Alberta Politics
Jason Kenney gives his victory oration in Calgary (Photo: Screenshot).

Jason Kenney, having delivered victory to his UCP, sounds like man with his eye on Ottawa

Posted on April 17, 2019, 3:05 am
5 mins

Give Jason Kenney his due: The man delivered a convincing enough victory for his United Conservative Party last night that no one can call him a political flop if at some point soon he wants to make a return trip to Ottawa.

And his long-winded victory speech at the Calgary Stampede Centre after the election results were mostly reported sure left the impression that if he’s not actively thinking about a return to federal politics just yet, he’s certainly not ruled it out.

Rachel Notley gives her concession speech in Calgary (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Indeed, the middle portion of Mr. Kenney’s lengthy victory oration appeared to be devoted to warming up the Conservative base in other parts of the country and explaining how he’s going to pick fights with British Columbia for sure, Quebec if necessary, and the Rockefellers, who are apparently the villains at the centre of an unlikely conspiracy theory about how American environmentalists and oil companies are working together to landlock Alberta’s bitumen.

This may sound goofy, but as with heavy tax subsidies for private schools, lower taxes for corporations, privatization of health care services, and saying goodbye to your overtime payments, no one can say Mr. Kenney didn’t communicate his plans clearly or that he doesn’t have a mandate.

Job No. 1, I’d bet though, will be one he didn’t talk about: shutting down the Office of the Election Commissioner and sending in the shredders.

So fasten your seatbelts. It’s sure to get interesting.

The late Bill Bennett, premier of B.C. from 1975 to 1986 (Photo: Probably The Martlet, circa 1976).

Meanwhile, in Edmonton (where your blogger was) Rachel Notley was coming to terms with a new role as Opposition leader of a caucus reduced by more than half. Her remarks were gracious, at times mildly defiant, and she vowed to lead an effective Opposition – which she will, if she sticks around.

I know the thought of anything else is unthinkable to many in her party, but it’s not much fun to be an ex-premier in the same old Legislature, so I don’t think we can rule our a significant change of scene for Alberta’s first NDP premier within a few weeks or months.

“We have fundamentally changed the politics of this province forever,” Ms. Notley averred. “Governing in Alberta should never ever again be a divine right, but always an earned privilege.” All true, but cold comfort to New Democrats, now concentrated in their Edmonton redoubt.

It will take a few days for the dust to settle. The first significant sign of the direction to come, I imagine, will be Mr. Kenney’s cabinet choices.

When things settled down last night, the UCP was leading or elected in 63 ridings, the NDP in 24. The Alberta Liberals and the Alberta Party elected no one, and I’d wager that will end the political careers of leaders David Khan and Stephen Mandel. The former will return to his legal practice, the latter to an uneasy retirement.

The UCP won the popular vote decisively: 55 per cent to 32 per cent. There may be some changes today as vote-anywhere ballots are counted, but probably nothing earth shattering.

Well, this probably isn’t what New Democrats want to hear, but it could have been a lot worse.

If you’ve been around as long as your blogger has, you get to see history repeat itself. Nothing can be as bad as hearing a ragtime band at an outdoor Social Credit fund-raiser in Victoria early in 1976 playing Happy Days are Here Again for Bill Bennett as cherry blossoms float on the breeze.

I still hate that song!

30 Comments to: Jason Kenney, having delivered victory to his UCP, sounds like man with his eye on Ottawa

  1. ronmac

    April 17th, 2019

    It’s the morning of April 17th and we’re back to the same old same old. Oh well. *#&!
    If Jason Kenney has his eye on Ottawa maybe he’ll meet Rachael Notley there. There are whispers about her leading the federal NDPs.
    Looks like David Khan will have lots of work soon. He’s a constitutional lawyer.
    Kenney’s acceptance speech was revealing. Especially that part about running into a 17 year old kid in Hardisty at a gas station in August 2016 who’s dad was laid off 18 months before and hadn’t been able to find work since and was depressed and how he started pleading with Kenney to get rid of the NDP govt. Funny, it seems he was laid off when Prentice was premier but Rachel was getting the blame.

    Reply
    • Gina

      April 17th, 2019

      I also found that amusing as well. That 17 year old kid also can support his family on 13 dollar minimum wage instead of 15. Also amusing .

      Reply
  2. Jerrymacgp

    April 17th, 2019

    “Foreign-funded special interests” … if I’d done a shot every time he used that phrase, I’d have a whopping hangover this morning. One is forced to wonder, does he really believe that malarkey, or is it just another rhetorical slab of red meat for his base?

