PHOTOS: Sandra Jansen, back in the day when she never imagined she’s be anything but a Tory. Below: Jason Kenney, leader today of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta; Rachel Notley, whose NDP Government was elected on May 5, 2017; and Brad Wall, the man with a plan to save Saskatchewan’s Catholic schools. (Photo: Daniel Paquet.)

Back in the days Sandra Jansen was one of the few Progressive Conservatives to have survived the debacle of the May 5, 2015, provincial election, the Calgary-North West MLA was savaged by the right-wing rage machine for daring to express support for Liberal candidates Kent Hehr and Nirmala Naidoo in the October 2015 federal election.

You just don’t publicly support a Liberal if you’re a Tory in Alberta, she learned, not if you want to avoid a vicious public hazing.

It’s been said it wasn’t any better behind the closed doors of the PC Caucus where, Alberta political legend has it, interim Leader Ric McIver excoriated her like a schoolgirl in front of her fellow Tory MLAs, demanding that she not even indicate she was stumping for a couple of federal Grits.

Alas for Mr. McIver, the former broadcaster is said to have given it back as good as she got it in a caucus session described as profane and angry – and which may have marked the day the PC members in the Legislature pretty much stopped working as a team.

So isn’t it funny how there’s been nary a peep of protest from the Usual Suspects on the Alberta Right about newly elected Progressive Conservative Leader Jason Kenney’s foray into British Columbia politics where, of all things, he was overheard stumping at a federal Conservative clambake in a chichi Vancouver restaurant for B.C. Premier Christy Clark – who is, of course, a Liberal.

Not just a Liberal either, but one that dares to set conditions on Alberta’s all-party plans for more pipelines to the West Coast.

It would seem that in Alberta conservative circles, what’s sauce for the goose may not be sauce for the gander, especially if the gander is the fellow the big money boys in Calgary have chosen to lead Alberta’s Conservatives back to the promised land of power.

That certainly wasn’t going to be Ms. Jansen, who got another lesson in how things really work in Alberta conservative circles when she ran for the PC Party’s leadership as a candidate who put the progressive back in Progressive Conservative.

She was soon hounded from the race by Mr. Kenney’s supporters – the topic of her support for Liberal federal candidates came up again, bien sur! – and today sits as a New Democrat MLA in Premier Rachel Notley’s government.

This week includes anniversaries of Fort Mac Fire and NDP victory

Two important anniversaries in recent Alberta history will occur this week – and there’s always the possibility of another event of historical significance.

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the day the devastating Fort McMurray Fire swept into the northern oilsands city and began destroying houses – a disaster that eventually saw virtually the entire population of the city of 90,000 forced to leave and destroyed about 2,400 structures, roughly 15 per cent of the city’s housing.

Friday marks the second anniversary of the general election that brought the NDP to power under Premier Notley, an astonishing development in a place the prevailing narrative had always insisted was Canada’s most-conservative province. Alberta’s conservatives, who had run the place for most of the previous 80 years and had apparently concluded they ruled by divine right, have been in a state of sustained and inconsolable fury ever since.

The possible event of historical significance mooted above, is a public gesture symbolizing if not quite delivering union of the province’s two principal conservative political parties – the PCs under Mr. Kenney and the Wildrose Party under Opposition Leader Brian Jean – that Mr. Kenney was reportedly dropping broad hints about in Vancouver last weekend.

Not all PCs and Wildrosers may be enthusiastic just yet about the union of their parties’ legislative caucuses, especially if Mr. Kenney is in the lead. But there’s been a fairly constant buzz for a few days that something may be cooking, possibly along the lines of some sort of mass shift by four or five Wildrosers and/or a similar number of PC MLAs in the Legislature.

Certainly, sooner or later, Mr. Kenney is going to want to engineer a grand gesture to demonstrate not only that the right is uniting, but that he’s in charge of the union – an impression Mr. Jean, presumably, would very much like to avoid.

Dumpster fire continues to blaze at Edmonton Catholic Schools

Speaking of fires, the dumpster fire that is Edmonton Catholic Schools continued to rage yesterday with the public firing of a trustee as vice-chair and a knuckle-rap for another who dared suggest something was wrong with refusing to let students who have completed their required credits attend a graduation ceremony if they haven’t also finished their religion classes.

The Catholic board canned Marilyn Bergstra as vice chair, and rapped Patricia Grell on the knuckles, metaphorically speaking, for “blatant disrespect” and lacking Catholic values. Neither were told in advance what was coming.

Students who opt out of religion classes but complete their required Alberta Education curriculum can receive their diplomas in the mail, thank you very much. Catholic schools all over Alberta, however, continue to court non-Catholic students and the generous per-student grants that come with them.

Ms. Bergstra told the CBC she thought she was also in trouble with the majority on the board for calling for medically accurate sex-education and showing sympathy for LGBTQ students.

If this all seems rather unchristian, the constitutional right of Alberta’s Catholics to run their own school system is unquestioned. However, if a recent court decision in Saskatchewan is anything to go by, that provincial system’s right to expect public funding for non-Catholic students is not nearly as clear.

Faced with a court ruling saying such funding is unconstitutional in his province, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall came up with a plan yesterday to ignore the courts by using use Section 33 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the notorious “Notwithstanding Clause.”

