“Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.” Mark Twain
Last week Mr Kenney joined the patriot squad. On August 4 and August 7 he released two odious videos on social media. Let’s call them “Patriot Games One” and “Patriot Games Two.”
Patriot Games One
The gist of Patriot Games One was that Mr Kenney is a Canadian patriot who comes from a long line of Canadian patriots and is descended from people who fought for Canada even before it became a country (um, wouldn’t that make them British patriots?). Mr Kenney said Alberta is getting a raw deal from the other provinces and the feds, Alberta is paying the bills and getting no respect, but fear not Mr Kenney will not let Justin Trudeau “push us out of our country”. Mr Kenney said instead of focusing on Alberta separating from Canada, Albertans should focus on “separating” Justin Trudeau from the prime minister’s office.
Message: Be a patriot. Vote Conservative because Trudeau is trying to push Alberta out of Confederation.
Patriot Games Two
Patriot Games Two came out three days later. Apparently, Albertans continually ask Mr Kenney about separating. He says he’s a Canadian federalist, always has been, always will be…but he understands Alberta’s angst. Alberta contributed $600 billion to Canada over the last six decades and Trudeau “killed” and “surrendered to a veto” on Northern Gateway (I guess killing it wasn’t enough), he “killed” Energy East, he “bungled” Trans Mountain, he’s “threatening us with a punitive carbon tax,” he brought in the “no more pipelines” law, he attacked Alberta oil exports off the northwest coast and did other bad things to Alberta. But Albertans are “proud Canadians”, we should fix the problems with the federation by electing a conservative federal government.
Message: Be a patriot. Vote Conservative because Trudeau is hurting Alberta.
Here’s where Patriot Games Two got really interesting. Kenney said, “I believe we Albertans are patriotic Canadians we believe in Canada even if we’re frustrated with how the current federal government has been injuring our economy and I’m trying to isolate the frustration on a series of federal government policies that have injured our economy, the only alternative is for me to pretend that this frustration doesn’t exist and when political leadership ignores that level of frustration, that’s where things can go in the wrong direction. (Is he going to “isolate the frustration” by magnifying it? If he ignores the frustration what direction will it go? Car bombs and kidnapped politicians?)
He ends the clip by repeating his claim that he’s a proud Canadian patriot who wants Alberta “to be a key member” of federation, contributing to the rest of Canada.
Message: I’m not a separatist, I just sound like one because I’m isolating your frustration.
Patriot or Nationalist
There is so much wrong with Patriot Games One and Two it’s hard to know where to begin.
Let’s start by defining terms. Merriam Webster defines “patriot” as someone who loves and supports his/her country.
Mr Kenney says he’s a patriot, but his actions aren’t those of someone who loves and supports his country.
A patriot does not spend years maligning federal institutions (like the equalization formula) or telling Albertans they’re getting a raw deal and “no respect” from other provincial governments and the federal government.
A patriot does not pretend the language of separatism is an effort to “isolate” frustration and he has no other alternative. Mr Kenney could try working with Mr Trudeau to gain his support like Ms Notley did when she convinced Mr Trudeau to buy Trans Mountain and increase unemployment insurance benefits for Albertans, or Mr Lougheed did when he engaged with Pierre Trudeau on changes to the 1982 Constitution Act. These fine premiers found an alternative that did not suggest the federal government was trying to throw Alberta out of the country.
(As an aside, why would Mr Trudeau push Alberta out of Canada when he just spent $4.5 billion on a pipeline to transport Alberta bitumen to tide water?)
Lastly, a patriot does not use the language of patriotism in a crass partisan pitch for the federal Conservatives coming to the people directly from the premier’s office and the lobby of the Alberta Legislature no less. Does Mr Kenney seriously think Albertans will vote for anyone else?
The historian, Timothy Snyder, said a patriot sets a good example of what the country means for generations to come.
George Orwell said a nationalist, “although endlessly brooding on power, victory, defeat, revenge” tends to be “uninterested in what happens in the real world.”