Has Jason Kenney Evolved?

The Up Series is an amazing documentary that follows the lives of 14 British children over five decades.  The children were interviewed every seven years starting in 1964 when they were seven years old. The next instalment, 63 Up, will be released in 2019.

The children came from the working class, middle class and privileged classes.  Michael Apted, the director, believed that who they were at seven would dictate who they’d become as adults.

For the most part he was right.  Wealthy seven year old boys who went to prestigious boarding schools and Oxbridge became successful lawyers, journalists and teachers.  Less affluent children who attended comprehensive schools and did not go to university became cab drivers, labourers and office workers.

The seven year old child of 1964 foreshadowed who and what they would become in later life.

KenneyRight, so what does this have to do with Jason Kenney?


The child becomes the man

While we don’t know who Kenney was at seven, we do know who he was as a student at the Jesuit University of San Francisco and the president of the pro-life group where he made headlines for bitterly opposing his Jesuit professors who allowed pro-choice activists on campus.  He argued this destroyed “the mission and the purpose” of the university.  (A more hysterical version of his comments appeared in the student newspaper where he said if the school gave a platform to pro-choice groups in the name of free speech, it would have to do the same for pedophiles and the Church of Satan).

We know who Kenney was at 21 when he helped defeat a proposition that would have granted same-sex couples hospital visitation rights and bereavement rights in the middle of the San Francisco AIDS epidemic, ensuring that many AIDS sufferers who were shunned by medial staff and their own families would die alone.*

We know who Kenney was at 31 when he proudly referred to the proposition as one of the “battles” he fought in San Francisco which brought him “closer to the heart of the Church in the spiritual sense.”

People change…or not

Now hold on, his supporters say, people change, evolve, mature, something, mumble, mumble, something.

When asked about his role in promoting the San Francisco proposition Kenney said sure, there are things he’s said and done that he regrets, and this was one of them;  but it’s not clear whether he regrets the actions of the 21 year-old Kenney who led the effort to defeat the proposition or the 31 year-old Kenney (by then a federal MP) who referred to it with pride, or the 50 year old Kenney who is stuck with explaining it away today.

As evidence that he’s changed he referred to his time as a federal MP in 2003, 2004, and 2005 when he was 35, 36, and 37 and supported “domestic partner arrangements for dependent couples regardless of sexual orientation”.  It’s not clear what he’s talking about, because in 2002 Kenney is on record saying enshrining rights on the basis of sexual orientation “opened the door” for “polygamists” and “advocates of incest” and in 2003 he voted in favour of a motion declaring marriage to be between one man and one woman.

In any event, he firmly closed the door on any further discussion with comment, “That has been my long-standing public view.”

If that (whatever “that” is) is Kenney’s “long-standing public view”, what pray tell is Kenney’s “private” view?  Is his “private” view any different from his “public” view?  And how will his “private” view impact his actions as a public servant?

Private views vs public views

Research by Professor Robert Entman of Duke University shows that a politician’s “private political philosophy” will significantly impact how he votes.

This is certainly true in Kenney’s case.  His record as a federal MP is studded with examples of Kenney voting in alignment with the positions he took as a young man in San Francisco.

For example, he voted against same-sex marriage in 2005, he voted to reopen the debate on same-sex marriage in 2006 and he voted in favor of a motion to reopen the abortion debate in 2012.

The line between Kenney’s personal ideology and his public views became more blurred when he left federal politics and became the leader of the UCP.

He led his entire caucus in a walkout on the debate on legislation putting bubble zones around abortion clinics to keep protestors from harassing women requiring their services and he’s intent on undermining legislation compelling schools to allow the formation of GSAs by insisting schools notify parents if their kids join GSAs.

What are we to make of a man who says his “public” views have evolved when a review of his “public” record indicates that they have not?