It will be very interesting to see how this shakes out. If past experience in Alberta during Ralph Klein’s premiership is an indicator, the Saskatchewan Premier’s Office might want to hire some thick-skinned temps to man the telephones for the rest of the week.

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  1. No real surprise, Clark is supported by the likes of Stockwell Day and other prominent members of the harper conservatives. Her party is largely of those political stripes and she exploits that to her advantage. A truly deplorable self-absorbed “leader” and if we’re lucky enough on May 9th , Kenney can recruit her to unite the right in Alberta.

  2. So I am curious if you are an Albertan in favor of the building of the Kinder Morgan pipeline which party in the B.C. Election would you speak in favor of? Only the B.C. Liberal’s look towards natural resource developement in a positive light. Even Permier Notley is silently cheering for the Liberal’s so I am somewhat baffled by your continued attention to what Jason Kenney said at a federal Conservative party fundraiser. As far as I am concerned I am ok with what he said. If I was a B.C. Voter I would be more concerned about how unrealistic John Horgan’s affordable housing plan is. A very interesting Fact Check article on the website.

  3. As an atheist, I really don’t have a dog in the fight over Catholic education. But clearly there are problems with Board governance at ECSB, and there are some glaring cognitive dissonances and logical inconsistencies at work throughout the province on this topic.

    Firstly, one of the principles of board governance is the board speaks with one voice or not at all. That means debate and discussion take place around the board table, not in the media, and once a board reaches a decision, every board member must stand by it, regardless of how she or he voted at the board. This principle is obviously not observed at ECSB.

    Secondly, Alberta’s RC school boards have recently stated that “Catholic values and Christianity permeate all aspects of Catholic education”. How do they square that position with their aggressive courting of non-Catholic parents, including expensive billboard ads and mass community mailouts, in an effort to get them to send their kids to Catholic schools regardless of their faith (or lack thereof)? It seems simply illogical.

    1. If you are a taxpayer you have a dog, Catholics have a right to a Catholic education whatever that means. This seems to be politicians and bureaucrats protecting their turf. A fact brought up by the Edmonton public board member indirectly. Why can’t a public board and administration deliver a Catholic education or a Francophone education? Simple it cuts out levels of management and control for this group. Wouldn’t those resources be better spent actually teaching children?

    2. As a catholic school kid in Alberta back in the day, all I can say is very few kids really take religion class very seriously, especially as they enter adolescence. The most memorable part of junior high religion class was that my friend snuck me pictures of naked women.

  4. David, Section 33 of the Charter (the “notwithstanding clause”) permits a legislature to invoke the provision to allow a legislative provision to stand that would otherwise offend sections 2, and 7-15 of the Charter.

    I very much doubt that the Saskatchewan government can use the notwithstanding clause to save its scheme of public funding for non-catholic students to attend catholic schools as the court also found that this funding offends section 17(2) of the Saskatchewan Act, which amends s. 93 of the Constitution Act, 1867 to allow for funded Catholic schools, for Catholics. The notwithstanding clause could not affect this finding, as it applies only to certain sections of the Charter, and not to the Saskatchewan Act.

  5. Why no peep from the Alberta right over Kenney’s stumping for Clark? That’s because BC politics is in an alternate universe so the usual political labels don’t apply. Up is down, black is white, and red (as in the big red Liberal tent) is really light lighter shade of Harper blue. So they won’t criticize Kenny because Christy Clark is really one of them.

    More to the point what was an outside political entity campaigning on behalf of a candidate? Some may call this “meddling by a foreign power.” Some may call this treason.

  6. What in hell makes you imagine that Christy Clark is liberal. Neither she nor her party has any liberal instincts. Their political compass points directly to “corrupt conservative.” To Jason Kenney and to the well heeled membership of the Calgary Petroleum Club, Christy Clark is a kindred spirit. Do you recall how the CPC invited Clark to dinner during the last campaign and gave her a million dollar cheque as a parting gift?

  7. Note to Commenters: The author of this blog reserves the right to delete comments he believes to be legally defamatory, even if he also happens to believe they are true. Remember, the truth is only a defence if you can prove the truth in court. DJC

  8. There does seem to be a double standard by the Alberta PC’s here – Federal Liberals bad, BC Liberals good. Perhaps Mr. Kenney’s recent quality time with the BC Liberals might cause him to lighten up about his opposition to the carbon tax. At least he seems to have stopped going around saying the sky is falling, when he realized the issue is one that most Albertans are not outraged about.

    The environmental positions of the Federal and BC Liberals are actually not that much different and are very different from Mr. Wall in Saskatchewan. The BC Liberal’s current version of austerity also seems to be milder than the more virulent version of slash and burn currently happening in Saskatchewan.

    If Mr. Kenney keeps on campaigning for Liberals, Mr. McIver better have a good talking to him and put him in his place too. Oh wait, Mr. Kenney is the leader now – not Mr. McIver so I suppose the PC’s “rules” about this may have changed since then.

    Anyways, I am not sure if it is helpful for the BC Liberal premier that Mr. Kenney found time out of his busy schedule in uniting the right – what’s happening with that anyways? – to pop off to Vancouver for a bit for a nice dinner event. I think Ms. Clark already has the more conservative BC voters mostly sowed up – it’s the more environmentally minded socially progressive voters she may have trouble with. I don’t think Mr. Kenney can help much with that.

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