Last night the Progressive Conservatives kicked off their leadership race in earnest.
As expected Jason Kenney urged party members to “unite Alberta” (ie destroy the PCs by merging them with the rebranded Wildrose party) while the other five candidates reassured attendees that the PC party could rise from the ashes.
It was a relief to hear PC MLAs Sandra Jansen and Richard Starke, former PC MLAs Stephen Khan and Donna Kennedy-Glans and Calgary lawyer Bryon Nelson reaffirm their support for the socially progressive platform originally espoused by Peter Lougheed.
Kenney was noticeably silent about social issues with the exception of a reference to the NDP’s pedagogic intrusion into the education of our children (more on that below).
Over the next four months Kenney will roll out a campaign that comes straight out of the Trump playbook; but because Kenney is smarter, smoother and more experienced than the airhorn down south, some progressive conservatives may be hoodwinked by Kenney’s rhetoric, not realizing they’ve been had until it’s too late.
The Trump Playbook
Step One: Find a way to get into the race
Unlike Trump who entered the Republican party nomination race on the pretext he was a Republican, Kenney made no bones about the fact that he was not a Progressive Conservative and the first thing he’d do if he won was destroy the Progressive Conservative party. The PCs let him run anyway. That was sheer lunacy and now the PCs are fighting for their lives.
Step Two: Create a disaster
Trump says America is a “disaster”: crime is up, poverty is up, the economy is a mess. It’s all bad, bad, bad. This plays to the fears of two kinds of supporters: those who’ve been hit hard by economic setbacks and those who haven’t but are afraid they will be.
Kenney’s sole focus is the economy. It’s an easy target given that energy is Alberta’s economic driver and world oil prices have crashed. The unemployment rate is higher than its ever been, young people are leaving the province for jobs elsewhere, the whole thing is very discouraging, and while it shows signs of improvement Kenney won’t acknowledge them.
Step Three: Create a scapegoat
Trump blames everyone for the “disaster”. It’s the fault of the elites, the immigrants, the Muslims, the Mexicans, the Blacks who are shooting each other in the streets and those nasty women. Did I forget anybody?
Kenney blames the “accidental socialist” government that hates the free market and is indoctrinating our children in some perverse way by demanding schools provide gay-straight alliances and gender neutral bathrooms.
What Kenney doesn’t say out but what’s implicit in his mission to destroy the Progressive Conservative party is that progressives are just as bad as socialists. Why else would he be on a mission to eliminate the party when he could just as easily run on a platform to renew it?
Step Four: Promise a quick solution
Trump’s solution for all that ails America is Donald Trump. He’s the smartest man on the planet and the best negotiator so just leave it with him and he’ll make America great again. Believe me!
Kenney’s solution is almost as simplistic. He will bring back the Alberta Advantage—making Alberta the place for hope and prosperity where dreams come true (his words, not mine)—by eliminating the provincial carbon tax, fighting the federal carbon tax, reducing personal and corporate taxes and eliminating “job-killing” regulations.
Kenney’s solution will take Alberta back to the Klein era…which wasn’t entirely successful when oil prices were high and an absolute disaster when oil prices fell.
Unless Kenney has a plan to diversify the economy Albertans will be no more economically secure under a Kenney government than they were under the Klein, Stelmach, Redford and Prentice governments.
But Kenney isn’t concerned about changing the economic structure of Alberta. He’s focused on re-establishing conservatism across the province.
His argument goes like this: after 44 years in government the Progressive Conservatives drifted too far to the left. This forced true conservatives to abandon the party and join the Wildrose. The creation of two conservative parties allowed the NDP to sneak into power. The only way to set the world right is for the two conservative parties to merge and they can’t merge unless the conservatives throw out the progressives who have no business being in the party in the first place.
Trump’s attack on everyone but the alt-white legitimized the voices of bigots, racists, sexists, xenophobes and homophobes. The party of Abe Lincoln deserves better.
Kenney’s supporters are following in Trump’s footsteps. They despair at the “liberal stench” emanating from the other leadership candidates. They bemoan the fact that the LBGTQ community has more rights than they do. They attack Sandra Jansen, the PC MLA who says she’s fiscally conservative and socially progressive in the most vulgar misogynistic terms imaginable.
Surely the party of Peter Lougheed and the people of Alberta deserve better than Jason Kenney—a fly-in candidate from Ottawa whose idea of leadership is mouthing platitudes, attacking progressives and handing out camouflage ball caps emblazoned Unite Alberta.
Actually, unless you live in or near Calgary, economic indicators are slowly improving. The latest unemployment statistics from StatsCan show unemployment in two of Alberta’s 7 economic regions below the national average of 6.8%, and in double digits only in Calgary. The second-highest regional unemployment rate in Alberta is in Wood Buffalo-Cold Lake, but this is also the first quarter since the fire when data has even been reported from that area. http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/a47 Drilling activity is also heading up, especially in the Peace Country. http://www.q99live.com/news/?news_action=view&news_id=9192&ret=%3Fnews_action%3Dlist
So, things are starting, just starting mind you, to look up, and there is no reason to panic or blow up our political system (not that there ever was, really, but some people may have thought there was … ).
