Fear and loathing on the campaign trail with Jason Kenney: the strange case of the Boys on the Bible Buses

Posted on November 10, 2016, 12:23 pm
6 mins

PHOTOS: Buses like these may be waiting to ferry Jason Kenney supporters wherever they’re needed. Below: Mr. Kenney on the campaign trail with former prime minister Stephen Harper, and, by the look of this photo grabbed from Facebook, some well behaved young people.

Today is the deadline for new entries into the Progressive Conservative Party leadership race, and you have to ask: is the party executive now working directly for the Jason Kenney campaign?

It certainly seems so when you consider the strange affair of the Boys on the Bible Buses at last weekend’s PC policy conference in Red Deer, not to mention the harassment of at least one female candidate by Mr. Kenney’s supporters during the meeting.

kenney-harperWhile Mr. Kenney’s minions were yelling at Sandra Jansen in the hallways of the Red Deer hotel where the conference took place, the now-famous busloads of mysterious Bible school students were showing up at the convention to execute a takeover of the PC youth wing for Mr. Kenney’s campaign.

As the CBC explained it in its coverage of the conservative kiddie coup, the four buses of young Kenney supporters arrived on Saturday. “The young men and women, many in their teens, were led to a room where they could take pictures with former prime minister Stephen Harper. The youth were then directed to the room where the annual general meeting for the PC Youth Association was taking place.”

The reason for the visitation? The PCYA appoints 20 of the delegates who get to vote for the next leader at the party’s convention in March 2017, the CBC explained.

No one seems to know exactly who these mysterious young people were. An unconfirmed rumour circulating online last night suggests they’re from one of the religious schools that refuses to obey the government’s policy on gay-straight alliances – a drama in which Mr. Kenney’s campaign appears to be pulling the strings.

Donna Kennedy-Glans, who with Ms. Jansen dropped out of the leadership race on Tuesday, complained about the bus voters – but failed to arouse any interest among the members of the party executive.

Now, here’s the thing. None of the young bus people – whoever they were – were PC Party members until their buses pulled up at the door.

So, under the PC Party’s own rules – based on a resolution party members insist was properly passed as required by the party’s constitution – you can’t vote at a PC meeting unless you’ve been a member for seven days. None of the young bus people had been, as they were signed up at the door.

After this – and presumably after the protest by Ms. Kennedy-Glans noted by the CBC – I am informed the PC executive met and decided not to enforce the constitutional rule.

In other words, Mr. Kenney’s supporters now appear to be in control of the party executive. Leastways, the executive is acting as if that’s the case. Given that, one wonders why they’d bother with the expense and inconvenience of a leadership convention.

As for Ms. Jansen and Ms. Kennedy-Glans dropping out, the party executive appears to be completely unconcerned.

Whatever the circumstances that led to their decisions, it is clear Kenney campaign – backed by the likes of former prime minister Stephen Harper and former Reform Party leader Preston Manning – wanted them gone. Otherwise, they could have potentially pooled their support for a more progressive alternative on a second ballot at the March leadership convention.

Alberta premier Rachel Notley may think, as she said yesterday, that “if a party or a campaign cannot conduct itself in a way to ensure the most basic of rules around inclusivity, for instance, anti-harassment, then quite frankly that party or that campaign is not equipped to govern the province.” But important people in the PC Party, by the sound of it, do not agree or care.

In a Facebook post last night, former deputy premier and 2014 leadership candidate Thomas Lukaszuk lamented the way Ms. Jansen and Ms. Kennedy-Glans were driven out of the race. “I know both of these women. I worked with them. They are brilliant, resilient and politically experienced. I know that they entered the race with full intentions to compete; they had the resources, and I know that it must have taken a lot for them to withdraw.”

“Both of the silenced candidates were bringing policy options and alternative perspectives that Albertans deserved to hear,” Mr. Lukaszuk wrote. “However, with the two candidates pushed out and with (today’s) deadline for new candidate entries, the PC race is set to proceed without any female representation and under a cloud of controversy.”

To restore faith in the process, Mr. Lukaszuk called on the executive to immediately suspend the deadline for new candidate entries while it investigates the candidates’ allegations.

