PHOTOS: Former federal Conservative cabinet minister Jason Kenney looks like he’s describing how he’ll capture the Alberta PC Party, then the Wildrose, and unite them whether they like it or not, in this shot grabbed from his Parliamentary Flickr account. Below: Rick Orman, Rob Anders, Thomas Lukaszuk and Brian Jean.

Jason Kenney, putative leader of the double reverse hostile takeover planned for the Progressive Conservative Party and then the Wildrose Party, will make his big announcement tomorrow.

So Albertans have now been reliably informed by the National Post, which along with the various editions of Postmedia’s Alberta Frankenpaper acts as Mr. Kenney’s informal press agent.

ormanThe CBC chimed in later to say they’ve confirmed it, adding hilariously that the announcement “would come just before the Calgary Stampede, a key cultural and political event in Alberta.” (Emphasis added for humorous effect.)

But as soon as former prime minister Stephen Harper’s former lieutenant told a meeting of some of his friends in the Calgary suburb of Cochrane last week that they should “stay tuned” for big news, and that together they were “Rachel Notley’s worst nightmare,” it seemed inevitable Mr. Kenney was about to announce his plan to execute Stage 1 of the complicated plot, resigning as an MP and running for the PC Party’s leadership this fall and winter.

So we’ll have to wait a long while yet before we hear from the lips of Mr. Kenney anything like Britquit politico Boris Johnson’s impeccably timed Brexit-exit: “Well, I must tell you, my friends … you who have waited faithfully for the punch-line of this speech … that having consulted colleagues … and in view of the circumstances in Parliament … I have concluded … that person cannot be me!”

Nope, we’re going to get the full political Monty from the first self-declared worst nightmare for the left since former Alberta finance minister and PC leadership candidate Ted Morton described himself as “every liberal’s nightmare – a right-winger with a PhD.” In other words, Mr. Kenney has decided that person will be him.

Well, nightmare though he may be, at least no one will accuse Mr. Kenney, still the MP for Calgary Midnapore and also a former Canadian Taxpayers Federation operative, of having anything like PhD!

robanders-nfaLast week’s Cochrane meeting was held in the local Legion’s beer parlour before a crowd that even the Postmedia reporter on the scene couldn’t resist pointing out was made up of “mostly white, middle-aged supporters.” Or, as Mr. Kenney described them, channeling the late Ralph Klein, who didn’t particularly like him, “severely normal Albertans,” which of course is meant to draw attention to what they are not.

The meeting was organized by a group awkwardly called Albertans Can’t Wait, reported various places to have been set up a number of heavyweight Alberta conservative insiders including lobbyist Hal Danchilla, former PC leadership candidate and oilman turned lobbyist Rick Orman and former Klein media strategist Thompson MacDonald, although the news reports made no mention of any of those three having been at the Cochrane meeting.

Also involved in the ACW effort, and also apparently not at the meeting, was Preston Manning himself, the former Reform Party leader often called the godfather of the Canadian right.

At the meeting was radio personality, former Wildrose leader and sometime Progressive Conservative backbencher Danielle Smith. Along with former PC premier Jim Prentice, she was the last person to try the unite-the-right bullet trick – over the objections of Mr. Prentice’s caucus and her party’s general membership.

thomas_lukaszuk-lThere’s no doubt that December 2014 floor-crossing disaster – openly fomented by Mr. Manning – played a significant role in the election of the NDP in the May 5, 2015, general election.

In addition to a couple of undistinguished serving Tory MPs from rural Alberta, another big name at the Cochrane meeting was Canada’s former “Worst MP” himself, Rob Anders. A noted gun nut, extreme social conservative and union hater, Mr. Anders is best known for falling asleep in Parliament as the cameras rolled and opposing honorary Canadian citizenship for the late South African leader Nelson Mandela. Not long before the last federal election, he got to be too much even for his former mentor, Mr. Harper, and was left without a nomination.

Back in the days when Mr. Manning’s Reform Party made its long march to Opposition in Ottawa, Mr. Kenney and Mr. Anders made up two thirds of what was then known as the “Snack Pack,” a trio of young right-wing politicians completed by Edmonton Strathcona MP Rahim Jaffer. Mr. Jaffer, declared by an Ottawa political publication to be “Canada’s Laziest MP,” became embroiled in a national controversy in 2010 after his electoral defeat by the NDP when he was arrested for drunk driving and cocaine possession, and later spotted in a Toronto restaurant with some dubious companions.