Jerry, your analysis of economic indicators is bang on. There are examples of things looking up even in here in Calgary–Precision just rehired 1000 employees. For some reason these facts aren’t persuasive to some people. It reminds me of a ball cap I saw in connection with the US election. It was emblazoned “Make America Think Again”. I hope progressive conservatives think carefully about what the new Conservative Party of Alberta will look like before they take the leap of faith and join Jason Kenney in his crusade.
we don’t need another centre left party. we need at least one party on the right. Kenney is a man of integrity with decades of service and voting records. if PC doesn’t pick him as leader, their brand dies ad becomes another Alberta Party/Liberal/Green centre left alternative.
Stephanie, thanks for your comment. It’s one of the few comments I’ve received from those who support Kenney that focuses on the issue instead of attacking me as a lefty and suggesting I’m just another freeloading teacher or union employee. (For the record I’m a corporate lawyer. I’ve spend my career building pipelines and petrochemical plants).
Have the PCs drifted too far to the left? If so what are the indicators? For me two key indicators of where a party falls on the political spectrum are inclusion (ie. socially progressive) and working together to solve problems (ie. tax policy).
I don’t think the PC party’s tax policies changed much from the Peter Lougheed days (in fact personal and corporate taxes were higher under Lougheed than under Klein), however as society became more inclusive the PCs became more inclusive. This left some of its members without a political home and resulted in the formation of the Wildrose. This is a very simplistic theory, it doesn’t take into account the view of some Albertans that faith can and should dictate how their children are educated and a whole host of other factors including the PCs becoming entitled and unresponsive to the grass roots, but I’m throwing it out there to stimulate discussion.
What is Mr. Kenney’s record on destroying science libraries? “Conservative” once meant to conserve and preserve.
K. Larsen thank you for reminding us about the Harper government’s relentless destruction of libraries and research centres. I would be very interested in Mr Kenney’s position on the closure of the Agri-Food Lethbridge Research Centre (described in the links) which provided scientific research about beef, canola, wheat, insects, GHG, etc., all of which are critical to the success of Alberta’s farming and ranching industry. The only comment Mr Kenney made with respect to agriculture/ranching at the PC Leadership Forum was that he was going to repeal Bill 6, the farm safety bill. Seems to fit with the conservative ideology which supports the elimination of government regulations even if they save lives and reduces access to scientific evidence which may impact thoughtful policy decisions.
You’re welcome Susan: These book burnings were carried out at every Federal Agricultural Research station in Canada and have truly crippled agricultural research.
The baseline data for evaluating new techniques and technologies against cultural and ecological agricultural techniques has been destroyed.
Most of this work was unique to Canada. It means we now have no way of knowing which new products are useful and which are just snake oil.
Harper hated research. After all you just have to read the Bible and everything is there, especially about the markets because according to him, it was a divine revelation to men. So not much is possible not even evidence.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought schools weren’t even required to provide gay-straight alliances, they just weren’t allowed to prohibit them if students wanted to form them.
Bob you’re absolutely right. Don Braid writing in this morning’s Calgary Herald said Kenney’s supporters “helped pass a call to give individual schools all the power to decide how students should be made to feel safe.” “Feel safe” is code for dealing with requests for gay-straight alliances. This resolution would have given individual schools the power to make that decision. As such, faith based schools would be free to turn down a student’s request to form a GSA even though the legislation requiring the schools to allow GSAs was supported by the Wildrose as well as the PCs.
Yes you are correct but the law or what it says does not matter because everything is an extreme left progressive conspiracy. So it is hard to understand what is going on when our newspapers lie constantly.
Susan, I missed you at the Green Rights screening in Calgary — but it turns out there’s considerable interest in the film and the book at the U of Calgary law school. Want a review copy? I think you’d love it.
Great piece on Kenney, BTW.
On Sun, Nov 6, 2016 at 3:21 PM, Susan on the Soapbox wrote:
> susanonthesoapbox posted: “Last night the Progressive Conservatives kicked > off their leadership race in earnest. As expected Jason Kenney urged party > members to “unite Alberta” (ie destroy the PCs by merging them with the > rebranded Wildrose party) while the other five candidates r” >
Don, unfortunately I had a conflict and couldn’t make it. I’d definitely love a copy. I’ll follow up with you by email.
Sandra Jansen , it would appear, is not a Jason Kenny fan. After what the “progressive” conservatives did to Alberta, I am not surprised. A bankrupt province with the largest per capital government in the country and still growing!!! A mirror image of liberal Ontario and liberal Ottawa. Spend spend spend…… now our great great great grandchildren’s money. Completely and utterly irresponsible and the ubsustanibility of which will very very quickly become obvious as the Provinces and Feds fight to borrow some 50 billion more year after year. Just my opinion, I could be wrong?
That’s a typical conservative response. Blaming everything on ‘spending’ is easy. Are you arguing that new hospitals and schools were not needed? That’s just one example.
Spending is required in order to function.
