Alberta Politics
Alberta Opposition Leader Jason Kenney.

Dispatches from the front lines of Alberta politics: Jason Kenney reveals his nasty streak … again

Posted on May 17, 2018, 1:18 am
12 mins

My, my, Jason Kenney’s vow to become the new Mr. Congeniality of Confederation sure didn’t last very long, did it?

Twitterists are having fun comparing the Alberta Opposition leader’s response to a gentle jab by Premier Rachel Notley in the Alberta Legislature Tuesday afternoon with what he had to say about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday. Actually the same day, seeing as it must take a few minutes at least to type out a typical anti-Liberal screed in the Calgary Sun.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.

Debating how best to complete the Kinder Morgan Pipeline in the House, Premier Notley remarked that Mr. Kenney may have moved back to Alberta, but he sure acts as if he’s still picking up his mail in Ontario. And the mail must be coming from his “bosses” in the Conservative Party of Canada, she implied, a suggestion that clearly got up the sensitive nose of the former lieutenant to Conservative PM Stephen Harper.

“That’s alright, Mr. Speaker,” the Opposition leader sniffed, “when they go low, we’ll go high.” It turns out, though, some exceptions to Mr. Kenney’s high-low distinction apply.

This took place – what? – no more than an hour or two before Rick Bell’s column was sent to the pressroom over at the combined Calgary Sun-Herald newsroom in the bleak and now mostly empty bunker on Deerfoot Trail.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Photo: Government of Alberta).

“I know Justin,” Mr. Kenney told the Sun columnist. “He doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing. This guy is an empty trust-fund millionaire who has the political depth of a finger bowl. He can’t read a briefing note longer than a cocktail napkin, OK?”

This is a far cry from Mr. Kenney’s pledge last January, when he told a friendly party audience, “I and our caucus will raise the bar of civility and decorum in the Legislature, and in the course of the next 16 months before the next election.”

Well, as my mama used to say, nasty is as nasty does. We’re all getting to know Jason, and the guy’s got a streak of nasty as wide as the highway from Calgary to Edmonton, not to mention a capacity for hypocrisy that’ll frankly take your breath away. So none of this should surprise anyone.

It does come as a mild surprise that Mr. Kenney would admit to knowing his way around a finger bowl. Surely that’s hardly the image of the man of the people he’s struggling to portray. But this kind of brass is not unimaginable for a fellow who’s never really held a real non-political job and whose principal way of dismissing the prime minister is that the man once worked as a schoolteacher, an honest job if ever there was one!

Calgary Sun columnist Rick Bell.

As an aside, Mr. Bell’s official Sun biography states that he himself is a former teacher and principal.

Regardless, Mr. Kenney’s characterization of the prime minister in his chat with Mr. Bell was astonishingly offensive, even by the standards of the army of online United Conservative Party trolls that nowadays inhabit the underside of Alberta’s bridges.

As this incident suggests, I don’t think the rhetorical inclinations of Alberta’s putative premier in waiting, who will be 50 in two weeks, are really all that far removed from the Internet trolls in short pants that his party employs.

As Government House Leader Brian Mason pointed out yesterday, the man clearly nurses a personal grudge against the prime minister – whose success in October 2015, it could be argued, put paid to Mr. Kenney’s dreams of ascending to the prime ministership of Canada.

“Anyone who is presenting themselves as being equipped to lead the province needs to learn very quickly to rise above his own personal hostilities,” observed Premier Notley, who regularly demonstrates that capacity in debate in the Legislature. Indeed, the debate in which Mr. Kenney accused her of taking the low road is instructive in this regard, and well worth reading in Alberta Hansard.

UCP MLAs get their exercise avoiding votes on ‘bubble zone’ bill

When he is not abusing federal politicians who have thwarted his personal ambitions, Mr. Kenney continues to lead his hapless UCP MLAs in and out of the Legislature in his ongoing effort to avoid any debate whatsoever on Bill 9, the NDP’s abortion clinic “bubble zone” legislation.

This is surely one of the more bizarre parliamentary strategies to have been devised in the history of democracy, although one cannot say with absolute confidence that it will not be effective, at least among the UCP base.

