You take the high road and we’ll take the low road: The Kenney Cabal’s strategy to grab back power in Alberta for the right

Posted on June 24, 2016, 2:27 am
9 mins

PHOTOS: Jason Kenney with Preston Manning grabbed from @jkenney Twitter account). Below: Likely Kenney opponents Sandra Jansen, another possible PC candidate, and Brian Jean, leader of the Wildrose Party in happier times.

In many ways, as was said here two days ago, Jason Kenney is a miscast and unattractive candidate for the leadership of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives – an extreme social conservative, a divider and a dog-whistle politician not unlike former prime minister Stephen Harper, with whom he was and is closely allied.

But we ought not to sell Mr. Kenney short in this contest, because he comes with formidable political skills as well, and, more important, with a well-connected political network within both Wildrose and the Conservative circles that is prepared to work behind the scenes to install him as the Crown prince of the Alberta right.

JansenIf certain members of those parties don’t like it – and this includes the present leader of the Wildrose Opposition, Brian Jean – this group, which certainly includes many of Mr. Kenney’s Ottawa caucus mates in the Conservative Party of Canada and people in the moneyed Calgary circle that bankrolls former Reform Party leader Preston Manning’s political efforts, is prepared to shove them aside to fulfill their master plan.

Chased out of Ottawa by the voters of Canada – and aware that it won’t be easy to return with a popular leader like Justin Trudeau occupying 24 Sussex Drive – the movers and shakers of Canada’s conservative movement and their many allies in mainstream media have turned their attention back to Alberta as the most important place to reestablish a beachhead for their dangerous ideology in an increasingly liberal nation.

They have done the math and realize, as the unite-the-right crowd keeps pointing out, that conservative voters still outnumber progressive voters in Alberta – if not quite as decisively as they would like us to imagine.

So they have concluded the best time to strike at the NDP led by Premier Rachel Notley is in its first term as the government deals with difficult economic circumstances not of its making, and before more centrist voters are persuaded the NDP reflects their values and delivers competent government.

As CBC National Affairs Editor Chris Hall argued on Tuesday, Mr. Kenney and his friends in low places have decided “the path and time frame for a return to power in the province is shorter than rebuilding the federal party as an alternative to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.”

This is why an extreme social conservative who clearly would be a better fit in the Wildrose Party is set to run for the leadership of the Progressive Conservatives, a party that retains vestiges of genuine progressive attitudes in some policy areas,  not to mention includes many influential people who actively dislike him.

b_jean_mug-jpgAnd Mr. Kenney’s backers do have a plan, his many obvious liabilities with modern voters notwithstanding, that they believe can work. It is a version of the reverse hostile takeover of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada engineered in 2003 by Mr. Manning and Mr. Harper, with the help of strategists like Tom Flanagan, who emerged this week as Mr. Kenney’s stalking horse. It resulted in the creation of the thoroughly unprogressive Conservative Party of Canada in 2003 that was followed by the dark years of Mr. Harper’s prime ministership.

How will it work? Well, readers naturally understand that Dr. Flanagan and Mr. Manning don’t phone me up and tell me their plans, so this is necessarily speculative.

But it seems likely their strategy will be to use Mr. Kenney’s acknowledged strength as a backroom organizer, plus the persuasive skills and influence of his friends in the CPC and allied organizations, to sweep aside what is certain to be a field of less skilled and less experienced challengers for the PC leadership next year.

They expect do this whether well-known progressive-wing PCs like former deputy premier and leadership candidate Thomas Lukaszuk and Sandra Jansen, now the PC MLA for Calgary-North West and a possible leadership candidate herself, like it or not.

“Jason has never been a friend of the Progressive Conservative Party, there’s nothing progressive about Jason Kenney,” Ms. Jansen told CBC Calgary this week. “I think it’s an interesting strategy, the idea of coming into a party that stands for very little of what he stands for to try to take it over and create a merger where we certainly haven’t asked for one.”

Still, it makes sense if you consider the challenge the people backing Mr. Kenney face. Anyway, they will be just as happy if they can drive progressives like Ms. Jansen out of the party, where she could continue to be a nuisance, just as Mr. Harper purged the progressive Conservatives disparaged as “Red Tories” when he latched onto real power in Ottawa.

This won’t necessarily be easy. As blogger Dave Cournoyer explained in his Daveberta.ca blog, next year’s PC leadership contest will be structured to require candidates to have broad support in all 87 Alberta constituencies. Moreover, Alberta law won’t let political parties merge into one another just because they feel like it.