Public Policy and the Notwithstanding Clause

Public policy is created after a period of lobbying, educating supporters (and opponents) and mobilizing allies on specific issues.  Public policy is supposed to be the result of thoughtful compromise; it is not a sermon from the Mount.

Jason Kenney made it clear he holds the pen.  He tells his MLAs and his supporters what they can do and not do.  Sometimes he lets the party act by revoking an embarrassing supporter’s membership, other times he does not.  He makes the rules.

His personal ideology on LGBTQ+ issues and women’s issues is cruel and out of step with modern society.

And now, thanks to the liberties Doug Ford has taken with constitutional norms, Kenney has a tool with which to turn his ideology into law.  Kenney said he’d use the notwithstanding clause (section 33 of the Charter) where appropriate.  One look at Kenney’s record makes it clear he thinks it would be appropriate to address LGBTQ+ rights and women’s issues.

The boy foreshadows the man.

If the UCP forms government in 2019, the shadow cast by this man will be long and terribly dark.

See Kyle Morrow for an excellent overview of Kenney’s anti-gay record  https://www.facebook.com/notes/kyle-morrow/jason-kenney-refuses-to-apologize-for-cold-callous-treatment-of-aids-patients/373052353504460/   

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49 Responses to Has Jason Kenney Evolved?

  1. Kenney, along with his friend John Carpay were among the voices who argued that the Notwithstanding clause be used to sidestep implementing the Vriend ruling, as well as to sidestep gay marriage issues. The idea of abusing that legislative angle has been front and centre in his mind for years.

    • Dwayne says:

      MgS: I remember Ralph Klein trying to use the Notwithstanding Clause to try and cut off a lawsuit against the government of Alberta, relating to forced steralization of people in Alberta, under the Social Credit Party. It backfired on him. The people fighting for their just compensation got it.

      • Dwayne I wasn’t aware Klein tried to use the clause to avoid paying compensation to people who had undergone forced sterilization. What’s wrong with conservative politicians who would consider such a thing? Have they no compassion?

      • Carlos Beca says:

        They have no compassion and they do not care at all but man are they all so Christian 🙂
        Furthermore they claim atheists have no morals !!

      • Valerie Jobson says:

        Dwayne is probably thinking of this: The Klein gov’t introduced a bill to limit compensation for victims of sterilization, but public outcry made them withdraw the bill.

      • Valerie, it’s interesting that Klein argued the purpose of the bill was to “protect taxpayers” from lawsuits that could cost up to $760 million and even the threat of millions of dollars flowing out of Treasury wasn’t enough to stop the public from being compassionate. That was the Alberta of 20 years ago, one can only hope we’d be as compassionate today.

    • I agree MgS. Kenney touts Ralph Klein as his guiding light. I hope he remembers Klein considered using the notwithstanding clause to override the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage but was talked out of it by his political advisors who thought the negative blowback would be too damaging. Perhaps Kenney thinks his “make Alberta great again” pitch has created enough redneck support to support such a move. It certainly hasn’t hurt Doug Ford as much as I thought it would.

  2. Kathy Ahearn says:

    Thanks for this and I see it is also on Twitter. I just feel a terrible sense of despair that this guy could be our Premier. Heaven help us all. What a despicable waste of a human being.
    Sad sad. To think that we want to roll back the clock to the Klein years is so wrong.

    • Dwayne says:

      Kathy Ahearn: I don’t think that Jason Kenney will be premier of Alberta. The UCP has so many issues that are giving them problems and negative publicity. It’s been a while since I have been on Twitter, so I know little about what is going on, from that platform, as my account got issues in mid June. However, I do know that Rachel Notley will easily be able to take on Jason Kenney, just like she took on Jim Prentice and Brian Jean. I’m sure people are waking up and realizing how Doug Ford is so bad, and will be careful about supporting Jason Kenney.

      • Kathy Ahearn says:

        I really hope you are right. I fully support Premier Notley but worry voters will drink the UCP koolaid.

