Jason Kenney tries to look tough, but that ship’s already sailed with Rachel Notley at the helm

Posted on February 20, 2018, 1:12 am
7 mins

PHOTOS: The real Rachel Notley, looking tough and determined, as she is. Below: The new slimmed down, but still not very scary looking, Jason Kenney, trying to scare us of course. (Yes, the message from Mr. Kenney’s social media meme has been modified by your poor-sport blogger.) The real Dr. David Suzuki, who is the target, along with teachers, of Mr. Kenney’s latest lame social media attacks.

You know, I don’t think Alberta Opposition Leader Jason Kenney’s actually been having a very good February.

These days Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, though, seems to be enjoying herself.

Ever since Ms. Notley started demonstrating how to sound and look tougher than supposedly tough Conservative leader in the ongoing pipeline scrap with British Columbia, the former federal minister of defence has been looking almost as nervous as he did standing behind his old boss out there on the dusty plains of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Back then, though, Mr. Kenney was more than a horizon away from the nearest sniper. Now the danger’s much closer to home, and the U.S. Air Force is not available to render assistance.

Lately, indeed, the United Conservative Party leader almost has the look of a man who’s caught a glimpse of the future, and doesn’t particularly like what he sees. Then again, maybe he’s just looking a little hollow-eyed as a result of slimming down in preparation for the next round of PAC-funded election ads.

Regardless, just days ago, Mr. Kenney seemed to be trying to remake himself in the mold of the now thankfully departed Brad Wall, that is to say, as the new Mr. Congeniality of Confederation. “We believe Albertans deserve a Legislature, deserve an Official Opposition, that demonstrates civility and respect for our democratic institutions, including our opponents,” he preached to the choir at his swearing-in ceremony.

But no sooner had Ms. Notley begun to bash B.C. Premier John Horgan, who like Alberta’s premier is also a New Democrat, such pieties went out the window faster than a Donald Trump promise, and Mr. Kenney flip-flopped right back to his normal nattering narrative of negativity.

But trying to sound tougher than a premier who is beating up Mr. Horgan (metaphorically speaking) like Justin Trudeau in a boxing ring with a karate black belt doesn’t really look very convincing. (For his part, the prime minister seems to have made himself scarce on another continent while Ms. Notley delivers the heavy punches.)

Mind you, as has been argued here before, notwithstanding the claims to the contrary from all the usual suspects in the oil industry’s corner, this may be working almost as well for Mr. Horgan as it is for Ms. Notley. But that’s a topic for another day. This post is about Alberta politics.

Mr. Kenney’s whole pre-election shtick has been that he’s much tougher than Ms. Notley and her snowflakey social democrats. So how’s that working out for him now that Ms. Notley is showing the steel that those of us who have paid attention to her career have always known was there? Plus, Ms. Notley’s NDP caucus is far more disciplined than the rag-tag Wildrose-Tory B-Team Mr. Kenney inherited.

Well, nowadays he’s attacking the B.C. NDP as ideological – always a bit of an irony coming from the leader of the most doctrinaire ideological major political party in Canadian politics – hoping, I guess, that a bit of that accusation will rub off on the local Dippers.

It seems to me, though, that this is about as effective as accusing Mr. Kenney of secretly supporting a carbon tax because Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister openly does. Any old port in a storm, as they say in places like British Columbia that have God-given access to tidewater.

Mr. Kenney has sanctimoniously called for a non-partisan emergency debate in the Legislature, presumably to give his caucus an opportunity to grandstand despite the almost total elite consensus on this issue in this province.

But as blogger Susan Wright explained this gambit in her excellent Susan on the Soapbox blog, this idea’s “just in from the ‘train-has-left-the-station’ department.

Mr. Kenney’s other big idea: attack the Alberta Teachers Association for inviting B.C.-based environmentalist David Suzuki to address their convention.

The UCP Leader has tried to organize morning and evening Two-Minute Hate sessions on Facebook in hopes of straightening out the zig-zaggy line from Dr. Suzuki to the B.C. Greens, to the the B.C. NDP they’re propping up, to the teachers at the ATA (often mocked in in the past in certain progressive circles as the Alberta Tory Association), to the union movement (which in Alberta and B.C. is nowadays determinedly pro-pipeline), to the Alberta NDP, to Ms. Notley.

