When They Go Low: the Kenney by-election debate

On Sunday afternoon Mr and Ms Soapbox were jammed into an overheated community hall listening to five politicians explain why they were the best choice to represent the good citizens of Calgary-Lougheed in the by-election triggered when Dave Rodney stepped down to give UCP leader Jason Kenney a seat in the Legislature.

The media characterized the debate among Mr Kenney, Dr Philip van der Merwe (Dr Phil, NDP), Romy Tittel (Green Party), Wayne Leslie (Independent, Alberta Advantage Party) and David Khan (Liberal) as “boisterous”.

That’s wrong.  The event wasn’t “boisterous”, it wasn’t even a “debate”, it was a Kenney “rally” intent on heckling and jeering the NDP candidate to the point where we couldn’t hear him speak over the din.

kenney debate photo

This is deeply disturbing.  The purpose of political debates is to give candidates a chance to explain their policies, but perhaps heckling is all we can expect from Mr Kenney who prides himself on having no policies whatsoever.

What they said

Kenney blamed the NDP for ruining the economy with “job-killing” tax increases.  He promised to fix the economy by killing the carbon tax (which he said did nothing for pipeline approvals), renewing the Alberta Advantage, reigniting the economy and creating new jobs.  We have no idea how he will achieve this because he provided no details.

Dr Phil said the NDP’s policies supported Albertans through the recession and pushed Alberta ahead of the rest of the country in GDP growth.  He outlined the benefits of the climate leadership plan and said Kenney’s plan to cut spending by 20% would gut education and healthcare.

Khan said the Liberals were the moderate alternative to the extreme left (NDP) and extreme right (UCP) and promised “comprehensive tax reform” to balance the budget (is this code for a sales tax?)

Tittel reaffirmed the Green party’s support for proportional representation and suggested Alberta could turn its attention to “intellectual extraction” whereby its young, well educated work force would focus on artificial intelligence and science and technology to tackle environmental problems at home and abroad.

Leslie said he represented the grassroots and urged the implementation of recall legislation to hold MLAs accountable to their constituents.

Kenney and the hecklers  

Kenney and his hecklers focused all their attention on Dr Phil.  He took Dr Phil to task over a number of comments:

  • Kenny denied he ever said the UCP would cut spending by 20%. He promised to balance the budget by 2022 by holding spending to zero or perhaps cutting it by one or two percent.  Kenney is on record saying he’d exercise “a period of sustained restraint in spending…to get [Alberta] down to more or less [BC’s] per capita spending”…“BC spends about 20 per cent less than Alberta per capita.”  Lord only knows whether his 2% maximum spending cuts are doable given his refusal to put out a shadow budget.
  • Kenney said climate change is real, it’s caused by man, and greenhouse gases need to be reduced, but he won’t impose economic costs on Alberta industries unless other jurisdictions do so first. If this is true Kenney is a hypocrite because he’s allowing his MLAs, particularly Don MacIntyre, Drew Barnes, and Rick Strankman, to express contrary views.
  • He dismissed the NDP claim that he oversaw six deficit budgets while in Harper’s government by blaming it on the recession but rejected the NDP’s position that they are running a deficit budget because of the recession caused by slumping oil prices and the legacy of the PC’s austerity plan.
  • He rejected the NDP’s claim that the carbon tax is funding Calgary’s Green Line with the bizarre argument that he provided billions for the Green Line when he was in the federal government and didn’t need a carbon tax to do it. The federal government’s promise to deliver funding in 2015 does not diminish the fact that Notley delivered provincial funding from carbon tax revenues in 2017.  These are two separate buckets of funding.
  • He said Dr Phil called him an extremist and said 70% of the voters elected Kenney every time he ran for office, therefore Dr Phil must be calling 70% of the voters extremists. This is a perfect example of how Kenney riles up his supporters with lies.  Dr Phil said Kenney’s spending cuts were extreme, not that Kenney was an extremist.  Also, Kenney did not get 70% of the votes every time he ran for office: in 1997 he got 55%, in 2000 he got 63% and in 2015 he got 67%.

The erosion of democracy

Candidates debates are a fundamental part of the democratic process, but only when the candidates respect the rules.    

The debate organizers made numerous attempts to stop the heckling and booing but failed.  Instead of stepping in to quiet the hecklers, Kenney let his supporters run roughshod over the process.

