Alberta Politics
Jason Kenney, the boy in the self-imposed bubble. (Photo: Mario Sixtus, Creative Commons). Actual UCP politicians may not appear exactly as illustrated.

Was the UCP practicing ‘cultural Marxism’ when it fled the Legislature to avoid the ‘Bubble Zone’ debate?

Posted on April 30, 2018, 1:08 am
8 mins

We’re all “cultural Marxists” now, I guess.

Consider Jason Kenney and the Legislative caucus of the ephemerally named political entity known as the United Conservative Party. (By which I mean, like a bad homebuilder, whenever Alberta Conservatives are caught doing stuff voters don’t approve of, they adopt a new name and continue doing the same thing. It seems to work.)

Mao Zedong (Photo: Wikipedia Commons).

When I first heard of the UCP’s cowardly refusal to debate the NDP Government’s Bill 9, popularly known as the abortion clinic “bubble zone” bill, I wondered if this tactic was sui generis in the history of Canadian Parliamentary debate.

I mean, who ever heard of an Opposition Party simply refusing to debate or be seen voting on legislation it opposes, not to mention ignoring an issue its leader has made his life’s work opposing and parts of its base opposes with a passion bordering on fury?

This is a caucus that has conniption fits if the government doesn’t spell out in explicit detail before an election any policy the UCP doesn’t like, as is illustrated by its caterwauling about the NDP’s job-creating carbon levy.

Yet here is a group of people prepared to scream “free speech” and “political correctness” at any attempt to protect the targets of social conservatives’ abuse, that nevertheless literally runs from the legislative chamber and hides when the topic of protecting vulnerable women and medical staff from harassment comes up.

Of course, Mr. Kenney’s social conservative pals and likely future candidates are prepared to continue saying exactly what he once would have said about the Protecting Choice for Women Accessing Health Care Act, but all we get from the boy in the self-imposed bubble himself and his UCP Caucus is … crickets.

All political parties practice a little campaign “low bridging” now and again, but this is unheard of. It goes way beyond normal plausible political deniability. What about those free votes on matters of conscience Conservatives are always promising until they get into power? So much for principles, I guess, when an autocrat is at the helm of your political party!

Che Guevara (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

Well, Mr. Kenney may not have anything to say about this in the Legislature, where he’s paid to speak up on behalf of his supporters and constituents, but he did slip a few days ago and speak about it in front of some reporters.

In response to a plea for the swift passage of the legislation from the director of a Calgary clinic whose clients and staff have been subjected to decades of harassment, Mr. Kenney adopted a smarmy tone to advise the media that if the clinic has a problem, it should get an injunction.

This is the legal equivalent, readers presumably understand, of wondering why people suffering from a shortage of bread don’t just eat cake. That observation would be true, by the way, even if Mr. Kenney didn’t have a history of praising protesters who broke court injunctions as if such an act defended free speech.

Beyond that, the Calgary Herald’s reporter intoned, rather piously himself, “Kenney, who is personally opposed to abortion but has promised to make no changes to abortion access if he becomes premier, has accused the NDP of introducing the legislation as a cynical political ploy.”

And how would you characterize refusing to debate such “cynical” legislation in the chamber of the Legislature then?

That’s when it occurred to me that what Mr. Kenney is doing is pure Mao Zedong.

Cheson Kenney (Photo: Dave Cournoyer).

It was the Chinese Communist leader who explained, famously, “the enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue.”

When an issue that works for his party like the pipeline comes up, Mr. Kenney advances. When an issue that doesn’t work for the party, say like Gay-Straight Alliances in schools, he retreats. And when safe zones around clinics are the topic …  he and his entire caucus disappear into thin air!

This is a tactic worthy of the Great Helmsman himself!

Now, Mr. Kenney is a man who knows his commies.

Back in July 2016, still nominally the Member of Parliament for Calgary Midnapore, he warned of the grave dangers of young people wearing Mao caps with red stars on them.

Speaking at a Calgary fundraiser for a group pushing for a Victims of Communism Memorial in the nation’s capital, the old cultural McCarthyist raised the spectre haunting Canada of “bohemian” young people wearing communistic symbols on their upper bodies.

