Alberta Politics
Alberta Education Minister David Eggen (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Religious schools defy David Eggen; John Carpay hangs in; and Jason Kenney isn’t the Decider after all!

Posted on November 15, 2018, 1:29 am
9 mins

NDP Education Minister David Eggen’s warning yesterday he could defund 28 religious private schools if they won’t obey the law and implement diversity policies and UCP Leader Jason Kenney’s refusal to expel a high-profile social conservative party member who compared pride flags with Nazi swastikas seem like separate stories.

They are really one and the same.

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Understanding this helps illustrate how radical social conservative activists, ideological dark money from corporate slush funds, extremist media outfits, and the fundamentalist religious school lobby work together with Mr. Kenney to embarrass the NDP Government and get the United Conservative Party elected in 2019.

At a news conference in Edmonton yesterday, Mr. Eggen told reporters he has worked with 94 private schools to get them to comply with the provincial law that supports gay-straight alliances in schools, but that 28 refuse to cooperate.

The legislation, originally passed by the Progressive Conservative government of premier Jim Prentice and amended by the NDP to ensure students who join GSAs are not outed to their parents, has always been strongly resisted by the operators of many Alberta religious private schools.

Social conservative activist John Carpay (Photo: CBC).

Significantly, Mr. Eggen told the media yesterday, he tried working with the 28 uncooperative schools to help them comply but “they stopped interacting with us for a while.”

It’s pretty obvious this is intentional. There has appeared since mid-2016 to be a strategy by certain religious schools to force the government to enforce the law, presumably in hopes the NDP can then be portrayed as an ideological bully to its electoral disadvantage.

If the schools continue to defy the law, Mr. Eggen warned, taking away their subsidy of 70-per-cent of public school funding is a possibly. Significantly, though, he’s leaving that off the table till after the provincial election expected next spring, which could well render the threat meaningless given Mr. Kenney’s well known sympathy for social conservative bugbears, support for private religious schools, and current success in the polls.

Meanwhile, it was last Saturday lawyer John Carpay, a prominent social conservative warrior, was caught on tape comparing LGBTQ Pride flags to the banners of Nazism and Stalinism at a conference in Calgary put on by the far-right Rebel Media video blog. The inevitable cell-phone video soon appeared, and Mr. Carpay was immersed in the Lake of Fire, a feature of Alberta’s political geography.

Spruce Grove-St. Albert NDP MLA Trevor Horne (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

It didn’t help that, soon after, Albertans were reminded Mr. Kenney once offensively compared Mr. Carpay to civil rights movement hero Rosa Parks, and an old recording surfaced in which the Opposition leader bragged about his efforts to defund abortions and oppose civil rights protections for gays.

After that, there was no shortage of Albertans demanding Mr. Kenney expel Mr. Carpay – a friend, donor and longtime ally – from UCP membership. Premier Notley chimed in, tweeting a demand that Mr. Kenney clearly condemn Mr. Carpay’s views.

Mr. Carpay proffered a half-hearted apology. Mr. Kenney said his friend’s views don’t represent those of the UCP and tried to change the channel. Cornered, he reminded questioners Mr. Carpay had apologized. So far, the uproar refuses to die.

Despite his odious comparison, Mr. Carpay would be pretty hard for Mr. Kenney to dump. As blogger Dave Cournoyer pointed out yesterday, both are social conservative activists from Calgary who have run in the same circles for decades.

Mr. Carpay’s controversial remark was made while he described the efforts of the so-called Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which he founded and runs, to use the courts to halt enforcement of legislation like Alberta’s GSA law.

The JCCF, in turn, is bankrolled by deep-pocketed right-wing funds like the Aureau Foundation and the Donner Canadian Foundation, with Rebel Media providing publicity and fund-raising opportunities.

Of course, short of another recording appearing, we’ll probably never know exactly what Mr. Kenney has promised private religious school leaders behind closed doors, but it doesn’t seem very likely it involves ensuring GSAs thrive in schools.

Edmonton-St. Albert NDP MLA Marie Renaud (Photo: David J. Climenhaga)

Meanwhile, shortly after a speech to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce yesterday, Mr. Kenney claimed it’s not up to him to kick extremist members out of the UCP. “It’s our board that deals with expulsions,” the beleaguered UCP leader insisted.

“Decisions regarding membership revocation are made by the board as a whole, of which Jason Kenney is a voting member and obviously an influential voice,” UCP President Erika Barootes supportively added in a message emailed to media.

Albertans may be puzzled by this change in Mr. Kenney’s tune. Not so long ago, he was the Decider when it came to expelling misbehaving members.

Indeed, just two weeks ago, Mr. Kenney said of former party call centre leader Adam Strashok, who had been exposed as a white supremacist and participant in a business selling racist memorabilia, that “I have since instructed party officials to cancel Mr. Strashok’s membership.” (Emphasis added,)

When it comes to disciplining members of Mr. Kenney’s party, by the sound of it, it’s a matter of different strokes for different blokes.

St. Albert Dippers prepare to face off for nomination

Both Edmonton-St. Albert MLA Mary Renaud and Spruce Grove-St. Albert MLA Trevor Horne published social media posts yesterday saying they will seek the NDP nomination for the redrawn St. Albert riding.

