of it to pro-big business, right-wing political action. This money allows their activists to propagandize, train, and provide the foot soldiers to implement the Harper agenda in agriculture. So far they are still very successful federally – and see Bill 6 provincially. They are interchangeable with the Wildrose and rural PCs.
Secondly, rural Alberta, aside from the less than 2% of us who farm and ranch, is almost entirely dependent on the oil service sector punching more holes in the ground. The NDP cannot win these people over with royalty concessions or further subsidies if for no other reason than these are too small a percentage of the price of oil to matter anyway. The payments on all the toys and bloated houses will not wait.
great post Mr.Larsen.
Indeed, bills won’t wait. Which is why, until a responsible federal gov’t finally implements a return to the more than adequate McGeer monetary policy, and extends to the provinces and territories access to credit from the reinstated roles of a publicly owned and operated Bank of Canada , the NDP will be forced to fail.
As the Alberta NDP are fast discovering, no one is allowed to be ‘social’ anymore, unless their books with private interests are already deep in the black; Alberta’s aren’t, nor are they likely to be anytime soon.
Ken, I knew nothing about “check-off” groups and googled it. The first one to pop up was the Alberta Lamb Producers who impose a mandatory fee of $1.50 per lamb. Obviously the “check-off” fee could be considerable depending on the size of a producer’s flock.
The website speaks glowingly about all the things the ALP does for lamb producers (advocacy, being a source of information in the form of newsletters, websites, and delivering programs). The only thing that’s not clear is what real value the ALP delivers to lamb producers in return for the $1.50/head fee. I would have expected the ALP to point to its success in negotiating good finished prices or less stringent and costly regulations or something to demonstrate value to the producer. I can see why you’re frustrated.
Incidentally, lawyers have their own lobby group. It’s the Canadian Bar Association. We pay about $700/year to join. The big difference between the ALP and CBA is that the CBA’s fee is discretionary. The CBA delivers value in that it’s been successful in shaping federal legislation and representing the profession as a whole. I don’t know whether the ALP can say the same.
Hi Susan: The questions about the value the commissions provide certainly come to mind for many Alberta producers. Their original purpose was to fund plant breeding and agronomic research that would benefit farmers. However if you examine their audited statements, the bulk of their expenditures go to political lobbying on behalf of big business and Conservative policies which served to lower farm gate prices so the value of most, if not all, these Commissions to farmers is questionable at best.
The bigger Commissions are the Alberta Wheat Commission ($6 million), the Alberta Barley Commission ($2.8 million), the Alberta Canola Producers Commission ($5.5 million) and Alberta Beef Producers (formerly Alberta Cattle Commission) ($10.8 million). These are 2014 numbers. In contrast Alberta Lamb took just under $200 thousand. As you observed, they all have snazzy web sites.
All their audited statements are on line and a look back makes for some interesting reading. I did a small comparison between the expenditures of the Alberta Wheat & Barley Commissions with their Saskatchewan counterparts published here:
In my view, cleaning up this mess should have been a high priority for the Provincial NDP but they have ignored the advice of their rural caucus and have allowed the Agriculture department to continue to be hijacked by big business.
Ken, thanks for the additional information about these Commissions. Given the importance of agriculture to Alberta’s economy–we just returned from the Calgary Stampede where we saw a display that said that by 2050 global food production will need to increase by 60%–one would hope and expect the NDP government to look into these Commissions and determine whether they provide real value for the money. $25 million is not chicken feed (if you’ll pardon the pun).
Brilliant analysis Susan! but you neglected another important option for Albertans in 2019.
The political centre also must come together – focused not on corporate or union advantage but on Alberta’s longterm wellbeing. How that will emerge is not yet clear but young and older liberal citizens are meeting to ensure a moderate and visionary alternative is available for 2019!
David you make a good point. Albertans have choices in addition to the NDP on the left and the WR on the right. However, a quick review of the political contributions to date on the Elections Alberta site shows the WR sitting at $450,000, the NDs at $400,000, the PCs at $105,000 and the Liberals at $30,000. All this is subject to change because the Q2 numbers aren’t in yet and we still have 3 years to go, but if this trend continues and the PCs and the Liberals don’t do something to grab the imagination of the voters, I think the 2019 election will turn into a battle between the WR and the NDs. An American political writer said Canadians were lucky to have 3 political parties to choose from. It would be nice if that were true in Alberta. Another argument in favour of proportional representation?
I find it interesting that you, being a lawyer, did not also mention Section 10(12) of the Election Finances and Xontributions Disclosures Act, which prohibits transfer of assets from one political party to another. The effect of this is, as I understand it (although I am not a lawyer), PCs & WR can’t actually merge, as they would forfeit their assets to the Crown. Instead, Mr Kenney needs to convince enough PCs & ‘Rosers to join some hypothetical new party, that the existing PC & Wildrose parties are no longer viable and cannot fight the next election.
