Astonishingly, the Prab Gill saga appears to have legs.
Yesterday, the Star Metro arm of the Toronto Star’s effort to create a national footprint, informed Alberta readers there’s no way the United Conservative Party will be revealing the contents of its insider investigation of ballot stuffing and snatching by Mr. Gill, who is the MLA for Calgary-Greenway.
The Star even quoted NDP Infrastructure Minister Sandra Jansen, once a candidate to lead the now-defunct Progressive Conservative Party in the topsy-turvy world of Alberta politics, assailing the Opposition UCP for not letting its members and the public know what was turned up by the investigation that led to the hasty departure of Mr. Gill from the UCP Caucus over the weekend.
Also yesterday, the CBC reported that the party had promised to pay back $7,245 the same Mr. Gill had billed to the Legislature – and therefore directly to taxpayers – for a party banquet at which UCP leader Jason Kenney spoke back in February.
Noting that the UCP had described the payment as an error – although surely one that took an awfully long time to correct – the national broadcaster even reported that Mr. Kenney had used social media to call the event a “wonderful evening with UCP supporters.” (Emphasis added.)
The UCP, which would desperately like this story to go away, still leads the NDP Government comfortably in several public opinion polls. Still, this journalistic trend must concern them just the same. The CBC has always had an independent streak, but even mildly critical coverage of conservatives by the province’s print media is something we haven’t seen in Alberta for a very long time.
Long dominant in the province’s two largest cities, Postmedia and its predecessor companies functioned as a virtual branch of various Alberta conservative governments at least since the late 1990s. With the arrival of the Star in Alberta, albeit as thin freebie papers, and Postmedia continuing to hemorrhage red ink, that could be changing.
Last week, the Toronto-based but largely U.S. owned Canadian newspaper corporation reported a net loss of $15.5 million in the third quarter ended May 31, with big declines in revenue and circulation in its increasingly shabby print division.
Mr. Kenney, meanwhile, may not be ready to take off again for B.C. and campaign for the Opposition Liberals if the furor refuses to die down, but he did try the next best thing on social media – attacking Tzeporah Berman, the prominent B.C. environmentalist the Alberta NDP once hired to include an environmentalist voice on an oilsands advisory committee.
Ms. Berman was “let go” from that role, as the Canadian Press put it none too gently, more than a year ago, leaving few warm feelings in Alberta NDP circles. But that didn’t stop Mr. Kenney from pretending she’s still an NDP advisor in his effort to Tweet his way back to safer ground.
This leads to an important question: Is Devin Dreeshen, the 30-year-old Trump campaigner elected Thursday to represent the UCP in Central Alberta’s Innisfail-Sylvan Lake Riding, about to become the UCP’s answer to Ms. Berman?
You can take it to the bank that every time Mr. Kenney tries to tie the NDP to the environmental movement by way of Ms. Berman, someone on the other side is going to tie the UCP to Donald Trump via the line that runs through Mr. Dreeshen.
Speaking of important questions and Mr. Trump, now that the White House has ordered direct talks with the Taliban in hopes of ending the 17-year-old war in Afghanistan, who among Mr. Kenney’s former colleagues in the federal Conservative Party will label the U.S. President “Taliban Don”?
Alert readers will recall that back in 2006, the Conservatives defamed the late NDP leader Jack Layton as “Taliban Jack” for daring to suggest peace could not come to Afghanistan without the Western military coalition talking to the Taliban.
“This cannot happen,” sniped Peter MacKay, then the Conservative minister of Finance. Now, of course, it has, presumably because it had to, just as Mr. Layton said.