The new riding contains the bulk of Ms. Renaud’s old constituency; Mr. Horne’s riding was more dramatically redrawn, losing all the parts in St. Albert, a city of 70,000 northwest of Edmonton.

The nomination meeting is scheduled for Dec. 12. Members must have joined the party by Nov. 27 to vote.

Say hello to another right-wing party in Alberta

Maybe the Freedom Conservative Party wasn’t right wing enough. Think about that!

At any rate, a group of former Wildrose Party members, apparently uncomfortable with former Progressive Conservatives in the ranks of the United Conservative Party, has gathered enough signatures to register a new right-wing political party with Elections Alberta.

The Alberta Advantage Party vows that if it forms the government, every Albertan will receive a tax reduction. No exceptions. The risk of this happening, however, is minimal.

10 Comments to: Religious schools defy David Eggen; John Carpay hangs in; and Jason Kenney isn’t the Decider after all!

  1. Farmer Dave

    November 15th, 2018

    Here you go again Jason Kenney, on one hand you say the UCP Board decides if John Carpay should loose his UCP membership and yet in Red Deer you give your members a stern lecture that you are the leader of the UCP and that you make the decisions including policy and the UCP platform none of which you have done todate. CARPAY is the lawyer for private schools so I don’t think Kenney has the intestinal fortitude to revoke Carpay’s membership and has thrown the UCP Board under the bus saying it’s up to them. When is Kenney going to grow some B…s and take responsibility for UCP Policy, it’s Platform and bad Members he says his party will revoke. UCP has had plenty of time to get there show on the road with it’s Policies & Platform however it appears their lake of fire issues are what Kenney is protecting in silence and hiding them under the bridge.

    Reply
  2. J.E. Molnar

    November 15th, 2018

    “Those who attack human dignity, those who express hateful views toward entire groups of people are not welcome [in the UCP]…” – Jason Kenney, National Post, July 2018

    Both Jason Kenney and John Carpay insult the intelligence of Albertans when they refuse to own up to their homophobic intolerance. No matter how the UCP spins it, the indisputable takeaway is this: The UCP is the new Lake-of-Fire party and appears to be a comfortable home for Alberta homophobes, xenophobes, white nationalists, racists and bigots.

    Reply
    • Sam Gunsch

      November 15th, 2018

      The freedom to discriminate against homosexuality and abortion appears to be the primary freedom that Carpay is advocating, that Kenney has advocated but is now somewhat circumspect about, and which reportedly quite a few UCP MLA wanna’ be’s are advocating.

      Freedom to discriminate but still continue receiving public funding in a supposedly liberal democracy with a Charter of Human Rights… very *special* interests.

      Reply
  3. Athabascan

    November 15th, 2018

    No public funds should ever be used to subsidize private schools – full stop. Not one dime!

    Reply
  4. brett

    November 15th, 2018

    It is unfortunate.

    I believe that Jason Kenney and the UCP are missing an opportunity here. If I were on the NDP team this is exactly what I would want to see from Kenney et al.

    Why? Because it is indefensible.

    Reply
  5. David

    November 15th, 2018

    Kenney is too long a politician to convincingly play a populist anymore. He seems to have picked up a habit of equivocation at some point in his long political career, where the answer depends on the circumstances. If he actually wants to get rid of someone, he “tells” the party to do so immediately, if for some reason he does not, well you see he can’t because that decision is up to others in the party and they will have to look into it or consider it. Of course that looking into it can be a drawn out process, perhaps the controversy will die down so then it will turn out nothing has been done – surprise, surprise.

    Now, the UCP is somewhat opaque, we don’t really know who makes decisions. First, there was this grassroots guarantee, which suggest that it is the membership, but apparently the leader is free to ignore them when he wants and has already made that fairly clear. Second, there is the party board, but again the leader seems to have no hesitation to tell them what to do when politically expedient. Therefore, I am guessing the buck actually stops with the leader – Kenney, whether he wants to admit it or not.

    I suspect the equivocating here is just because Kenney doesn’t want to deal with Carpay, either because despite his outrage for the cameras Kenney secretly doesn’t really have a problem with his comments, or because Kenney is afraid to stand up the powerful social conservative block, or perhaps some combination of both.

    Reply
  6. Ron Christensen

    November 15th, 2018

    The UCP is essentially being blackmailed by The Rebel Media.

    Reply
  7. Jerrymacgp

    November 17th, 2018

    So, Kenney “holds the pen” on Policy, and is the decider on expelling members with unsavoury views, except when he doesn’t want to do it, then the Board decides. Fascinating.

    But I’d like to pivot to another matter, and that is the logical inconsistency between so-called “grassroots guarantees”, or the NDP’s long-standing practice that policy is set by its rank & file membership, and this idea that MLAs or MPs should be able to have an independent voice in the House. If a party’s policies are set by its members, whether through resolutions at conventions or through online means, aren’t its elected caucus members at least morally bound to respect those policies? MLAs and MPs can’t just abandon or modify party policy willy-nilly if it’s set by the membership.

    If you aren’t willing to accept a party’s policies as your own, perhaps you shouldn’t run under that party’s banner when you stand for election. Pick another party, or run as an independent.

    Reply

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