The UCP will close 2017 with yet another bozo eruption.
Bozo eruptions were mildly entertaining in the past, but they’re occurring with increasing regularity and have taken on a distinctly anti-democratic tone.
Here are two recent examples.
Last week the UCP attacked two well respected Alberta economists for daring to correct misstatements made by their leader Jason Kenney.
They said Trevor Tombe, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Calgary, blew off the impact of the 50% increase in the carbon tax because he has a six-figure income (isn’t prosperity the UCP’s goal for all Albertans?) and enjoys guaranteed employment at a university (does he and if so why is it relevant?)
They accused Andrew Leach, Associate Professor, University of Alberta, of being pro NDP when he said Kenney was wrong in saying Alberta had suffered two years of out-migration. Kenney clarified his comment by saying he didn’t include international migration in his numbers, he’d meant to say more “Canadians” left Alberta than moved in (why this distinction should matter to anyone but “old stock Canadians” is a mystery).
Not content to leave it alone, UCP MLA Richard Gotfried waded in demanding Leach prove he wasn’t an NDP shill by providing all his sources of income including his private tax information. Leach directed Gotfried to his conflict of interest disclosure site which showed Leach had chaired the NDP’s Climate Leadership Panel and provided consulting services to the energy industry, held shares in some energy companies, and the Centre for Applied Business Research and Environment of which he is the director received financial support from a number of heavy hitters in the energy industry, namely Enbridge, Suncor, Capital Power, Altalink, ATCO and EPCOR.
Gotfried dismissed Leach’s responses as “Econo-speak” and said he’d check with his “research/FOIP Team” to determine…what exactly, whether Leach had lied on his conflict of interest disclosure by failing to a secret source of income from the NDP?
Ad hominin attacks on academics and others because they contradict Jason Kenney’s statements with facts have become commonplace in Alberta politics, however raising the spectre of a FOIP search to demonstrate a non-partisan academic is biased is an abuse of process and a new low even for the UCP.
Sadly, this isn’t an isolated incident. UCP MLAs have attacked the foundations of democracy in the Legislature as well.
One person, one vote?
The UCP were incensed by Bill 33, the Electoral Divisions Act, which reduced the rural ridings by 3 and increased the urban ridings by the same number to reflect the decline in rural populations and the increase in urban populations.
A couple of NDP MLAs did not support these changes either, arguing that reducing the number of rural ridings would make it more difficult for rural MLAs to meet with their constituents.
While some UCP MLAs made the same argument, three–Mr. Cyr, Mr Hansen and Mr Gotfried–went off the deep end with an argument that was profoundly undemocratic.
Scott Cyr started the ball rolling by misconstruing the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling on the meaning of “effective representation” to mean that “one person to one vote is just not possible”.
Dave Hanson picked up the thread arguing the redrawn boundaries failed to give rural Alberta the respect it deserves as being the economic driver of Alberta.
Richard Gotfried brought the argument home by arguing rural Albertans create Alberta’s wealth, those who work “in the glass towers of Calgary” merely manage it, hence rural Alberta deserves disproportionately higher representation.*
In other words, the wealth creators, whoever they may be, deserve the right to exercise greater political influence than the rest of us.
Not to belabour the point, but has the UCP lost its collective mind?
Given Mr Kenney’s promise to crack down on bozo eruptions it is deeply troubling he did nothing to rein in the UCP’s ad hominem attacks on Mr Tombe and Mr Leach and his MLA’s attacks on the fundamental democratic principle of one person, one vote.
But Mr Kenney is on a mission, he doesn’t have time for such petty issues.
When asked about the merger of the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party, Kenney said, “I just realized that you cannot have a viable national conservative movement if Alberta becomes a socialist democratic province….we need Alberta back as the beating heart of free enterprise and the conservative movement in Canada.”
Think about that for a moment.
A viable national conservative movement? We have a viable national conservative movement. It’s called the Conservative Party of Canada and it’s presently sitting in the Opposition benches in Ottawa. In a democracy no one rules forever.
We need Alberta to be the beating heart of free enterprise and the conservative movement? Why? What’s wrong with Saskatchewan?
The Saskatchewan Party was created in 1997. It formed government in 2007 and implemented the largest debt reduction, single year income tax reductions and property tax reductions in Saskatchewan’s history. It was re-elected with successively larger majorities in 2011 and 2016, winning 51 out of 61 seats in 2016. Provincial conservatism is alive and well, it just happens to be living next door.
If Mr Kenney thinks the Conservative Party of Canada doesn’t represent a viable national conservative movement and the Saskatchewan Party doesn’t represent a viable provincial conservative movement, one shudders to think what he has in store for Alberta if he’s elected in 2019.
*Alberta Hansard, Dec 13, 2017 pp 2565, 2566, 2572