Don’t expect this to happen.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

31 Comments to: Fear and loathing on the campaign trail with Jason Kenney: the strange case of the Boys on the Bible Buses

  1. Val

    November 10th, 2016

    David, do you really believe that majority, whose votes gives or takes mandate to political party to govern the province, anyhow cares about an internal parties issues when time comes to vote?
    typical voters, before casting their vote, look back and compare, what do we got from present government and what we can expect from ones, who’s put the claim to govern province in different way.
    hard to see objectives behind your endless ideologically driven crusade 🙂

    Reply
    • PIGL

      November 10th, 2016

      This voter cares about the internal goings-on of parties, especially when such goings-on are shady, corrupt or despicable. If you don’t care, so much the worse for you.

      Furthermore, this is no ideologically driven crusade. Mr. Climenhaga is reporting political news. It’s not his fault the PC and WRP give him so much material.

      Reply
      • Val

        November 10th, 2016

        have no doubt but do you think millions “silent” voters have same approach?
        if NDP going to lose next election, it will happen not because PC or WR much better but because NDP didn’t met voter’s expectations.
        sure, climate change and other global cataclysms and fight against them sound impressive… in news but it’s somewhere far and not today.
        today many of albertans picked from their mail boxes ever growing bills from utilities companies, telcos, insurance companies, dentist offices, municipality authorities. etc… and on top of this saw today another collegue at work got laid off.
        thats a main motive was exploited in “Trump phenomena” and everyone now see – it’s works. if someone thinking we are better and have different mentality than an americans, think again.

        Reply
        • Bob Raynard

          November 11th, 2016

          I really appreciate the respectful tone the comments section of David’s blog maintains, and I hope I am not compromising it, but, Val, I need to echo Expat’s sentiment. If English is not your first language, I do apologize, and I think Expat would as well.

          If, however, you are just rattling off without paying any attention to your writing skills, this negatively affects your message two ways. First, your message doesn’t get through because your reader has to put so much effort into figuring out what you are trying to say. Second, it makes your reader wonder how much thought you put into your comment if you don’t appear to have put much thought into how you present your ideas.

          Now I really hope I haven’t made some kind of writing error in this post!

          Reply
    • Val Jobson

      November 10th, 2016

      People who only care about getting power cannot be trusted to serve Albertans, or to be honest or diligent about issues that concern Albertans. Kenney should go back to Ottawa and find a thinktank to infest.

      Reply
    • Expat Albertan

      November 10th, 2016

      Your poor spelling and atrocious grammar distract from your message. Just some food for thought.

      Reply
  2. anon

    November 10th, 2016

    Rule of law? Who needs it when gawd is on your side and you are surrounded by the forces of the anti-Christ. Onward Christian Soldiers! But hey, no worries Rachel and the NDP will turn the other cheek, win them over and we can all sit around the campfire together singing “Kumbaya” for the plutocrats.

    Reply
  3. anonymous

    November 10th, 2016

    I’m starting to think that Jason Kenney, Preston Manning, Tom Flanagan and Stephen Harper just don’t like women.

    Reply
    • Maria

      November 10th, 2016

      Yap, that’s right. They don’t like women (except for their moms) – just like Donald Trump – and white men (also known as rednecks) will vote for the Kenney clan. After all, women belong in the kitchen!

      Reply
    • Expat Albertan

      November 10th, 2016

      I don’t think Jason does. The others probably just don’t like women with power.

      Reply
    • Bob Raynard

      November 10th, 2016

      Just starting?

      Don’t forget, most of them had women mothers. Jason Kenney I’m not so sure.

      Reply
  4. David

    November 10th, 2016

    To use the currently popular expression from south of the border, it seems some on the PC executive are trying to “rig” the rules in favour of Mr. Kenney and his instant tiny tories.

    Reply
  5. Student

    November 10th, 2016

    Once again, when the rules don’t give you the outcome you want, change or ignore them. It is Harper’s way. Fundamentally anti-conservative.

    Reply
    • PIGL

      November 10th, 2016

      but fundamentally authoritarian.

