When the celebrated Mr. K. performs his feat on Saturday … what will Brian Jean do?

Posted on March 15, 2017, 12:51 am
9 mins

PHOTOS: Wildrose Leader Brian Jean. Below: Progressive Conservative leader-presumptive Jason Kenney, former PC leadership candidate turned NDP MLA Sandra Jansen, NDP Finance Minister Joe Ceci and a very large sewer rat, political affiliation unknown.

Could Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean beat Progressive Conservative leader-presumptive Jason Kenney for the leadership of Wildrose 2.0, or whatever the new Alberta conservative political entity that emerges after Mr. Kenney’s expected victory on Saturday is called?

It’s an interesting, if unlikely, question.

Just to restate what has been predicted here before:

  1. Mr. Kenney will win the PC leadership race on the first ballot this Saturday, then proceed with his planned double-reverse hostile takeover of Alberta’s two conservative parties
  2. Mr. Jean will come under enormous pressure from well-heeled and influential Kenney supporters like former Reform Party leader Preston Manning and former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper to make way for the celebrated Mr. K
  3. Mr. Jean will cave

To add one more essential point – as explained by political commentator Dave Cournoyer in his Daveberta.ca blog yesterday – the instant Mr. Kenney wins, the venerable Progressive Conservative Party “will become a vassal of the Wildrose Party, which Kenney also seeks to lead into a new conservative party.”

Mr. Kenney’s campaign against Mr. Jean has already begun – in the open and, quite possibly, covertly too, played out behind the scenes by groups of Mr. Kenney’s supporters. Kenney backers have already shown themselves on several occasions to be prepared to ignore the PC Party’s rules, not to mention the rules of common decency as illustrated by the harassment campaign against former PC leadership candidate Sandra Jansen.

Thanks to Mr. Kenney’s efforts, or at least those of his supporters, Ms. Jansen is now a New Democrat MLA, a turn of events that would have been very hard to see coming even a few months ago.

But suppose, for a moment, that Mr. Jean doesn’t cave! Then things will get interesting …

One effect of such a contest, I expect, would be to push the combined party much farther right, as the contestants competed for the support of the most extreme and vocal elements of the Wildrose base.

There are days – there were a couple of them in the Legislature’s Question Period last week – when the former Harper Government MP for Fort McMurray Athabasca really doesn’t sound like a fellow who is about to throw in the towel and surrender to the former Harper Government cabinet minister from Calgary Midnapore who is favoured by the conservative establishment’s heavyweights.

So, if Mr. Jean makes a fight of it, could he win?

There was a poll last December by Janet Brown Opinion Research that indicated conservative Albertans are more likely to vote for a united right wing party led by Mr. Jean than one led by Mr. Kenney – so the Wildrose leader would certainly have a legitimate argument to make.

Assuming Albertans still feel the same way, though, the problem for Mr. Jean would be that he would have to win a vote by the increasingly radicalized – and likely by then more radical still – Wildrose/Conservative membership. They, it is said here, are more likely to plump for Mr. Kenney, a fairly extreme social conservative, than the somewhat more moderate Mr. Jean.

Then the crucial question becomes, What happens to the moderate Tory traditionalists who are supporting leadership candidate Richard Starke, who has been from the start Mr. Kenney’s only serious contender? Do they stay or do they go? If they go … where?

If the Progressive Conservative Party had been serious about conserving its existence, there was a time not so long ago it could have done something about Mr. Kenney’s campaign to destroy the party and turn it into an auxiliary of the Wildrose. But it’s too late now, and the veterinarian from Vermilion will go down to the former Canadian Taxpayers Federation economic snake oil salesman on Saturday despite the distinguished list of former PC MLAs who have lent their 11th hour support to Dr. Starke’s campaign.

The moneyed backers of Canada’s Republicanized conservatives – especially their two Alberta chapters – are so sure they can win the next provincial election no matter who leads, they want the more extreme candidate in the hopes Alberta can be a beachhead in the campaign against Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as well as moving Canada’s political discourse back toward the far right.

Could Premier Rachel Notley’s New Democrats somehow pull the fat from the fryer and get re-elected in 2019?

A new poll by Mainstreet Research, which was being heavily promoted by Postmedia newspapers yesterday, suggests not.

With the NDP’s third budget set to be delivered to the Legislature tomorrow, the Mainstreet survey indicated a large majority of Albertans are highly dissatisfied with the way the government is handling the province’s anemic economy and its finances.