Well, it’s a reach, but good on him for trying, anyway. Die-hard UCP Wildrosers will be persuaded, maybe, although this is a pretty complicated narrative even for people who hate everything on that long list. For the rest of us, the effect is … well, pathetic, basically.

But, the modern Conservative movement’s motto is, “When in Doubt, Attack Teachers.” Plus Mr. Kenney has long had a thing about Dr. Suzuki, who for some reason particularly gets up his nose. So at least the UCP is reverting to form.

As for Dr. Suzuki, why not talk to him? What do you want to bet he’s going to be the next leader of the B.C. Greens, and after that maybe the next premier of British Columbia?

Oh, you’re laughing at me now. But just remember where you heard it first.

19 Comments to: Jason Kenney tries to look tough, but that ship’s already sailed with Rachel Notley at the helm

  1. GregH

    February 20th, 2018

    Kenney’s like a kid sitting in an old car playing with the steering wheel. Postmedia and others have created a loud clan of climate change reactionaries who slaver whenever someone pushes the button marked “Suzuki”. Whether pushing that button will result in votes is another story. “BRRRrrrrrrmmmm brrrrrrrrrmmmm!”

    Reply
  2. J.E. Molnar

    February 20th, 2018

    Jason Kenney’s dog whistle, red meat dystopian narratives have now permanently lodged themselves into the UCP’s election platform. UCP wedge politics, fear and smear are now as common as dandelions in summer. Fearing a complete return to a robust economy, Kenney will deflect at the drop of a hat to attain any media coverage, with the truth being the first casualty of campaigning.

    Reply
  3. the salamander

    February 20th, 2018

    .. OKaydoki ..

    When do we (Canadians, Albertans, BC, PEI .. other riff riff provinces et al get some definitions or descriptions of what is meant by In The National Interest.. or Energy Security For Canadians.. Hell I am starting an informal poll & asking a few simple questions on these convoluted matters. Let me put it to ya.. Can someone ask Jason Kenney, Rachael Notley or Justin Trudeau if they will bet money, they know where the energy that heats their homes, or fuels their pickup truck, limo or Toyota actually comes from? Clue? They might lose their money .. The bizarro concept that Energy East was all about Energy Security For Canadians was also laughable.. it was about tar sands dilbit for export to Asia or the Gulf Coast refineries.. OK maybe 5% would be scavenged for Maritime asphalt.. There are still folks paid by Big Energy saying the buffalo will roam where the tar sands tailings ponds once were.. they might be right. But human life as we know it will be extinct long before

    Reply
  4. tom in ontario

    February 20th, 2018

    Mr. Kenney’s rant about David Suzuki and the Alberta Teachers Association clearly shows Jason and his followers are badly in need of edu-mication. Instead of mindless criticism, they should find out what Dr. Suzuki has to say.

    Amazon.ca/books can help. “You Are The Earth: Your World So You Can Help Make It Better”, David Suzuki et al. “This lively collection of facts, fables, colourful and dynamic illustrations explains how everything on Earth is connected. Since its original publication, concern for the environment has grown, and although environmental damage has increased, so have “green” strategies. This new edition reflects these changes with expanded discussion of environmental issues and technologies, as well as many more activities. New sidebars offer extra facts, tips and real-life examples of things budding ecologists have done to make the world a better place.”

    If Mr. Kenney wants to lead Alberta, he should learn about fossil fuel alternatives. All he needs is a set of Crayolas and an open mind. Suzuki could provide him with a good start, maybe even an autographed copy.

    Reply
    • Farmer Brian

      February 21st, 2018

      Tom, Rick Bell from the Calgary Sun was at David Suzuki’s speech. Some of the highlights were 80-85% of Alberta’s oil has to stay in the ground. There is no point in building any more infrastructure as it is all going to have to be shut down. No point in doing any more exploration. Basically his message was we have to be fossil fuel free by 2050 and there is no point in Alberta spending any more money on the oil industry. As an Albertan I certainly agree with Jason Kenney on this one.

