Jason Kenney’s sleazy campaign tactics explained: He’s rolling the dice on a first-ballot win

Posted on November 22, 2016, 12:22 pm
9 mins

PHOTOS: Baby needs new shoes! Jason Kenney prepares to roll the dice on winning the Alberta PC leadership race on the first ballot. Actual Alberta conservative politicians may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Mr. Kenney, plus candidates Steve Khan and Richard Starke.

If you’re surprised by reports Jason Kenney’s Progressive Conservative leadership campaign is treating the rules of the party he wants to lead with contempt, you haven’t really been paying attention.

The behaviour that resulted in PC Party officials – who more than anything else want to be able to present a happy and unified PC face to the province – publicly levying a $5,000 fine against the former Harper cabinet minister’s campaign is intrinsic to this effort to “unite the right.”

kenney-wikiRemember, this is a group that as a first step proposes to destroy the party they’re campaigning to lead – something traditional PC supporters are bound to view with disquiet – and then merge it into another more radical party that many of the same long-time PCs actively dislike and distrust.

To succeed with a scheme this bold, they need to inject their supporters into the party in sufficient numbers to overcome natural resistance – so it makes sense to strike fast and hard to roll up constituency association delegate votes as quickly as possible.

To such a mentality, it was worth the risk to have Mr. Kenney show up at the delegate selection meeting Nov. 16 in the Edmonton-Ellerslie riding despite the common-sense ban on all leadership candidates being there. After all, with a half million dollars of unaccounted-for money in the campaign slush fund, a $5,000 fine is a picayune sum.

khanWell, on Nov. 16 it didn’t quite work – in addition to the fine, the results of the vote were set aside and it will be held again at a date to be determined – but the probability is high the same people will try the same sort of thing again.

The reason is simple: The Kenney brain trust understands that they probably have only one chance to put their plan into action before the true PC base starts to send out antibodies that will coalesce around one of the three remaining candidates who want to preserve the party in its traditional form.

Remember, it’s a bit misleading to call this a “unite the right” campaign, as Mr. Kenney does. It’s about uniting the right, alright, but only in a way that drives from the party the centrist Tories who have been the heart of the PCs since Peter Lougheed was elected premier in 1971. And it’s about doing that in a way that ensures Alberta voters inclined to vote conservatively have no more-moderate conservative alternative to support.

starkeIn other words, they understand they have to win on the first ballot at the PC leadership convention on March 18 in Calgary, or they likely will not win at all. And we are talking about ruthless political operatives like former prime minister Stephen Harper, former Reform Party leader Preston Manning and, by the sound of his commentary at the start of the leadership campaign, former Harper strategist Tom Flanagan.

That is why the Kenney forces worked so hard to push out Sandra Jansen and Donna Kennedy-Glans. The two women both articulated a more progressive and traditional vision of the party’s future, and were probably acceptable to one another’s supporters, so therefore presented the most serious threat to Mr. Kenney’s forces. Accordingly, they had to go.

And that is why a pattern is emerging in which Mr. Kenney’s campaign is prepared to bend or break the rules – or, as some party members are more forthrightly calling it, to cheat – in order to win on the first ballot.

In addition to Edmonton-Ellerslie and the successful campaign to drive our Ms. Jansen and Ms. Kennedy-Glans, there are reports of the same kind of shenanigans in the Spruce Grove-St. Albert riding, where a local newspaper reported Mr. Kenney’s supporters handed out a list of preferred delegates. The St. Albert Gazette quotes party officials saying that matter is being investigated too, so perhaps there will be another quite affordable $5,000 fine.

Also under investigation are the accusations of harassment and intimidation levelled by Ms. Jansen, a 30-year PC member. But it’s reasonable to assume that now that she has crossed the floor of the Legislature to join the NDP, there will be little pressure to follow up.

Then there was the coup at the meeting of the PC Youth wing during the PC policy convention in Red Deer on Nov. 6 – with busloads of students from an unnamed Christian school brought in to take over the PC Youth Association (and its delegate votes), pose for a selfie with Mr. Harper and then be whisked back whence they came. There is nothing former PCYA enthusiasts can do but cry on their pillows.

Add in the reported threats to federal Conservative MPs unenthusiastic about joining the PCs and backing Mr. Kenney if they hope for a future nomination, and you have five examples of unethical or rule-breaking behaviour by the Kenney campaign.

