PHOTOS: Your blogger with Carl Benito, back in the day. Below: Brian “Clipper” Jean in his wedding canoe, and Jason Kenney, a confirmed bachelor, striking an appropriately W.L. Mackenzie King-like pose. The latter two politicians are the principal contenders to lead a united right, if indeed the right can be united. Bottom: Some of the author’s recent German cultural research in Bavaria.

Now that Jason Kenney, would-be uniter of Alberta’s right, has promised to give his pension to charity for the duration if he manages to get elected to public office in Alberta, I suppose we should all be turning our minds to ensuring such promises are actually kept.

I am not implying that Mr. Kenney does not intend to keep his rather carefully worded vow – in which he said he would donate his pension payments, which won’t start for another seven years, only while he holds public office outside Ottawa.

Brian-KimIn the meantime, take note, Mr. Kenney seems determined to continue collecting his salary as MP for the federal Calgary Midnapore riding while he campaigns to become leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party with the intention of shutting it down and merging it into the Wildrose Party.

Of course, this may be because, thanks to the new leadership-election rules just adopted by the PC Party’s officials, Mr. Kenney’s election as the Boss Tory won’t be the slam dunk he originally expected. If that’s the case, he might just be being prudent by hanging onto a good job in his native Ontario. I’m not certain this is so, actually, so I promise to write more about this topic in a future post.

For the time being, though, it behooves us to remember that sometimes it easier to promise such a thing in the heat of an election campaign than to actually follow through when the cheques start to show up in the Canada Post super-mailbox at the end of your street in the dark of an icy Alberta winter.

SingleJasonAs alert readers surely recall, such promises have been made in Alberta before – only to yield bitter tears of disappointment and sarcastic blog posts.

I speak, of course, not just of Mr. Kenney – who made his pension promise to the National Post while I was soaking up the culture in Germany – but of another provincial Tory politician, one Carl Benito, erstwhile Progressive Conservative MLA for the riding of Edmonton-Mill Woods.

Back in 2008, while running as a PC for the provincial Legislature, Mr. Benito made the spectacular promise to donate his entire MLA salary to create a scholarship fund for students in his southeast Edmonton riding.

“Carl’s personal pledge is to DONATE the salary allocated for his MLA position to a Scholarship Fund/Program to provide opportunities to our Youth with financial limitations who has the passion and determination to pursue higher education,” Mr. Benito’s campaign literature stated, without qualification.

Alas, once elected, Mr. Benito revised his promise somewhat, first telling the Edmonton Journal he didn’t mean to donate all of his salary every year. “Basically one year salary is my commitment,” he told the newspaper.

In fairness, it is important to note that in 2009 Mr. Benito did in fact donate $500 each to 12 high school students from his riding, which was very generous although considerably less than his entire MLA salary.

BeerNevertheless, a certain amount of sarcastic commentary was inevitable, followed by sharp rejoinders from some opposition politicians who nowadays hold considerably more important jobs.

Still, with such things happening in our fair province within memory, surely it is fair to ask Mr. Kenney to confirm that what he has in mind for a donation is, in fact, all of his pension, and for as long as he serves the public in an elected capacity. No?

For Mr. Benito’s part, not long before he lost the PC nomination to run in the 2012 provincial election, he was involved in another controversy, in which he failed to pay municipal taxes on four rental properties he owned and then blamed his wife for the oversight when the matter came to public attention.

This did not go over well, and may have contributed to Mr. Benito’s loss of the Tory nomination to businessman Sohail Quadri, who served one term as the MLA for the riding until the election of the NDP in May 2015.

Well, that at least is something Mr. Kenney will never do. Not only has he promised to provide the public with his tax returns, but as a confirmed bachelor he of course has no wife to blame for any administrative oversights.

Indeed, Wildrose Leader Brian Jean – the only other contender at the moment for the job of leader of the united right, should the right indeed manage to unite – subtly made this point recently when he published on his Facebook page photos of his recent nuptials to his former special assistant back in the days he was a Conservative MP in Ottawa.

For his part, Mr. Kenney implied to an Ottawa newspaper in 1999 that he had taken a personal vow of celibacy – although he later tried to pass off the tale as a bit of mischief by the Liberals. “I’m a practicing Catholic, and I take the teachings of my church pretty seriously when it comes to applying them to myself,” he nevertheless told the Ottawa Citizen.

So … no problem there.

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    1. I just gave it a listen. Any possibility you could move the session up to today? DJC

      1. Just got off the phone with my psychiatrist and learned that the shock clinic was fully booked until next Friday. So I’ll just have to bite the bullet until then. But after listening to the hundredth iteration playing in my head, I started to realise that Norma Locke’s lyrics and vocals coupled with Mart Kenney’s orchestration was actually a pretty good combination.

