There was a time when Jason Kenney pretended to be the modern-day manifestation of Peter Lougheed, notwithstanding his conviction that Lougheed’s programs were akin to “neo-Stalinist make-work projects.”
He’s since dropped the charade. He no longer pretends to be anything other than what he is. A Trump admirer.
Recently he’s taken to invoking Trump’s name to bolster his credibility.
When a stubborn minority of Albertans thumbed their noses at Kenney’s plea they get vaccinated, he tweeted a clip of Trump extolling the virtues of vaccines. (Trump also took credit for developing them; what else is new).
When asked about reducing emissions, Kenney ridiculed Trudeau’s plan to transition from oil and gas jobs to greener jobs, saying Trump had great success in cutting emissions by switching from coal to gas fired power plants. (He failed to mention Trump also weakened EPA rules to allow more coal plants to stay open).
It’s likely Kenney has always been a Trump admirer (he bet $1.5 billion on Keystone XL in anticipation of Trump being re-elected in 2020), but it’s peculiar for a Canadian politician to continue to invoke the name of the American president who perpetrated the Big Lie and incited the Jan 6 attack on the Capital to lend credibility to his provincial policies. Wouldn’t a big-name Canadian politician—perhaps his old boss, Stephen Harper—be more suitable?
One wonders whether Trump is on Kenney’s mind because Kenney knows he’s in trouble and is focusing on the Trump playbook to dig himself out.
Trump’s modus operandi
Kenney and Trump share the same political ambition and deploy the same ruthless tactics. For example:
Hyperpartisanship: The first thing Kenney did when he came into office was rip down everything Notley had done, only to reinstate some of her policies—attracting tech investment, for example—with similar, but watered-down versions of his own.
Eroding our faith in democratic institutions: In Kenney’s world it’s OK to wear ear plugs in debates (who cares what the Opposition has to say), it’s OK to curtail debate on a whim, it’s OK to demonize private citizens by name in the Legislature if they dare criticize the government, and it’s OK to create special commissions and war rooms to attack and intimidate those who disagree with government policy.
Undermining the public service: Kenney views public servants as a pack of unionized slackers, teachers as pushing socialist, leftie claptrap onto their students, and doctors and nurses as grossly overpaid.
Exacerbating inequality: Kenney cut corporate taxes, thereby starving public services and paving the way for privatization. Services will be available to those who can pay. He’s hinted at a flat personal income tax which will increase inequality by pushing the more of the tax burden onto lower income earners.
Degrading the environment: Kenney eliminated Lougheed’s Coal Policy. (He backtracked temporarily but he’ll green light coal mining in the Rockies once again). He’s weakened regulatory agencies (too much red tape) because Alberta is open for business, damn the consequences.
Perpetuating a culture of victimhood: Alberta is still the wealthiest province in the country, yet Kenney wants us to believe we’re victims. The feds, the socialists and the lefties are coming for us at every turn. We need a protector to stand up for us, and by George, we’ve got one in Jason Trump…um, Jason Kenney.
Us against them: Nowhere is Kenney’s appetite for power more obvious than when he pits Albertans against each other. He started with an easy target, the unions, and has moved onto people who eat bat soup. Kenney’s comment that he tries not to predict the behavior of covid because who knows what “the next bat soup thing out of Wuhan” will be set off a storm of criticism. His spokesperson denied the comment was racist, then following protests in Calgary and Edmonton, offered a statement that purported to be, but fell far short of, an apology.
2022 will be the most important year in Kenney’s entire political career. He rode into town a few years ago determined to make Alberta the country’s conservative beacon. He failed.
He’s fighting off mutinous MLAs, the economy will never regain the lofty heights it enjoyed in the golden years, Brian Jean is actively campaigning to unseat him, his nemesis Rachel Notley consistently outpolls him, and he’s utterly mismanaged his most important file, the government’s response to covid.
This is not a man who will go gracefully into retirement.
But I know this and I’m prepared to act (be it through a letter writing campaign or taking to the streets) when Kenney does what Trump would do to hold onto power regardless of the cost.
That’s my New Year’s resolution. I hope it’s yours too.