As a historical aside, the Snack Pack – so known, as the Wilkipedia gently put it, “due to their relative youth and girth” – was nearly a quartet, and would likely have included well-known video blogger Ezra Levant had Mr. Harper not decided he wanted the riding Mr. Levant had staked out for himself.

BrianJeanMugMr. Kenney’s stalking horse in the days after the idea of a PC run was first floated was none other than Tom Flanagan, former confidante of Mr. Manning and ex-prime-minister Stephen Harper, and then not.

One can only speculate about the roles in a Tory Restoration Alberta Mr. Kenney might have in mind for the likes of Dr. Flanagan and Messrs. Anders, Jaffer and Levant!

Notwithstanding natural resistance among the Wildrose rank and file to insider scheming reminiscent of the 44-year PC dynasty, and in PC circles to a vocal Wildrose supporter like Mr. Kenney frog-marching their big-tent party into the neoliberal Borg Hive, this is a formidable and powerful group that anyone interested in Alberta politics needs to take seriously.

Former PC ministers and potential candidates may threaten to quit the party if Mr. Kenney leads it, as Sandra Jansen did, or call for Mr. Kenney’s PC membership to be revoked, as Thomas Lukaszuk did. Wildrose Leader Brain Jean may be none too happy, and many of his party’s members may view these developments with feelings of suspicion and betrayal.

Still, the prospect of another term with the NDP in charge may have concentrated the minds of the province’s right enough to give Mr. Kenney’s ambitions and his well-connected friends a hope for the main chance.

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  1. Question for Mr. Climenhaga

    Was the picture of Mr. Anders ready to go duck hunting purposely placed next to “Promoting and protecting public health care in Alberta?”

  2. “Albertans Can’t Wait” … Sounds more like an advocacy group lobbying to increase the supply and accessibility of public washrooms in Alberta …

  3. The best result would be for Kenney to fail to make it to the final ballot at the leadership convention. I would toast that ignominious result.

  4. And, at the same time, Brian Jean is basically saying, “sure, unite the right under our Wildrose banner and I’m the leader.” The entertaining Alberta right wing power gong show goes on…..
    And perhaps, the Snack Pack old boys continue to facilitate the girths at a remote Calgary truck stop, whilst planning and plotting.

  5. I remember Mr. Morton’s remark about a right-winger with a PhD. At the time, it made me think that he had completely wasted his time at university.

    And good grief! Rob Anders? Where did they dig him up from? It’s the zombie apocalypse, I tell you!

    Kenney, Anders, Levant, Flanagan – they’re the cast of a lot of people’s worst
    nightmare, even if you’re not in provincial politics.

    “…Still, the prospect of another term with the NDP in charge may have concentrated the minds of the province’s right…” – Even if you concentrate these minds down as far as they could go, they still wouldn’t add up to one full-strength mind.

  6. I wonder what the appeal of a big gov’t debt ($150B+), police state (C51), managed trade globalist (TPP) like Kenney is for the far right in Alberta? The Wildrose and some PC’s try to push a free market libertarian view which is contrary to anything in Kenney’s record.

  7. His arrogance is causing him to dismiss the equally arrogant and delusional players in the Wildrose and the Conservative parties. A few others in those parties also lust for the position of Alberta Premier, and they don’t carry nearly as much baggage as Kenney.

    It’ sad to see Kenney behaving like a lost puppy who’s lost his master. He’s spent his entire career at the foot of Harper waiting for the next command. There isn’t a leadership bone in his body.

  8. I have always considered myself fiscally conservative and socially progressive. This is what the PC party is supposed to be. I started voting for the Wildrose when it became clear that the PC’s could no longer properly manage Alberta’s finances. I didn’t agree with all their social policies but I felt fiscal prudence was more important. Jason Kenney has a history of lobbying for balanced budgets. I think he will emphasize a return to fiscal responsibility. I would vote for a PC party with him as leader, I wouldn’t if Sandra Jansen was the leader. Have a good day:-)

  9. perhaps he is running for the Alberta Conservative leadership because he federal Cons are realizing that Harper was indeed a ‘bad man’ and they don’t want his protege. Politics in Alberta will be interesting. On a related note, does anyone know what Stephen Harper is doing? Still collecting taxpayer money I assume ?