The heckling bordered on intimidation and came to a head when a UCP supporter blocked NDP MLA Sandra Jansen twice as she moved about the hall.  The heckler posted a video of his actions on social media where it was lauded by others who called Ms Jansen vile names.

And no, Ms Soapbox isn’t being overly sensitive.  In the last few weeks Kenney and the UCP have taken civil discourse to a new Trump-like low.  They’ve said socialists eat dogs, marijuana leads to communism and Pinochet’s reign of terror was “a success story”.

The Pinochet example is particularly egregious given the UCP’s attempt to confuse the public by posting a draft version of Hansard which did not include UCP MLA Strankman’s “success story” comment as evidence that Strankman did not say what the NDP said he said.  Surely after all his years in Harper’s cabinet, Kenney knows the draft version of Hansard does not become the official transcript of what was said in the House until it’s been checked against the video and audio recordings.  (The veracity of the official version of Hansard is why lawyers use it as evidence of Parliament’s intention when the meaning of a particular piece of legislation is in dispute).

When they go low…

Kenney says he’s going to correct the record and tell the truth when the NDP lie about UCP policies.

Given the performance of the UCP leader, his MLAs, and his supporters over the last few months I say we do this for ourselves…

…and when they go low, we get the facts and hold Mr Kenney, his MLAs and his supporters accountable for their misrepresentations and lies.

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53 Responses to When They Go Low: the Kenney by-election debate

  1. Carlos Beca says:

    I can imagine very easily the circus. That is always the case when Jason Kenney is involved. He does not understand anything done with respect and in a way to inform the public. Of course debate is out of the question.
    Despite all of that he will be elected because his supporters are in a majority and they are exactly like him. What matters is to get in power and then do whatever without measuring consequences or checking facts. That is too intelligent for Jason Kenney. As far as he is concerned people are happier and are more subservient to his corporate gurus when they are beaten down and without choice, He is a bully and proud if it,
    I already have plan B to leave the province. Klein was enough for me.

    • Carlos, my mother used to say you can judge the quality of a man by the company he keeps…Jason Kenney’s hecklers, booers and jeerers did not do him or the party proud.

      • carlosbeca says:

        Susan your mother belongs to a time in Canada when this kind of attitude, I am sure, was enough to get this guy expelled from any forum. Unfortunately times have changed and not for the better. I do think that if we want to correct this we have to move to action and fast. I think the group that Elaine mentioned should be one of our places to start.
        Next election we can have a special meeting with Elaine and help them organize a major forum with Jason in and we will not allow him or his goons to take over. If he does not answer he will be judged as what it is – a fraud.
        I am in if we go with this. I can be the one with the baseball bat 🙂

      • Carlos, we’ve corresponded for a long time so I know you’re kidding about the baseball bat, but just for the benefit of readers who are new to the Soapbox, let me reinforce the fact that if we ever see Carlos at a debate, he’ll be carrying a paper baseball bat for identification purposes only, he’d never use it against anyone! 🙂

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Yes Susan you are right – I did not mean anything other than a joke – I will be more careful next time as I assume everyone knows me well. 🙂
        Thank you for the correction.
        I am sorry everyone – just a silly joke.
        We need to relax a bit these days

      • Brent McFadyen says:

        Thank you Carlos I’ll have to behave too at forums no baseball bats.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        I know you would support me Brent
        Thank you 🙂 🙂

      • Thanks for the lighthearted comments Carlos and Brent…this immersion in politics is driving me “batty”. OK, that was a bad joke, sorry! 🙂

      • Brent McFadyen says:

        Good joke actually, we need some levity always

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Susan it is absolutely fine. I fully understand what you mean and I fully agree with you. I was just having a little joke with Brent.

  2. Ed Henderson says:

    Quote…”…and when they go low, we get the facts and hold Mr Kenney, his MLAs and his supporters accountable for their misrepresentations and lies.””
    I do not know of any MLA in Alberta who does not do exactly what they are told to do by the Political Party they belong to.

    • Ed, this was Wayne Leslie’s main point. He’s a founding member of the Alberta Advantage Party, which formed after the Wildrose and PCs merged. He theme was power belongs to the grassroots and recall legislation is only way to hold MLAs accountable. He said all the other candidates (including Kenney) have their own agendas and none of them are accountable for the promises they make. I guess he’s not persuaded by Kenney’s “grassroots guarantee”.

