In 1999 a young Jason Kenney told the National Post that “Klein realized Alberta could no longer afford the neo-Stalinist make-work projects of the Lougheed and Getty years, and he set about to distance himself from them.”
This is an inflammatory comment of Twilight Zone proportions, particularly given the lengths to which Kenney has gone to tie his image as the saviour of Alberta to that of Peter Lougheed, the founder of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative party.
So how does Kenney justify his horrible comment?
I said what?
Kenney says he doesn’t remember linking Lougheed with the dictator whose repressive policies resulted in the deaths of millions.
Well, it was 18 years ago, and Kenney did say a lot of things back then, especially when it came to social issues; why don’t we give Kenney an opportunity to clarify not just this comment but all the other comments he’s made on the social issues that for some reason he refuses to discuss now. I’m sure his supporters would welcome a town hall meeting in which he reiterates his stance on abortion (still against it?) and same-sex marriage (still against it?).
It would put their minds at ease and the rest of us would appreciate confirmation that Kenney’s position on social issues is still firmly wedged in the last century.
Oh wait, there’s another wrinkle.
I deny saying something no one says I said
Kenney’s explanation crossed over into the Twilight Zone when he said, “I have never called Peter Lougheed a socialist. That’s ridiculous.”
Of course it’s ridiculous to call Lougheed a socialist (it’s also ridiculous to call Rachel Notley a socialist but that’s another blog for another day), but this is a red herring.
No one said Kenney called Lougheed a socialist.
Kenney is trying to convince us that we’re wrong to accuse him of saying something we never said he said. What he hasn’t done is deny that he did say Lougheed, and his successor Don Getty, created “neo-Stalinist make-work projects”.
He said it, he can’t deny it, and he hasn’t denied it because…wait for it…it was a joke.
Can’t you take a joke?
Kenney says he doesn’t remember saying it, but if he did say it, “it was obviously in jest”.
Well of course it’s hilarious to link Peter Lougheed, the premier who introduced Alberta’s first human rights legislation and urged Albertans to “think like owners” and increased their share of non-renewable resource revenue from 17 percent to 40 percent, with a sadistic dictator who was responsible for the Ukrainian Genocide and the Great Terror.
Before you say, now wait a minute Kenney didn’t mean it that way, consider this: characterizing an offensive comment a joke doesn’t make it okay.
Jason P Steed, a lawyer and former English prof, wrote a dissertation on humour. It got a lot of airtime when Donald Trump was blasting the airwaves with racist, misogynistic, and homophobic comments during his excruciating presidential campaign.
Steed says no one is ever “just joking”. People use humour to identify who they are and what they stand for. Their attempts at humour pull some people into the in-group and push others out into the out-group. When Trump makes a racist comment and says he’s just joking, he’s defending himself to the out-group, but he doesn’t need to defend himself to the in-group because they accept and support the racist comment.
We have no way of knowing whether Kenney was serious or just kidding (in the Steed sense or in the “wasn’t Stalin a hoot” sense) when he compared Peter Lougheed’s policies to neo-Stalinist make-work projects, but in either case Kenney has limited options to extricate himself from the mess the young Jason Kenney created for the would-be premier Jason Kenney when he made the comment in 1999.
If he meant it; it wasn’t true and he must apologize. If he was joking, that’s even more offensive and he must apologize.
In either case Kenney must stop comparing himself to Peter Lougheed in a pathetic attempt to capture the votes of progressive conservatives.
The only person fit to wear the mantle of Peter Lougheed is Peter Lougheed.
Lougheed wannabes need not apply.