Sandra Jansen is right, there are Progressive Conservatives in Alberta

Sandra Jansen just confirmed she’s running for the leadership of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative party.  This is good news because her campaign will test Jason Kenney’s assertion that there’s no such thing as a progressive conservative.

Kenney is peddling the line that there are only two kinds of people in Alberta—small “c” conservatives who yearn to merge the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose into a single “free enterprise party” and a bunch of nutbars who accidentally elected the NDP.

Leadership

Before everyone leaps on the NDP bashing bandwagon, let’s put our minds to leadership.

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Sandra Jansen PC MLA

Jansen acknowledges the PCs demonstrated poor leadership in the past and suggests PC leadership candidates should take a hard look at themselves and figure out how they can be better leaders and better MLAs.

Which leads one to wonder why Jason Kenney, notwithstanding his high praise for the PCs under Peter Lougheed and Ralph Klein, decided the best PC leader is one who buries the party, rather than rebuilds it.

Birds of a feather flock together—except when they don’t

Kenney says if Peter McKay and Stephen Harper could unite a bunch of small “c” federal conservatives under the Conservative Party of Canada banner, merging Alberta’s PCs and Wildrose parties will be a “walk in the park”.

He points to a recent report published by the Manning Centre as evidence he’s right.

The Manning report says that since May 2015 when the NDP came into power the majority of the Wildrose and PC MLAs voted the same way 90.2% of the time on legislative votes and 95.8% of the time on money votes and this demonstrates there’s little of substance separating the Wildrose from the PCs.

Aside from the fact that the Manning report is not a quantitative analysis—the issues put to vote range from inconsequential to significant and the number of Wildrose and PC MLAs voting on each issue varies from vote to vote—it fails to address two instances where the Wildrose and the PCs are sharply divided, namely fiscal policy and democratic renewal.

Fiscal policy

In June 2015 the PCs proposed Bill 201, Assuring Alberta’s Fiscal Future.  The Bill required the government to invest 25% of all non-renewable resource revenue into the Heritage Fund.  The investment obligation jumped to 50% in years where operating revenue was expected to exceed operating expense.

Every Wildrose MLA voted with the NDP to reject the PC’s Bill.

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Jason Kenney Leadership Candidate PC Party

The Wildrose opposed it on principle because in their view it was “borrowing to invest”.  The Wildrose would suspend investment in the Heritage Fund until there’s a budgetary surplus in both the operating and capital accounts—something no one expects to see in the foreseeable future.*

A merged “free enterprise party” must reach consensus on fiscal policy.  If the Wildrose and the PCs can’t agree on how to balance long term savings against debt repayment how will they ever agree on the allocation of scarce resources to fund public services and infrastructure.      

Democratic renewal

In March 2016 the Wildrose introduced the Election Recall Bill.  They characterized recall as “a core western Canadian, small “c” conservative principle” which would increase Albertans’ access to democracy.  The Wildrose feel deeply about recall as a fundamental principle and have brought a recall bill to the Legislature three times in the last six years.**

Wildrose MLA, Mark Smith, was prepared to consider any number of amendments if the Assembly would simply accept the bill “on principle”.  His plea fell on deaf ears and the PCs voted with the NDP to reject the Bill.  The PCs had a number of concerns including the fear that recall drives short-term thinking and weakens an MLA’s resolve to take a stand on unpopular issues.

The primary focus of a merged “free enterprise party” is likely the economy but fundamental differences concerning the democratic process cannot be ignored.

Slogans vs Vision

Jason Kenney says Albertans are sophisticated and will be able to see through the objections to merger thrown up by naysayers.

That’s true.  Albertans can also tell the difference between a politician spouting vacuous slogans and one with a vision for Alberta that goes beyond simply getting into power.

It’s time for Mr Kenney to show his respect for Albertans by telling them what he would do the day after he’s elected premier to address climate change and convince Justin Trudeau not to impose a federal carbon tax after Kenney eliminates the provincial carbon tax and how he will ensure religious schools protect the rights of LGBTQ students…and that’s just for starters.

Because a campaign built on destroying two political parties in order to unseat a third isn’t going to cut it.