      • Dwayne, I really hope you’re right. As Carlos said below how long will it take for people to look at more than Kenney’s economic policies and realize they’re full of holes. If austerity and low taxes were the answer we’d be golden by now.

    • Kathy I make a point of asking people who support Kenney how they feel about his social policies. Some say they don’t care, they like his economic policies, others say they aren’t happy with his social policies, but will accept them because they like his economic policies. Both of these responses are staggering, because what they’re really saying is we don’t care what he does on the social policy side as long as he makes us rich.
      All we can do is continue to ask Kenney supporters this question until they realize what they’re saying about themselves–their morals can be bought by the promise of money.

  3. Audrey Brooks says:

    Kenney’s rule would lead us back into the days of Inquisition, where people were judged and outed by right wing traditionalist who saw any deviation from the strict rule of the church to be heretic. Yet the Catholic church has ignored, protected and not punished deviation among its clergy. When I visited a town in the Yukon, I came upon a priest pissing in the creek with a group of four Indigenous students. The priest nearly had a fit when he saw me, and quickly buttoned himself up. Later I saw an interview with him in the National Geographic, extolling his service. Still later he was removed from his charge because of child exploitation. He is, I am told serving another parish. It is amazing that people can look at what they call the sins of others, yet ignore the rampant disease in their own back yard. We must be very careful who we vote for.

    • jerrymacgp says:

      A propos to your comment, there is this:
      Just like TWU and its student body, Edmonton Catholic Schools wants to stick its noses into the private personal lives of its employees.

      • Jerrymacgp: thanks for bringing this story to our attention. The contract says teachers must “follow, both in and out of school, a lifestyle and deportment in harmony with Catholic church practices and beliefs, which include, among other things, participation in the sacraments of the church and living in harmony with the principles of the gospel and the teachings of the Catholic church.” A former Catholic school teacher said schools aren’t using the clause “to squeeze out teachers who use contraception or live with boyfriends” (both of which are not “in harmony” with Catholic beliefs) and yet some teachers feel they have to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity lest they get nailed under that clause.
        Apparently the church will turn a blind eye to some “aberrations” but not others. In other words the church is hypocritical. What else is new.

    • Audrey, you’re absolutely right when you say it’s amazing that people condemn others when they are just as flawed.
      The thing I don’t understand with Kenney’s position on same-sex marriage, LBGTQ+ issues and pro-choice is none of these issues touch him personally. No one is forcing him or his evangelical supporters to marry someone of the same sex, no one is forcing him or his evangelical supporters to get an abortion, why is this an issue?
      Conservatives pride themselves on fighting for small government that doesn’t interfere with people’s lives, if they truly believe this, why can’t they just leave people alone?

      • carlosbeca says:

        No they cannot leave other people alone because their word is the word of GOD that is why. These people are full of it. Like you say, they talk about government meddling in people’s bedrooms but they are the ones who do that. Why are they so concerned that people of the same sex can enjoy it and love each other. I would suggest maybe because they cannot themselves regardless of the partner. Furthermore I guess they are only allowed to sexual activity when it is for procreation!! Give me a break.
        They should start teaching their own priests to follow that rule instead of allowing them to using young kids as their hunting grounds.
        This whole issue is done as far as I am concerned and the churches that allow this kind of predatory behaviour should be banned and shut down period. All of them. Not taking action and allowing them to move around is how much we care for our children.

      • Great points Carlos. The thing I find mystifying is why anyone would think God has chosen to speak directly to them. Not only are they the only ones who hear God’s word, but for some reason the “word” they’re hearing is telling them to do something awful to another human being and justify it in God’s name. Some people would call that paranoid schizophrenia.
        I guess before I tar all religious people with the same brush I should acknowledge that some of them are good people who sacrifice a lot to help ease the pain of their fellow man. These are the people we should venerate, not the others who constantly pop up in the newspapers for one heinous crime after another.

