Alberta Politics
Don’t do it people! Former PC interim leader Ric McIver warns UCP delegates not to vote to out kids who join GSAs. They did anyway. (Photo: Michelle Bellefontaine, CBC.)

Admirably true to their Iron Age code, UCP delegates defy their leaders and the zeitgeist

Posted on May 07, 2018, 2:19 am
8 mins

Modern Conservatives indeed!

The Wildrose Party base – by which I mean the United Conservative Party base, they are the same people – is a wild horse that cannot be ridden safely or broken easily for reasons of mere political expedience.

UCP Leader Jason Kenney.

This is partly because it contains many people of genuine principle, even if their principles are those of a previous epoch – to wit, the Iron Age when the Old Testament was being written down for the first time, and tablets were made of stone.

Still, there is something admirable about this commitment to the past, even when it is frightening. By God, they will have their Gilead here in Alberta, and no squeamish politician’s electoral calculus is going to stand in their way!

This can happen partly because they have swallowed their leader’s bath water, warmed up at the media hot water tap, and they believe they simply cannot lose the next Alberta provincial election, no matter what they do or say. Recent history suggests this is a dangerous assumption, but the base was in no mood for prudence.

Yesterday at the UCP’s inaugural right-wingding in a Red Deer, they demonstrated their will be done, on earth as it is in the heaven they imagine.

Accordingly, they defied the best political minds of their conservative generation, ignored the pleas of UCP MLAs Ric McIver, Leela Aheer and Jason Nixon, and went ahead and passed a policy resolution calling for kids who join gay-straight alliances in schools to be outed to their parents. It passed by 57 per cent.

UCP MLA Leela Aheer.

And let it be said here that outing kids is precisely what this resolution is intended to ensure happens, never mind the ex post facto weaseling by UCP Leader Jason Kenney, who not so long ago advocated exactly the same thing.

Everyone understands such a policy would swiftly eliminate all GSAs, because no child grappling with their sexuality and facing an unsympathetic family at home would dare to join. This is the intention of the resolution.

Mr. McIver, in point of fact, got it right when he warned delegates, “this will really severely hurt our chances of winning.”

“Don’t be called the Lake of Fire Party,” the former interim Progressive Conservative Party leader pleaded, a reference to the infamous blog post by an evangelical pastor and candidate, revelation of which almost single-handedly destroyed the Wildrose Party’s electoral chances in 2012. “I’m begging you.”

For that, delegates booed Mr. McIver.

Well, welcome Ric, to former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith’s world. This is what drove her into the metaphorical arms of Progressive Conservative Premier Jim Prentice in 2014. But now, thanks to Mr. Kenney, instead of a right united under the relatively moderate PC banner, it has been united under the standard of the extremist Wildrose fringe.

UCP MLA Jason Nixon.

An interesting question would be where the other 22 UCP MLAs were as Mr. McIver, Ms. Aheer, and Mr. Nixon were trying to defend the principle behind Alberta’s GSAs. Missing in action, just like the entire UCP Caucus during the Legislature’s debate on the NDP’s abortion clinic “bubble zone” bill? Or actively opposing them?

Mr. Kenney tried to wiggle out of the problem he had been handed with a characteristic combination of deception and bluster, arguing the resolution doesn’t really mean what it means, and, anyway, even if it does, he’s the boss and won’t allow it. You can count on it, different tales are being told behind closed doors.

Well, we can be confident the NDP’s potentially lifesaving Act to Support Gay-Straight Alliances, passed in November 2017 by the Legislature and making it illegal for schools to tell parents if their child has joined a GSA, will remain on the books as long as the NDP remains in power.

Notwithstanding that, the pro-UCP media – which is basically all of it, with the possible exception of the CBC – will be rushing to their damage-control stations. Still, no matter what fibs Mr. Kenney tells, if we elect these people, no one can use the excuse we didn’t know exactly what we were voting for.

Former Wildrose MLA calls cabinet gender balance ‘patronizing,’ feminism an F-word

Former Wildrose MLA Heather Forsyth.

Heather Forsyth, the former PC and Wildrose MLA for Calgary Fish Creek, used the occasion to tell UCP delegates she found it “patronizing” that just over half the NDP cabinet is made up of women. She also offered the opinion that “feminism is an F-word.”

Never mind that the women in Premier Notley’s cabinet are pretty darned qualified, or that roughly half of the NDP caucus, the elected talent pool Ms. Notley had to draw on, is made up of members of the same gender.