    2. Seeing the name Wally Koster on the record label gave me a flashback to the 50s: “Cross-Canada Hit Parade”, “Smoke DuMaurier for real smoking pleasure, DuMaurier, the cigarette of good taste. A mild cigarette, with the best filter yet, that’s why the trend today is for DuMaurier” (I’m going to need electroshock therapy for that one). Also the graceful moves of the hand model as she folded together the ingredients of the delicacies made from Kraft products. Velveeta……..

  1. Referring to Jason Kenney, our blogger writes, “….he might just be being prudent by hanging onto a good job in his native Ontario.”

    Come on Albertans. Just because we in Ontario sent you, besides JK, the likes of Jim Prentice of South Porcupine and a Mr. Harper of Toronto, there’s no need to get into a fat funk about it.

    1. True. They were some of Ontario’s best exports. Like Jim Carrey and Justin Bieber, who were some of Canada’s best exports. (Sorry, Alberta and U.S.A.). We didn’t specifically send them there, we were just so happy they left that we didn’t really track where they were going.

    2. Don’t forget Derek Fildebrandt of Ottawa and Pettawa – you send your “best” ;.) Funny, when I went to check for a reminder on Fildebrandt’s history, those details seem to have been scrubbed.

  2. I recall at one time making a promise not to take pensions was the fashionable thing to do among Reform MP’s (of which I believe Mr. Kenney was one), so he gets marks for consistency so far. Of course, it was an easy promise to make at the time. Reform was a new party, so there were no retired MP’s then and at least Mr. Kenney is still at an age where he does not yet have to make good on that promise for some time.

    However, I think there has been some back peddling by a number of Mr. Kenney’s former colleagues who retired or were not re-elected. It is possible Mr. Kenney is better than all of them, but I suppose we will not know that for a number of years.

    In any event, it is a very clever promise for him to make as he will not be eligible to collect a pension before the next election. It would be like Ralph Klein going to Taber and promising not to go to the bar while there, when the town did not have a bar.

  3. Didn’t the late, unlamented MP Rob Anders plead celibacy as well, although he said it was to spare smitten women from incurring injury as they threw themselves at his feet? Please, Mr. Kenney and Mr. Anders, I don’t really want to contemplate any aspect of your personal life, especially not that one.

    Regarding Kenney’s resolve to give all his money to charity which might fade quickly “…when the cheques start to show up in the Canada Post super-mailbox at the end of your street in the dark of an icy Alberta winter”, the head of Canada Post, not averse to a fat bonus himself, said, when they axed the door-to-door delivery, that seniors would be happy for the opportunity to get some exercise as they retrieved their mail. (Where do they find these people? Mars?).

    Or Kenney could always set up a direct deposit of his pension cheque – in perpetuity, or however long he will receive it – to the charity of his choice. I’d like to see the bank confirmation of those instructions. (Not holding my breath on that one…).

    Did Mr. Benito’s wife give him the boot after blaming her for the non-payment of property taxes? (Ha! Only dreaming…).

    I just looked up the translation of “hell” from German (thank you, Google Translate!) and found that it means “light” or “bright”. Sounds like a perfect combination – visiting family and raising a little hell.

    1. “Hell” seems universally to be pronounced “hellas.” Not speaking German, I’m not certain why. I can tell you it’s vastly superior to the local product and costs 85 cents to 1.29 Euros for a half-litre bottle like the one shown. It’s technically illegalk, but honoured in the breach, to drink beer openly on the subway. Bitte schoen.

    2. He could promise it to a specific charitable organisation. Then the organisation could sue him if he didn’t pay up.

  4. The pic of Mr and Mrs Jean in the canoe looks like a scene out of one of those horror movies, doesn’t it?

    In which our hero and his new bride sail off to a private island in the middle of an enchanted lake to spend 24 hours of wedded bliss only to spend a terrorfying night being pursued by a masked axe-murderer.

    But in this flic the plot takes an unexpected twist when we learn the axe-murderer is actually a hated political rival (played by Jason Kenney) who will stop at nothing to grab the reins of power.

    In the final scene we see Mr Kenney vowing to donate his entire salary to a foundation set up to honor the memory of his former rival who he has just murdered.

    1. I would suggest that the canoe is a large freight canoe, perhaps to carry all of his political baggage. In any case not exactly the type of canoe to be paddling one’s bride any distance as it would be meant for multiple paddlers.

      Of course there would be room for an axe-murder to hide away.

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