      As for fossil fuel alternatives, is there one that doesn’t require fossil fuels to build or create? Solar panels and windmills don’t just fall from the sky and only produce intermittent power. Hydro power is a great alternative but I never hear about it in Alberta and certainly requires fossil fuels during construction. As a farmer it will be interesting to see how I will grow crops in 32 years without any fossil fuels. The best way I know to harvest the sun for food is when my cattle are out on the land eating grass but eating meat is taboo in most environmental circles. Nuclear power is a good alternative but again crickets in Alberta. I am not against fossil fuel alternatives, I just don’t agree with the ones presently being promoted. If the Alberta government said we are replacing our coal plants with natural gas and we are adding more renewable sources to provide intermittent reductions in natural gas use this would be honest. Instead they say we are closing coal plants and have a goal of 30% of renewable generation capacity by 2030. If 30% of renewable generation is from wind(35% efficiency) this translates into only 10.5% of our actual power generation. If this renewable generation is solar it would be even less due to lower production efficiency. Enjoy your day

      Reply
  5. pogo

    February 20th, 2018

    Oh well, here goes nothing, as usual. I think the last barrel of oil used on earth should come from Alberta. Happy now?
    Soulless? Devoid of intellectual curiosity? A weakling of logic? Ok then, it’s Not zee time for that kind of stupid! Let’s dance! https://youtu.be/a1yy9kVQW_E

    Reply
  6. Mark

    February 20th, 2018

    David, this column in particular is delightfully well written.

    Reply
  7. Farmer Dave

    February 20th, 2018

    Why does Jason Kenney have any opinion when he speaks about Political issues. He clearly stated that any UCP Policy will come from their Grassroots at their convention and not from him. Is Jason already trying to influence UCP Policy before any Grassroots members have a say or vote?

    Reply
  8. February 20th, 2018

    “As for Dr. Suzuki, why not talk to him? What do you want to bet he’s going to be the next leader of the B.C. Greens, and after that maybe the next premier of British Columbia?

    Oh, you’re laughing at me now. But just remember where you heard it first.”

    Only in BC could Yoda run… and win!

    Reply
  9. David

    February 20th, 2018

    Mr. Kenney is not content with the award for best supporting actor here , he wants the spotlight to be on him. However, he seems to be the political equivalent of a ground hog – disappearing for long stretches or not taking questions when matters arise that are embarrassing or inconvenient and popping up when he has something to say and expecting it to get coverage, because in his mind he is important. I realize he spent many years in Ottawa as Federal Cabinet minister, so perhaps that inflated his sense of importance if it wasn’t inflated before that.

    Now back in Albertat, we have a government that governs, even when the legislature is not in session. If something controversial arose that needed to be dealt with urgently, I suppose it could be recalled if necessary. However, Kenney is not against what the Premier is doing on this issue and I think the majority Albertans also generally support our government on this. With some luck this issue may even be resolved before the legislature reconvenes, if not I suppose Kenney will have his stage to say “me too” or whatever else he wants to say. Until then, he can just pop out of his hidey hole when he wants, call a press conference and hope someone in the media thinks it is important enough to cover what he says If not, too bad.

    Reply
  10. Geoffrey Pounder

    February 20th, 2018

    “The real Rachel Notley, looking tough and determined…”

    I guess you have to be tough and determined to ignore key election promises and defy science, i.e., ignore reality.

    Prof. David Schindler just blasted the AB Govt:
    The federal Liberals and AB Govt are ignoring science. “Head in the sand.” Standing in the way of progress. “Protecting the buggy manufacturers.” Breaking Paris commitments.
    Schindler says B.C.’s concerns about the Trans Mountain pipeline are “very legitimate”.
    Schindler takes BC’s side in the dispute.
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/alberta-ecology-professor-sides-with-b-c-on-pipeline-1.4542335

    Can Notley look her grandkids in the eye and says, “Climate leadership means building pipelines”?
    Tough and determined.

    Reply
    • Art

      February 21st, 2018

      What election promise has she broken? She promised to support and defend pipelines. She’s doing that. She promised a climate change strategy, she’s put that in place.

      If you think she promised otherwise, you weren’t paying attention.

      http://www.albertandp.ca/reality_check_rachel_notley_and_pipelines

      Notley can look her grandkids in t he eye and say she did the following for climate change:
      – A phase out of coal
      – A $50 carbon tax (Much higher than BC’s)
      – A hard cap on emissions
      – Billions in investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and green transit projects
      – The creation of a green energy market, creating green power at prices lower than natural gas and even some coal.