Judging from her frequently ill-tempered social media posts, Ms. Forsyth has become increasingly cranky with each year conservatives are out of power in Alberta and Ottawa. It would be fair to ask, is there nothing about New Democrats and Liberals that doesn’t bug her?

And why is it that the only time cabinet choices are closely scrutinized for qualifications is when they’re women?

Speaking of Gilead, scarlet-gowned “Handmaids for Kenney” protested outside the convention hotel in sardonic silence. They were made to move along.

This means ‘no minor can make her own reproductive decisions’

Also passed by 76 per cent of the UCP delegates was a resolution demanding the consent of parents for any invasive medical procedures on minor children.

As Twitterist Kathleen Smith, @kikkiplanet, pointed out:  “This resolution means no minor can make her own reproductive decisions without parental consent. Just so we are all clear on that.” So-called anti-vaxxers were also said to be pleased by this vote.

I think we can all see the direction this is moving.

Naturally, the convention also passed (non-controversial!) motions encouraging the privatization of the health care system a bit at a time and institutionalized ecocide, as the Canadian conservative movement moves steadily down the path already trod by the Republican Party in the United States.

12 Comments to: Admirably true to their Iron Age code, UCP delegates defy their leaders and the zeitgeist

  1. Northern Loon

    May 7th, 2018

    Jason Kenney, the great democrat who wouldn’t/couldn’t discuss things because the UCP membership needed to determine their policy is exposed as the great emperor with no clothes. The emperor who would follow the dictates of his party until it becomes inconvenient to his very personal goal of getting elected for the pursuit of power.

    Reply
  2. Bob Raynard

    May 7th, 2018

    In an attempt to defuse the issue of outing kids who join GSAs, Jason Kenney has vowed he will not campaign on the matter. I assume he his hoping that will satisfy the progressive voters he needs to attract.

    The big thing, though, is what will he legislate? He voted against Bill 24 when it was in the legislature, he spoke in favour of outing gay kids to their parents, and he has been directed by his party organizers to out the kids. I think the onus is on him to clarify his intentions are while he is campaigning.

    I also think I am naive thniking he will do so.

    Reply
  3. Brett

    May 7th, 2018

    This was my fear. I had hoped that the UCP Party, as evidenced by the weekend events, would be representative of Alberta voters and not representative of the former Wildrose Party.

    I guess it was wishful thinking on my part. I am very disappointed in the Party and incredibly disappointed that only two or three sitting MLA’s had the guts to speak up. Shame on them.

    Looks to me like this is not a new Party, just a name change and a new leader. Alberta needs something more than this. Albertans expect more. Albertans deserve more.

    Reply
  4. J.E. Molnar

    May 7th, 2018

    If Albertans had any lingering doubts about the UCP pursuing back-to-the-future conservatism, that notion can now be safely put to rest after this weekend’s UCP AGM.

    UCP “Team Extreme” has risen from the ashes like a Phoenix, proving I guess that you can kill a party but not its extremist views. Slaying the extremist dragon was Jason Kenney’s optimistic mission. Unfortunately his obsequious flock took him to heart with his “Grassroots Guarantee” mantra having been signed, seal and delivered by the politically pugnacious leader. OOPS!

    Reply
  5. Geoffrey Pounder

    May 7th, 2018

    Silence is golden.
    All the UCP has to do is keep their mouths shut — say nothing and do nothing — and they will win the next election by a landslide. Every time they open their mouths, they drop 10 points in the polls.
    Jason Kenney should just hand out rolls of duct tape.

    Reply
  6. Scotty on Denman

    May 7th, 2018

    When neo-liberals usurped Tory parties across Canada and we got to see them in government I was at turns outraged and terrified. I should be relieved, then, that the neo-right (what I call neo-liberal usurped conservative parties) has been self-destructing for the last few years. But as much as I can snicker at Kenney’s preposterous frankenparty—as much as I can Trump’s Republicans or May’s Tories—it bodes ill, I think, that a conservative polity which is real and legitimate, has been mostly driven away from these neo-right charlatans and has no venue for its moderation and prudence.

    I wonder if it’s just a matter of time for the neo-right to completely discredit nominal conservative parties and, in a non-Tory interregnum, new Tory parties can be resurrected. Yet it seems even out of power these neo-right parties continue to dig their graves and discredit further the ring-wing brand—indeed, they seem to display even more the worst of themselves in opposition. It only makes sense as resentful morbidity—like the melting witch in the Wizard of Oz. Or like Trump’s recent ‘rally’ where he encouraged supporters to boo ‘hispanics.’

    Oh! Would that real conservatives inaugurate real conservative parties that contribute to solving the problems our world faces.

