Handmaids For Kenney Attend The UCP Policy Convention

This would be funny in the ironic ha-ha sense if it wasn’t so damned serious.

While the rest of us were watching UCP members debate policy resolutions in a conference hall in Red Deer, Handmaids for Kenney stood silently outside the convention hall and quickly discovered just how unprincipled and ideologically flabby Jason Kenney and the UCP really are.

Handmaids for Kenney

Handmaids for Kenney are political activists who take their name from Margaret Atwood’s book, The Handmaid’s Tale. Their twitter account @HandmaidAlberta is “dedicated to the promotion & passive acceptance of a future Handmaid lifestyle in Jason Kenney’s UCP Alberta.”  Their feed is full of ironic and cutting observations of life in UCP land.

Not content to ride out the UCP policy convention on social media with the rest of us, Handmaids sent a delegation* to the policy convention in Red Deer to stage a silent protest.

Four women in red robes and snowy white bonnets stood quietly outside the convention hall.  They carried a handwritten sign saying, “The Handmaid’s Tale is NOT an instruction manual.”  They did not interfere with UCP supporters streaming into the convention hall and yet their presence was too much for the UCP who forced the Handmaids to back off 50 metres.  Presumably the UCP’s right to gaze upon metropolitan Red Deer trumped the Handmaids’ rights of free speech and assembly.



The UCP’s inability to tolerate the Handmaids presence is even more ludicrous given the fact every member of the UCP caucus walked out of the Legislature last week to avoid debating a bill that would impose a 50-metre bubble zone around abortion clinics.  The bubble zone is intended to protect women and healthcare practitioners from aggressive antiabortion protesters.

Going on walkabout  

Kenney said the UCP MLAs walked off the job because:

  1. The legislation was “divisive”–a bizarre comment given the only possible bone of contention wasn’t whether abortions should be available to Alberta women (abortions have been legal for decades), but whether it strikes the right balance between a woman’s ability to enter an abortion clinic without being shamed or viciously attacked and a protester’s freedom of expression and assembly.
  2. The legislation was a “political trap”. See number 1.

The only reason for Kenney to fret about the legislation being “divisive” is the debate would reveal divisions within his own party.  His far-right supporters would expect their MLAs to condemn abortion clinics as yet another indication of a “promiscuous lifestyle” (not on my dime, thank you very much!);  while his moderate supporters would expect their MLAs to argue the legislation was unnecessary in the face of existing injunctions and would negatively impact protesters’ freedom of speech and assembly.

Rather than incur the wrath of a segment of his base or risk another UCP MLA popping off in a bozo eruption, Kenney pulled his MLAs out of the debate.

This is serious.

The UCP MLAs are the Official Opposition.  The Official Opposition has an obligation to hold the government to account.  This includes speaking to legislation and debating its merits and shortcomings, whether they like it or not. They don’t have the luxury of walking off the job.  It’s not as if we can call in a substitute Official Opposition, like a substitute teacher, to take their place when they don’t show up.

This flagrant abuse of process demonstrates Kenney’s belief that democratic principles are relative.  Principles are tested by context and will be upheld (or not) depending on who or what the UCP is protecting.  If showing up in your capacity as the Official Opposition might get messy, then ditch your duty and run away.  If four women bearing silent witness offends your conservative sensibilities, then ditch your “belief” in the freedom of speech and assembly and get rid of them.

Respect and representation

Kenney says he’ll run the policy resolutions through a non-party “platform committee” to create a “winning platform” because a Kenney government will serve not just the 120,000 UCP members but all 4 million Albertans.

This is a laudable statement but consider Kenney’s actions in the abortion clinic bubble zone debate.  Kenney pulled 25 MLAs out of the debate, leaving more than 1 million Albertans unrepresented (25 MLAs with constituencies averaging 46,000) rather than risk offending a segment of his base.

And if that doesn’t give you pause, consider the UCP’s treatment of the Handmaids who were standing quietly outside the conference hall while former Wildrose leader Heather Forsyth told an appreciative crowd that feminism is an “f-word”, Rachel Notley’s gender-balanced cabinet was “patronizing” and the idea that there are barriers to women in politics was “crap”.

The Handmaids respect the dignity of women; the UCP…not so much.

*I’ve been advised that the silent protesters represented Alberta, Edmonton and Red Deer Pro-choice organizations.  

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24 Responses to Handmaids For Kenney Attend The UCP Policy Convention

  1. Bob Raynard says:

    I love how quickly Jason Kenney has retreated to the lessons he learned from Stephen Harper.

    Ever since the formation of the UCP Jason Kenney has maintained it is a grassroots party. This was the excuse he used to not answer difficult questions: ‘until we have our policy meeting the UCP has no position on that topic’.

