A Guide to UCP “Conservatives”

The Peter Lougheed Progressive Conservatives parted company with the Kenney “conservatives” when Kenney created the free enterprise unity party.  Those three little words signaled the transformation of the conservative party into one that cares only about money.

With the Lougheed PCs gone the UCP turned elsewhere to fill out their ranks.

They picked up misogynists, homophobes and racists (Charles Adler calls them the knuckle draggers), the “brand name” conservatives who think the UCP is an extension of the Lougheed conservatives because they share the word “conservative” in their names, the victims who’ve bought into Kenney’s paranoid view of what’s happening in the oil patch and the me-first conservatives who think Notley has done a good job in difficult circumstances but don’t like the fact she raised their personal income taxes and implemented a carbon tax (more taxes!!).


Free enterprise, today, tomorrow, forever

Of these, the me-first conservatives are the most troubling because they know exactly who they’re getting in bed with but are prepared to do it anyway to increase their bank accounts.

The consequences

By supporting Kenney, the me-first conservatives give the knuckle draggers license to oppress women, minorities and the LBGTQ community under the guise of free speech or whatever hokey justification they come up with.

This is a serious concern given that hate crimes are rising in Alberta.

Worry not, the UCP has a solution.  It will implement the Security Infrastructure Program which provides matching grants of up to $100,000 to install alarm systems, fencing, CCTVs, etc on buildings owned by religious and ethno-cultural groups.  The provincial SIP will be modeled on “a similar program Jason Kenney helped establish at the federal level.”

There’s just one tiny snag. If the provincial SIP program models the federal SIP program it will include a “no stacking” provision that prohibits a group that’s already received a SIP grant from applying for another one from any level of goveernment.  The federal SIP has been around since 2009 so there’s a good chance many Alberta groups that could benefit from the federal SIP have already done so.  This means they won’t be eligible for the UCP program and the UCP commitment to address hate crimes is nothing more than window dressing.

Instead of duplicating the federal SIP, provincial tax dollars would be better spent funding the NDP’s Hate Crimes Commission and Provincial Hate Crimes Unit which provide outreach, support and education to stop or reduce hate crimes instead of turning religious and ethno-cultural buildings into bunkers.


The me-first conservatives say there’s nothing more Notley could have done on the pipeline file.  They know she’s increased pipeline support across Canada from 40% to 70%.  They like her short term (production curtailment), medium term (crude by rail) and long term (pipeline) energy strategy and her plan to diversify the energy sector and the rest of the economy.

However, by throwing their support to Kenney they’re allowing his paranoid victim narrative to take root.

This is unhealthy.

Many sensible Albertans believe Canada hates us and is using the equalization formula (that Kenney helped design) to suck us dry.   They’re with Kenney when he says if Canada doesn’t put Alberta back to its rightful place as the “natural and historic” leader of the country, we’re leaving.

Before we flounce out the door, let’s put Kenney’s “Alberta’s place in Canada” argument into perspective.

In 2017 Alberta had 11.6% of Canada’s population, its share of Canada’s GDP was 15.5%.  Ontario had 38.3% of the population and 38.6% of Canada’s GDP (almost three times as much as Alberta).  Quebec had 23.2% of the population and 19.5% of Canada’s GDP.

The oil and gas sector was not the top contributing sector to Canada’s GDP.  The mining, quarrying, oil and gas extraction sector was third, surpassed by real estate, rental, leasing and manufacturing.

Given the size and heft of the competition, Notley is punching well above her weight and it’s highly unlikely that Kenney will do any better by throwing temper tantrums and filing lawsuits.

Conspiracy theories

Lastly, the me-first conservatives have let the conspiracy theorists run wild.  Yes, some Americans are donating to American NGOs which support Canadian NGOs.  But no one has connected the dots all the way back to American energy companies who are supposedly trying to kill the Canadian energy sector.  In fact, many of these companies work in both the Canadian and American energy sectors.  Kenney is asking us to believe they’d cut off their noses to spite their faces.

Conspiracies theories are the last refuge of desperate people who can’t explain a complex situation.  It is unfortunate that the me-first conservatives would perpetuate a hoax to shave a few points off their personal income tax rates.

(You’ll notice we didn’t talk about the “brand name” conservatives.  They’re oblivious to everything including the me-first conservatives).

A few last words  

Notley will govern for all Albertans, not just those in the high income tax brackets.  Her record supports her words.