  4. Keith McClary says:

    Harper evolved from a “grass roots” guy to a one man ruler dictating talking points to his clapping seals. I expect Kenney would evolve (devolve?) in the same way. We could just ask him if he is evolving, but he probably doesn’t believe in evolution.

    • Keith that was priceless! Yes, let’s ask him whether he accepts the science supporting evolution or will insist we add creationism to the school curriculum if he gets elected. He’d probably couch it in terms of “choice”…conservatives are big on “choice”.

      • Bob Raynard says:

        …conservatives are big on “choice”.
        Except for pro-choice

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Yes they are very big on THEIR CHOICE – the usual
        Remember the user fees – they are not taxes – you pay what you use – well then why call it ‘Carbon Tax’ – Carbon Fee is more conservative, appealing and correct.

      • Carlos, I’ve heard the conservatives say some really bizarre things about the carbon tax. They tie themselves into knots because conservative principles would support putting a price on carbon (it’s a market based solution, it’s transparent and you can choose to use less). But the conservatives don’t like it. They say it’s too small to make a difference, then they contradict themselves and say it’s too big for the little guy who can’t afford it. When someone points out the little guy will get a rebate they say aha! it’s just another form of income redistribution and the rich don’t want to pay. The conservative solution is to reduce carbon through regulations which are more intrusive, more expensive and diametrically opposed to their “reduce red tap” mantra. I think it all boils down to rich conservatives don’t want to pay more taxes and they figure they’ll be dead and gone by the time the planet burns up so who cares. Either that or they think climate change is a hoax.

    • carlosbeca says:

      Kenney does not evolve he is not capable.
      The last one I heard this morning is that the former president of Calgary Highwood UCP association alleges she was sexually harassed by another board member and of course run out of the party after she reported it.
      Interesting – how many of these is it going to take for people to look at more than just the economic policies which are also full of holes anyway.
      The guy is a fluke PERIOD.

      • Carlos, thanks for passing this along.
        The UCP is a throwback to the “good old days” when “men were men” and “women knew their place”. Jason Nixon, the UCP Opposition House Leader, was not sanctioned by the party when it was revealed he fired one of his female employees (a single mother) just before Christmas because she complained about being sexually harassed by someone Nixon’s company was doing business with. Kenney excused Nixon’s behavior because Nixon was 25 at the time.
        As I said in this post, the child foreshadows the man.
        The 25 year old Nixon is now the UCP Opposition House Leader, he stood up in the Legislature and argued against a bill that would require employers and supervisors to take steps to prevent harassment and bullying in the work place because industry was already doing a good job at it. Tell that to the young woman he fired.

  5. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Thanks for another great blog. The UCP has so many controversies, that I think it will cause them to fail, much like it did for the Alberta PCs (eventually) and the Wildrose. Given that the Alberta PCs were so bad, after Peter Lougheed left office, and the Wildrose were mere clones of the Alberta PCs, why would we want this again? With the UCP, we have the worst of both worlds, being the Alberta PCs, (after Peter Lougheed), and the Wildrose, with some Social Credit and Reform style politics thrown into the mix. Peter Lougheed was against the Reform Party, because it reminded him of the Social Credit Party he had defeated in 1971. I don’t think he’d be too impressed with the UCP, as they are willing to return to Ralph Klein style politics, that Peter Lougheed detested. Hope you and your loved ones have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

    • Thank you for your kind wishes Dwayne. I’m sure Peter Lougheed would have taken a pretty dim view of Kenney. I notice Kenney doesn’t refer to Lougheed as much as he used to after Stephen Lougheed blasted Kenney for linking his father with Stalin. In 1999 Kenney praised Klein’s austerity program by saying: “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.” When Kenney was confronted with this story he said he didn’t remember saying it and if he did “it was obviously in jest”. Sure we all “jest” by comparing one of the greatest premiers Alberta has ever had with a dictator who killed between 5.7 to 7 million people through famines and repression.
      Kenney didn’t even bring himself to “regret” saying it.
      Unbelievable man.