So the other key to success will be what also is happening behind the scenes in the Wildrose Party at the same time, and we have already caught a glimpse of how this will play out.

For Mr. Kenney has allies there too, some of them associated one way or another to the Opposition Conservative Party in Ottawa, and they will continue to do whatever they can to undermine Mr. Jean.

So, count on attacks on Mr. Jean’s leadership from Wildrose constituency associations continuing and intensifying, with new challenges appearing from right field very soon, possibly in the next week or two.

Loyalty to the man who saved the party at its darkest moment, after former leader Danielle Smith, pushed by Mr. Manning, led a majority of her caucus to the PCs in December 2014? Forget about it!

You could argue that this sneak attack presents a mortal danger to the values of both the PCs and the Wildrose. It is designed to root out the last progressive instincts of the PCs and equally to destroy the bottom-up populism of the Wildrose Party. Both, after all, threaten the neoliberal agenda of the insider cabal that hopes to restore its grip on Alberta, and, eventually, on Canada.

The people behind this plan expect many supporters of both groups just to give up, or to support other parties.

But they believe by giving them no other conservative option they can hold onto enough moderate voters, who still think of themselves as conservatives, to take back the province and restore their elitist, entitled rule.

The game’s afoot! Only, this time, with Mr. Kenney at the table, it will mostly be played behind closed doors.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

17 Comments to: You take the high road and we’ll take the low road: The Kenney Cabal’s strategy to grab back power in Alberta for the right

  1. June 24th, 2016

    Does anybody know what mortal sin Kenney committed that he was left out of cabinet (Parliamentary Secretary was definitely not where he was expected to land) when Harper took the reins of his first minority government in 2006?

    Reply
    • Rocky

      June 24th, 2016

      He was from Alberta, is all. Too many slugs from Alberta that year; not enough from Quebec.

      Reply
  2. anonymous

    June 24th, 2016

    “Au sein même de la direction de l’université, les activités du jeune Kenney et consorts étaient critiquées. Le San Francisco Bay Guardian avait publié en avril 1990 un article détaillant «le siège de la droite à USF». Un ancien professeur, Joseph Soehee, décrivait cette jeunesse illuminée ainsi: «Ils veulent le retour des années 50. Et par années 50, je ne veux pas dire les années 1950, je veux dire les années 1550: obédience, obédience, obédience.» ” – Le Devoir.

    http://www.ledevoir.com/politique/canada/320583/des-fous-de-dieu-chez-les-conservateurs

    Loosely translated, Professor Joseph Soehee says “Jason Kenney wants to take San Francisco University back to the 50s, and I’m not talking about the 1950s, I’m talking about the 1550s: obedience, obedience, obedience.”.

    It’s difficult to imagine, in this day and age that anyone, including social conservatives, would want a return to the 1550s. Except, apparently, Mr. Kenney and his disciples.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKPmGjVFbrY

    Reply
  3. AlbertaPride

    June 24th, 2016

    If Alberta conservatives have any sense at all they will reject Kenney’s political opportunism and see it for what it really is — another hopeless political putsch designed to promote flawed market-fundamentalism. I’m betting conservatives are tired of the ugly infighting and will stay the course, at least until after the next election in 2019 until a more suitable leader appears on the political scene.

    Reply
  4. ronmac

    June 24th, 2016

    If this Kenny thing doesn’t work out I have another suggestion. None other than Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the former Prime Minister of Ukraine and loyal servant to the international money laundering banking cartels.

    After his Ukrainian gig was up, Yatsenyuk (aka Ratsenyuk) landed on Canadian soil, obtained his Canadian citizenship, and (I’m making a big assumption here) he’s now awaiting his next assignment – to be determined by global oligarchs.

    Alberta may be the perfect fit. And why not? It has a large Ukrainian population. The Wildrose opposition regularly uses the term “Holodomor” when it doesn’t like anything the ruling NDP does.

    There may be some who find this whole idea preposterous. But let me remind you that bureaucrats and CEO-types are regularly shuffled across transnational borders and put into positions of power over the local peasantry.

    So why not politicians? Their main function is to assure us that all is well. We saw a perfect example of that recently when President Obama went to Fint, Michigan, took a sip of contaminated water on TV and pronounced it fir as a fiddle. Did it really matter if Obama came from Kenya or Kansas?

