PHOTOS: I tell you, it’s a total disaster! Believe me! Brian Jean speaks with members after his Trump-like Friday evening speech at the Wildrose Party’s 2016 AGM in Red Deer (CBC photo). Below: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, whose former speech-writers may soon be able to find productive work in Alberta; Jason Kenney, the grim spectre haunting Alberta’s conservatives; and St. Albert’s Stephen Khan, likely to be the next candidate to join the PC leadership race.

The surprise shouldn’t be that Alberta’s Wildrose Party went Full Trump at its annual general meeting in Red Deer Friday night and yesterday. It should be that anyone’s surprised.

Still, mainstream media were agog at this turn of events. To give credit where credit is due, several journalists actually used the T-word to describe both Wildrose Leader Brian Jean’s bleak fantasy about the state of Alberta’s society as we near Halloween 2016 and the Tea Party policy prescriptions set out for his party by its members.

Nasty, nasty people, believe me! I saw it! Total disaster! We need to make Alberta great again! Bigly!

Well, those who were there (I wasn’t) swear Mr. Jean never said he was going to Make Alberta Great Again or used much of the standard repertoire of Trumpisms. But his dystopic trash-talking about Alberta now that we’ve decided to leave the 19th Century behind was Trumpism of the first water.

“When we look across the province in our communities, we see crime skyrocketing and poverty increasing,” Mr. Jean told the party members in his address Friday night. “We see a growing number of young people being trafficked into a sex trade against their will. We see dangerous drugs like fentanyl and other opioids killing Albertans and ripping families apart. This must stop. And we continue to see the rights of criminals put above the rights of victims.”

This stream of real and imagined disaster, according to Mr. Jean’s worldview, is entirely the fault of Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP. Plus, of course, it’s also entirely the fault of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in Ottawa. Readers will get the picture.

According to the Wildrosers, though, all we need to put things right is low-to-no taxes, brutal fiscal discipline and long jail sentences for bad guys. Plus more Brad Wall, maybe, although the far-right Saskatchewan premier seems not to have figured in Mr. Jean’s remarks, possibly because he seems to be endorsing former Harper cabinet member Jason Kenney’s scheme to perform a double reverse hostile takeover of the Wildrose Party and the Progressive Conservatives. Mr. Kenney is running to lead the PCs just now.

This may be what led Mr. Jean to insist manfully during the AGM that support in his party for a merger with the Tories is weakening.

As for the Wildrose membership’s policy prescriptions, which media seemed to forget the party caucus is not actually obliged to pay any attention to if they manage to get into power, members called for:

  • Eliminating the NDP’s carbon tax (and letting Mr. Trudeau decide where the money gets spent, I guess)
  • Restoring Ralph Klein’s regressive “flat tax”
  • Making it easier for private health care, including private hospitals, to creep into the public system
  • And, naturally, eliminating the NDP’s farm safety legislation

How this is supposed to work with Liberals in Ottawa and much of the rest of the country itching to declare Alberta an environmental pariah is not 100-per-cent clear – but that probably doesn’t matter very much to the Wildrose base.

Mr. Jean – who despite appearances this weekend is not a fool – obviously understands that if he doesn’t toss the membership some very red meat, someone else will. And that someone, of course, is Mr. Kenney, the spectre haunting Alberta’s conservatives, who also knows the meat in question is mostly baloney.

Next weekend, it’s the PCs’ turn, with their own AGM in Red Deer – which for the enlightenment of readers outside Alberta is conveniently located exactly halfway between Edmonton and Calgary.

That promises to be a more interesting event because the five declared candidates for next spring’s party leadership vote are bound to use the meeting to advocate for their quite different views of the former governing party’s future.

Mr. Kenney’s plans for the PCs create a real threat to the party’s continued existence and his vision for the party that emerges next does not include many traditional PC supporters – who in the coming vote will have several candidates to choose from.

As for the carbon tax, three declared candidates – MLA Sandra Jansen, former MLA Donna Kennedy-Glans, and Calgary legalist Byron Nelson – say they support the idea, while naturally taking issue with the way the NDP is implementing it. Two, Mr. Kenney and MLA Richard Starke, say they would eliminate it.

So this suggests a glimmer of recognition of reality among at least some potential PC leaders, and probably the party’s membership as well, plus real policy differences for members to work through.

If more candidates are set to join the race, they’ll likely use the AGM as a springboard. They have until Nov. 10 to get their nomination papers in.

Speaking of which, a community newspaper reported yesterday that St. Albert’s former PC MLA, Stephen Khan, is about to join the race – or, leastways, that he’s picked up a leadership application package and booked a room at a local golf clubhouse next Thursday evening for an undisclosed announcement.

Alberta’s Legislature gets back to business Monday with a session that is expected to run until Dec. 8. It will likely to have a heavy legislative agenda, giving ambitious Opposition politicians plenty of opportunities to grandstand.