  6. J.E. Molnar says:

    Anyone over 40 should have learned by now that many unscrupulous politicians deceive, obfuscate and outright lie to present an image acceptable to the voting public. Even Hilary Clinton admitted she had a “public view” and a “private view” on a far-ranging number of issues—while collecting huge donations from the folks on Wall Street who she berated in public.

    Jason Kenney has not evolved. He largely remains a creation of Stephen Harper, and by his own admission continues to receive religious indoctrination from the Catholic Church that keeps his beliefs on sexual orientation solidly entrenched along those lines. Many view Kenney as an unprincipled, self-aggrandizing schemer—count me among those.

    P.S. Outstanding piece presented via CBC Calgary. A must share for those who may have missed it (hope you don’t mind).

    • JE, that’s right, Hilary Clinton said the same thing.
      Remember when Liberal Laurence Decore lost the election to Ralph Klein in 1993. Decore had it all sewn up until he told a radio show host that he was personally against abortion. He lost all his support and Klein swept into power. It was so damaging that when I ran for the Liberals in the 2014 by-election people still asked me about it.
      So here we are 25 years later with a candidate, Kenney, who has a well documented history of virulently opposing abortion and who enjoys the support of groups like the Wilberforce Project (formerly known as Alberta Pro-Life) who are open about the fact they’re trying to embed pro-life candidates in the UCP, and the UCP is polling higher than the NDP.
      Did Alberta slide into a ditch somewhere when I wasn’t paying attention?
      PS Thanks for mentioning my CBC piece. That’s why I was slower than normal in responding to comments on the Soapbox last week. 🙂

      • Valerie Jobson says:

        When Kevin Taft was leader, about 2008 I think, someone interviewing him on CBC radio asked if he supported same-sex marriage, or something like that. He answered that he did, but he sounded so reluctant to answer, I thought he expected to lose votes for it.

  7. Munroe Scott says:

    Wow, Susan, this is a real humdinger! Well done! Thank you. A run down like this would be useful on all premiers — better still, before they become premiers.

  8. MAS says:

    No Jason Kenney has not evolved and the photo proves it. The raised index finger wagging like he is chastising the unwashed.

  9. Bob Raynard says:

    I think it is surprising that with all the corporate money that is backing the UCP, they couldn’t have installed a leader that has less baggage. If Kenney does become premier he is going to get a lot of pressure from his extremist support base to implement some of their odious policies.

    • Bob that is a very important point. I’ve heard that Kenney isn’t receptive to advice from his corporate backers when it goes against his simpleton narrative. For example, he’s been told that the energy industry as a whole is not opposed to the carbon tax, but he refuses to back off because it’s a convenient red flag (job-killing tax!!!) to wave in front of his supporters.
      I’m sure some of his corporate backers are getting concerned for the reasons you gave, They need to be honest with themselves and admit that if they support Kenney’s economic policies they are also supporting his social policies, in other words, they’re prepared to sell their morality for a tax cut.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        ‘Morality for a tax cut’
        Seriously? Morality? hmm sorry I do not believe there is any. Their morality is making millions that does not flow to the real workers. Our wages have been frozen for 3 decades while the productivity gains have been quite substantial – that is the morality – sorry but I am not nice at all in this respect. There has been no morality at all and the process continues unabated.

      • jerrymacgp says:

        This also reminds me of the debate about Bill C-69, currently before a Senate committee, on which new Alberta Senator & former Journal columnist Paula Simons sits. According to her Twitter thread, Sen. Simons voted to approve the bill at second reading, which sent it to the committee, rather than simply vote against it, because the oil & gas industry wanted it to go that way. She was viciously attacked on social media for that vote, because the Online Tory Rage Machine prefers anger over knowledge.