“It is essential for us to ensure that those young people now and in the future understand that if they walk down the street with a Mao cap, with a red star emblazoned on their T-shirt, with an image of Che Guevara or Lenin or Karl Marx or the hammer and sickle, that this isn’t some charming, sophisticated, bohemian image of counterculture…”

Well, yes, it was long ago evident that Mr. Kenney was a man old before his time – living proof of the late, great Vancouver celebrity columnist Jack Wasserman’s adage that, in conservative circles, there’s “no shirt too young to stuff.”

Somebody probably needs to break it to Mr. Kenney that nowadays bohemians call themselves hipsters and a red star is what adorns bottles of Heineken beer.

Frankly, getting worked up about Che Guevara T-shirts is an example of the all-purpose “cultural Marxism” trope, used by English-speaking right-wingers to disparage anything they disapprove of, run amok.

Still, in the bubble zone non-debate, you’ve got to give Mr. Kenney credit for being up on his Marxist tactics. It’s almost as if he’d memorized Mao’s Little Red Book. I ask you, deep cover?

17 Comments to: Was the UCP practicing ‘cultural Marxism’ when it fled the Legislature to avoid the ‘Bubble Zone’ debate?

  1. Gregh

    April 30th, 2018

    Very well done, thanks.

    Reply
  2. Farmer Dave

    April 30th, 2018

    Funny how Mr. Kenney says that he will not speak about Policy until UCP members establish UCP Policy yet he is speaking about Policy all over the media. Looks like his Social Credit advisors have already established UCP Policy for the puppet Mr. Kenney.

    Reply
  3. J.E. Molnar

    April 30th, 2018

    Jason Kenney’s penchant for attacking all things perceived Marxist unfortunately began a long, long time ago.

    One of the most egregious attacks had Kenney comparing the policies of former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed to the policies of Russian dictator Joseph Stalin, calling Lougheed’s social democratic policies “neo-Stalinist make-work projects.”

    It’s easy to make the jump to modern-day Kenney employing the same tactics used decades earlier. Recently, during a unity leadership rally Kenney’s Marxist Derangement Sydrome (MDS) was on full display when he called a questioner at the rally, who just happened to be a professor from Lethbridge, a “communist professor” to media scribes after the event. Albertans who favour social democratic reforms in our province best brace themselves. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this MDS-crusading hypocrite, as Climenhaga cleverly revealed today.

    http://calgaryherald.com/news/politics/braid-lougheeds-son-blasts-kenney-for-co-opting-dads-legacy

    Reply
  4. Simon Renouf

    April 30th, 2018

    DC, that’s an interesting link to Mr. Kenney’s speech in December 1999. He does seem to have been advocating breaching a court order.

    “A variety of injunctions and laws have sprung up across Canada prohibiting Canadians who oppose abortion on demand from expressing that view. Consequently, attacks on their right to peacefully speak have become widespread, from citizens arrested for displaying signs in Sturgeon Falls to students attacked for handing out pro-life literature at the campus of UBC last week.”

    He was certainly guilty of an egregious split infinitive: “It is time for society to consistently defend freedom of speech.”

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      April 30th, 2018

      The irony of the differing attitudes on the right toward environmentalists who break court orders (send them to the Gulag till the pipeline is completed!) and anti-abortion activists who break court orders (all hail their coruscating courage!) is striking. As for split infinitives, as one or the other of the Fowler Bros. observed, among those who know what they are, there are those who disapprove, those who approve, and those who know and distinguish. “More people disapprove of a split infinitive than know what one is.” DJC

      Reply
      • pogo

        April 30th, 2018

        To boldly go where no one has gone before? I guess that’s up to you!
        That’s what I learned delivering paper to houses on my block for mad money in my youth!

        Reply
        • David Climenhaga

          April 30th, 2018

          Pogo: I had the worst paper route in the whole [EXPLETIVE DELETED] world, Beach Drive in Victoria, B.C. Seventy steps here, 85 there, and on around Gonzales Point. The view were great, though. I’m sorry you hate my lame website. If you really can’t stand it, you can read most of my posts at Rabble.ca. DJC

          Reply
          • pogo

            May 2nd, 2018

            Hey! If you were my shack boss? I might decamp. This site may be ramshackle but I see no “rags”! I’ll read your shiny new thingy, but only ’cause I like your point of view and I will always have respect for those who really know how to express themselves! Otherwise? This is for you! https://youtu.be/yYvkICbTZIQ

      • Bob Raynard

        April 30th, 2018

        I don’t even know what my wife is talking about when she tells me I shouldn’t end a sentence with a proposition.