Once may be happenstance and twice coincidence. But, to paraphrase James Bond’s creator Ian Fleming, five times is plenty of evidence of enemy action!

Some of the stuff they’re up to is so over the top that well-mannered candidates Stephen Khan and Richard Starke are expressing their shock aloud.

“Mr. Kenney and his team demonstrate that arrogant, divisive, old-school style of politics, a style of politics that Albertans in 2015 told us they were done with,” the gentlemanly Mr. Khan bitterly told the CBC.

“Mr. Kenney is a career politician, he knows full well that you can’t campaign in, near or around a polling station,” the usually diplomatic Dr. Starke said in the same story.

Both Dr. Starke and Mr. Khan have reputations for being nice guys. But as far as the Kenney campaign is concerned, obviously, nice guys finish last. They’re likely right.

This day in history: the death of JFK

Today is the 53rd anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and, yes, I remember clearly where I was when I received the terrible news. It was and is a big deal, for Canadians as well as Americans. JFK’s death was a national tragedy in our mighty but in many ways still innocent next door neighbour that led inexorably down a path of political cynicism and disillusionment to America’s present sorry state.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

18 Comments to: Jason Kenney’s sleazy campaign tactics explained: He’s rolling the dice on a first-ballot win

  1. ronmac

    November 22nd, 2016

    Yet another indication that he’s the Hilary Clinton of Alberta politics. Krooked Kenney

    Reply
    • PIGL

      November 22nd, 2016

      Bad example. There’s no evidence that Mrs. Clinton is “crooked”, except malicious fabrications from the extreme right that have, through repetition, gained credence even on the left. Kenney, otoh, has been crooked from go; if not avaricious than unprincipled and ruthless in the pursuit of power. What he and his backers are doing should have them all in gaol for 20 years.

      Reply
    • Jim

      November 23rd, 2016

      Yes, a career politician with no goal but power backed by the so called elites who profit off the rigged system. Perhaps he will suffer the same fate as Hillary. And yes there is plenty of evidence Hillary is crooked. Haiti comes to mind.

      Reply
    • Mackenna

      November 28th, 2016

      RONMAC must be a Kenney operative. He certainly trolls like one.

      Reply
  2. PIGL

    November 22nd, 2016

    Is there no action the Party can take to bar this gang of criminals from their deceitful and pernicious campaign?

    Reply
  3. Athabascan

    November 22nd, 2016

    Yet another indication that he’s the Donald Trump of Alberta politics. Krooked Kenney indeed.

    Either way he did learn dirty politics and rule breaking at the foot of the master – Harper.

    Reply
  4. David

    November 22nd, 2016

    I am not sure Mr. Harper or Mr. Manning can really threaten or pressure Conservative MP’s to support Kenney’s leadership bid any more. The former leaders can try and persuade those MP’s, but those that are reluctant can not be “forced” to support him.

    I think all these dirty tricks would be unnecessary if Kenney was actually confident in winning. There is also a cost to them – they will serve to enrage his opponents and may cause them to coalesce against him as well as diminishing his own reputation. Therefore, it seems to me that right now even Kenney is not certain of winning this on the first or a subsequent ballot. Perhaps this leadership race will become more interesting than people thought.

    Reply
  5. Filostrato

    November 22nd, 2016

    The Unholy Trinity – Harper, Kenney and Flanagan. Didn’t Harper give a talk at a Sheldon Adelson get-together in Las Vegas about uniting fractured parties? Wow – lovely company he keeps.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/04/11/stephen-harper-republicans-sheldon-adelson-vegas_n_9660624.html

    Some people at the meeting in April didn’t seem to have gotten the memo that Harper had been turfed from the PM job. They also seemed to think his advice was “sage”, and interpreted the PC/Reform splice as a successful example of the idea rather than a hostile takeover built on lies and broken promises. More like Frankenstein’s monster than matrimonial bliss, I think.

    Skin-crawlingly sleazy, this Kenney (and Harper and Flanagan) campaign. But I’d be crazy if I expected anything else from this bunch.

    Kennedy: I remember where I was, too. One of our teachers came into the class with a pale and stricken face. I remember how she looked before she even had a chance to say anything.

    Reply
    • jerrymacgp

      November 23rd, 2016

      “…Kennedy: I remember where I was, too. One of our teachers came into the class with a pale and stricken face. I remember how she looked before she even had a chance to say anything…” I was four. I do remember where I was the night I learned of Princess Di’s death (working nights in ICU), as well as 11 September. But not the JFK thing, I was too young. I do remember MLK & RFK though, and how appalled I was even at the tender age of nine at what was going on in the US even then, with Vietnam, civil rights, etc.