Kenney’s words have created fear and loathing within Alberta.  A UCP government will exacerbate the divisions he’s created in his bid for power.

Me-first conservatives need to think carefully about their choices and ask themselves whether a few extra bucks in the bank are worth the political and social upheaval a UCP government will bring to the province.

Hopefully, when they look at their ballots they’ll take the advice of my favourite drag queen Bianca Del Rio, and say “Not today Satan.”*

*No, I’m not suggesting Kenney is Satan.  I don’t believe in Satan.  I just like the way Bianca says it. 

This entry was posted in Economy, Energy & Natural Resources, Politics and Government, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to A Guide to UCP “Conservatives”

  1. Katie Pearlman says:

    Thank you Susan for another insightful and truthful piece. Fair warning to all Albertans. I am so worried about our future if JK wins. I am working hard for the NDP. Fingers crossed!

    • I know how you feel Katie. But even if Rachel Notley and the NDP don’t form government, I take comfort in the fact they they will be sitting in the Legislature across from the UCP and their caucus will include many experienced cabinet ministers who understand all the files and will be able to hold the UCP to account. This will be the first time that’s ever happened in Alberta because the PCs ruled unchallenged for 44 years so they were never faced with an opposition who knew the files as well if not better than they did.

  2. mikegklein says:

    We need to help Notley et al stem the growth of Fascistan.

    • Well, given the lack of clarity on what kind of “conservatism” Kenney actually preaches and his close connection to Harper and Harper’s emergence on the global stage as the Chairman of the International Democratic Union which is an international alliance of centre-right and right wing political parties and and includes member countries like Hungary which just elected Viktor Orban to another term (he’s systematically undermined Hungary’s democracy), I’d say we have cause for alarm.

  3. Jerrymacgp says:

    First of all, on the “everybody else hates us” trope: Canadians have long talked about so-called “Western alienation”. But since BC is to the West of Alberta, and BC is the centre of the most vociferous opposition to pipelines, perhaps we should call it just Alberta alienation. And, in fact, during the big “sturm und drang” over the NEP, I was one of those Eastern bastards condemned to freeze in the dark, living in Halifax.

    In my view, the real anger about the troubles in the ‘patch, aside from job losses and vacant office towers in Calgary—although three of Canada’s 10 top-paid CEOs work for Calgary-based oil companies—is that young people (usually, but not exclusively, young men) with no post-secondary education, and at times not even a high-school graduation certificate, could still, until very recently, earn the kind of big money that pays for big houses, big pickups, 5th-wheel RVs, and big toys like sleds & quads. But, no longer: “strong backs & weak minds” are no longer enough to make a good living here, and there is a lot of resentment about that. (Full disclosure: I have a son—with a trade ticket—and a son-in-law without one, whose livelihoods are in sectors of the oil & gas industry).

    • Dwayne says:

      Jerrymacgp: Oil is a commodity that is subject to price swings and variations. This is not something that any Canadian government can control. Alberta’s first PC premier, Peter Lougheed, knew about the unpredictable nature of the oil industry, because that was one way he made a living, prior to getting into the political life. It is a sure thing that the oil boom days are over. The irony is that today, we hear people saying how Alberta’s oil should benefit not only Alberta, but Canada too. I thought they were against Alberta’s oil benefiting Canada, many decades ago, when Pierre Elliot Trudeau was in power. Alas, as Brian Mulroney made it so that the bulk of Canada’s oil must be exported south. This cannot be reversed. The office buildings and spaces were built in Calgary prior to the last oil price crash that started in 2014, that still lingers today. There were warnings in 2013 that the economy was going to have a rough ride, but there were people who thought otherwise. All that office space in Calgary suffered vacancies, because of people’s foolishness in not believing that oil prices could crash, and a big recession was on it’s way the following year. Jason Kenney will not be able to make oil prices rise again. The Alberta PCs, since Peter Lougheed was not the premier, thought that oil booms are a permanent thing. They wasted enormous amounts of money on the most costliest scandals, had poor tax policies, like the flat tax failure, allowed oil companies to rob Alberta blind, with very bad oil royalty rates, that cannot be changed, drained Alberta’s rainy day, Heritage Fund to practically nothing, privatized and deregulated essential services, like utilities, expanding their costs, and then made a massive austerity program, which led to a very costly infrastructure repair bill. Albertans did this to themselves, when they allowed the Alberta PCs to get away with these things, for decades. Jason Kenney and the UCP will be pretty much identical to that, or a whole lot worse. What is Jason Kenney going to do for revenue, when oil prices will not go higher ever again? His ideology of more austerity and taking corporate tax cuts to an extremely low level, will not improve a single thing. It is quite disheartening that there are people who will not accept these realities.