        Reply
        • pogo

          May 2nd, 2018

          “Eh”?

          Reply
  5. Jim Storrie

    April 30th, 2018

    the ‘Cultural Marxism’ trope is, notably, anti-semitic as hell. it’s a conspiracy theory promoted originally by American paleoconservatives which alleged that Jewish socialists were promoting leftist politics in order to ‘weaken’ and ‘destabilize’ the U.S.A. on behalf of the Soviets. anyone who seriously invokes the spectre of Cultural Marxism or ‘the Frankfurt School Marxists’ is either a fool, a bigot, or some combination of both.

    Reply
    • Jerrymacgp

      May 6th, 2018

      Funny thing is, one of the more anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli regimes in recent memory, was none other than the USSR. How much of that was prejudice and bigotry by the Soviets—the migration of Russian Jews to Israel would seem to support this view—and how much was realpolitik and simply taking sides against an ally of the US, is for smarter people than me, but for much of their shared history, the Soviet Union was one of Israel’s most important foes, although it tended to act by proxy, arming its hostile Arab neighbours to the teeth for decades.

      One of the saddest observations, though, about the whole Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is the unfortunate timing of movements toward conciliatory attitudes. When the Israeli polity was most inclined towards genuine negotiations, the Palestinians were at their most intransigent. Conversely, when their has been genuine willingness on the part of the Palestinians towards real peace, the Israelis have been led by xenophobic right-wing parties who cling to the notion that the entire pre-WW II territory of Mandate Palestine should have been included in the State of Israel.

      Reply
  6. tom in ontario

    April 30th, 2018

    “Well yes, it was long ago evident that Mr. Kenney was a man old before his time-”

    The more things change…Norman Mailer, 1968
    Nixon seems like the kind of kid who always carried a bookbag. Who was 42 years old the day he was born…other kids got footballs for Christmas, Nixon got a briefcase and he loved it. He’d always have his homework done and he’d never let you copy. He looks like someone hung him in a closet overnight and he jumps out in the morning with his suit all bunched up and starts running around saying, “I want to be President.”

    Reply
  7. Dave

    May 1st, 2018

    I really hope Chairman Jason read this article. I don’t know how familiar he is with the tactics of communist and left leaning revolutionaries, like Chairman Mao or Che Guevera , but he seems to have eagerly adopted them.

    It is so ironic that Kenney’s style could be considered similar to Mao and the fact that he has clamped down and imposed discipline and often silence on the often fractious Wildrose MLA’s is another example of this. Good bye grassroots, hello don’t say anything not approved by the dear leader. Kenney appears to have been a good student of former Prime Minister Harper’s message control style, even taken to more extreme. Harper, for instance, had many policies, sometimes even controversial. Kenney, so far seems to have taken the approach it is safer to have virtually none. When in doubt, say nothing, do nothing or I guess don’t even show up.

    Perhaps the career politician Kenney has a good understanding that Albertans are really not that keen on the more right wing approaches he favours. Recent polls show Albertans are somewhat fiscally conservative on issues such as taxes and deficits, but otherwise moderate – they do not want cuts to levels of services or socially conservative policies imposed. It would therefore seem his goal is to try get into power by saying or doing as little as possible to show what he would really do and then after the election, well SURPRISE !! Now there is a good election slogan for his campaign.

    It’s unfortunate that so far the diminished Alberta media hasn’t scrutinized his positions a bit more, but perhaps that is because there really isn’t much to scrutinize so far. However, this is sort of like the Wylie Coyote moment where everything is suspended in the air and the election, while on the horizon, is still a while away. I have to wonder if at some point soon if some mainstream journalist will publicly notice the Emperor to be doesn’t appear to have any clothes, just like Wylie looks down and notices he has nothing supporting him and the ridiculousness of the situation becomes obvious to everyone.

    Reply
  8. Keith McClary

    May 1st, 2018

    “34. Deductions shall be made from the indemnity allowance and
    the expense allowance of a Member at the rates prescribed by the
    Members’ Services Committee for each day in excess of 10 sitting
    days during a session on which the Member did not either take the
    Member’s seat in the Assembly or a meeting of a committee of the
    Assembly otherwise than by reason of
    (a) illness or injury,
    (b) bereavement, or
    (c) public or official business. ”

    http://www.qp.alberta.ca/documents/Acts/L09.pdf

    Reply

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