    But, this election was about anger, even rage: a free-floating, inchoate rage at global economic forces that are depressing the value of a key industry in this province; at stalled pipelines and lost jobs; at this idea that a new, green economy and the jobs that go with it are just around the corner, but thousands of Alberta workers are out of work right now; at the structural failures of an oil & gas industry with far too many workers that are self-employed sub-contractors—from electricians to welders and pipefitters—ineligible for EI. The voters, rightly or wrongly, have laid the blame for all of this at the feet of the NDP, and turned out in droves to vent their spleen at the ballot box.

    Case in point: where I live—Grande Prairie—we normally struggle to see half of eligible voters go to the polls. But this time around, even before any of those “vote anywhere” ballots have been counted, turnout in the new urban Grande Praire riding was 62%; UCP got about 62%, NDP 22%, AP 13%, FCP 2%. In the newly redrawn Grande Prairie-Wapiti, turnout was even higher, at 73%; UCP got just under 75% of vote, NDP 15%, AP just over 9%. I suspect that when Elections Alberta finishes crunching the numbers, turnout province-wide will be comparable.

    When Jason Kenney fails to make headway on any of these issues, as many of us suspect will happen, will they turn their anger on him? I guess we’ll see in 2023.

    Reply
    • thom

      April 17th, 2019

      One wonders which foreign funded organizations he was speaking of… certainly not the Canadian Taxpayers Federation or The Fraser Institute…

      Reply
  3. Murphy

    April 17th, 2019

    The people have spoken, and they have asked for the return of kleptocracy and magical thinking. The interregnum is over.

    Reply
    • Lars

      April 17th, 2019

      “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

      Well, we’re certainly going to see that again.

      Reply
  4. brett

    April 17th, 2019

    I have no doubt that for Jason Kenney, Alberta is simply a stepping stone.

    Prior to the last election the path was clear. Harper would resign in a blaze of glory. Kenney would run for the leadership, and win. Then Trudeau upped his game, Harper stumbled with that awful Barbaric Practices Hotline.

    I do not think Scheer is going anywhere. The knives are at the ready and Jason Kenney’s supporters are no doubt sharpening them. If Scheer does not perform in Oct he is out. Back to his previous two month career as an insurance agent trainee.

    Kenney will run. No doubt about it. Now there are two questions. Who will emerge as a successor to Kenney. Will the ongoing saga of Kenny’s dirty, and probably illegal tricks, in the UCP leadership race cause even more divisions in the UCP party than already exist?

    Reply
    • Michael

      April 17th, 2019

      Hmm.. Given the allegations of electoral skullduggery that still cling to Jason Kenney, and the hypothesis that he is using this as a stepping stone to become prime minister, could one be forgiven for wondering if Kenney, or some arms-length allies, will secretly work to prevent the Conservatives from winning the federal election this fall. After all, Mr. Trudeau has given lots of indications that he is capable of losing this election, and it would be pretty hard to unseat Andrew Scheer if he gets a win, even a minority, in October.

      Would Kenney win a leadership race for the Federal Tories in 2020 or 2021 ? Hard to say, but I have a vague recollection from my youth that when Peter Lougheed had mooted the idea of running federally, Bill Davis stepped in and squashed that idea by threatening to run against him* – would Rob Ford do the same in spite of being Kenney’s best buddy right now?

      * quite possibly I have that story backwards and it was Lougheed whose opposition blocked Davis from entering the fray to displace Joe Clark.

      Reply
  5. tom in ontario

    April 17th, 2019

    The election results notwithstanding, Rachel Notley might be looking to Ottawa. After October the federal NDP could be looking for an effective leader.

    Reply
  6. Geoffrey Pounder

    April 17th, 2019

    Climenhaga: “It’s not much fun to be an ex-premier in the same old Legislature, so I don’t think we can rule our a significant change of scene for Alberta’s first NDP premier within a few weeks or months.”

    Not a chance that Notley will lead a decimated NDP into the 2023 election. The NDP will be seeking new leadership. Hopefully, of the more enlightened, scientifically literate, variety.

    The results of kowtowing to Big Oil, swerving to the right, adopting neoliberal policies, pandering to conservatives, denying science, defying the IPCC, and misleading Canadians about pipelines and oilsands, became clear last night.
    For the NDP, disaster.
    Not only do the NDP lose the election, they also lose their good name, their principles, and respect.
    A neoliberal NDP also dashes our hopes.

    Notley’s turn to the right was cynicism, not pragmatism. Playing up fears of the UCP bogeyman, Notley counted on NDP supporters to effectively abandon their principles and follow her to the dark side.
    Not just a political defeat. But also moral — and climate — disaster.
    Will AB progressives turn back before it’s too late?