Whether the UCP’s unwillingness to say a word for or against the bill is motivated by a search for perfect deniability of holding any position on a divisive issue, or concern about what members of his current B-team caucus might say or do is not clear.

What is clear is that they’re getting their exercise, almost as if they were benefitting from the efforts of the newly svelte Mr. Kenney’s personal exercise boot-camp trainer. In debate on the bill Tuesday, each of the five times former UCP member Derek Fildebrandt proposed an amendment to the bill, the entire caucus obediently popped up and trooped out to the hallway.

Federal NDP leader takes sides on KMX … but not Alberta’s

Peter Elzinga (Photo: Atlas Growers).

Speaking of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline on which so many politicians seem lately to have staked their future, federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has finally, ever so gingerly, sided with British Columbia Premier John Horgan and the B.C. NDP’s fight against the Texas company’s planned expansion megaproject.

Several times in the past few days Mr. Singh has said the $7.4-million project needs more thorough environmental assessment, a position that lines up neatly with Mr. Horgan’s and is seen as anathema by Ms. Notley’s Alberta NDP, not to mention virtual treason by her opposition. It also reflects the political realities facing the federal NDP in B.C., Alberta and Quebec, of course.

This may not result in a name change by the Alberta party – just yet, anyway – but it is fair to describe this widening rift as power evidence of irreconcilable differences between the federal and Alberta NDPs.

Is Canadian democracy too important to be left to voters?

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

Meanwhile, facing Kinder Morgan’s threat to take its Russian pipe and go back to Texas if it doesn’t get a profit guarantee by the end of this month, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau yesterday plaintively promised the corporation that Ottawa would cover any losses it may suffer as a result of the functioning of democracy in Canada.

The federal government has a “clear role to play,” Mr. Morneau told a news conference in the nation’s capital, to buffer Kinder Morgan’s owners from any financial risks that may arise from legitimate constitutional court challenges by the B.C. government.

This prompted a mild rebuke on Twitter from Mr. Singh, who in turn was less mildly rebuked for being wrong about everything by Ms. Notley.

Given all this, one surely wonders when we’re going to hear from the fossil fuel industry’s friends in government that Canadian democracy is simply too important to be left in the hands of voters!

Another old Tory joins the pot parade

Independent MLA Derek Fildebrandt.

Finally, there is something more than a little unseemly about the spectacle of former conservative politicians rushing to embrace Canada’s burgeoning legal marijuana industry.

The latest to join the pot parade is former federal and provincial Progressive Conservative stalwart Peter Elzinga, who effective immediately becomes chair of the board of Atlas Growers, which is building a huge medical and recreational marijuana operation northwest of Edmonton.

Mr. Elzinga served as both a federal PC MP and provincial MLA, and as a member of the cabinets of premiers Don Getty and Ralph Klein. In addition to being Mr. Klein’s deputy premier, he returned after retiring from elected office in 1992 to serve as King Ralph’s chief of staff from 1998 to 2004.

With the honourable exception of Mr. Fildebrandt, nowadays relegated to the back corner of the Legislature as an Independent, not a single conservative seems to have spoken up for the many Canadians who will be stuck with criminal records for marijuana possession.

16 Comments to: Dispatches from the front lines of Alberta politics: Jason Kenney reveals his nasty streak … again

  1. brett

    May 17th, 2018

    We find Mr. Kenney’s remarks about the Prime Minister offensive in nature. But more to the point we feel that Mr. Kenney insults the intelligence of Albertans by his hyperbole that often lacks (to be kind) any factual basis. It is akin to listening to Fox news.

    Of course Kenney has a grudge against the PM. Going in to the last election I am sure that Kenney could not understand why anyone would reject the Harper Conservatives, of which he was one. The polls were in their favour, their election campaign focused on mocking Mr Trudeau for his age and prior employment histort (notwithstanding Harpers lack of a ‘for profit’ work history). Kenney expected a win-he would regain his power and his perks. He only overlooked on small detail. The voters. Jim Prentice had the same issue.

