A political party’s AGM tells you a lot about the party.
What we learned after the UCP AGM is the UCP’s big tent isn’t big enough to hold all its members.
But first a quick recap relating to the small matter of Jason Kenney’s leadership review.
The proposal to make it tougher to trigger an early leadership review failed and the 22 constituency associations that want to fast track Kenney outta here are now in position to do so while Brian Jean and Danielle Smith are standing ready to take over the reins.
Let the internecine games begin.
What’s on the agenda?
Okay, back to the agenda.
What made it onto the agenda and what didn’t is enlightening because it signals which factions, the moderate conservatives or the right wing nutjobs, are ascendant in the party.
The UCP powers-that-be rejected resolutions that proposed introducing a provincial sales tax and creating a revenue-neutral Alberta carbon tax to replace the federal carbon tax (hmmm, that sounds familiar). They also rejected a moratorium on new coal exploration and development on the eastern slopes of the Rockies.
These resolutions gave way to ones calling for the elimination of Alberta’s debt and beefing up the rainy-day fund and a swack of anti-union, anti-public sector, and anti-teacher resolutions. Heaven forbid we forget who the enemy is here.
Some resolutions, like the one “vigorously opposing” the imposition of the federal carbon tax make you wonder whether they were asleep the day the Supreme Court of Canada said the federal carbon tax was okay.
Most disturbing were resolutions addressing “cancel culture” and religious freedoms/conscience rights.
Cancel culture and conscience rights
The grassroots says cancel culture threatens free speech and suppresses conservative values and opinions. They tabled 3 separate resolutions (out of 30) which called for:
- standing with the federal CPC in denouncing actions by Trudeau (and Google, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook) that cancel culture (#1)
- protecting post-secondary students or employees from being harassed or ousted because they expressed their political opinions or beliefs (#8)
- safeguarding “our achievements and respecting our accomplishments by addressing the threats to our history and culture posed by cancel culture and the woke temperament with their historical revisionism and vilification of individuals” (wow, that was a mouthful! #23). The rationale in support of this resolution notes that Idaho banned teaching that “any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color or national origin is inherently superior or inferior” and here in Alberta the ATA opposes the new K-6 curriculum.
They’re also concerned about rules and regulations that violate conscience rights by requiring professionals to do their jobs properly and propose:
- to strip professional associations of the power to “discriminate” against healthcare workers who refuse to do their jobs on moral grounds by enshrining conscience rights in the law (#12)
- to protect the right of medical professionals to refuse to give patients reasonable and timely access to MAID consultation services on the grounds of religion or conscience rights (#19)
It looks like right wing nutjobs are winning, but wait, there are also some resolutions that appear to recognize that climate change is real and Alberta will have to transition away from fossil fuels.
Diversifying the economy
Resolutions with language that acknowledge a future beyond fossil fuels were tabled. They called for the government:
- to prepare for the “post-fossil fuel world” by developing a strategy for nuclear and hydrogen fuel industries (#27),
- to call on the feds to impose a carbon tax on foreign imports from countries without similar carbon tax regimes, while this is a protectionist strategy it could benefit climate change mitigation (#24),
- to support small modular reactors (SMR) because nuclear power is a viable source of clean energy and workers could transition from fossil fuel energy plants to SMR.
Resolutions that appeared to take notice of Kenney’s abysmal management of the pandemic called for research to identify best-practices to mitigate illness and death societal disruption, and economic damage, better care for seniors, a plan to develop Alberta-based vaccines, pharmaceuticals, and PPE. As well as a rapid response plan for public health emergencies.
In the wrong hands these proposals could turn into a nightmare, but at least they acknowledge Kenney did a poor job.
Who holds the pen?
The last time the UCP held an AGM Kenney said he was not bound by the policy resolutions because he holds the pen.
That was then, this is now.
Then he was riding high in the polls and had the freedom to defy the grassroots. Today his popularity is at rock bottom, his caucus is openly hostile and his nemesis Brian Jean is openly campaigning against him.
Kenney may hold the pen, but he won’t hold it for long.
It really doesn’t matter though.
Because by the time his replacement picks up the reins, he or she will have aligned themselves with the moderate conservatives or the right wing nutjobs, the big tent will collapse and the party will split.
And Jason Kenney’s UCP will be finished once and for all.
Oh happy day!