While Mainstreet President Quito Maggi’s commentary about the likely response to the budget was balanced enough, editorials and commentary by the failing Postmedia chain, which nowadays acts as an auxiliary publicity department for the conservative opposition, were positively gleeful.

As for Mainstreet’s methodology, though, while I’m no professional pollster and this is just my opinion, I’m convinced that if the company had asked the question a different way, it would have gotten a different answer.

The question asks respondents: “Finance Minister Joe Ceci says the provincial budget will not be back in balance (with revenues meeting or exceeding government spending) until 2023 or 2024. In your opinion is this too fast, too slow or is it about right?”

Now, I thought I’d read somewhere recently that a cardinal rule of polling was never to ask questions in the negative because such questions tend to create confusion about double negatives. This question also seems to encourage a particular response. And what does not balancing a budget too fast mean anyway?

So I have to ask, would Mainstreet have gotten a different answer if, say, it had asked the same question this way: “Finance Minister Joe Ceci says the provincial budget will be back in balance (with revenues meeting or exceeding government spending) by 2023 or 2024. In your opinion is this too fast, too slow or is it about right?”

I say the answer is yes. That answer, however, wouldn’t have reinforced Postmedia’s partisan narrative.

Bonus Essay Question: Should Alberta be kept sewer-rat free?

Certain conservative politicians who seem to think it’s OK for their supporters to insult a woman’s appearance or to describe women politicians with what is generally considered to be the most obscene word in the English language, and who associate with groups that promote the idea “feminism is cancer,” are wounded and emotional because a woman politician speaking in the provincial Legislature accused them of hanging out with “sewer rats.” Discuss.

Please keep your essays to 200 words or fewer and place them in the comments section of this blog. There will be no prize for the winner beyond the approbation of this blog’s proprietor.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

25 Comments to: When the celebrated Mr. K. performs his feat on Saturday … what will Brian Jean do?

  1. Keith

    March 15th, 2017

    The brown rat, also referred to as common rat, street rat, sewer rat, Hanover rat, Norway rat, Norwegian rat, or wharf rat (Rattus norvegicus) is one of the best known and most common rats.

    With rare exceptions, the brown rat lives wherever humans live, particularly in urban areas.

    A 2007 study found brown rats to possess metacognition, a mental ability previously only found in humans and some primates, but further analysis suggested they may have been following simple operant conditioning principles.

    Rats are said to establish an order of hierarchy, so one rat will be dominant over another one.

    If living space becomes limited, rats may turn to aggressive behavior, which may result in the death of some animals, reducing the burden over the living space.

    Alberta, Canada, is the largest rat-free populated area in the world. Rat invasions of Alberta were stopped and rats were eliminated by very aggressive government rat control measures, starting during the 1950s.

    Saskatchewan provides a favorable entry route for rats.

    The brown rat is kept as a pet in many parts of the world. Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States are just a few of the countries that have formed fancy rat associations


    • David Climenhaga

      March 15th, 2017

      Alas, propaganda notwithstanding, Alberta is not rat free.

    • Maryinga

      March 15th, 2017

      Amusing response. It might be a bit harder to take this high and scientific sounding neutral position, if you are a regular receiver of hate mail.

      Unfortunately, many of our female politicians are in that position. Sandra Jenson stood up in the Legtislative Assembly and read out some of the choice tweets she’d received. The Liberal MP who introduced the private members bill condemning Islamaphopia did the same thing in the House of Commons recently.

      Did you catch either of those enlightening newscasts? I’m sure they can be retrieved as easily as this treatise on the taxonomy of rats. I’d suggest you look them up if you missed them.

      I heard the politician in question refer to the emails she gets from the wild rose crazies at a recent meeting. The metaphor she used in the assembly may have maligned the rat to some extent; it hit the mark for all those right wingers currently getting off on maligning powerful women….or the important social movement that is feminism.

  2. A Person

    March 15th, 2017

    From the comments in Hansard, it would appear as if Ms. Hoffman rose to the highly partisan baiting put before her by Mr. Nixon.

    Sadly, the context of her rebuttal which included the “sewer rat” comment was made when talking about Alberta families. In this case, she forgot the cardinal rule of not insulting the voters who elect the politician. We need to look no further than the recent comments made by Hilary Clinton regarding the “basket of deplorables” to know how that worked out. Or an Alberta example where a candidate talked about the “lake of fire”.