The problem is conservatives really seem to have trouble ‘collecting’. Witness the last few Alberta governments that did not see fit to collect royalties due us, who dabbled with a flat tax and keep cutting rates at the top and from big business. Proven unworkable formulas. Perhaps by now you’ve noticed that corporations will slash jobs no matter what the tax-rate is if the price per barrel is too low. Even if their tax rate was 0% the jobs would have been cut.
Alberta was in a boom economy for years and has no reserves, nothing to show for it – all because the conservatives failed to COLLECT.
I understand the concern about saddling our children and grandchildren with mounting debt, however it’s not correct to say that Liberal governments boost debt and Conservative governments don’t. According to two economists who worked in finance at the federal level for both the Conservative and Liberal governments, Jean Cretien and Paul Martin got the federal government out of the worst fiscal crisis it had ever faced, but since Harper was elected the federal debt increased by over $150 billion wiping out the reductions achieved by Cretien and Martin. Time will tell how successful (or not) the Trudeau government will be in managing the debt, but simply installing a Conservative government (federally or provincially) isn’t the answer.
Here’s the link to the story by the two economists: http://ipolitics.ca/2015/04/19/no-matter-how-you-add-it-up-harpers-fiscal-record-is-a-catastrophe/
You are correct, As Promised. Alberta offers pretty much the same services as every other province in Canada. Because of oil revenues we are able to offer them without using a sales tax like all the other provinces (including Saskatchewan). Then, suddenly the oil revenue dries up and we have a spending problem?
You were intending to reply to me or Gord? I ask because I was essentially making the same point you are. Conservatives being so-called better economic stewards is a myth.
As promised, I agree with you. I was replying to Gord. Sometimes my replies pop up not where I intended them to go. I put it down to the software, but it could be me. 🙂
Jason Kenney – another miracle Trump. They will cut taxes and they will ignore the environment and gosh get rid of that awful farm law and everything will be great again. They never once mentioned how they are going to cut taxes with a 10 billion deficit. That is to think about after. The important thing is to brain wash people until they get power. The media is more than willing to help.
We the uneducated people just love to follow the leader as long as they promise less taxes.
What a sad state of affairs. In the meantime our NDP government every time increases the long term beds for seniors it gives their management to private interests. Great that will solve the problem. As far as democratic renewal not a word. They are too busy.
PEI finally the first province to see the light and chose to pursue proportional representation, but the premier quickly came out and said ‘This is not what the people want’. OH great democracy.
Carlos, I echo your very last sentence “OH great democracy”. While this post is supposed to be about Jason Kenney I can’t help talking about the US election. Wow, everybody got that one so so wrong. Trump offered something for everyone–worried about crime, no problem, worried about jobs, no problem, worried about taxes, no problem, worried about terrorists, no problem–and people gobbled it up. The media gave him millions of dollars of free coverage because it upped ratings, the FBI dove in twice just for the heck of it, and the pollsters got it completely wrong. Consequently democracy (such as it is) worked to elect one of the scariest men to run for president since Nixon and enough of his colleagues to pack the House and Senate. All he needs to do now is put his favourite Supreme Court judges on the bench and he’s done. I still can’t get over it.
I’m not sure the pollsters got it so wrong… The final vote percentages for each candidate were within the MOE of the aggregators. It was the distribution of votes, which dictates how the Electoral College turns out, and likely disparate turnout proportions between Hillary Clinton’s tepid support amongst Democrat, moderate Republican & independent voters on the one hand; and the rabidly enthusiastic, foaming at the mouth Hillary-hating Trump supporters; that told the tale. I’m sure state-GOP-driven voter suppression in some largely minority communities also factored into the numbers.
IMHO, had the Democrats nominated Bernie Sanders, Trump wouldn’t have come close; OTOH, had the Republicans nominated a respectable moderate (too bad they couldn’t have gotten Arnie Vinick lol) to put up against Mrs Clinton, the election wouldn’t have been such a squeaker.
“I understand the concern about saddling our children and grandchildren with mounting debt, however it’s not correct to say that Liberal governments boost debt and Conservative governments don’t.”
Indeed, the ONLY elected gov’t in the western hemisphere in recorded history to maintain fiscal responsibility was Tommy Douglas’ CCF, which ran seventeen (count ’em 17) surplus budgets, every year of their mandate, despite inheriting what was at the time an onerous debt from the previous liberal gov’t. And Norway seems to be able to balance their national books pretty handily… aren’t they confirmed ‘lefties’ too?
And last federal election the only party to run on the promise of a balanced budget was the NDP.
So, that’s yet another right-wing propagated myth debunked…
Interesting that we talked very recently about fast change. Donald Trump was elected president of the United States and if he follows through with his promises the world will indeed have to react very fast. His promises were quite drastic but he has the support of the Senate populated with many extreme right wing senators.
Justin Trudeau seems to be already behaving as a subordinate of Donald Trump so this could be interesting indeed. Apparently he has already invited him to visit Canada. Seriously, what is the rush? Economic concerns? WOW Sunny ways indeed.
Interesting article and one I can agree with