  3. J.E. Molnar says:

    For the NDP, the next election should be fought on their policy successes. Their record of legislative achievement has been robust, to say the least. With a UCP election platform of likely regurgitated conservative dogma, Albertans are smart enough to be able to separate the dog from the dog whistle.

    Jason Kenney and the UCP prove each and every week, both inside and outside the Legislature, they are not ready for prime time politics. Mark my words Ms Soapbox, the UCP’s growing collection of “greatest hits” bozo-eruptions will become their Achilles heel and Rachel Notley will be their Kryptonite.

    • Phyllis Culley says:

      I am not NDP but with Kenny running I will certainly vote for Rachel as I think she is doing a masterful job with the recession and. the mess the former government left her with. I am a federal Liberal.

      • J.E. and Phyllis I agree, Rachel Notley’s government has accomplished an awful lot in a very short space of time. It’s especially frustrating to hear Kenney and the UCP dismiss her work on the energy file. They say she should be more aggressive with BC but they don’t seem to understand that when Alberta intervened in support of Kinder Morgan’s application to the NEB to prevent Burnaby from slowing down the municipal permitting process, Alberta was engaged in regulatory litigation–this is not something a province does lightly.

  4. Brent McFadyen says:

    Thank you Susan for calling out Jason Kenny on his style of politics. My belief is we need to call BS every time BS is used to confuse facts. We need to take the bullying out of the political discourse. We need something to enforce political fare play. Like the taste police, if you do things in poor taste you are sanctioned.

    • My sentiments exactly Brent! We’ve seen from Trump’s success that misleading the public and and engaging in dog whistle politics can undermine the very institutions of democracy if it’s not nipped in the bud. When Trump supporters said it was OK for him to lie because all politicians lie and at least he’s honest about it (think about the idiocy of that for a minute!) they hit rock bottom. We can’t let that happen here.

  5. Csefton@shaw.ca says:

    I hope he doesn’t get in. Anyone else could do better. Unfortunately it’s electronic balloting. Every time its a Kenny involved theres fraudulent activity going on and no accountability. Its a slap in the face for democracy, for voters, and more lies for tax payers. Its time for new blood. He had his chance, what did he ever do for tax payers??? Military people dislike him. InsteaD OF DOING THE SAME OLD THING lets try someone new.

    • Good points Csefton. I’d heard the UCP used electronic voting when they elected Kenney leader, but I don’t know what voting system they’ll be using in this by-election. Apparently Elections Alberta is expecting a higher than usual turnout. In 2015 the PC and WR candidates took 10,720 votes (63.2%), the NDP 5,437 (32.0%) and the Liberals 817 (4.8%). Kenney characterized this by-election as a referendum on Notley’s NDP, but he’s running in a conservative stronghold–this is actually a referendum on Kenney as leader and the wisdom of the WR/PC merger. He has to win by a landslide to be credible.

  6. Trnt says:

    You should seriously check your facts. The recovery had nothing to do with ndp policies, it was largely driven by an increase in medium and heavy crude exports to the US to make up for the loss of supply from Mexico, Venezuela, and the Mid East. Manufacturing was up, once again, primarily driven by petro-chem exports along with oil and gas related equipment that was on a take or pay contract prior to the downturn in commodity prices. The claim that the Green Line funding was solely the ndp and liberal’s doing is laughable, even the cbc reported it- The federal government will contribute $1.53 billion towards the cost of Calgary’s planned Green Line public transit project. Calgary Southeast MP Jason Kenney, who made the announcement Friday morning in Mount Pleasant, called it the biggest single federal investment ever made in Calgary. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/green-line-transitway-in-calgary-gets-1-53b-pledge-from-ottawa-1.3166511

    • Trnt: you and another reader made the point about the Green Line funding. I’ve corrected the post, but as I said the promise of federal funding just prior to an election and the actual delivery of federal funding and provincial funding from carbon tax revenue are two different things. With respect to the recovery, the NDP are not claiming credit for the market factors you’ve outlined, they’ve said from the outset that they want to provide a safety net for those who are impacted by downturns in the economy and ensure that basic services like education, healthcare and infrastructure are not damaged by drastic austerity measures which will make things worse. Just as the UCP can criticize the NDP when GDP is down, so too can the NDP pat itself on the back when GDP goes up.

