Thoughts on Politics at Easter

Easter is not usually the time to reflect upon grumpy whiners; but given Jason Kenney’s mission to rebuild the conservative movement in Alberta this might be a good time to consider where the conservative Roman Catholic leader of the Opposition would take Alberta if given half a chance.

The Conservative Movement

In the absence of concrete policies, it is reasonable to expect Mr Kenney’s vision of Alberta’s future to mirror that of other conservative politicians from other places at other times.

Presumably, we can anticipate a tiny government responsible for little more than protecting the individual and his property rights (aka freedom), encouraging business (aka job creators) by eliminating “red tape” and repealing many laws that protect health, safety, unions and the environment;  it will reduce corporate and personal taxes which will create prosperity (we’ll be richer than in the Klein years!) and the rich will care for the poor through charity because they’re not forced to do so through taxation.


We’ll be rich, an Easter egg for everyone. 

Oddly, Mr Kenney prefers to deliver this message of nirvana with anger, not compassion.


Because anger is necessary to overcome compassion and ignore the suffering created by these policies.

Also it helps the conservatives bulldoze through the inconsistencies of their arguments under the principle that he who yells loudest wins.

For example:

  • Mr Kenney’s promise to balance the budget is better than Ms Notley promise to balance the budget because Mr Kenney will achieve balance one year earlier. So what?
  • The provincial deficit will be eliminated by cutting services, not by raising revenue through additional taxes (sales tax, eek!!) because any additional taxes will erode the Alberta Advantage. Alberta has an $11.2 billion/year tax advantage over the other provinces, how much lower must taxes get to improve Alberta’s competitiveness?
  • Notwithstanding economists’ arguments to the contrary, the carbon tax is a sales tax in disguise and will be eliminated. It played no role in getting Trans Mountain approved and economists know nothing?
  • Climate change should be viewed with suspicion, the science is inconclusive and it’s a ruse to give the government greater control of the economy. Cue conspiracy theorists.
  • The government will not address social issues. They fall outside the prime directive which is to make everybody rich.  However, the province is free to defund abortions and attack sex education, gay-straight alliances, same-sex marriages, state-funded day care, the use of the non-gender specific pronouns and safe injection sites because they undermine the traditional family and are a form of social engineering.  Cue conspiracy theorists, again.

The impact of conservative thinking

Mr Kenney traps Albertans in misery by refusing to acknowledge the government’s obligation to seek solutions to social problems.  He won’t explore ways to increase revenue and betrays those desperately in need of the government’s support.

Then to finish the job, Mr Kenney amps Albertans’ frustration and anxiety by telling them they’re being persecuted and victimized by provincial governments that oppose pipelines and a federal government that collects and redistributes their tax dollars under an equalization formula that he himself put into place.

He’s turning conservative Albertans into whiners who’d rather sulk and complain than figure out how to move Alberta forward.

This form of conservative thinking is about as far as you can get from the spirit of Easter and the Christian message of redemption and hope.

Seventy-five years ago, the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, said, “Socialism is the economic realization of the Christian gospel.”

One wonders how Mr Kenney would respond.


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31 Responses to Thoughts on Politics at Easter

  1. Ed Henderson says:

    Ms Susan…You are pickin on the poor baby. All politicians go to bed each night and dream the same thing…They are in the desert walking ahead of everyone else leading them to the wonderland where everything and everybody is happy and love their leader. The leader casts out favors here and there but everybody knows their turn is coming.
    All Political leaders are the same and have the same dream.
    Voters also have a dream..their leader only speaks the truth and only does things to better the voters. The leader they vote for loves them and will look after them. The leaders they do not vote for are scalliwags. Voters know they do not have to worry about what is really happening because the leader, like Kenny or Notley, will guide them true.

  2. Terry Korman says:

    Government – attempting to do collectively what we cannot do on our own. Did these guys learn NOTHING back in High School when we all chipped in on a Friday night to buy a case of beer for the weekend? Of course, maybe in their world, those who contributed nothing, got nothing; or maybe, they just never had any friends. Good grief … Happy Easter, Ms. Soapbox!

    • Good point Terry, there’s a sense of virtue versus laziness that underlies any discussion of conservative values. Betsy DeVos touched on it when she admitted the conservative rich were “buying influence” in order “to foster a conservative governing philosophy consisting of limited government and respect for traditional American virtues.” God only knows what these “virtues” are but given DeVos’s utter lack of interest in the role of public education in democracy, ensuring that all Americans get a good education doesn’t appear to be one of them.

  3. Bill Malcolm says:

    Now this is what I call a decent well-reasoned post.