      Reply
  6. Doug

    November 10th, 2016

    No-one putting their name forward, male or female, Sandra Jansen or Jason Kenney deserve the rude, demeaning, and insulting things being said about them. Neither of these two or some of their supporters have been spotless in claiming the higher ground of civil discourse. Indeed the vitriol displayed to both persons has been nothing short of gutter politics. Many Albertans disagree with Ms. Jansen and many disagree with Mr. Kenney. It is unbelievable what has been said about both Mr Kenney and Ms Jansen. These are adverse positions that need to have civil discourse, rather than emotional rhetoric. There are extreme voices on the right, and just as many on the left, justifying, if that is even possible, their rude and contemptuous display of any regard for decent, respectful human behavior. Their morality is guided by the “end justifies the means” attitude. Or if the name is in the public square and they hold a different world view then they are fair game.
    If Alberta is to move forward, undivided, and together, we must find what unites us again, and discuss what divides us and find compromise. Most Albertans on the street feel there is no-one willing to listen and everyone is trying to tell others how things are to be. In regards to your oped. I support condemnation of any harassment or personal attacks. I also think that rules should be followed as well to maintain the integrity of the process. Rule of Law is fundamental to allow us to operate as a civil society. By respecting that, we then can call out when it is not followed and have a valid basis to demand better behavior. This is as true on the youth delegate side as being wrong to sign ups at the door, as it is just as wrong as the NDP spending 5 million dollars on ads on a policy before it is passed in the legislature. We expect integrity from our political leaders and there is very little being displayed at present. All parties and leaders have issues. A point of concern with your OPED is in regards to the perceived condescending attitude towards the youth. Your article had a lot of merit on the process, until you referred to them as the “Boys on the Bible School buses.” Firstly it is only speculation in regards to them being a faith based group. Secondly in a society seeking to be inclusive, the reference to religion is intolerant and uncalled for. As Hillary said one “what difference does it make”. Religion should not be a factor, but process and merit should be.Thirdly unless someone asked or interviewed these kids, who are we to question their motives for coming, their understanding of the issues, or their desire to be involved? They are portrayed as mindless minions of a pied piper bought off with social elevation. Are they any less capable and important than the many who sign up with other political parties seeking recognition? We are in an age where we are asking youth to be more involved, by establishing GSA’s, voting, establishing policy groups, etc, etc. Why condemn these ones because they may not lean in your political direction? That is poor form. Condemn the lack of adherence to procedure if so, but do not belittle their involvement, their religion leaning (which is unproven) or the fact they are involved. If you do, it basically negates all that those who fought for what Bill 10 wanted to accomplish. That is that youth have rights, can think for themselves, and are entitled to be involved, without harassment or belittling back. If you want consideration, please display that same consideration back, We are all Albertans and all have a right to our opinions, and be heard in a respectful way.

    Reply
  7. Bob

    November 10th, 2016

    First, this should mean nothing to windbag idealist like you David, since you are not a Conservative. Secondly, I get this is a blog so facts don’t actually mean anything to you…but maybe you should do a little fact checking. Third, how about an article about the Notley government suing itself? How’s that coming along? 2019 combat come soon enough, and with it, the final remnants of the NDP can fade back into irrelevance everywhere in Canada.

    Reply
    • PIGL

      November 10th, 2016

      Ladies and Gentlemen: The Conservative Party of Canada. Bullying, agressive, dishonest, and dumb as a post.

      Reply
    • David

      November 10th, 2016

      I think someone has struck a nerve here! Tory leadership rules rigged for Kenney – not a good newspaper headline for the PC’s. Just when we almost forgot about how scandal plagued the PC’s were. I guess old habits die hard.

      Reply
  8. Corey

    November 10th, 2016

    Very interesting! Keep up the good work David.

    When I read that Sandra was harassed in the halls on the topic of women’s rights, I as well was guessing that the culprits were religious extremists. In particular there are a few sects that I can guess were involved.

    I’m all for youth being politically involved, but I am always disheartened when it seems the youth are being exploited by their parents to achieve political goals.
    Did these teenagers decide on their own to organize this trip?
    Do they know each other through some sort of institution? If so, could that institution have an agenda?

    It is likely that we’ll never know answers to these questions, but I think that the presence of defensive commenters who arrived since the Trinity school article are a hint that you are on to something here.

    Reply
    • Hana Razga

      November 10th, 2016

      Motivated, as it seems, by free pizza….