  7. jerrymacgp says:

    I’d like to pick up on another point from your post: what’s with David Khan calling the NDP “extreme left”? What has he been smoking? Has the Notley government nationalized the electricity utilities of the province, or the natural gas retail & distribution system? Have they abolished private practice physicians and made them all employees of the government or of AHS? Have they expropriated the Athabasca oil sands? Have they unionized all workplaces that are currently unorganized? Have they abolished the Roman Catholic Separate school system, or made college & university tuitions free?

    There are a lot of things a truly radical, leftist government might do. The Notley NDP have done precisely … none of them.

    Mr Khan doesn’t help his cause by using this sort of hyperbolic rhetoric. That’s Jason Kenney’s racket.

    • Keith McClary says:

      Have they even stopped subsidising private religious schools?

    • Edison says:

      When the crazy dog barks, the chihooahooa’s join in. None of them know what it is they are barking at, but bark they must.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Hi Jerry you are so right but again this is Alberta politics. Anything Rachel Notley does is extreme left. What a bunch of garbage. Then the UCP complains the NDP is running a dishonest campaign against them.
      Yes the Liberal party (Khan) is just using the same tactics as the UCP
      Rachel Notley is in fact a moderate Liberal but in the Trump era, she is extreme left – My dear Lord. Where is democracy going to be at the end of all this craziness?

      • Yes, there were a few things David Khan said that didn’t sit will with me, or even with the UCP lady sitting next to me who said Khan went over the top a couple of times. It’s getting tougher for the Liberals to carve out their identity now that Notley is occupying the centre. Also, thoughtful progressives look at what a party says and does, not what banner it’s flying under. That’s why the UCP’s assertion that the NDP are dog eating socialists (while offensive) doesn’t faze them.

  8. Ken Robinson says:

    Kenney will likely, unfortunately, win the seat. His rhetoric will not hold up in the Legislature & will only help to focus the YouSeePee’s deficient ability to govern.

    • I agree Ken. Many of the people at the debate weren’t actually in the riding, they came to check out Jason Kenney. Some liked his rhetoric, others (like me) were even more determined to do what they could to make sure he doesn’t become the next premier of Alberta.

  9. Elaine Fleming says:

    Susan, I think you know our citizens group in Edmonton, the Whitemud Citizens for Public Health, has been active in our constituency for over 8 years now, meeting (often in our kitchens) with our MLA’s, MP’s, party leaders, health ministers, and even Premiers. We have held community forums on health care concerns, our first one in 2010 where we invited our MLA (Dave Hancock). Our last forum was for all candidates prior to the 2014 by-election that elected Stephen Mandel as MLA as well as Jim Prentice in Calgary. Now Dr. Bob Turner, NDP, is Whitemud’s MLA and of course Rachel Notley our Premier.

    As hosts and moderators of our forums, we the constituents, express our concerns to these politicians and then they have their say. We have an open microphone, and other citizens are able to ask questions, too. Given the subject of health care, sometimes people get emotional, and on the odd occasion we have to scoot someone away from the mike if they digress too much.

    The purpose of the forums is to have civil discourse- for constituents to hear what their candidates have to say, see how they say it, and of course, take polite turns at speaking. Even three year olds get this. If Jason Kenney and his gang had conducted themselves like this at one of our forums, they would have been asked to leave. This is such an insult to the electorate, and so disrespectful of our democracy.

    One of our founding members penned a “mission statement” for our group that speaks to the community of voters. It is still relevant today.

    “We are ordinary people. We live on the same block or just down the street from most of you, or in your neighbourhood. We are just like you, members of a community of active citizens …..
    We do not represent any other association, organization, or political party. We are non-partisan.
    As Canadians, we value our individual and collective roles in a democratic society. …. We believe in a well informed and engaged citizenry …”

    I know there are a lot of other people like us in the community, and am guessing by the behaviour of Jason Kenney and the UCP that we are the kind of voters they heap scorn upon. However, I still think most Albertans have been “raised right” and all the lies, bluster and disrespect may backfire on them. We, the voters, have been taken for granted before and have shown politicians that we still have the upper hand. A message to the UCP- as the seasonal song says, “You better watch out …!”