    Alas, with the exception of Calgary, every Canadian urban center preferred the Liberal candidate and indeed Atlantic Canada shut them out despite, or perhaps because of, Peter McKay. This electoral defeat must have been a stinging blow for Kenney. And it shows in his intemperate comments. If Jason Kenney does become Premier he will have to work closely with the Federal Government. He should be building bridges, or at best not fostering antagonism for no apparent reason other than his propensity to mouth off at every opportunity.

    Reply
    • Leo

      May 19th, 2018

      Brett…do you mean he should be building bridges like our current PM does. You’re a fool. What he said about the PM was exa toy what most Albertans would say. The only thing is, his comments are way to kind for the clown running the show. Are you one of the hysterical citizens who would just love to kiss Trudeaus ass??

      Reply
  2. Farmer Brian

    May 17th, 2018

    I have to admit when I heard what Jason Kenney said about Justin Trudeau I laughed and I will certainly admit I agree with him 100%. The unfortunate reality is that while certainly amusing probably not an appropriate comment for the leader of Alberta’s opposition in the legislature.

    As for your assertion that Jagmeet Singh has so gingerly side with BC, this comment also made me laugh. Jagmeet’s tweet and Premier Notley’s very strong response shows me that there is a widening gulf between these two leaders. My understanding is that if you take out a provincial NDP membership you are automatically a member of the federal party. The outlook of the federal NDP party will certainly hurt their provincial counterparts in Alberta in the next election.

    Rachel Notley and many of her fellow mla’s spent many years protesting pipelines. In the last election campaign Justin Trudeau said the NEB process for pipeline approvals was broken and needed to be fixed. Now Jagmeet Singh is also attacking the approval process. And we wonder why pipeline approvals take years and years and we reach the point where we are now. Our Premier and Prime Minister are now enjoying the results of what they have said and done in the past! Enjoy your day

    Reply
    • Death and Gravity

      May 19th, 2018

      You state that “Rachel Notley and many of her fellow mla’s spent many years protesting pipelines”.

      Evidence, please.

      Reply
  3. J.E. Molnar

    May 17th, 2018

    Excellent post today Mr. Climenhaga!! Chock-full of informative stuff.

    Jason Kenney and the Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time-Players in the UCP continue to seriously blow up any trust and goodwill they may have begrudgingly earned from middle-of-the-road voters. These continued bozo eruptions — by a party obviously intent on self-destructing — bodes well I would think, for the electoral prospects of the NDP in 2019.

    Churlish and puerile comments from Kenney notwithstanding, it would appear the UCP has no qualms about stoking the flames of hatred to create an Alberta version of TrumpMania and reinvigorating the Western alienation mantra, so popular under Reformers from bygone days. Wasn’t Jason Kenney once a Reform Party member? That would explain it then — at least partially.

    Reply
  4. Bob Raynard

    May 17th, 2018

    The vitriol in Jason Kenney’s tirade about Justin Trudeau is completely unnecessary. Is this how he wants to establish a working relationship with the federal government if he becomes premier? While that kind of talk plays well with his base, it again shows how Kenney may be a popular choice, he certainly isn’t a smart choice. That last sentence summarizes Kenney’s entire ascendancy into provincial politics.

    That kind of talk sounds more like a federal opposition politician than a premier in waiting. It certainly does leave one wondering if it is leftover from Kenney’s time in Ottawa or it presages Kenney’s return to federal politics.

    Reply
  5. Geoffrey Pounder

    May 17th, 2018

    “Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has finally, ever so GINGERLY, sided with British Columbia Premier John Horgan and the B.C. NDP’s fight against the Texas company’s planned expansion megaproject.”

    Singh, 16-May-18: “Liberals are giving Texas oil company KinderMorgan a blank cheque while dumping all the risks on Canadians Rigged process, First Nations & local communities shut out, oil spill threats, science ignored & now billions on the line. It’s clear this pipeline should not be built.”