    In case anyone doubts Yatsenyuk may not be able to withstand the rigors of Canadian-style parliamentary democracy let me put your mind to rest.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBAlnoYy-SE

    Reply
    • Alex

      June 25th, 2016

      That gives me a better idea. After he, too, gets run out of Ukraine (as he got run out of Georgia), the monopoly capitalists or imperialists can make Mikheil Saakashvili premier of Alberta. After all, he’s more Ralph Klein-like than the technocratic Yatsenyuk.

      Reply
  5. Chris

    June 24th, 2016

    The entrance of Kenney into provincial politics precedes the final triumph of freedom over the oppression of socialism in Alberta.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      June 24th, 2016

      True, but the term is symbolic, like “the White House,” and anyway I figured he’d be occupying the real address soon enough to justify it. DJC

      Reply
    • Athabascan

      June 24th, 2016

      Oppression of socialism, or facism – take your pick. Personally, I’ll try something new. Forty years of facism in Alberta was enough for me.

      Why don’t you wait until you win before you do your victory dance? Besides, I’m pretty sure Kenney doesn’t like people dancing or having any kind of enjoyment.

      Reply
    • Alfredo Louro

      June 26th, 2016

      Freedom, oppression, socialism. Three words whose meaning completely eludes you.

      Reply
  6. JH

    June 24th, 2016

    Actually, Mr. Trudeau and his family are not occupying 24 Sussex…. they are staying in a different home due to upkeep needed on the official residence

    Reply
    • Athabascan

      June 24th, 2016

      Cats and Harper. It’s a big job to clean up before move in day.

      I’d insist on fumigation, and a good exorcism – ah, hell a complete gut job too.

      Reply
  7. pogo

    June 24th, 2016

    With the coming assault on sanity, by Preston and his merry band of end timers I thought it might be appropriate to drop a particularly informative tube on our host. David, I hope you like it. In my view it’s a library being used to the utmost!

    https://youtu.be/szIGZVrSAyc

    Reply
  8. June 25th, 2016

    I think Mr. Kenney might be able to become the next premier of Alberta. He’s got the funding from supporters and he’s got a record of decent performance during the Harper error. If he stays out of Harper style politics of division and disrespect for ordinary voters and suppresses the instinct to return to the Preston Manning past-it’s quite possible that voters may return to the past. In Alberta nothing really changes in terms of voting except once in fifty years, we boot out the lacklustre Tories.

    It is unfortunate but there you go. There is no incentive to keep on voting NDP. We haven’t had the changes we want in areas of concern to families such as continuing care, our kids are moving out of province to get jobs, there was a ton of jobs lost last month and the future is not friendly for non-government workers. Heck the amount of cash we are borrowing seems poor fiscal policy and without revenue generated or government workers laid off I don’t see how we will manage. I doubt that Albertans will accept a provincial sales tax. These are interesting times.

    Reply
    • MAGGIE

      June 25th, 2016

      “…he’s got a record of decent performance during the Harper error.” Was that a typo or was it deliberate? It did give me a chuckle. It’s a pretty tall order to expect Kenney to stay out of Harper’s politics of division and disrespect since, more than likely, those politics are in Kenney’s nature too.

      Reply
    • G Aucoin

      June 26th, 2016

      I don’t really understand this post; sure Kenney has a chance but if you think he’d stick to the parameters you’ve mentioned then good luck with that, the man simply cannot help but come across as some puritanical creep no matter how he tries to assimilate with normal society. I mean, who refers to indigenous people as ‘settlers’? There has to be some deep-seeded mental depravity to come up with such a bizarre statement, no level-headed human would ever say something like that. Regardless, I’d have to disagree with your review of the NDP government to date, after a year of adjustments I feel like they are doing a decent job and while the other parties basically look lost and leaderless (PCs) or literally make complete fools of themselves on a weekly basis (WRP) I can’t see anyone mustering up the intellect and political acumen by 2019 to defeat a party that will only get stronger over the course of the next three years. You can’t blame government for lost oil jobs no more than you can congratulate them when there is a hiring frenzy, things will never go back to the ‘good old days’ when oil money rained down from the sky but we will reach a balance where the oil industry and everything else coexists in a way that benefits everyone in this province. Hopefully

      Reply
  9. Alfredo Louro

    June 26th, 2016

    What a curse on Alberta Preston Manning is.

    Reply

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