    • Excellent points Elaine. This debate was sponsored by the Calgary Leadership Forum partnering with YYCCares (a group concerned with protecting the Weaselhead). The emcee for the debate had total control of the event, starting with a 3 minute introduction, three yes/no questions specifically about the Weaselhead, 5 questions which all candidates had to answer and a 3 minute closing statement. There was no open mike so individual questions to a specific candidate were not possible. I’ve been to debates in this format before, but never have I experienced one where a candidate’s supporters were so disruptive. The emcee should have taken a firmer hand with them, failing which Kenney could have jokingly asked them to pipe down. He had a tremendous advantage in this forum, he’s been in politics since 1997, the next most experienced candidate was David Khan who got into politics in 2014; all the others were newbies. But no, instead of showing leadership Kenney let the hecklers go after the NDP candidate Dr Phil. Tells you something about Kenney and the UCP, doesn’t it.

  10. Jared M says:

    Overall good article Susan except one thing, the Federal Green Line funding was announced, while Kenney was still MP with the CPC, on July 2015, not 2017.

    http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/tories-announce-1-5b-for-green-line-lrt-project

  11. Jared, you and another reader made this point which is valid. I’ll fix the language in the post. Having said that, the “promise of funding announced just weeks before a federal election” as the article said) and the delivery of funding are two different things, as we well know from the PC’s repeated promise to build the Calgary Cancer Centre. Also I still don’t understand why Kenney thinks the fact he promised to provide federal funding somehow diminishes the fact that Notley actually delivered provincial funding from carbon tax revenue.

  12. Carlos Beca says:

    For those of you in Edmonton that are tired of Lorne Gunter (Edmonton Sun) misinformation visit
    http://www.progressalberta.ca/postmedia_needs_some_integrity#newmode-embed-668-2249
    Add your name
    We can at least try to make some difference

    Thank you

    • Carlos, to add to your point about the need for greater integrity and less bias in the media, a few days ago Jason Kenney tweeted a photo of him campaigning in Calgary Lougheed with a bunch of volunteers including Calgary Sun columnist, Rick Bell. The fact Bell is a Kenney supporter will come as no surprise to anyone who reads Bell’s column.

      • carlosbeca says:

        Yes you are right about Rick Bell but I find Lorne Gunter way worse because he just lies. He hates the renewable energy sector and over and over he talks about the failure of the Green energy in Germany. What failure? Germany is doing very well thank you. All countries suffered some setbacks but Germany in particular has done extremely well but Lorne just lies about it.
        Other than to get money under the table why would anyone hate the Green energy sector? It is bizarre to me and this campaign is appropriate. People should not have the power to misinform just because they can. As far as I am concerned it is criminal to do so.

  13. David Khan says:

    My take, as a candidate who took part in the “Debate” or “Forum”:

    There wasn’t much space or opportunity for reasoned, nuanced debate or comment at this “Leadership Forum.” The first word that comes to mind for me, as for others, is “Circus”. It was poorly organized and run, and the organizers really disappointed, considering they are ostensibly “experts” with long experience in organizing these types of fora.

    My comments regarding the “extreme left” and “extreme right” were in relation to the NDP and UCP/Kenney partisans, who were in full force in the room on Sunday. Both sides employ and/or attract these types. This type of extreme partisanship doesn’t serve us or Alberta well, and I strongly feel it’s fair for me to point this out.

    To clarify, I’m working to provide a reasoned, rationale, evidenced-based, forward- and long-term thinking third choice for Albertans, as they deserve. Many Albertans, especially Calgarians, rightly or wrongly, are deeply disappointed in the NDP, and only voted for them because they coalesced around the party in 2015 that had the best chance of kicking the PCs out and ending their 43-year stranglehold on power, and lacked an alternative in 2015: us Alberta Liberals. The NDP’s support, IMHO, was largely strategic and not solid or substantive. I believe it’s incumbent on us Alberta Liberals to work to provide that substantive alternative, so Albertans, and especially Calgarians, aren’t forced to vote UCP and make a “Sophie’s Choice” between their perceived economic or fiscal interests and the social progress we’ve all fought hard to achieve. A two-party political state benefits no one in the long run, and can result in dangerous outcomes (Exhibit “A”: the United States).