      Reply
      • Geoffrey Pounder

        February 21st, 2018

        The AB NDP 2015 election platform contained only one reference to pipelines:
        “[The PCs] squandered Alberta’s natural resource wealth, failed to achieve greater value-added processing in Alberta, and have focused only on more export pipelines for unprocessed bitumen – sending our jobs to Texas.”
        The AB NDP reversed its position. Only now the plan is to export refinery jobs to Asia.
        http://www.poltext.org/sites/poltext.org/files/plateformes/alberta_ndp_platform_2015.pdf

        CLIMATE LEADERSHIP was in the NDP’s 2015 campaign platform. Support for new pipelines was not. Climate leadership is what this Albertan voted for.
        A temporary oilsands emissions cap at 43% ABOVE current (grossly underreported) levels plus exemptions does not reduce emissions.
        How do Notley & Trudeau square increasing oilsands emissions with Canada’s targets?
        With no targets or timelines, AB’s climate change plan charts a course for rising emissions for decades.
        The best (or only) measure of a climate plan is whether it reduces emissions. By that measure, Notley’s plan fails.
        Current emissions may already exceed the 100 Mt cap.
        The cap includes several exemptions, pushing the actual limit beyond 100 Mt.
        The 100+ Mt cap represents almost one fifth of Canada’s 2030 target and two thirds of Canada’s 2050 target. Add the rest of AB’s emissions to those figures. Hopelessly unworkable.
        The cap is unlikely to survive the NDP govt. It’s the first policy a UCP govt will scrap.
        AB can’t even report its emissions accurately.

        The UN, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and federal Environment Commissioner Julie Gelfand all issued warnings in 2017 that Canada is not on track to meet its targets.
        OECD: “Without a drastic decrease in the emissions intensity of the oilsands industry, the projected increase in oil production may seriously risk the achievement of Canada’s climate mitigation targets.”
        Notley’s and Trudeau’s push for pipelines sends the message that climate change isn’t a serious problem. Hopelessly irresponsible.
        Climate leaders don’t build pipelines.

        Finally, Notley campaigned on a fairer return to Albertans in ROYALTIES “to ensure full and fair value for Albertans”. She quickly reneged on that promise.

        Notley clearly regards party platforms as shell documents.
        Why should Albertans believe anything in the NDP’s 2019 platform?

        Reply
        • Art

          February 21st, 2018

          Notley campaigned for a royalty review. And she delivered on that.

          Just because pipelines weren’t in the platform, doesn’t mean she didn’t campaign for them. As I noted above, she issued a “Fact Check” release, and it got A LOT of media attention at the time.

          If Canada’s not on target to meet it’s climate change targets, scrapping the pipeline, which will likely bring back coal, scrap the cap, and maybe even scrap the carbon tax money spent on renewables, seems like a really bad move.

          Reply
        • Farmer Brian

          February 21st, 2018

          Geoffrey, you a very creative reader. I looked at the NDP policy document the actual quote reads”They have done this by neglecting our opportunity to invest in value-added processing and refining-investment that would create more jobs in Alberta instead of exporting them to Texas.” No mention of export pipelines. They also promised to increase royalties and invest these incremental increases in the heritage fund. They also promised to balance the budget by 2018, instead they have added to the debt at an unprecedented rate. Also NO mention of a carbon tax. They did mention climate leadership but only as far as energy efficiency programs. As far as emision reductions, in a cold climate like Alberta if the economy is growing I believe emissions will as well.

          Reply
          • Geoffrey Pounder

            February 22nd, 2018

            Perhaps you didn’t read p.22: “They squandered Alberta’s natural resource wealth, failed to achieve greater value-added processing in Alberta, and have focused only on more export pipelines for unprocessed bitumen – sending our jobs to Texas.”

            Does that sound like support for dilbit export pipelines?
            Notley’s royalty review returned the result Notley desired and Big Oil demanded.

  11. Brett

    February 21st, 2018

    Exactly why is it any of Jason Kenney’s business who the teachers invite to speak with the them?

    It just goes to show how little added value Mr. Kenney brings to the table when he try’s to make an issue out of this non issue.

    Getting yourself in the news is one thing, looking petty and foolish is another.

    Reply

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