    Even though the statement may be true in spirit (when placed in context), we know from past experience that the party on the receiving end will usually make hay with the comment. Add to that, many voters will remember when they are insulted, especially when their party reminds them of these things during a campaign.

    Others will always find insult where there is none intended. If all things are equal, a misspoke comment such as this, in a tight race, may be the tipping point in whom to elect next time.

  3. GregH

    March 15th, 2017

    “Postmedia… which nowadays acts as an auxiliary publicity department for the conservative opposition…”

    This has been the case for years. There was an article in the G&M (Rick Salutin?) many years ago suggesting that The National Post and their allies waged a successful propaganda campaign against Bob Rae in Ontario. What’s the point of having a network of business papers if you can’t use it to elect the people you want once in a while? And Rachel Notley is facing four tentacles of that opposition force in Alberta.

  4. Shaun

    March 15th, 2017

    Some might suggest the rats get the apology.

    • tom in ontario

      March 15th, 2017

      Not the two-legged ones.

  5. March 15th, 2017

    It’s absurd.

    From the right, leaders incite and gleefully support their minions’ threats and slurs against their opponents. They’re building a bully culture which is embraced by [enter term here]ists everywhere. I see them deliberately stroke the insecurity in all bullies to their own ends. Few people have the confidence and skill to effectively deal with a bully.

    The left does not attract that extreme element. So the same type of counter-measure cannot work for them. Supporters certainly make derogatory comments about right leadership. But I have yet to see death threats or rape threats from people holding guns in their avatars. Under a constant barrage of venom from an amorphous mob, and without the ability to fight back in kind, it isn’t surprising that occasionally composure slips.

    The mob goes after an individual. The individual fires back at the mob. All the while, the right claims their hands are clean and they are the only ones that truly love the people.

    I wish I knew the answer. Perhaps there is a leader with a strong inner Ghandi that can let the abuse run off them like water and come out clean, that unfailingly speaks to everyone who has ever been bullied and inspires courage and grace. Perhaps a leader will step up that everyone wants to be like. Maybe that is who we all need to be.

    [Oops. I’ve let my idealism show.]

  6. Visigoth

    March 15th, 2017

    There is a repugnance associated with politicians and their trolls screaming at government and political opponents like scavenger magpies fighting over roadkill. The behaviour of members of the opposition in the Alberta Legislature is just short of criminal, in fact, their language, if used outside the chamber, would land them in court for impugning the character of various government cabinet members, members of the NDP caucus and their followers.

    Jason Kenney and Brian Jean are two peas from a CPC pod. The result of a merger will cater to the extreme conservative element in Alberta that gives licence to hatred, bigotry, and a eruptions of allegations, misinformation and untruths.

    The NDP government has a hard row to hoe just to establish credibility. The good work they are doing on behalf of the average Albertan goes unnoticed because they are forced, daily, to respond to those allegations, misinformation and untruths. Its a catch 22.

    There is no way out for the government. The trap has been set and if the government attempts to defuse that trap, they bear the brunt from allegations of self interest and ideological driven policies. There is no win win. The only win is the untruth and bile foaming at the decaying lips of an extremely unethical, deceitful and ideologically driven right wing in this province.

    Let the revolution begin

  7. Ken Durham

    March 15th, 2017

    It is unfortunate for the esteemed Mr. K that Brian Jean is not a woman.
    That would make his campaign to demonize, marginalize, and bully Brian much easier, considering previous behaviours.

  8. David

    March 15th, 2017

    Perhaps sewer rat is one of the highest insults in Alberta – after all, we pride ourselves in being generally rat free. Also, accusing your political opponents of favouring a provincial sales tax has generally been quite damning too.

    I wonder if Jean is smarter than Kenney and crew is giving him credit for. It is possible he is letting Kenney do all the hard and dirty work of bringing the PC’s and Wildrose together while quietly waiting on the sidelines for his moment to take over the whole thing. At this point, he has a more viable party than Kenney from which to build upon. However, it is true Kenney may better appeal to the more right wing element. I suspect whatever PC moderates are left will all quickly leave if he does that and there will be a brief opportunity for the 3 more centrist parties to pick up their support.

    Perhaps if Kenney concludes he can not easily win against Jean, he may start a war of attrition with Wildrose rather than try force a quick merger. This could be a problem if Wildrose decides to rebrand on its own, as Jean may be better at sounding moderate than Kenney.