    In these circumstances, and even given the economic and political circumstances, the NDP are doing, I would say, “OK” in some areas, and are certainly attempting to “occupy the centre”. However, in my view, they are still too partisan or ideological, they don’t work well with others, they don’t consult enough, they are out of touch with Calgary, they IMHO have clearly no plan to deal with the deficit and the debt in the middle- and long-term, etc. Examples of this, just to name a few, are Bill 6 (the farmworkers’ bill – a Liberal and a just policy that was rolled out incompetently by the NDP IMHO and created a huge backlash in rural Alberta, stoked by the WR/UCP partisans, but that could have largely been avoided if it was more carefully drafted, implemented, communicated, etc.); and Bill 212/Bill 32, our #PAC regulation bill (see here, the NDP’s insistence that, rather than support our carefully-crafted bill, they would rush to add to their omnibus election Bill 32, and cravenly leave out regulating corporate and union donations, and other critical parts of our bill, thus missing the forest from the trees, and blame the legal landscape in Canada (i.e., “corporations and unions have free speech and other Charter rights too, so we can’t regulate them or their money”) (which, as a constitutional lawyer, I know is unfounded excuse, based on an incorrect importing of the Citizens United United States Supreme Court case wherein, very dangerously for US democracy, corporations were ruled to have unlimited free speech rights like natural persons). Another example I might add here is our Alberta Liberal 2014/15 Bill 202 on GSAs, which, through our hard work, overcame the cyclical politics of the PCs and morphed into Bill 10, but then I would say it and the other legislation requiring LGTBTQ-inlusive school policies was not properly enforced by the NDP’s Education Minister Eggen, contributing to the politicizing of the debate this year (along, of course, with Jason Kenney’s spring comments/dangerous, irresponsible musings on parental notification), culminating in all the politicization and requirement for Bill 24.

    Another grave example of the NDP’s dismaying incompetence, which I think can be linked to their ideology and lack of careful, reasoned approach/partisanship/etc., is the cascading negative effects on our electricity market and the NDP not understanding the effects of their climate leadership legislation on the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and the effect of a clause contained therein (which is a common term contained in most of these types of agreements) which allows the power purchasers to turn in their contracts if there is a material change in government legislation or policy. Not only did the NDP miss this component in publicly-available documents (and how it would be affected by the carbon price on the large coal-fired power producer emitters, who would pass the increased costs on to the power purchasers, thus triggering the clauses, all in a predictable contractual and economic manner), but after they realized their mistake(s), they proceeded to mislead the public and say the clauses were “buried or hidden” or blame them on a malevolent Enron employee from years ago, and they then launched really-unfounded litigation on the very power utilities and producers they wish to be partners in producing billions of dollars worth of (much needed) greener energy projects in Alberta, represented by a BC Lawyer I know (very well-respected, but, I suspect, retained because no lawyer in Alberta would take the file on). All of this has cost Albertans hundreds of millions of dollars in losses, due to the legal fees expended, but, more importantly, as I understand it, because the “Balancing Pool” entity was handcuffed by the government from doing its job and and mitigating the losses created by the turning in of the PPAs by the purchasers.

    Susan, you are a smart lawyer and blogger, but I sometimes find your commentary and views to be a bit partisan and NDP-leaning, sometimes without a fair or rationale foundation.

    In any case, I value everyone’s comments and views, and I understand your concern with employing extremist rhetoric (which I don’t want to do). I hope this goes some way to clarifying my comments and views.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      David now I understand why you are running. Politicians are so used to the same old that do not even realize it.
      So the NDP attracts the extreme left and the UCP the extreme right and the Liberal party attracts the geniuses and the morally superior citizens. With all due respect you have to start reading a bit about democracy
      I am a left leaning person and I do not have to have a fair or rationale foundation to justify my choice. What would that rationale foundation be like anyway? Like the neo-liberal one that has brought the world to an economic standstill, an horrendous inequality and a political system controlled by corporate interests?
      Instead of criticizing the extreme left and the extreme right just tell us what is it that you would do for a better politics if you were elected. That is the part that seems to be missing from these forums which I agree are just good old circuses. They would change considerably if each one of you would forget criticizing the others and would tell what you actually believe in. Allow us to discuss the real issues instead of creating more circuses.
      We are way more tired of them then you think.
      You presented a couple of cases to do with energy and the gay-straight alliances and all you said was that due to the ‘dismaying incompetence’ of the NDP we are loosing millions of dollars. Well let me remind you that in the last 3 decades we have been losing billions of dollars because the Legislatures and the House of Commons are not there to protect the citizens anymore, and your party has been very instrumental in making sure that corporate power dominates the political system in Alberta and in Canada. The issue is not the extreme left and the extreme right and of course the great Liberal party. The real issue is that people of the political class do not remember who they are working for anymore. The parties are all the same and irrelevant in the present context hence all the circuses. You really have nothing to discuss when the real objective is to support the very rich and corporate power..