      • Excellent points Dwayne. The bit that really gets me is the PC’s failure to save for a rainy day. Saudi Arabia has a $250-billion fund, Russia has a $66-billion fund and Norway, dear Norway, has a $1-trillion fund. Alberta has zip. What were they thinking???
        And while we’re on the topic of boondoggles. I’m really curious to know who Kenney is going to hire to work in the $30 million “war room” and which law firms will be leading the idiotic law suits against the US conspirators trying to kill our energy sector.

    • Jerry that’s exactly what economist Trevor Tombe said at a recent Wordfest event. He said the highest levels of unemployment are in young men with no post-secondary education. I know a young man who’s an electrician. When he was working as an apprentice his fellow classmates ridiculed him for not joining them in Fort Mac. He’d heard the money was good but the quality of work was poor because they would pay good money to the kid carrying the tools around. He was worried he wouldn’t learn anything. Then the economy went bust. All these guys flooded back into town and couldn’t get apprenticeships. He finished his training, got his ticket and Red Seal and is fine. As another tradesman said, I’m not going to punish others for my poor decisions.

  4. Dwayne says:

    Susan: It is pretty sad to see how Jason Kenney is operating, and how he is fooling Albertans in the process. He is complaining about things that he thinks others, like Rachel Notley and Justin Trudeau, are not dealing with, like the pipeline to the B.C coast, that he never dealt with, when he was a part of a CPC majority government, when oil was well over $140 per barrel. He also trying to trick Albertans on other matters, like equalization payments. He knows how equalization payments work, yet thinks that he will say that Alberta will not hand out equalization payments, if there is no pipeline built. Simple fact is that Alberta does not send any money at all to other provinces. Jason Kenney was part of the CPC and had a hand in creating the current equalization payment formula Canada now has. Jason Kenney is also contradicting himself in other ways. He wants to turn off the taps to B.C, if their government and citizens do not support the pipeline. Yet he is upset at job losses in the oil industry, which are due to declining oil prices, which started 5 years ago, in 2014. What will turning off the taps to B.C do to oil industry related jobs? It is Saudi Arabia’s cheap oil that is bombarding the market, and shale oil in the U.S.A, that are affecting oil prices, not other reasons. Jason Kenney also thinks he can fight Ottawa, and the carbon tax Justin Trudeau put in. I know that Alberta has a carbon tax, because it was Ed Stelmach who gave Alberta that. Jason Kenney also wants to fight the oil companies wishes for a carbon tax, which existed years before Justin Trudeau and the Liberals were in power. Shell is the current advocate for the carbon tax. Again, more contradictions, because Jason Kenney, himself, said he supports the carbon tax. He uses another term, to fool Albertans, by calling it a levy. Jason Kenney thinks he will accomplish things by fighting, and wasting money on costly lawsuits, that will not solve anything. Doug Ford was involved with similar matters. Jason Kenney’s budget plans will not save Alberta money. We still have to pay for the fiscal recklessness of the Alberta PCs, which started when Peter Lougheed was not the premier. The UCP is pretty much acting the same way, as the Alberta PCs were for decades, since Peter Lougheed was not the premier. Ethics don’t apply to them, and they think they should be able get away with anything. Postmedia is also on board with supporting the UCP, as are polling companies, with rather suspect polls. Even the Rebel is trying to cover up the UCP’s unethical conduct, like the voter fraud scandal, and claim that it is a conspiracy, by the CBC and the NDP, to keep Jason Kenney out of power. I heard that Jason Kenney’s unethical conduct, will land him in jail, once the investigation is complete. Alberta has a premier that is on the same level as Peter Lougheed, and that is Rachel Notley. We are best to stick with her.