IMHO, never gonna happen.
Typo: that should have read “Contributions”…
Jerry, you’re right. Jason Kenney was asked about this little “glitch”. He said he wasn’t fussed about it because the only “assets” that mattered were the voters.
I checked the Elections Alberta site. At the end of 2015 the PCs were about $1 million in the hole and the WR had about $1.3 million. These numbers will change significantly over the next 3 years, but whatever the end result, Mr Kenney, the fiscal conservative, doesn’t care if he leaves money on the table so long as he’s the boss.
I think that Jason Kenney is going to find it very difficult to accomplish what he set out to do. Alberta has changed and people’s attitude in relation to politics is very different than 20 years ago.
I hope he tries because if he fails, the right will be done for a long time to come. We will hopefully see a resurgent Liberal Party as well as a stable NDP.
I personally do not believe the current system is robust and without urgent changes we may be risking what is happening in the US and especially Europe where the extreme right wing parties are on the rise, almost carbon copy of Hitler times.
Polls in 2003 indicated 53% of Europeans had no confidence in their governments and 75% had no confidence in their parties and in 2006 – 60% considered their top politicians corrupt. I believe now is worse and Canada is not much different. Politicians are probably at the bottom of the list as far as reputation.
It is going to be an interesting time to witness the battle between the extreme right and the so called ‘Progressive right’ which I have not seen in Alberta for a long time.
The NDP, in my opinion, is not taking advantage of consolidating their position as a valid choice and of especially creating a more democratic province. They will be the first to pay for that mistake.
Once the PCs are back, they will not change a voting system that has allowed them to have power for 43 years. I am still baffled by Rachel Notley paralysis on the changes to our dying democratic system. Donations is just the beginning. The only way I can understand the ineptitude is because they are fine with the way it is. Good for them. They have been excessively irresponsive to this so important file in our province. In fact they do not even talk about it. They do not respond to emails and simply they do not care.
A person like myself waits 30 years to elect a truly progressively political party and then nothing happens when they are in power. Nor even a discussion. I told them that I would not vote for them until true change comes to our voting system and enhanced democratic rules and I will not.
I visit posts across the country; mostly news media which I share broadly. The amount of bitterness and pure ignorance that show up in a large number of posts goes uncounted. They are given a free ride by most, not me.
The Canadian’s posting which I speak of seem to have no knowledge other than their back yard. In their conversations it is apparent they do not look to other countries or beyond their immediate birth place for that matter and they tend to blame everything on the current government on here-say..
Cyberclark, I asked a journalist how people can continue to be so uninformed given all the sources of information available to them. He said that many people when presented with the facts that contradict their opinion (or bias) will tell you the fact is a lie rather than change their views. Kind of scary.
Carlos, I’m with you on this and so is Public Interest Alberta. And we need to act quickly to get ahead of the chameleon Conservatives. I note that Theresa May, the new British Prime Minister, is already pitching the “kinder, gentler Conservative” message. She says the Conservatives are the party of free enterprise, but that they won’t accept an “anything goes” approach and she believes in well-funded and well-run public services in health and education. This is slippery language because it allows the Conservatives to argue that in order to have “well-run public services” you have to let the private sector deliver the publicly-funded services, because the private sector is so efficient, blah blah blah. New leader, same old party. It will be even worse here in Alberta if we elect Kenney and his “free enterprise party” in 2019.
I have not been following PIA lately so I will have to check what they are doing in regards to democratic renewal. Not that I have high hopes about campaigns or lists of signatures anymore but one never knows. It is still very hard for me to believe that the NDP has become so rigid about this.
As far as Theresa May, I am not sure what is coming at all. I have read that she is Margaret Thatcher II, but from the little I know about her, she seems to be a more moderate conservative. On the other hand she was the Home secretary for David Cameron so hard to know. Strategically she is definitely smart. Giving Boris Johnson the Foreign Relations job is brilliant 🙂 He will either swim or sink. 🙂 As Mayor of London he seems to have been competent and Trumpish at the same time. He does not have that freedom as FR Secretary.
Carlos, I chuckled when I saw the reaction of the EU officials to Boris Johnson’s appointment as Foreign Relations minister. The gong show continues!
The Real Music Man (Robert Preston) could at least sing and entertain us.
Agreed Brent. Apparently Mr Kenney comes from a musical family but there’s no indication any of it rubbed off on him. Too bad.
My parents worked for Mart Kenny’s Ranch in the fifties when my father and over fifteen thousand workers on the Avro Arrow project were laid off by a Conservative government.