    Reply
  6. Joyce Thomas

    May 17th, 2018

    Not that I would vote for the Trudeau Liberals, but Kenney’s attitude toward Trudeau….perhaps just catering to the alt-right Alberta base.
    And re: the Kinder Morgan pipeline….no, I do not, wish for my hard-earned Alberta/Canadian tax dollars going to the Putin/oligarch-connected Russian pipe Texans…of all things!
    The Conservative Elzinga ‘weed’ connection? Money talks eh? Good for a horse laugh! 🙂
    Then, Jagmeet Singh’s take on the Kinder Morgan pipeline. He could well be correct on how this whole thing might still end up at The Supreme Court of Canada. The possible elephant in the room is the awaited decision by the Federal Appeal Court on the First Nations court action against the pipeline. If they lose at the Appeal Court, they will take it to The Supreme Court, which could take years. Or, if they win, the feds will have to start renegotiating with these First Nations groups, which, again, would take time. It is interesting on how many of the discussions do not include how First Nations may hold the ‘trump card’ here.
    And, off topic, looks like the Ontario NDP’s Andrea Horwath is doing quite well…..next Premier of Ontario still?

    Reply
  7. David

    May 17th, 2018

    Mr. Kenney does have some political talents, but if he were being honest he would never claim civility as one of them. In his long political career in Ottawa, he seemed to revel in the partisan sniping that much of the Harper front bench seemed to relish, such as continual snide dismissive remarks or put downs of the opposition, when what were being asked were legitimate questions that people wanted legitimate answers too. Based on this it seemed quite odd Mr. Kenney suddenly discovered civility, perhaps somewhere on the road back to Alberta and was born again. However, it appears whatever miraculous conversion that might have happened didn’t last very long.

    I think Mr. Kenney’s heart and mind is still in Ottawa, despite getting his mail in Alberta more recently. Yes, he accepted the consolation prize of being Alberta opposition leader, I think because it became clear to him the Federal Conservatives did not want him to be leader. Perhaps they wanted someone from Saskatchewan who was more convincing at congeniality and someone who also had photogenic kids and a spouse such as Mr. Scheer. Sadly, Mr. Kenney was not ever in the running for Mr. Congeniality, so its not surprising his civility initiative did not even last as long as his “grassroots guarantee”. I think Albertans are starting to get a sense of the contradictions and hypocrisy within Mr. Kenney. He might have shed a few pounds, but he has not shed his skin. It sounds so ridiculous when he talks about going high, such a pompous statement that one just wants to pop that bubble of self delusion or denial he has created. Fortunately, Mr. Kenney’s political opponents didn’t even really have to do that, Mr. Kenney really ended up doing it himself by opening his mouth and letting all the anger and bitterness flow out.

    I realize Mr. Kenney does not like Mr. Trudeau and he long ago succumbed to the mindless partisan thinking and sniping of Ottawa, but what I think he is really most angry and bitter about is not being the Federal Conservative leader in Ottawa. Of course he can not attack his own Federal party, so the anger and bitterness gets somewhat misdirected to the next closest target – Mr. Trudeau.

    Reply
  8. Lars

    May 17th, 2018

    …whose success in October 2015, it could be argued, put paid to Mr. Kenney’s dreams of ascending to the prime ministership of Canada…

    So we may owe Mr. Trudeau more than ever we could repay.

    Reply
    • brett

      May 19th, 2018

      I think there is a lot of truth in that statement.

      Reply
  9. pogo

    May 17th, 2018

    Here is Jason Kenney’s theme song. https://youtu.be/ukWRRNqMAZ4 Please put it in heavy rotation! Stephen Harper, his puppet master is such a swell though, that I would be unfair and unbalanced if I didn’t include this.. https://youtu.be/ltAfEXce7Jk ! By the way. Did I forget to mention that Jordan Peterson, Ezra Levant, The Rude Boys and the rest of the sickness known as “white pukes online” can blow goats in Kasakhstan? Apologies!

