Seriously? Tories about to dump candidate Jason Kenney, columnist predicts …

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PHOTOS: Members of the Progressive Conservative Party executive get ready to send Jason Kenney down the old skid road. … Actual Tory executive members may not appear exactly as described in some publications. Below: Calgary Herald political columnist Don Braid and PC leadership candidate Jason Kenney.

“Faced with the end of their party, PCs ponder kicking out Jason Kenney,” the Calgary Herald blared yesterday.

The author of this scoop – and if his story is right, it’s undeniably a major scoop – is Don Braid, the Herald’s political columnist for many years.

Mr. Braid’s claim in a nutshell is that now with it looking increasingly as if Mr. Kenney will win the race to lead the Alberta Tories with relative ease – thanks to what the columnist called “his organization, money and bloodthirsty will to prevail” – Tory insiders on the party’s board may give him the bum’s rush for planning to destroy the party.

“The fight for the old party is no longer political,” Mr. Braid wrote. “It’s existential.”

True enough, as far as it goes. And let’s not sell Mr. Braid short. He’s a good reporter. He’s covered politics in Alberta for many years. Like all of us, he gets things wrong, but he’s right a lot more often than not. He’s got good sources, and he works them hard. So we can’t rule out the possibility he’s uncovered a major story.

Still, I’m afraid that this time I just can’t see the scenario he’s reporting unfolding as described.

There are too many reasons at this point for Alberta’s hapless Tories not to act.

The right time for them to have dumped Mr. Kenney was when rolled out his campaign last summer. It was perfectly clear from Day 1 what the former Harper Government cabinet minister had in mind: a double reverse hostile takeover of the PC Party and then the Wildrose, in which the two would be rolled into a single party much more like the far-right Opposition than the former government.

“The Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties must put Alberta first,” Mr. Kenney told his supporters the day he launched his campaign. “We must come together to form a single free-enterprise party and we must do so before the next election. …

“That is why I’ve decided to seek the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, seeking an explicit mandate: to unite with the Wildrose Party and all like-minded Albertans so we can defeat the NDP.” (Emphasis added.)

So you can dislike Mr. Kenney’s policy ideas and his social conservative leanings, as I do, and you can even dislike him personally, as a lot of folks seem to, but you can hardly accuse the man of being sneaky about his intentions!

Would die-hard party traditionalists who lacked the moral courage to tell Mr. Kenney he couldn’t run when they had every reason to do so suddenly discover the fortitude they needed last July now that he’s about to win? They just rolled with this, and now they’re going to put the knife in?

Are there even any die-hard PC traditionalists – adherents of the progressive part of Progressive Conservatism, Red Tories ready to welcome other progressives to their big tent – even left in that party?

Nothing would be more entertaining to watch for those of us who enjoy the blood sport of politics, so I sincerely hope Mr. Braid is right. However, surely nothing is less likely to happen!

My prediction: Mr. Kenney will win the PC leadership race on the first ballot on March 18 in Calgary.

Yes, a lot of traditional Tories are unhappy with his plans and ideas. But Mr. Kenney for all practical purposes already controls their party. It’s all over but the tears. Plus the search for a new political home for many progressive conservatives, of course.

Jason Kenney will get a tougher fight from Brian Jean, the leader of the Wildrose Party, than he will from the demoralized PCs.

Remember what we used to say about newspapers back in the day when they were still the main source of news? Don’t bet the family hotdog stand on something you read in a newspaper!

Categories Alberta Politics