    Antics like Kenney’s or Trump’s are sickening; I guess I should just take two tablets of stone and wait. I just hope it isn’t for too long.

    Reply
  7. Leah

    May 7th, 2018

    I will be thankful to see a lot of dippers lose their seats. Some wonder if the media is being paid by NDP. When is the last time you covered pdd, aish, bill205, Betty Anne Gagnon’s murder, ndp’s failing Minister, or anything disability related? People in crisis since 2015. Shame on NDP

    Reply
    • Bob Raynard

      May 8th, 2018

      You think the UCP would look after people with disabilities better? Good luck with that.

      Reply
  8. Farmer Dave

    May 7th, 2018

    So much for democracy for the grassroots with the UCP’s. Jason Kenney will tell you only his democracy is the only one that counts and just follow him. Unbelievable that the UCP, or Jason Kenney, couldn’t come up with anything on how they would balance the budget, just that they would rid the Province of the carbon tax (and where will they get the money from to replace the carbon tax funding). KENNEY needs to come clean to UCP Members and Albertan’s and not just change the subject when it is convenient for him. The only Policy UCP has is Jason Kenney Policy, and his one man dog and pony show. Hopefully people don’t get suckered into voting for this UCP disaster Jason Kenney.

    Reply
  9. David

    May 7th, 2018

    I am not that surprised the UCP theatrical show of shock and awe, which was more directed at Alberta voters than those at the convention, would backfire a bit and cause some of the members to become over confident and start to slip up. Despite the best efforts of the dear leader’s lieutenants, some of the grassroots rebelled and went rogue. I suppose this is what Kenney gets for playing footsie for all these years with social conservatives. Some of them become impatient or confused by his recent waffling and equivocating and decide they can not wait until after the next election to impose gods will on their party and Alberta.

    It probably didn’t help things much that former PC Rick McIver forgot he was not a PC now, but a UCP member and started talking about a lake of fire again. I am sure that riled up some (former?) Wildrosers greatly, who may have decided to vote for the resolution just to spite him. I always thought putting the word “United” in the the party name was tempting fate. In fact, at this point the unity is mostly imposed on the party by the leader who is dangling the likelihood of gaining power as a powerful incentive to silence dissent and the strong inclinations of the social conservative side of the new party. However, as some former Wildrosers have probably figured out, what are the benefit of gaining power if you have to compromise your principles. Of course, the benefits are mainly for the career politician who is the leader and some opposition MLA’s who aspire to be cabinet ministers, but not so much for the more principled grass roots membership.

    Kenney might have been successful in killing off a weakened PC party at its moment of greatest vulnerability, but he may not be so successful in killing off the Wildrose grassroots. He might have been right in his speech about arrogance being a weakness of the PC’s, but I don’t think he was right about the lack of Wildrose discipline being a fatal problem. I think most voters actually liked that people in the party said what they believed, rather than trying to hide it or equivocate about it. If the prescription of “discipline” means hiding what your believe until after the election because it is not politically popular, I don’t think that will go over well with either the grass roots or Alberta voters.

    There was a strong message for Kenney from his party this last weekend and it was the same message sent to Danielle Smith by the Wildrose Party before – the grassroots will not be dismissed or silenced. Kenney and has MLA’s need to stop pretending they are not social conservatives.

    Reply
  10. Ward

    May 7th, 2018

    Forsyth is an “F” word as well.

    Reply
  11. Jerrymacgp

    May 8th, 2018

    I want to pick up on Ms Forsyth’s rant about feminism. The root of her high dudgeon, IMHO, is that modern conservatives do not believe in root cause analysis. They believe, despite ample evidence to the contrary, that peoples’ choices and their destiny are 100% within their own control, without constraints by economic or social circumstances. It’s a view that affects their positions on addiction… on health more generally… on crime & punishment… and on a broad range of other policy areas. So, the story goes, women fail to reach equality because they don’t work hard enough or want it enough. It’s a different breed of conservative than the classic, “noblesse oblige” Tory of old, who felt an obligation to help those less fortunate, even while working to keep them in their place. The modern conservative is all dog-eat-dog laisser-faire capitalism with a smattering of so-con counter-libertarianism, just to make the rest of us crazy.

    Of course, here on the left, we feel society does matter. If it takes a village to raise a child, then the commitment of the villagers and the economy of the village cannot but have a significant impact on how the child turns out: what opportunities s/he has, and what career path s/he follows. Women remain unequal due to multiple social and cultural barriers that we are still struggling to break down.

    Reply

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