    Well, the grassroots has spoken, and they want a UPC government to repeal Bill 24 so teachers can out gay students to their parents. This passed in spite of Ric McIver begging the convention not to make the party a lake of fire party. Before the convention was even over Jason Kenney made it clear repealing Bill 24 will not be part of their campaign. How long will it be before Premier Kenney begins to muzzle scientists as well?


    • Bob, I think we’re beginning to discover that notwithstanding Kenney’s so-called political acumen, he’s not as smart as Harper.
      The Big Story here isn’t that the membership voted for mandatory outing of kids who join GSAs (although that was bad enough) but how Kenney is backtracking from his Grassroots Guarantee.
      I googled Grassroots Guarantee it this morning. The first item that popped up is described as “Aug 1, 2017 – Promise made. Promise kept. Today I signed a new Grassroots Guarantee – that “the policies of the UCP must be developed democratically by its grassroots members, not imposed by the Leader.” But when you click the link you get a 404 error message (“promise made, promise kept, promise erased?”)
      Kenney is nuts if he thinks this “promise” can be erased. He gave countless media interviews on it (see the CBC interview Aug 1/2017) where he’s asked point blank whether he’ll be “bound” by the membership’s decision on policy and he replies “essentially yes”, and then adds that if the UCP forms government they need to act on behalf of all Albertans.
      Here’s the link to the CBC interview on Kenney’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/kenneyjasont/videos/10155542114827641/

  2. Cole Pederson says:

    That was another excellent blog post as one expects here.

    I would take exception to one tiny detail: your use of the term “bozo eruption”. I believe that there are no bozo eruptions in either the UCP or the CPC. There are only moments when members, MLAs or MPs accidentally say out loud what they all think in private. The idea that some bozo has spouted off (again) in defiance of the good intentions of all other members let’s the party off way too easily in my opinion.

    Anyway, keep up the good work. I love your comments.

    • jerrymacgp says:

      I don’t know … maybe “bozo eruption” is a perfectly apt description, given that eruptions (of the volcanic kind, at any rate, as we are now seeing in Hawaii) bring seething magma to the surface. The magma is always there, the eruption just exposes it to the light. Similarly, a “bozo eruption” brings hidden agendas to the surface, despite the best efforts of seasoned backroom political operatives to prevent it.

      • Brent McFadyen says:

        jerrymacgp thanks for the comment it is a perfect description of the people in the UCP.
        “bozo eruption” brings hidden agendas to the surface is priceless

      • Jerry, Brent and Ron: continuing in the vein of bozo eruptions being like volcanoes, we’re witnessing a slow burning eruption coming from Jason Kenney right now. Consider this:
        (1) He voted against Bill 24 which put in place legislation to prevent schools from outing kids. He argued schools should be able to use their own judgment on this. (Note: this is a red herring because there’s nothing in Bill 24 that prevents schools from reaching out to parents,etc to get help for students at risk).
        (2) He says the resolution was poorly worded and doesn’t mean what people thought it meant, but the membership spent a long time debating it, surely someone would have told them they’d misunderstood it before letting them vote on it.
        (3) When he found out the resolution passed with 57% support he said “Guess what, I’m the leader, I get to interpret the resolution and its relevance to party policy,” In other words, I can dump it if it will stop me from winning.
        So all that’s left now is for us to sit back and watch which volcano blows first, the bozos who are angry at Kenney reneging on his servant/leader grassroots promise or Kenney who will clamp down hard on the bozos who get in his way.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Nothing to worry about – Brian Jean will come out of comma in the second coming of the Wildrose salvation after a bitter divorce from the moribund PCs. Desperate PC refugees escape to the Alberta party and the dinosaur members finally have peace again. Jason Kenney returns to the Federal level and Doug Ford’s nightmare begins.

      • Val Jobson says:

        If Kenney had spoken against the resolution before the vote, would it have passed? Too risky for him to see if they would follow his lead?

    • Ron says:

      Ya, please don’t insult innocent bozos everywhere. 😉
      And eruptions are unfairly discriminated against by being grouped with these CONs!

    • Thanks Cole. You’re probably right that these “bozo eruptions” accurately reflect what a majority of UCP MLAs think in private, otherwise why would they say them. What I don’t understand is why Kenney thinks he can avoid all controversial social issues by not talking about them. Clearly they matter to the UCP members who came from all over the province to attend the founding policy meeting and who voted 57% to 43% in favour of schools outing kids who join GSAs. Kenney will soon discover there’s a reason why the Wildrose came into existence and it wasn’t just because some people were tired of the PCs. The social conservatives were looking for a new political home..