    • Dwayne, what I’ve noticed with Kenney is an utter lack of consistency. He yells a lot but when you scratch the surface nothing he says makes any sense. He says he’s going to save the pipeline but kill the “crude by rail” deal. Even if the pipeline is approved tomorrow it will take years to built. How does he plan to transport the crude in the mean time…dirigible?
      His plan to sue the US conspirators who’re funding US NGOs who are supporting Canadian NGOs in their anti-pipeline activity is ridiculous. I started my legal career as a litigator with one of the top firms in the city. The first thing you need to file a lawsuit is a plaintiff, who’s that going to be, the Alberta government? OK, then you need a defendant, who’s that, Nelson Rockefeller? Then you need a cause of action, let’s see, Alberta lost billions (please quantify) in resource revenue (please define) as a result of Rockefeller (please prove this) giving money to Tides US (please prove this) who gave it to David Suzuki (please prove this) who gave it to environmentalists (please identify and prove this) who stood in front of the TM pipeline dig in BC. To win you’d need someone to connect the dots to show each of these players did each of these things, and then demonstrate on a balance of probabilities that the drop in revenue was NOT the result in the drop in global oil prices or anything else that affected resource revenue. It can’t be done and even Kenney’s favourite conspiracy theorist Vivian Krause can’t get them there. If he’s not careful the Rockefellers are going to sue him for defamation!

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: I noticed an ad on YouTube that said that the cost of cleaning up abandoned oil wells, tailings ponds, and other oil related messes in Alberta is $260 billion. The Alberta PCs sure knew how to do the worst types of scandals. This was the case from Don Getty on down. Smelters, a failed telecom project, a waste treatment facility, pulp and paper mills, trying to salvage a failing shopping mall, a failed farmers assistance program, electricity deregulation, a bitumen upgrader project failure, and a whole lot of other things that lost millions and billions of dollars, like the things I mentioned the Alberta PCs doing, starting when Peter Lougheed was not the premier. I don’t see the UCP doing much different in any way.

  5. David says:

    The old western alienation line is a bunch of bs – BC is the one of the main sources of anti pipeline feeling these days and Manitoba has mixed feelings. It is basically an Alberta/Saskatchewan thing right now. However as angry as some in Alberta are right now, Canada is not angry at Alberta right now, maybe a bit perplexed and even sympathetic.

    I can understand the frustration with the pipeline issue and the price of oil which is still a long way from its 2014 highs. Maybe for some people it is a short step from frustration to anger, but I think it is a general observations that those that let anger take over seldom make the smartest decisions. If we decide to punish Canada or other provinces for our unfortunate situation, sympathy for Alberta may quickly evaporate in the rest of Canada and support for pipelines may go back to 40% from 70%. The world is a tough enough place as it is for the energy industry and it is probably going to get harder. Is it really a good idea now to do things that will alienate other Canadians? I am fairly sure the emissions cap is a red line for the Federal government and if it goes, don’t expect them to put much if any effort into advancing the Trans Mountain pipeline.

    If I thought bluster was harmless, I wouldn’t have such a problem with it, but in this case I can see it being very counter productive for Alberta. In particular I don’t think the three larger provinces in Canada will take an overly agressive approach from Alberta very well.

    • David, you’ve raised a very important point by pointing out that fomenting anger isn’t harmless. In fact it can lead to deep divisions both within Alberta and in Alberta’s relationship with the rest of Canada. I’ve seen reports on social media of people worried about their neighbours who are driving slowly up and down their streets in trucks displaying big “Make Alberta Great Again” signs. The drivers stop and grab NDP signs off supporters’ lawns. Seems to me Trump has numbed us to how destructive this sort of behavior is. It’s gone beyond political posturing to an enduring clash of values. Kenney brought this nasty electioneering to Alberta, he’s opened Pandora’s box and I don’t think we’ll be able to close it again for a very long time.

  6. J.E. Molnar says:

    Jason Kenney came as advertised — slimy, sleazy and slippery. And I’m not talking about any of the Seven Dwarfs.

    Nothing says I’m “NOT” going to support a tarnished political party of knuckle draggers more than an OP/ED piece by a former Peter Lougheed cabinet minister and an esteemed University of Alberta professor (see link below).

    Long-time Progressive Conservative stalwart Allan Warrack says of Rachel Notley: “She is the best premier of Alberta since Peter Lougheed.” Mighty strong praise coming from a conservative, who added in the piece that, “I’m proud to back a great leader.”

    Let’s hope all of the UCP’s acts of chicanery, political subterfuge and alleged criminal wrong-doing come home to roost with voters — paving the way for another four-year term of office for Rachel Notley and the NDP. By all accounts, they have earned and deserve another four years.