      • Jerrymacgp: thanks for raising this. I saw the discussion on Twitter. It was unbelievable. Sen. Simons pointed out that she was on the committee and would be able to give careful consideration to the changes that should be made, but no, that wasn’t good enough for Kenney and the UCP who were yelling “kill it, kill it” because that’s the level of thought they put into complex issues.

  10. Dwayne says:

    Susan: I have no doubts that Jason Kenney will not be premier of Alberta. Rachel Notley will easily outsmart him in the election debate, just like she did with Jim Prentice and Brian Jean. For some reason, ex federal politicians seem to have a short political career in the Alberta provincial government. The controversies keep mounting up with the UCP.

  11. David says:

    Kenney might be good at some things, but one thing he apparently is not very good at is sincere apologies. I realize big ego’s are a common hazard of politics, but in Kenney’s case I think the mix is made even worse by a large amount of self righteousness added to what I sense is over confidence and arrogance. At this point, I’m not sure anyone can pop his big pompous bubble.

    If anything Kenney seems a bit irritated that some things he would prefer not to talk about from his past have now tumbled out of his closet full of skeletons. One of the risks of politics is if you are going to be a serious contender for a position of power is that your record and past will be scrutinized.

    Yes, Kenney has become quite careful about what he says on certain social issues in recent years as he has surely seen and heard about the Lake of Fire debacle, but that is not the same as “evolving”.

    I just happened to see this article from a fairly well known religious conservative writer, Michael Coren:

    Jason Kenney hasn’t properly compensated for past actions

    I wonder if Kenney will take his advise.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Jason Kenney is very good at propaganda. His hyper confidence s will one day pop his own bubble. People with his level of self righteousness will never recover from that.
      John Carpay will not be expelled because he knows exactly who Jason Kenney really is and so he is safe until the election. Afterwards I am not so sure. These people are ruthless and too egocentric for their own good.

      • Carlos, your description of Kenney is bang on. I’m reading Stephen Greenblatt’s book Tyrant–Shakespeare on Politics. Greenblatt is a Harvard prof and Pulitzer Prize winner. He examines the tyrants in Shakespeare’s plays and describes their personality traits — “the limitless self-regard, the law-breaking, the pleasure in inflicting pain, the compulsive desire to dominate…pathologically narcissistic, supremely arrogant, with a grotesque sense of entitlement, never doubting that he can do whatever he chooses…expecting absolute loyalty [and having] no sense of shared humanity, no decency.”
        Sounds like Trump and mini-Trump (Kenney) to me.
        Greenblatt says sooner or later the tyrant is brought down. He dies unloved and unlamented, leaving behind only wreckage. But for the “wreckage” part, I guess that’s something to look forward to.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        🙂 🙂 🙂

        here is a new button for the next election

        Please God give us the wreckage, you can keep the good parts 🙂

    • David, thanks for the link to the Michael Coren article. It was excellent.
      This issue will continue to plague Kenney as it should. Yesterday, Cody Johnston, a gay UCP board member, quit in a very public way. He marched into the press gallery and told the reporters he was targeted for being gay when he was with the Wildrose but thought the UCP merger would be a big tent conservative party were people could speak their minds. That didn’t come to pass and he quit because he could no longer support a party whose members were being silenced. Reporter Emma Graney said he was “very upset…literally shaking with rage.” Of course the UCP spokesperson said Kenney had “evolved” (from what to what?) and Harrison Fleming, the former AB director of LBGTory said Johnston was a political opportunist (Johnston is now working for Fildebrandt’s Freedom Conservative Party). Fleming said he’s had some “challenging conversations” with the UCP but most are “wildly supportive of the LGBT community”.
      This reminds me of the Muslims for Trump people who supported Trump’s run for president, they were sure that when Trump was elected he’d soften his views. Yeah, right.
      Here’s the link: https://edmontonjournal.com/news/politics/its-unacceptable-ucp-board-member-quits-citing-past-lgbtq-comments-from-jason-kenney

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