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!!).
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.
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.
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.