    • J.E. I took a moment to reread the Allan Warrack piece. It contained so many gems. One that really resonated with me was this: “Why was the Lougheed era a success? It certainly wasn’t magic. Albertans were fortunate to have a premier passionate about good public governance. We were progressive, but not in the sense many now hear in that word. We were conservative, but not in the sense that people now hear.”
      Warrack’s observation about the meaning of the words “progressive” and “conservative” not being “in the sense that people now hear” was extremely telling. The day after the election I was in a restaurant having breakfast with a friend, a middle aged white guy sauntered in and joined his friend for coffee. He loudly regaled his friend (and us) with his views on the “socialists” (who we used to know as the progressives) and Kenney’s UCP (who are nothing like Lougheed’s conservatives) and come to the conclusion that Kenney would teach everyone a lesson and we were finished being pushed around by Trudeau, BC, Quebec, etc. Of course this was before Quebec passed a unanimous motion telling Kenney to bug off and BC’s reaction to Kenney’s election showed it’s not quaking in its boots and Trudeau delayed the final decision on TMX by another month.
      I guess standing around yelling at people isn’t exactly an effective strategy.

  7. Michael says:

    Thank you Susan, for your blogs, which I always enjoy reading. I certainly ran into some me-first UCP voters, many of whom were perfectly friendly and articulate, when I was door-knocking in this campaign. I tried to convince them that they overestimated the effect of the progressive tax, using my own example (as a Full Professor with 33 years of service, it does not even affect me as my taxable income in below the threshold – in other words, many very well-off people are not paying extra income tax they probably should), but it was to no avail.

    I don’t know what else one can do. I am a little disappointed that the NDP campaign has been so focused on Jason Kenney rather than the NDP’s very real accomplishments under difficult circumstances. For those still trying to sway neighbours and family members, I can only offer the following advice:

    1) Get them to read the latest addition of Alberta Views, especially the “What did the NDP do ?” article by Acuña, but the whole issue is worth the read.

    2) Remind them of the March 2015 budget, which Albertans could be said to have categorically rejected in the subsequent election (by voting either NDP or Wild Rose, or other than PC) whic
    A) restored a progressive taxation system (in itself a GOOD idea) while not moving the corporate tax rate at all, and B) introduced a health care levy of up to 1000 dollars per year.
    What would someone with a taxable income of 300,000 be paying in Provincial taxes and “levies”
    under that regime (for tax year 2018): 10,000 on the first 100 K, 17,250 (11.5 %) on the next 150 K,
    and 6000 on the next 50 K (12 %), plus 1000 health care levy for a total of $ 34250 before personal non-refundable reductions kick in. What is the same person paying under the NDP tax regime ? I calculated it to $ 35849.56, using 2018 cutoffs for the 10 %, 12 %, 13 % and 14 % rates (15 % kicks in at over 307,000). So a total of about $ 1600 more tax on a very substantial income. That is less than a cost of a Latte every day for a year at Good Earth or Starbucks.

    • Michael, thank you for this thoughtful comment. It reminded me of the Greedy Man I met while door knocking. He loved Rachel Notley and would have voted for her if she led the UCP (which is asinine) but he refused to vote for her because she raised his personal income taxes. I said Kenney is not lowering your income taxes. He had no answer so he veered off into the merits of free enterprise, small government, business being more efficient and how his kids are in university in Ontario and he’s told them to go to the US to make a pile of money and come back to Canada to retire. It was all about me, me, me.
      I thought about the lovely people I met at a Ganley fundraiser. These were doctors and lawyers and businessmen who were supporting Ganley and the NDP because they cared about their community. The host said let’s face it, we’ll be fine under a Kenney government, but some of our neighbours won’t and that’s who we’re fighting for.
      The Greedy Man would not understand. I doubt he ever will.

  8. aratureis says:

    Fantastic column; as always.

    How can I post this to my Facebook page. I want everyone to read it.

    Yvonne Spies

    On Sun, Apr 14, 2019, 8:16 PM Susan on the Soapbox, wrote:

    > susanonthesoapbox posted: “The Peter Lougheed Progressive Conservatives > parted company with the Kenney “conservatives” when Kenney created the free > enterprise unity party. Those three little words signaled the > transformation of the conservative party into one that cares only about” >

    • aratureis, you should be able to share it by going to the bottom of the post just under the bit where I say I’m not suggesting Kenney is Satan and clicking on the facebook share button. It’s between the tweet and the linkedin button. 🙂

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