      Reply
  9. Gail

    November 10th, 2016

    Good post David!

    After what happened with Trump we in Alberta need to stop being smug and start working very hard to make sure Kenny and the PCs do not get elected. We do not need our own version of Trump. After watching many of my friends who were staunch PC supporters vote NDP last time only to become disillusioned by how the NDP failed to live up to their promises I am very worried. I can only hope that the NDP will start acting as it campaigned it would.

    The Alberta PC leadership “race” is showing us that Harper and his ilke are alive and trying to come back through the provincial politics. All Albertans should be concerned. We do not need a Harper repeat in the form of Kenny.

    Reply
  10. Bob Raynard

    November 10th, 2016

    I am surprised the existing youth members haven’t been making their feelings known on social media.

    Reply
  11. 9 sided

    November 10th, 2016

    Creepy. Kind of a mash up of an old B horror flick and professional strike breakers. Just plain creepy.

    Reply
  12. Brett

    November 11th, 2016

    Good column.

    I am a typical PC supporter. But not last time. I just had enough of poor government, cronyism..the lot. It was time for a change. Unlike many, I am fairly pleased with the result.

    I did expect to vote PC in the next election however that option for me seems to be quickly evaporating. I want a team that provides good governnment, good leadership first….above the social conservative agenda. That agenda, which appears to pushed by a small group, has proven and will prove again to be unacceptable to the majority of Albertans.

    I have zero interest in a unite the right party. I have a great deal of interest in a center focused Party that will provide the leadership necessary. So far, that party does not appear to me to be Conservative, Wildrose, or a combination of both manufactured by some power hungry, attention seeking, washed up professional Federal politician. We already have enough has beens on stage. Time for some fresh new ideas and an inspired leadership team.

    Reply
  13. Filostrato

    November 11th, 2016

    I know that there are people like Jason Kenney (very basic education, little experience of the world before being carted around and shown things in a Con government, no family) who think that they can tell everyone else in a province or country what they have to do. But most of the people he wants to direct or dominate have at least as much education as he does, as well as work and life experience not informed by ideology and also a family whose future they are concerned about.

    Why would they let anyone like this anywhere near the reins of power?

    And the CKC (Conservative Kiddie Coup) on the BB’s (Bible Buses) are profoundly unsettling, like the kids in the Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, filmed a couple of times as Village of the Damned. The PC’s didn’t mind and just ignored their own rules? Profoundly weird.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      November 11th, 2016

      I haven’t thought about the Midwich Cuckoos for a long time. If John Wyndham or someone like him had written it in the 21st Century, he or she probably would have been taken in by Homeland Security or one of its equivalents in the Empire’s vassal states. After all, remember how Gordon Zellaby solved the problem with the Cuckoos, who are not a bad metaphor, if you think about it, for the climate-change denying 1%.

      Reply
  14. Pearl

    November 12th, 2016

    Reasonable blog, for the most part. The PC executive is VERY concerned about the loss of these two women candidates. And there is far more to that aspect of the story. There is an internal committee investigating the incident. Now, this is in no way meant to explain away the concerns of women in politics. I am woman. I have lived these experiences. I have been dismissed over many times by any attempts whatsoever to voice my rage. To me, resignation is not the answer. Rachel Notley must have learned the secret. She retains her equanimity during the most atrocious, unreasoned, completely false attacks.

    Feeding more negativity to the intensely negative attacks by Jason Kenney against the environment, his total lies about the carbon tax, leaves me simply saddened. I shall add the poor delusional fellow to my prayer list.

    Reply
  15. L.Mc

    November 12th, 2016

    Rock on, Jason!! See you at the top.

    Reply
  16. David

    November 12th, 2016

    The PC’s really seemed to have learn nothing. Yet again, they allow a federal MP with little experience in provincial politics to railroad them and ride rough over some of their best and most experienced MLA’s/former MLA’s.

    They might think this is the easy route back to power for them, but if they continue to handle this the way they have, the voters will notice they still have neither a back bone or principles. We don’t want our government to be too ideologically rigid, but we would like them to at least have some principles. Not rigging things anymore and not trying to drive out moderate women would be a good start.

    Reply

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