    • David, thanks for taking the time to provide your perspective. We’ve known each other for a while and there is much you say that I agree with, starting with the gong show that billed itself as a “debate” or “forum”.

      However, I’m not sure the audience took your comment about the extreme left (NDP) or extreme right (UCP) to be directed against their extreme supporters as opposed to their leadership, given that you made the comment in the context of a “vote for me, not them” statement. Also while I’m relatively sure it was UCP supporters who heckled Dr Phil, but it wasn’t clear to me who shouted “shame, shame” at Wayne Leslie when he said he didn’t believe climate change was real–was it NDP supporters, Green supporters, others? I do agree however that a two-party state is a dangerous thing which leads to even more polarization which isn’t good.

      I was very pleased to see the Liberals push hard on the bill to restrict PAC funding, but my understanding is the NDP brought forward its own legislation which as you say isn’t as extensive as the Liberal bill because it is trying to accommodate the Canadian Supreme Court decision in a Quebec case not the US Supreme Court decision in Citizens United (which I agree is not relevant). I will look into this further.

      I don’t agree with your characterization of the power purchase arrangements and the Enron clause and have written about it elsewhere on this blog and for the Edmonton Journal.

      In any event I appreciate your feedback and thank you and all the candidates who are running against Jason Kenney in this by-election. Running for public office is never easy, running against someone like Jason Kenney who has the money and resources to swamp the riding makes it all the more difficult.

      David: I re-read my comment to you and realized I’d missed something. At the forum you said something that really caught my attention but you didn’t get a chance to elaborate on it. You said you’d push for “comprehensive tax reform”. In the blog I asked whether this was code for a sales tax. Is it? Every other province in Canada has a sales tax. Economists like it because it’s sustainable. The NDP have expressed the concern that it’s not a progressive tax but this could be addressed by providing a sales tax rebate to those under a certain income level. The UCP wouldn’t dream of implementing it because they think our taxes are too high already. I’d be interested in your views on the topic.

  14. Mike Terrigno says:

    If there’s one criticism of Jason Kenney it’s that he only wants to balance the budget over a three-year period. It should and must be done immediately in one year. Running a deficit is morally wrong and anything short of that sells our children short, indebting them like in other provinces. It’s time to drastically cut spending by at least 30%, and now. If the unions don’t like it, too bad. They’re not in it for the province, the greedy bosses and their lazy workers are in it for their fat paycheques which we are mortgaging our future for – for shame.

    • Brent McFadyen says:

      Spending cuts will mean job cuts, job cuts mean more job cuts, program cuts, school closures, hospital cuts , health care cuts, more unemployment, less tax revenue, even more more cuts necessary. Soon we will have another “Great Depression” on our hands.
      Well thought out programs are what are needed not draconian measures. Every ” conservative” party in the US and Canada hold up the balanced budget as the holy grail. They all seem to increase the debt even more.
      By the way the only time I made good money a union was behind me. You must be a small business owner Mike.

      • Brian says:

        So what if he is a small business owner? I feel sorry for them and the crushing burdens of higher taxes, minimum wage increases, and regulatory changes. We should be supporting small business, not running them down like small minded union hacks like you Brent.

        Pretty soon well be paying more on interest every year than the cost of the south health campus. Debt jeopardizes our services.

    • Bob Raynard says:

      Or alternately we could increase our level of taxation. My understanding is that Alberta’s per capita spending is very similar to Saskatchewan’s, and if we increased our taxes to the same level used there our deficit would be about 1 billion dollars.

