Can we stop campaigning on half a platform?
Brian Jean and Jason Kenney are united in one thing—the conviction that they must free Alberta from the “socialists” and return it to its position of unparalleled greatness where it will once again become “the shining beacon of hope” to Canada if not the entire world.
Their plan to “Make Alberta Great Again” consists of ripping up all the government’s policies.
Their vision for the future is neoliberalism…or their half-baked version of Fredrick Hayek’s philosophy that entrepreneurs, free of government oversight, will create wealth that will trickle down to everyone.
Like Margaret Thatcher they believe social issues are irrelevant.
A political leader cannot claim he’ll make Alberta the “shining beacon of hope” if he’s not willing to set out the social side of his political agenda or worse, allows his supporters to do it for him so he can disavow it later if the public doesn’t like what it’s heard.
Based on comments from the Wildrose, notably Derek Fildebrant, Albertans understand that the Wildrose considers social issues “stale” and not worthy of falling within the top 100 things the party needs to worry about.
The leader of the Free Enterprise Party is less forthright but NDP MLA Marie Renaud and blogger Mike Morrison (among others) are pressing Kenney to express his position on social issues.
When Renaud asked Kenney to state his position on abortion he said two things: (1) such questions were simply an NDP effort to distract people with “hot-button social issues” (ie. irrelevant) and (2) he valued human life. Interestingly Kenney failed to mention that as a federal MP he supported a motion to set up a parliamentary committee to study when human life begins and thus re-open the debate on abortion.
Kenney didn’t respond to Morrison’s invitation to join him at the Pride Parade and answer questions about students’ rights to access gay-straight alliances and all-gender washrooms but Kenney’s position on LBGTQ issues is crystal clear.
In June 2005 Kenney presented a passionate argument against the Liberal government’s bill to legalize same-sex marriage.
He said “through all recorded human history, in every civilization, in every culture, in every religious tradition, in every secular tradition, in every legal and political tradition, marriage has been understood universally and without exception to mean a committed lifetime sanctified relationship between a man and a woman.”
He took a moment to add that “the ontological meaning of marriage as a heterosexual union, which is by its nature therefore open to the transmission of life and culture” did not unjustly discriminate against those who seek “recognition for unions in non-traditional relationships”. (Presumably those who sought such “recognition” should simply disregard the fact he was voting against their right to do so).
The proxy question
The questions asked by Marie Renaud and Mike Morrison matter because in addition to eliciting a politician’s position on a specific issue (a woman’s right to choose or LBGTQ rights), they’re proxy questions for social issues in general.
A politician’s response to such questions is a good indicator of how he will prioritize issues and allocate scarce resources with respect to income inequality, homelessness, poverty reduction, domestic violence and support for the vulnerable and less fortunate.
A politician who refuses to answer such questions or dismisses them as “stale” or “irrelevant” is campaigning on half a platform and lacks the humanity and the humility to govern.