*Hansard, June 22, 2015, 130

**Hansard, Mar 10, 2016, 92, Mar 14, 2016, 122 and 129

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9 Responses to Sandra Jansen is right, there are Progressive Conservatives in Alberta

  1. Ed Hender says:

    I am not inclined to think that Ms Jansen is a person who is capable of leadership. I am not aware of any prior experience that could illustrate even the slightest ability to lead. Just read about her the actions on Bill 10. She now claims that her support of Bill 10 was a big mistake. It appears she relied on others who had their own agenda and they may have misled her.
    It was an unfortunate episode for her but perhaps very revealing.

    • That’s a fair comment Ed. I’m just glad she’s making the case that there are conservatives and progressive conservatives in Alberta. While the other candidates for PC leadership clearly believe the same thing I think Jansen has articulated it the best so far.

  2. Kim says:

    While Ms. Jansen reiterates the same thing that Hancock and the previous PCs said, i.e. the PCs made mistakes, the PC Party itself has done NOTHING to change how the public perceives them. Ms. Jansen is not someone I’d support in any party. The PC Party has killed itself by ignoring Albertans. Now they are fighting among themselves to see who can still survive. I would have preferred to see the whole party wiped out myself and give another party a chance.

  3. Kim, interesting point. The PCs are going to have to work hard to change public perception, especially given the fund raising stats for the third quarter. The PCs raised $48,209 while the Wildrose raised $330,660. Not good. (The NDP raised $425,437 and I think Jason Kenney’s Unite Alberta group raised something in the range of $400,000 as well).

  4. carlosbeca says:

    What to say about this? OMG
    The only thing that comes to mind is that if Jason Kenney unites the parties it will not last too long. The gap between Jason’s beliefs and a person like Sandra Jansen is immense.
    Jason Kenney, to me, is a fundamentalist and I cannot deal with it. I can understand conservative politics but right wing fundamentalism, just like the same on the left is beyond my intelligence. Furthermore, the attitude that ‘it is inevitable’ and ‘the invisible hand of the market’ along with religious overtones is bad enough for me to buy a gun. 🙂
    I have no interest whatsoever in Jason and Brian Jean’s paradise.

  5. GoinFawr says:

    “doublethink”= the simultaneous acceptance of two contradictory ideas or beliefs = “progressive conservative”

    At least Kenney seems willing to finally drop the pretense after all these years; though he should perhaps consider that the delusional pipe dream of the fulfilling that oxymoron is what kept the public bamboozled, and spread the P-C’s appeal so widely in the first place.

  6. GoinFawr, I hear your point but agree with Carlos that there is a difference between Jansen’s “progressive” conservatives and Kenney’s conservatives, and it centres on where they stand on social issues. In the last election Albertans had an opportunity to skew farther right and elect the Wildrose, but they didn’t because the bozo eruptions were still top of mind. The fact that Kenney, like Fildebrandt, says there’s no need to discuss social issues and the government’s job is simply to get out of the way so corporations can generate “prosperity” for one and all, means that the progressive conservative will never trust them. And with good reason.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Yes I agree with Susan and although I see GoiFawr’s point, we do not have a better way to define people like Sandra. I totally agree that being a conservative like Kenney is not possible to be progressive but he himself, just like Thatcher, does not believe that society exists and that matters. He thinks that we are full of it. Good for him His belief that corporations will take care of everything is not just naïve it is retarded. I am sorry to be harsh but that is exactly what I think. I am tired of political correctness and it is time to fight back.

  7. jerrymacgp says:

    There is a fundamental difference between the PCs & Wildrose. The Progressive Conservative party is, by & large, a classic Canadian big-tent brokerage party, like the old federal PC party was & the federal Liberal party still is. OTOH, Wildrose is a deeply ideological pure right-wing party, more akin to the old Socreds. The PC party’s roots & past successes lie in shifting their sails to catch the prevailing winds of public opinion; the Rosers are more like a Viking longboat, with the ability to row vigorously upwind with the fervour of their righteousness.

    I really don’t accept the premise of those “unite the righters” that there is only one kind of conservative, just as there is not only one kind of social democrat.

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