    Here’s hoping AB progressives will reject Notley’s wayward agenda. Send the NDP a clear message: Climate failure is not an option. We don’t accept your pact with Big Oil. If you swerve to the right, don’t count on us to follow. If you adopt neoliberal energy policies, don’t expect us to clap. If you want our votes, return to progressive principles and traditional (federal) NDP values.

    Perhaps Notley will head off to join ex-Premier Alison Redford in Afghanistan.
    Or maybe she can find a seat on Kinder Morgan’s Board of Directors.
    Happy retirement!

    Reply
    • Curious George

      April 18th, 2019

      Perhaps a bit more radical than I would be but for the most part this echoes my thoughts.

      I no longer live in AB, but last time I voted for the NDP and not against the PC as I did for pretty much every election in the 20 years I was there. All in all Ms. Notley was a disappointment. Difficult choices should have been done early in the mandate. Instead, one ended up with caution and PC Lite, and of course a prayer that oil would do the heavy lifting. Perhaps Ms. Notley back then was surprised by the win … but the situation was so fluid in 2015 that she should have expected a win and be prepared.

      So how did the PC light version work out for you there NDP?

      Reply
    • Farmer Brian

      April 18th, 2019

      Geoffrey, Rachel Notley has people like you to thank for her defeat. When she was elected she made a deal with Justin Trudeau, I will give you a carbon tax, shut down coal fired electricity generation earlier than planned and cap oilsands production if you give me a pipeline. How did the environmentalists thank her? They pressed even harder with never ending litigation and the B.C. government did the same. Foreign oil companies and investment fled Alberta because it became apparent no shovels would go in the ground. Jason Kenney simple tapped into the anger at this failure and won a resounding majority. Personally I don’t think Jason Kenney will be anymore successful in getting pipelines built but he is certainly going to raise a lot of hell trying! Enjoy your day.

      Reply
      • Expat Albertan

        April 18th, 2019

        ” How did the environmentalists thank her? They pressed even harder…”

        But isn’t that what all interest groups do, conservative, liberal, social democrat, etc? Trudeau bought Alberta a pipeline but he got little positive recognition for from conservative circles, only more anger. Liberals could reduce spending to reduce the deficit (and did in the 1990’s) but get nothing but derision from the (dare I say) foreign-funded interest groups like the Fraser Institute. For partisans of all stripes, nothing goes far enough (mainly because we live in an imperfect world). Enjoy your day.

        Reply
      • Geoffrey Pounder

        April 18th, 2019

        Postmedia scribe Tristin Hopper makes the same absurd argument in today’s National Post — and it fails for the same reasons.
        “How environmentalists killed Rachel Notley’s government”
        https://nationalpost.com/opinion/tristin-hopper-how-environmentalists-killed-rachel-notleys-government

        Hopper: “They probably would have lost anyway, but the fact remains that one of the biggest factors dragging down Rachel Notley was her inability to get construction underway for the Trans Mountain pipeline.”

        Yes, the NDP would have lost, anyway. So much for Hopper’s thesis: that environmentalists cost Notley the election.
        Where is the evidence?

        For months, the media peddled the silly myth that Notley’s election chances depended on the pipeline. Without a jot of evidence.
        No one did more than AB Premier Notley to fuel pipeline hysteria. The same hysteria that swept the NDP away.
        Not unpredictably, this strategy backfired. Huge blunder. Notley played right into Kenney’s hands.

        Most pipeline boosters would not vote NDP if Notley built a billion pipelines. Notley only alienated progressives.
        Stoking Albertans’ perennial resentment over pipelines and everything else under the sun only helps the UCP.
        Pandering to the right was never going to win Notley a second term. Albertans who favor neoliberal energy policies will just vote for the real thing.

        As election strategy, Notley’s pipeline push was grade A lunacy.
        UCP Leader Jason Kenney: “I’ve never believed there is a large number of Alberta voters whose ballot question is energy or pipelines who are likely to vote for the NDP. The NDP electorate is not people who get up in the morning passionate about pipelines and energy.”
        http://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/alberta/article-trans-mountain-pipeline-fight-is-a-lifeline-for-rachel-notleys-re/

        David Climenhaga: “Indeed, the more [Notley] fights for the pipeline, the stronger Mr. Kenney seems to get because the file is seen, however wrongfully, by too many voters as a United Conservative Party strength.
        “Sounds as if the Trudeau Liberals are listening to their Natural Governing Party lizard brain, finally” (19-Feb-19)
        • albertapolitics.ca/2019/02/sounds-as-if-the-trudeau-liberals-are-listening-to-their-natural-governing-party-lizard-brain-finally/