    Reply
  10. pogo

    May 17th, 2018

    Ok damnit! You got me on this jag so here it is! My thank-you to Rachel. She didn’t have to brave the internal and external onslaught that Alison did, but the expectations were/are grandiose. Wait a minute! Hey! Why not make this a song for my favourite women in politics in the last ten years! That’s the ticket! To all you long suffering jets? My homage! Such as it is. https://youtu.be/VeYSUPQVoRI

    Reply
  11. Jerrymacgp

    May 17th, 2018

    Mr Kenney is fighting in the wrong arena. If he gets his wish and becomes Premier next year, he is going to have to work with the Prime Minister, no matter what he thinks of him. The likelihood that the Trudeau Liberals will be a one-term Government is so low as to be virtually non-existent, so—again, if he becomes Premier—he will more than likely have to work with him for the entire life of his mandate. It serves no one for him the slag the man, especially since outside Canada, he also appears to be the most popular and best known Canadian PM since, well … his father.

    Reply
  12. Bill Malcolm

    May 17th, 2018

    Notley I have no time for anymore. Still, she’s onside with the clucking Morneau and Trudeau, so maybe she’s happy being a jerk.

    Way down East, the last day has brought us TV coverage of Morneau on KM, promising to pay for everything on my taxpayer dime, and little of Horgan. The only clip longer than 3 seconds was on CBC where he said he was elected to protect BC coasts. So the establishment is solidly pro-pipeline because Horgan is censored from other Canadians’ ears just as well as Putin’s – we never hear what he says either, just some establishment summary which may or may not be reliable. The mushrooms do not need to know, it might confuse them. Principal among this disinformation is to never mention dilbit and to just pretend it’s crude.

    As other posters on Progressive Bloggers have noted, there have been zero tests to see what happens with dilbit in sea water. Not a one. In fresh water, the Enbridge Kalamazoo MI dilbit spill has been disastrous. So I’m on Horgan’s side, especially since we now have BP drilling here 200 miles off NS, with the nearest well-capping ship in freaking Norway in the event of a spill, at best two weeks away. We are breezily informed that everything is just tickety-boo by the Feds. Right. Sure.

    I looked up on the batch system KM presently uses to ship both gasoline and dilbit to the lower mainland in the same pipe. So Notley threatens to starve BC of gasoline and has passed some rickety provincial legislation to that effect. Huzzahs all around! She couldn’t care less about the sludge you Albertans ship to BC, which all presently gets sent to Washington State. No, BC has to put up with Alberta and obey her (or the complete idiot Kenney who will succeed her). And if they don’t, then little miss vindictive will cut off gasoline. Thanks so much. Maybe BC can get its gasoline by ship from Texas like we do in NS, a little-known fact.

    All I see is Big Money pushing compliant pols against a recently-elected provincial government, based on a flawed NEB study and to hell with provincial environment legislation, or opposition by some First Nations. We get to see that big companies matter more than people under the imposition of naked power, no matter how shakily bolstered by “facts”.

    And if the pipeline expansion fails, then I as a sucker Canadian taxpayer gets to pay off the shareholders of Enron, oops Kinder Morgan. What a deal! Morneau will be able to hold his head up high on Bay Street at our collective expense. We all get to pay for Alberta not having a provincial sales tax as it is, thereby skewing provincial revenues and equalization *. What in hell is so special about the place? Besides the need to feel important beyond its population numbers?

    I cannot think of anything beyond the growing of politicians with highly peculiar outlooks on the world.

    *”Equalization is a federal transfer payment program that was first introduced in 1957 and is designed to reduce the differences in revenue-generating capacity across Canada’s 10 provinces. By compensating poorer provinces for their relatively weak tax bases or resource endowments, Equalization helps to ensure that Canadians residing in provinces have access to a reasonably similar level of provincial government services at reasonably similar levels of taxation, regardless of which province they call home.” Note: “revenue generating capacity”, artificially low in Alberta, or “reasonably similar levels of taxation”. Hah.

    Reply
  13. Tom in Ontario

    May 18th, 2018

    I know Justin..doesn’t have the political depth of a fingerbowl…etc
    Them’s fighting words iif we ever heard ’em.

    A constructive suggestion for you, Jason. Back up talk with action.
    Challenge Trudeau to a charity boxing match, say 3 two minute rounds, with your palls at Rebel Media taping it.
    Match your oratorical skills with plain old fisticuffs.
    Show that Liberal softie how tough you are, kid. We’re in your corner!

    Reply

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