    That old Archbishop of Canterbury had his brain in gear. Don’t suppose his clergy and flock agreed. Having grown up till the age of eleven in England I saw the normality of backward-thinking. My Grannie and Grandpa were full time church goers and members of the UK Conservative Party.

    The conservative religionist of today merely intones “The Lord helps those who help themselves”. So if you’re homeless or living as a single mum with child on welfare, you’re obviously not helping youself, so to hell with you. That’s Big Jay at heart – he’d rather give the wealthy a break by funding private schools to bring up replicas of little entitled horrors from families who already live privileged lives. A dolt for all seasons is our Mr Kinney.

    • Thanks Bill. The Globe and Mail ran an article by Michael Coren over the weekend. Coren is a controversial fellow in his own right, but I think he nailed it when he said Doug Ford, Andrew Scheer and Jason Kenney are courting the religious right. He says while Scheer and Kenney “claim to respect the separation of church and state, each is viscerally uncomfortable with much of the social progress that Canadians now take for granted.” Ford of course is a law unto himself and like Trump will say whatever it takes to get elected whether he believes it or not. This willingness on the part of all three to create deep divisions within our society in the name of Christianity is the epitome of hypocrisy.

  4. Douglas Taylor says:

    Great perspective Susan as always.
    I like the phrasing of ” trapping Albertans in misery…” and “…amping (sic) Albertans’ frustration…”. Apply that to Mr. Kenney’s bully pulpit of a vehement vow to immediately eliminate the standards of conduct of employers towards farm business staff that was brought in 2015, where farm workers would be included into the multi-decade old standards for 90% of the work force with respect to employment fairness and health and safety nets. His rural mass sycophants, the ones who enjoy billions of enduring business public welfare subsidies, are blinded by Oscar Leroy style conservative passions energized by Mr. Kenney. All the while, demanding government action to find them workers, in view of the shortage of recruits who won’t flock to their farms. By the way, you realize this return to yesteryear of no WCB, means that the townies will go back to paying for the Alberta Health Care medical expenses arising from a dangerous ( top 5) no OH&S applies, workplace. Instead of the WCB incentivized system, again umbrella’d by 90% of the workforce.
    Yes Mr. Kenney’s ” … turning conservative Albertans into whiners who’s rather sulk and complain… “. Some Roman Catholic leader. Some Christian.

    • Douglas I didn’t think through the financial consequences of stripping farm workers of the right to WCB coverage which then increases the burden on all Albertans because AHC costs go up. This is an excellent point, and yet the UCP and rural folk never raise it. There’s a peculiar “have your cake and eat it too” mindset underlying many rural issues. For example, Kenney and the UCP attacked the government for under-funding rural policing, but they voted against an increase in the Justice Dept budget which would have helped alleviate the problem. This on the heels of Kenney saying the problem was so serious he “might” consider additional taxes. This has echos of what drives hard line conservative/libertarians like the Koch brothers. Charles Koch says no one has the right to tell him what to do and he’s spending millions of dollars buying politicians to make sure it stays that way.

  5. Keith McClary says:

    I guess we can assume that subsidies to religious schools are safe, even if they’re not Catholic.
    Someone should ask him if funding for upgrading the highway to Fort McMurray is safe.
    Is the Resurrected (happy Easter!!!) Conservative Party absolved of the sins and follies of the PCs?

    • The Resurrected Conservative party…that was clever Keith 🙂
      I suspect anything to do with subsidies to religious schools is just fine with Mr Kenney who appears to support the moral code of conservative Christians which Michael Coren defines as the traditional family, the sanctity of the unborn, the sinful nature of homosexuality, the immorality of assisted dying, the reality of spiritual warfare and the decline of Christian order and virtue. Blah blah blah.
      PS the highway to Fort Mac is safe because it carries people to jobs, jobs create economic prosperity and economic prosperity is the prime directive (even if the jobs are gone).

  6. midgelambert says:

    Jason Kenney said it all:
    “We understand that in order to be a compassionate, caring province, we must be prosperous first,”

  7. J.E. Molnar says:

    Jason Kenney’s brand of dog whistle, red meat, wedge politics has fit in nicely within the confines of the overall UCP operating agenda — first promulgated by Brian Jean and the former Wildrose Party. Kenney’s crusade of fear and smear are now as common as dandelions in summer.

    There’s no question, Albertans are being gaslighted by Jason Kenney. His techniques include claiming outrageous statements were jokes or misunderstandings; saying and doing things and then denying it; blaming others for misunderstanding his intent; disparaging people’s concerns as over-sensitivity; and other forms of twilighting the truth.