    The powerful Conservative elite backing Kenney must now be realizing now that while he may be their best tool for bringing about the uniting of the right, he is not necessarily the most electable candidate. He comes across more as a corporate banker than a populist. They may eventually decide that Jean leading a re-branded party against a weakened or eliminated PC party is the better bet.

  9. Maryinga

    March 15th, 2017

    This is too easy. The essay question, I mean.

    I’ll begin it by getting the sewer rats’ attention. Being able to insult women (in the name of unvarnished truth) while being out of line if you criticize anything about male behavior goes all the way back to the difference between a slut and a stud.

    Women’s bodies, and it goes without saying, our sexuality, BELONG TO MEN. Men, on the other hand, must break free of mother and become autonomous, free and isolated individuals.

    Now much of this is shrouded in double talk and bafflegab….and it takes all of us in, some of the time. If we cut to the chase however, it comes down to this.

    Men are free to do as they please. They have rights, and among those rights is the right to self expression. They can open their big mouths and tell the world what they think….and feel. Donald Trump illustrates the apotheosis of this entitlement. From his fat lips proceeds the truths of the moment. The Truth of the Day. It may be an obvious lie, but once he’s uttered it, he is bound to defend it. It is a tribute to the enduring power of patriarchy, that he generally gets a fair way down the road with his Bullshit and seems to feel absolutely no shame or self-doubt.

    Poor Hilary, on the contrary, can never be forgiven for using a private e-mail. Even after scrutiny revealed no security breaches, she will stand condemned for eternity, by people still breathing in and out the air of patriarchy. It may be unconscious for some of us, but there is a definite double standard in how most of us judge people. An

    Come back to good old Alberta. Undergraduate males can celebrate International Women’s Day with a misogynistic film and write about one of the most important movements of the Twentieth Century, calling it a cancer, and be further amazed….and outraged….if that truth draws any criticism. They exist, think and opine, from the bubble of their ancient Entitlement. THEY HAVE PRICKS.

    A woman though, having the temerity to stand up in the legislature, or any other public forum for that matter, and call them Sewer Rats??? That is serious defamation, and they feel it as such for an equally ancient reason. WOMEN HAVE C….S.

    Yes. It sounds brutal when I put it that way, does it not? As brutal as it often becomes in reality, for many of our daughters. Sexual harrassment, rape, violent beatings, murder? Pictures of female politicians used for target practice? Female bodies decaying in unmarked graves along Highways of Tears? More common place still than we’ve wanted to believe….so we bury our awareness as the serial killers of women bury our bodies.

    Cold cases. Sexism buried inside institutional bureaucracies for decades. Illusions of equality. Male resentment about the ‘advancement’ of women.

    Today on the Current I listened to the testimony of a survivor of taxi assault. One other commonplace where violence against women can occur. ‘A drunk can give consent’ should have covered that, if only women weren’t getting so ‘uppity’.

    But feminism isn’t cancer and these boys and men aren’t sewer rats. Those are metaphors. What we all are is people, having a very hard time caring about each other. And a large part of that lack of care comes from these very ancient entitlements and exclusions. As a result of which, I fear men care less for women than women do for men.
    That is the sadness most women carry with them, and every day, right wing Alberta males re-inforce that sorrow. What has happened to our beautiful sons, that so many of them have become so hateful?

    • anon

      March 15th, 2017

      Why do so many boys become hateful men. Well, you put them in hockey and football to train them to be thugs and a lot of them get brain damaged and a fair number are molested. Their coaches tell them their girl friends are “dirties” if they are normal and “fridigid” or worse if they are not.

      They go to schools that spend a thousand times more on sports and organized violence than they do on academics and libraries.

      What do you expect when you tolerate stuff like this?

    • St Albertan

      March 15th, 2017

      You’ve touched on points that help explain why the right wing could and likely will encourage their followers to self identify as “sewer rats”. It’s exactly what they did to Hillary down south and if there’s a page in the Manning/Harper play-book that doesn’t come from there, I’d be surprised. I’m sure there are female “sewer rats” lining up to be our Kelly Ann Conway as I type. The important fact is though, Alberta only has a very few real “sewer rats” who are trying to lead lot’s of impressionable mice I’d say if you wanted a definition of these thought leaders, it might be wise to stick to “people who have advocated for, or openly supported violence”. Leave it at that. Letting the right wing coalesce around this perceived slight is not what our province needs. Our core support is smart enough to see through their petty rage machine and I’d hope that we’re all smart enough to forego their cheese.
      Rachel Notley has done many things well, but her most impressive feat has been not rising to the baiting she’s had to deal with. I’d say she exemplary and astute.