      Reply
  6. pogo

    November 22nd, 2016

    So, Jason Kenney (who sucks by any standard) is slithering into Alberta and trying to take leadership of a party that he detests in order to bury their reason to exist. What? Is this doughy little pantload the punisher? Shouldn’t he at least try not to appear to be what he is? A virus, a bacteria? Some zombie plaque in the brain (sic) of conservatism?

    Reply
  7. Kang the barbarian

    November 22nd, 2016

    The threats of violence are nothing new to those who supported orderly farm marketing, the NFU and the CWB. Too often the threats ended in physical violence. You urban people were warned and it is too bad Ms. Jansen and the others ignored those warnings over the years.

    What is worse is the NDP are still forcing farmers to finance the same rural thugs who will push Kenney over the top and into the Premiership. Oh well, fair warning, again.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/impassioned-sandra-jansen-calls-on-legislature-to-stand-against-misogyny-1.3863097

    Reply
    • Bob Raynard

      November 23rd, 2016

      Hi Kang,

      This is the first I’ve heard of violence with regards to the CWB etc. Was it ever documented?

      Reply
    • PIGL

      November 23rd, 2016

      also, you state “NDP are still forcing farmers to finance the same rural thugs who will push Kenney over the top and into the Premiership”.

      Could you elaborate, with some evidence, please?

      Reply
      • Kang the barbarian

        November 23rd, 2016

        Greetings Bob and PIGL:

        The violence of the anti CWB side has been well documented in news reports and elsewhere over the years. Physical and verbal violence against CWB staff and supporters started with the funding of anti-orderly marketing Astroturf groups in the late 1970s by the government of Alberta. (Western Producer, Mar. 29/84). Harper carried it on: http://tinyurl.com/l5jn3lz .

        At least one such group with less than 200 members operates out of an Alberta Agriculture Centre office building in Airdrie. http://tinyurl.com/hanp5qb

        Under Klein CWB staff at farm shows were regularly verbally assaulted. This happened to farmer-supporters of orderly marketing too. When it got physical, police reports were often filed but going through with an actual charge didn’t happen because it would have invited even worse. Vandalism of vehicles with CWB stickers and the burning of signage was so common people got used to the climate of intimidation.

        However votes for CWB Directors were always conducted via a secret mail out/mail in ballot and 80% of CWB Directorships went to pro-orderly marketing farmers as did a two-thirds plurality of votes.

        The Alberta government mandated Ag Check-off commissions were a large source of funding and organizers for all this. You can look at their published audited statements and see that their spending on “government relations” and “market development,” tracked CWB election cycles as did their Board members’ expenses. This was all code for anti-orderly marketing activities.

        The big three check-off commissions take around $35 million each year from farmers. Their elections are not conducted by secret mail-in ballot but are held in small group settings hours from where most farmers live and work.

        The NDP government has been told of this in detail and has refused to do anything. They will not even do a value for money audit.

        For this farmer, there were an awful lot of familiar faces working behind the scenes to orchestrate the anti-Bill 6 hysteria and the same bunch are using their positions and connections for political purposes now.

        Like Alberta Energy, Alberta Agriculture is largely industry-captured and the NDP has not reformed them. Notley needs to appoint Ministers capable of doing so now.

        Reply
  8. Albertan

    November 23rd, 2016

    This Kenney schtick, brings back all of this for me:
    “The Harper government and evangelical capitalism”
    Note who is mentioned under the section, “church and state.”
    http://www.rabble.ca/news/2015/02-harper-government-and-evangelical-capitalism
    The whole thing with theo-politics, dominionism, The Northern Foundation…..is, as stated in this article, “unrecognized by the public and mostly unreported.”

    Reply
  9. John Brennand

    November 23rd, 2016

    Kenney has done the math. Federal, the Reform Party (Oops, the Conservative Party, my bad) is unlikely to form government in 2019. Chances are only remotely better in 2023, but even then Kenney would only be given an “emeritus” cabinet portfolio.
    Q.E.D.. if he wants to rule, provincial politics is the only game in town.
    Additional point: Should our current federal government actually follow through on the promise of real, as opposed to pro forma, electoral reform, even winning in 2019 would only give him a shadow of the power Harper wielded.

    Reply

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