      We are in our present situation because oil revenue allowed Albertans to expect a certain level of of services for a tax level way below the rest of the country for many years, and now that source of revenue has dried up. Simply put, we have a revenue problem. A Kenney ‘solution’ will do nothing but replace a financial deficit with an infrastructure deficit, much like Ralph Klein did.

      For the sake of our children’s future will you support a tax increase?

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Here is someone saying what really is happening. Jason Kenney’s solution is not appropriate for a civilized society and so, like you suggest, it will become a general structural deficit. Of course the UCP does not understand this and does not even try. They are stuck in the middle ages and want to get us all to their mindset which of course is as outdated as their views on everything else.
        In order to maintain our public services we need to create a sales tax that will cover the deficit caused by years of lowering taxes and royalties to everyone except the citizens.
        Bob is right in my view.

      • I agree with Bob and Carlos. The NDP inherited a $6 billion deficit on top of overcrowded schools, overcrowded hospitals and crumbling infrastructure. They’re spending what they have to to get Alberta back to baseline. Kenney trotted out the conservative mantra: low taxes and small government (eg fewer doctors, nurses, teachers, EMS workers, etc) and promised a 20% cut in spending. Apparently this isn’t going over as well as he expected and now he’s denying he ever said it and promising modest cuts of zero to 2% to balance the budget by 2022. It’s important to note the NDP froze government wages and is signalling to the unions to rein in their expectations because they’re about to enter a time of “compassionate belt-tightening”.

  15. Bob Raynard says:

    Susan, I read about Sandra Jansen’s treatment over on Rebel Media as well (just the free side, I have no intention of enriching Ezra Levant) Apparently Sandra Jansen was taking video of the hecklers. Sheila Gunn-Read, the woman who sounded so delighted when she succeeded in baiting a protester to ‘assault’ her a year or two ago, then went into full Rebel mode accusing the NDP of being Nazis and intimidating legitimate democratic participation.

    That’s the Rebel take. Personally, I think it would be really interesting for the world to actually see the antics of Kenney’s supporters. Intelligent, mature UCP supporters might find it sobering to see what kind of party they are getting involved with. Given Ms. Jansen’s personal experience with Kenney’s goons, I can see why she would love to have the footage. This whole thing begs the question of why did the supporters not want the video taken?

    • “Full Rebel mode”. Bob, that’s a perfect description for these insane accusations. Sadly they seem to be working with some of their supporters. The UCP’s visceral reaction to the GSA legislation isn’t abating. Some people are posting “facts” online saying the NDP will use the GSA legislation to sneak homosexuality into the academic curriculum by nefarious means including doing things like teaching kids how to apply “transvestite” make up (???). The poor dears have lost their minds.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Lost their minds? They never had one to begin with and that is why they follow these jokes without question.
        Just watch this interview

        http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2017/12/07/janet-porter-roy-moore-spokeswoman-anderson-cooper-full-interview-ac.cnn

        If this lady is not pretending she absolutely has no mind of her own

      • Carlos, that was quite an interview! I googled Janet Porter, apparently she’s an anti-abortion extremist and an anti-LGBTQ+ rights campaigner who founded Faith2Action, an organization considered an “active anti-LGBT hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. How can a self-professed evangelical Christian who professes undying love for the Constitution be so vile?

      • Carlos Beca` says:

        Yes Susan how can a Christian person be so vile? That is a question I have asked myself many times. These are the same people who constantly call out Muslim extremism and violence. They have nothing but violence and anger in their own minds.
        It seems we are locked in this situation of good versus evil without understanding what is what. People like this lady shock me because I cannot understand that a person just cannot reason whatsoever.
        Unfortunately we are not short of this kind of people in Alberta and Jason Kenney’s win is the clear proof. As you very well know, this did not surprise me at all but as always it makes me sad and frustrated. This man can commit a crime and they will still vote for him just because he plays de exact bully buttons of a certain part of the population which happens to be quite large. Furthermore the archaic voting system we have does not allow any proportionality that would make things easier for the rest of us who are more progressive and need representation. I blame that on Rachel Notley. An extremely bad political strategy. One should never miss an opportunity to push for a more democratic robust system.

  16. Dwayne says:

    Susan: I can put it this way. I trust Jason Kenney as far as I can throw him.

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