    • Expat Albertan

      March 15th, 2017

      You got my vote for the essay award. Truer words were never spoken.

  10. Kang the sometimes barberious

    March 15th, 2017

    For your essay contest:

    Should Alberta be kept sewer rat free? No, I say, we need new priorities!

    It is time to stop wasting the money we spend on right wingers and their filthy businesses, and spend it on upgrading the lives of sewer rats! Doing so would be much cheaper, lowering the deficit. The rats would show more affection and respect, and we would never hear them threatening the life of our Premier. (70 words)

    – Although approbation is always in order, I would prefer a pony sent by parcel post not private courier. I will send a SAS envelope as soon as I get my tongue out of my cheek.

  11. Farmer B

    March 15th, 2017

    The Alberta electorate will have a less charitable opinion of the honourable minister calling them “sewer rats” and if the NDP brain trust feels the same as the posters on here their fate will be sealed.

    • Kang the barbarian

      March 16th, 2017

      Stop spinning dude, the Minister was certainly NOT referring to the Alberta electorate. So how would you suggest describing people who enjoy the support and company of those who openly advocate the murder of our Premier and her Ministers?

  12. Brett

    March 15th, 2017

    Brian Jean has a fundamental problem. I believe, and hope, that Wildrose will prove to be unelectable in Alberta in the same manner that the Reform Party was unelectable (as a Govetnment) in Canada.

    What will he do? Where will he go?

  13. Sam Gunsch

    March 15th, 2017

    Was not Hoffman’s “sewer rats” comment meant to reference the interviews with Rebel Media, and the participation at Rebel Media rallies by conservative political leaders?

    FWIW Samples of Rebel’s ‘sewer’ “journalism” covered in this piece:


    excerpt: ‘…montages of lurid stories such as “Pakistani Migrant Won’t Be Deported after Biting German Woman While Raping Her in Attempt to Infect Her with STD” and “Daily Top Five for the Counter-Jihad: See Who Chanted ‘Allah hu Akbar’ at Women’s March.”…

    FWIW, Chris Alexander tweeted that he’ll no longer have anything to do with Rebel, after seeing the recent video of a semi-defense of holocaust deniers by a newer Rebel commentator. Here:


    Anyways…I thought it was obvious that it was very very likely Rebel was the sewer rats Hoffman had in mind… I suppose she might also have been throwing in the Feminism is Cancer WRP affiliate crowd…but they’ve been extremely low profile amateurs at nastiness compared to Rebel’s.

    • anon

      March 16th, 2017

      A long read in your first link, but worth it. Thank you for posting it. Rebel Media gets “6 million views a month since 2015” on its YouTube channel and other amazing things. These are people who should not be taken lightly.

      • Sam Gunsch

        March 16th, 2017

        re: ‘These are people who should not be taken lightly.’

        You make a critical point. The RW media/social media ecosystem was possibly the most critical factor in Trump’s election. In 2019 in AB and Canada, given the current trajectory of Canadian RW social media outlets like Rebel…democracy and the public good are deep waters.

  14. Sam Gunsch

    March 15th, 2017

    Sewer commentary at the Rebel?
    Levant is trying to this back a bit by now claiming it was meant to be ‘humorous’.
    yeah right… 2nd excerpt below… sewer? Pretty much.



    excerpt: ‘The Rebel, a Canadian online media organization which spreads racist, anti-Muslim rhetoric, is standing by the contributor behind a video published this week entitled “10 Things I Hate About Jews.”’

    excerpt: ‘“God, they’re so obsessed with the Holocaust. Yes, I know it was bad – don’t get me wrong, I’m not pro-Holocaust,” McInnes said in the video. “It’s a strange thing. It’s like a liberal thing, it’s arguably a white thing, but it’s a Jewish thing to sort of dwell on the past. And this whole nation-state, they talk about ‘75 years ago, my people were killed,’” he said, again affecting an attempt at an Israeli accent. “I don’t know if it’s healthy to dwell.”’


Leave a Reply

  • (not be published)