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  1. Perhaps Mr. Jean or any of the other candidates who wants to make Alberta great again can provide a list of what will be great ‘again’ under their leadership. Is it shorter waiting times in emergency? less homelessness and poverty? all infrastructure fixed up? full employment with a fair minimum wage? lower tuition for post secondary students? or is it more profit for business? The list, of course, has to be costed – with no increase in to the deficit. Sounds like the right is all trumped-up. Good luck to them

  2. “Mr. Jean never said he was going to Make Alberta Great Again…”

    He didn’t say it; the Rosies’ bombastic and pompous finance critic Derek Fildebrandt said it during a workshop session on Friday, as reported by CBC News Edmonton. All of which leads me to ask the question, “Can we expect more parroting of Trump-like behaviour in the coming days by Alberta’s Tea Baggers of the North?” One can only hope there will be no groping involved.

  3. Would Jean/Kenney/Starke also reverse the 4 cents/litre increase at the pumps that the Prentice government implemented? And reverse all of this?
    It doesn’t matter which politics governs Alberta, the revenue has to come from somewhere. And the flat tax benefitted only the highest earners, interestingly. Who carries the burden of a flat tax are middle class earners, i.e.on $70,000 taxable income, for example, under the flat tax we paid $1400 more than B.C. in provincial tax and $900 more than in Ontario. On $1 million in taxable income, which was/is not uncommon in Alberta, one paid $tens of thousands less in provincial tax than in B.C. or Ontario. Those high earners in B.C. and Ontario still did very well financially. Progressive taxes are definitely more fair, all around.
    With the proposed carbon tax, the carbon tax rebate would go to singles making less than $47,500 in net income and $95,000 in net income for couples and families which is also definitely more fair than the flat tax.
    As well, it appears that Jean is not interested in uniting the right because the Wildrosies think they can win the next election. Perhaps, it is appearing, more, that the next politics in Alberta might end up being a minority government. Regardless, the 40 + years of right wing financial mismanagement, and education and health care cutbacks in Alberta was enough for me…none of them will get my vote.

    1. You say 40+ years of right-wing financial management? Try 80 + years. The Socreds were right-wing, too. In the early 1970s, the PCs were hived off of the Socreds – it was a new name on the outside, same old right-wingers on the inside. Note, too that Norway has about the same population as Alberta. Norway benefitted by the oil-boom, too. But, Norway did not have a one-party right-wing rule and their oil boom was shorter. After the collapse of oil prices and hard-times on the oil industry, Norway now has the world’s largest sovereign funds. Where is Alberta’s legacy after several oil booms, including the longest in history, and after more than 80 years of right-wing fiscal management? Another point, under the right-wing Socred regime, in 1938, Alberta government bonds traded for less than 50 cents on the dollar, and Alberta was bailed out of the financial basement by the Federal government of the day.

  4. What a bunch of cry-babies. Didn’t they get their “Ralph bucks?” Don’t tell me they peed it away already?

    Notely has already lowered royalty rates and increased drilling subsidies for them. Big oil is still making tons of money. Don’t blame the NDP for big oil putting the squeeze on its workers and sub-contractors. They voted for free enterprise and now they have the results – good and hard.

  5. Realistically by 2019 the level of the federally mandated will be 20$ per tonne of C02. So the level of the tax could be lowered from 30$ to 20$ per tonne but not eliminated. I am not sure why this fact is lost on right leaning politicians. I think they would be much farther ahead to promote a revenue neutral carbon tax which would lower personal and corporate taxes in relation to amount of carbon taxes payed similar to what is done in BC.

    As for your assertion that he went full on Trump, I think that Premier Notley has implemented a lot of unpopular policies that right of center voters like myself disagree with but I for one disagree with going back to a flat tax. With an 11 billion dollar deficit even a pro business government will need more revenue. It is very obvious that Alberta’s oil industry won’t return to previous levels of investment anytime soon and until Albertan’s accept an inevitable vat, large deficits will continue. The projected 58 billion dollar deficit projected by 2019 will limit any government’s future policy decisions

  6. Mr. Jean’s Make Alberta Great Again theme is sure to resonate with the core of the Wildrose supporters, and firm up his leadership, but it is also more inclined to alienate the WRP from the mainstream.

  7. Trump stirs up delirious mobs. Jean and Kenney stir up delirious mobs. The truth is, America (with all its warts) is a great nation. Alberta is a great province.

    Our challenge is to avoid being drawn in to those crowds, to stand defiantly in the face of bigotry, misogyny, and simplistic slogans. Our challenge is to be a good example, not a good follower.

    The Trumps, Jeans, and Kenneys of this world are not champions for the poor, the elderly, students, and the middle class. They aim to make crowds delirious so they will buy in to group think.

    Instead of making a pilgrimage to Red Deer, it would be wiser for people of the right to stay at home and reflect about how help the poorest among us -instead of applauding the hate, suspicion, and despertation from flim-flam con men like Trump.

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