  10. Kenney wins under the new voting system..Unless there’s a whole lot more progressive-leaning delegates get approved by rural PC constituency associations than most of us would guess… i.e., these would be conservatives who would have voted for Lougheed or Dinning, rather than Klein or Morton, and that might now vote for any lower-profile/status leadership candidates to stop Kenney and the hard-right takeover he’d bring.

    I don’t think those PC delegates are out there in rural AB. There will be some Red Tory/mildly progressive leaning delegates from Calgary and Edmonton, but not enough to stop Kenney if rural AB goes all in for him, which is my guess.

    And given that most political observers believe Kenney has a lot of organizational capacity/$$$, my guess, with rural AB, he wins PC leadership running away.

    Rural organizing of PC votes was a key factor, maybe *the* factor, to give Klein the 2nd round vote over Betkowski for the PC leadership, after the first vote where one vote separated them.

    There’s no candidate equivalent to Betkowski left in the PCs, or wouldn’t the media been talking about them already? Jansen already booted herself. AB Lib’s are probably already wooing her.

    And for all the legitimate critique thru a progressive lens of Kenney’s record/performance, will any of it matter to conservative voters’ choice for PC leader? Why would it?

    And like we’ve seen in the USA with Trump, criticism from progressives mostly just energizes the base supporting Trump.

    1. Just a reminder that farmers are less than two percent of the population. Rural AB is really suburbanites and oil service workers on acreages.

      1. Agreed. My point was not that it was just farmers that put Klein in over Betkowski, but rural AB’s are on average more fiscally and socially conservative than urban conservatives.

        And FWIW, it appears Kenney and crew think it’s a winning strategy to try a back to the future campaign.


        Jason Kenney vies to become Ralph Klein, reincarnate

        For the first time, Jason Kenney will leave a leader’s side to go to Alberta, where he’ll try to emulate a throwback premier

        Jason Markusoff July 6, 2016

    1. If you’ll point out the spot, I’ll be happy to take a look at it and either fix it or decide it’s entertaining enough to leave. As noted here before, my readers are my editors.

      1. I’m at a loss to know to what Mr Gregh is referring…about the only misspelling I could find, leaving out obvious neologisms permissible under poetic license (like Britquit) was “Wilkipedia”, when I think you meant to write Wikipedia (15th paragraph). That is more likely to have been simple tangled fingers on the keyboard.

        As for Dr Flanagan, isn’t he the genius who got himself in hot water back in 2013 by excusing child pornography under the guise of “freedom of expression”? A point of view which conveniently ignores the victimization necessary to produce such material …

        1. You’re right. That should have been Willkepedia, right? Wasn’t the Willkepedia founded by Wendell Willke? DJC

      2. I think he’s referring to “Wildrose Leader Brain Jean” which could have been deliberate on your part, I suppose . . .

  11. “The Calgary Stampede, a key cultural and political event in Alberta.” Where’s the barbaric cultural practices hotline when you really need it?

  12. Kenny takes leadership of the provincial PCs.

    During the the next general meeting of the WR Mr. Jean, who deserves respect as someone who actually seems to be in governance for the sake of governance(agree with him or not) rather than politics and power, gets to do his best Caesar impression. Fildebrant, with the support of the same back room that carved the Wildrose from the PCs in the first place and later instigated the Smith floor crossing, takes over and promptly dissolves the WR.

    Fildebrandt and the WR association then endorse Kenny as the champion of Conservativism in Alberta.
    This moots Alberta’s election law which prevents the cannibalization of independent parties and paves the way for Fildebrandt and the WR to cross the floor to the Kenny PCs for the penultimate homecoming this time supported by the grassroots . This unites the independent former Wildrose members with their ideological Kennyhead. The so-called architect of the takeover of the federal PCs by the Canadian Alliance repeats the feat in Alberta and as in the federal case, the progressives of the party are marginalized. Us hurtin’ Albert’ns will suffer in the ensuing Dipolar Dichotomy for certain.

    At least we are all in it together.

    or maybe its just the Alberta Premium talking, it’s definitely in charge of punctuation.

  13. For some reason, I can’t disassociate “Alberta Can’t Wait” with some kind of reaction to premature ejaculation.

    Admittedly, many of their members are female, but did they consider the ramifications?

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