  3. J.E. Molnar says:

    Given what occurred at the UCP AGM over the weekend, any Albertans who had lingering doubts about the UCP pursuing a back-to-the-future extremist agenda should take a close look at the motions passed by the party faithful.

    UCP “Team Extreme” has risen from the ashes like a Phoenix. Wildrose 2.0 rears its ugly head once again. Extreme party policy measures adopted represent attacks on public sector workers, public services (including the privatization of health care) union-busting, restoring the flat tax, requiring the consent of parent or guardian for all invasive medical procedures performed on a minor (including abortions) and outing gay kids to their parents who are in GSAs, just to name a few of the more anachronistic motions. Sad.

    • I agree J.E. I expected to see resolutions pushing for increased privatization in health care, union-busting, restoring the flat tax or even outing gay kids, but I was blind-sided by the 76% support for the “invasive medical procedures” resolution. Not only would it allow parents to force their pregnant daughters to give birth; also it would allow parents to prevent their kids from being innoculated against deadly infectious diseases. You’d think we’ve seen enough examples of anti-vaxxers using their kids as lab rats to understand how dangerous this is. Who are these people?

  4. Carlos Beca says:

    Well we can get a better more respectful term ‘Dinosaur Eruption’

    There was something else better than the Handmaids and the bozo eruptions

    “I will take the resolutions adopted today as important input, but I hold the pen on the platform,”
    Finally Democracy in action as the UCP members so desperately waited for.

  5. Carlos, I loved the “I hold the pen” Kenney quote. It sits nicely (not) with comments he made in August 2017 when he rolled out his Grassroots Guarantee and said “We had leaders telling people what to think, rather than listening to them in humility,…”We must not repeat the mistake of that arrogance, we must have an approach of humility and servant leadership that empowers the grassroots members to decide the policy direction of this new party.”
    I saw your comment above about Brian Jean coming out of retirement to ramp up Wildrose 2.0, who knows, if it’s not Brian, it could be someone else. Wouldn’t it be funny if at the end of all this effort Kenney succeeded in creating a more right-wing PC party and an even more right-wing WR party.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Yes of course you are absolutely right but these people have no concept of dignity – they all lie but this is like calling everyone an idiot for even listening to him.
      Servant Leadership !!!!! OMG – the absurdity of all of this. The scary part is the strategy works when the audience is as gullible as it can possible be.

      • Carlos, it looks like some of Kenney’s supporters really think he blew it. Today’s Calgary Herald ran a letter from a guy livid about Kenney ignoring “the wishes of party members.” But diehard supporters, like Licia Corbella of the Herald, tied herself into knots trying to justify Kenney’s about-face. She said Notley and the 57% UCP both got it wrong because they fail to see there needs to be a middle ground which gives schools the ability to notify parents if kids are at risk (she ignores the fact that this discretion exists today, the NDP legislation didn’t take it away). Corbella also said Kenney should avoid making guarantees to the grassroots “especially when half the grassroots at a policy convention leave before contentious votes.” Wasn’t that clever? She implies that the half who left would not have supported the resolution and as such the resolution doesn’t reflect the real UCP. There’s no proof half the members left, and if they really did leave they certainly didn’t care enough about the issue to stick around and vote it down. The 57% who supported the “outing” resolution and the 76% who supported the “invasive medical procedures” resolution are the real UCP and there’s nothing the apologists can do about it.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Well that is Corbella anyway. I never read anything written by her that did make any sense to me or that did not have obvious holes in it.

        I seriously do not care much about the ideology or whether I agree with the policies anymore. We got to a point where truth, honest and ethical r
        behaviour is on the line. I will be happy to just see that people realize that this is all a big game and that we have to do better, regardless of whether it comes from the right or the left. We need to move back to take our issues as a society seriously and that we need to understand them to be able to discern between garbage and reality.
        The levels of absurdity are just sickening. Jason Kenney can lie and say whatever he wants just because he is somehow classified as right wing untouchable. This has to turn around or we are in for serious societal disruptions that could become threatening to all of us.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        ‘The 57% who supported the “outing” resolution and the 76% who supported the “invasive medical procedures” resolution are the real UCP and there’s nothing the apologists can do about it.’

        You got that absolutely right. If a person like Corbella thinks this is ridiculous and disagrees with it than maybe she should be smart enough to decide whether she wants to support a party with these objectives. If she does support them than just move on being a Australopithecus Jasonionii and stop spinning garbage.

  6. Pingback: Admirably true to their Iron Age code, UCP delegates defy their leaders and the zeitgeist - Alberta Politics

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