Last Thursday, presumably hoping to distract from the NDP’s launch of an advertising campaign illuminating the dark side of Jason Kenney, the United Conservative Party leader announced a passel of policy ideas that would include significant changes to how the Legislature operates.
Among Mr. Kenney’s ideas were a ban on floor crossing by MLAs, statutory referenda on new taxes that would legally embed Alberta’s perpetual austerity crises, campaign financing rules that better suit the UCP, and “free votes” for MLAs on “matters of conscience.”
Mr. Kenney’s cheerleaders at Postmedia naturally swiftly lauded his proposals as “real policy,” which is true in a sense, although some points are merely aspirational whether or not embedded in law and others, like the floor-crossing ban and some of the election finance changes, are vulnerable to constitutional challenges.
As Mr. Kenney well understands, though, such technical niceties don’t matter to his party’s red-meat base, and, anyway, as a politician who boasts he and Ontario Premier Doug Ford finish each other’s sentences and whose mentor and last leader was found in contempt of Parliament, there’s always the Constitution’s Notwithstanding Clause.
Several of these notions deserve a closer look than mainstream media is likely to give them, but this requires the Opposition Leader’s package of proposals to be broken into digestible bits. This in turn may be difficult because, with an election looming, there…