    As for official policies, Ms. Soapbox is spot on again — Kenney and the UCP have none and likely won’t for a very, very long time. Kenney knows only too well that it’s easy to offer up sanctimonious bluster than formulate and defend policies you have to take ownership for.

  8. J.E. excellent point re: gaslighting. An interesting example is Kenney’s position on cutting the budget. He told the audience at the debate in the Calgary-Lougheed byelection he’s only going to cut 1 to 2%, however his supporters swear he’s going to cut 20% and, get this, they want him to go even deeper. What’s interesting about this isn’t just the confusion about what he said he’d cut but the fact his supporters are begging him to cut even more with no thought given to the devastating impact a 20+% cut will have on healthcare, education, seniors care, etc. Psychology Today ran an article on gaslighting in which it said it’s a common technique used by abusers, dictators, narcissists and cult leaders to gain power. If the shoe fits….
    Here’s the link:

  9. Harce says:

    “Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.” – Winston Churchill

    • GoinFawr says:

      “National Socialism”

      that is, as translated from 20th century German. So NOT, for eg, currently existing “Norwegian socialism”, or even the CCF Socialism during the same timeframe and since.

      Chuckle, you’re painting with such wide brush Harce, why even bother?

      Anyway, just because fascists are inherently ruthless enough to employ the most appealing socialist (or capitalist, for that matter) rhetoric to meet their ends doesn’t make them socialist.

      Here’s another chestnut:

      Margaret Thatcher ” Socialism works fine until you run out of other people’s money”

      Which begs the question: So just who are Norwegians stealing their oil wealth from then?

      • Harce says:

        I commend you for acknowledging the truth of the great Margaret Thatcher’s truthful views on the failings of socialism.

  10. GoinFawr says:

    “I am Christian, therefore I am a Communist.” – Gianni Vatimmo
    “I am a Christian. That obliges me to be a Communist.” – George Bernard Shaw
    “Anarchist Morality” – Petr Kropotkin

  11. David says:

    Well Alberta has been a bit grumpy over the last few years, with the recession and the ongoing pipeline problems, so I can see that Kenney might appeal to some.

    Confident forward looking places, tend to choose confident forward looking leaders, not angry, backward looking ones. When the economy was doing well in the early 70’s Alberta chose Lougheed and the PC’s, in the midst of the Great Depression the Province chose Aberhart and Social Credit. I think Kenney has more in common with the later than the former.

    Ironically, the grumpiest people are often not the ones at the bottom struggling, but aspirational millionaires who have had to take a pay cut to say only $500,000/year. Fortunately for Kenney, they at least still seem to be able to make political donations to those promising tax cuts to those making over $125,000/year.

    I do think as the economy continues to recover, the doom and gloom message will become a bit tiresome. Also, I think generally, except during the worst of times, Alberta has been more a place for forward looking optimists rather than backward looking grumps.

    • David, your comment about the grumpiest people often being the “aspirational millionaires” is bang on. Jane Mayer’s book goes into detail about the American uber-rich, how they got their money (usually inherited from their fathers who made their money in the era of little governmental oversight) and how they’ve filtered millions and millions of dollars into think tanks and nonprofits to promote the conservative message, which can be boiled down into it’s all my money, get lost. As Warren Buffet said “There’s class warfare all right. But it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” He didn’t mean it in a laudatory way.

  12. GoinFawr says:

    I commend you for acknowledging the truth of the great Margaret Thatcher’s truthful views on the failings of socialism.

    Thanks Harce, but if they’re really so truthful then you should have on hand an excellent answer to the question they beg, so I can’t help but notice that I’m still waiting….

  13. carlosbeca says:

    It is interesting to me that the countries with the best quality of live indexes meaning better health care, better social programs, least amount of corruption, small deficits if any and even better democratic standards are all part of the group we call the Nordic countries. They are all Social Democracies. Still we get this barrage of posts suggesting they are all evil bankrupt systems.
    I would like to understand what it takes for us to be able to talk with facts instead of this pandemic of false and fake suggestions that border possible mental disturbances.
    We cannot discuss real issues because people do not even take the time to think seriously about them. Facts are facts , they are not some kind of thought that people can just manipulate for their own benefit.
    We have to start making sure than when something just obviously fake is said here, is corrected and questioned before we even discuss it.

  14. carlosbeca says:

    I meant ‘quality of Life indexes ‘

  15. david says:

    Re-read this with admiration Susan – very thoughtful analysis of the confused values, blindness and lack of compassion of the Kenney brand of Conservatism.

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