        Markham Hislop: “Exploiting industry difficulties for political gain helps no one but Kenney and the UCP.”
        https://energi.news/markham-on-energy/majority-of-western-canadas-crude-oil-exports-to-us-not-exposed-to-record-high-discount-between-wcs-and-wti

        The more Notley fought for pipelines, the more she fanned the flames of anger among Albertans. Underlining her own failure on the file. All Albertans seemed to get out of the deal was a detested carbon tax. The blame for all our ills, real and imagined, falls upon Notley and Trudeau.
        A pipeline project became the rallying flag for Albertans, whose sense of grievance against Ottawa burns eternal. Fuelling the right-wing rage machine.

        Reply
      • Geoffrey Pounder

        April 18th, 2019

        Farmer Brian wrote: “How did the environmentalists thank her?”

        Why should environmentalists thank Notley and Trudeau for a plan to fail?
        Big Oil’s agenda of oilsands expansion, new export pipelines (including Keystone XL and Enbridge Line 3), and rising emissions cannot be reconciled with Canada’s climate targets.

        The IPCC warns that we must nearly halve GHG emissions by 2030 and eliminate them by 2050 to keep warming below the danger limit of 1.5 C.
        Why should environmentalists support a plan that defies the IPCC and ignores the best available science?

        The oil & gas industry’s grossly under-reported emissions continue to grow. AB’s emissions show no sign of falling. (2019 National Inventory Report)
        “Oilsands polluted more than entire economies of B.C. or Quebec” (National Observer, Apr 16th 2019)
        https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/04/16/news/oilsands-polluted-more-entire-economies-bc-or-quebec

        Rising oilsands emissions offset reductions elsewhere and blow Canada’s targets out of the water for decades.
        The NDP’s climate plan set no targets or timelines.
        Building fossil-fuel infrastructure locks us into a fossil-fuel future for decades.

        Notley signed on to Big Oil’s fraudulent “climate” plan — a deal forged by Big Oil and corporate Canada years before Notley and Trudeau came to power.
        A plan permitting oilsands expansion enabled by new export pipelines in return for a small carbon tax that would not impair their profits and a fraudulent oilsands cap that would not outlive the Notley govt.
        A plan to fail.

        Reply
      • Geoffrey Pounder

        April 18th, 2019

        Farmer Brian wrote: “When she was elected she made a deal with Justin Trudeau…”

        Notley signed on to Big Oil’s fraudulent “climate” plan — a deal forged by Big Oil and corporate Canada years before Notley and Trudeau came to power.
        A plan permitting oilsands expansion enabled by new export pipelines in return for a small carbon tax that would not impair their profits and a fraudulent oilsands cap that would not outlive the Notley govt.
        A plan to fail.

        In his book, “The Big Stall: How Big Oil and Think Tanks are Blocking Action on Climate Change in Canada”, Donald Gutstein details how neoliberal “progressive” politicians like Trudeau and Notley subverted the climate change agenda and enabled Big Oil’s “predatory delay”:
        “The Rise and Fall of Trudeau’s ‘Grand Bargain’ on Climate” (The Tyee, 14 Nov 2018)
        https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2018/11/14/Trudeau-Climate-Bargain/

        “Justin Trudeau’s grand bargain with Big Oil exposed in Donald Gutstein’s The Big Stall (The Georgia Straight, Nov 14th, 2018 )
        https://www.straight.com/news/1164161/justin-trudeaus-grand-bargain-big-oil-exposed-donald-gutsteins-big-stall

        Reply
      • Chris

        April 18th, 2019

        I always learned that when I’m stuck in the mud, spinning my wheels ever faster does not help get me out, just buries me deeper. I assumed that was common knowledge among folks in rural Alberta as well. Notley’s approach was tempered and involved things that would provide the truck with some traction. Kenney’s pressing ever harder on the gas pedal in his blue pickup, swearing about not going anywhere. Sorry, but I preferred her approach.

        Reply
      • Murphy

        April 18th, 2019

        The failure of the NDP to win the election was hardly the result of the attitudes of progressives who felt betrayed by the Notley government. This province is chock-a-block with magical thinkers. Last time around the magical thinkers who were more greedy than superstitious split with the ones who are more superstitious than greedy, and that is the only reason the NDP won. The magical thinkers voted for the Monster Machine in unison this time, and the resulted was exactly what one would expect.

        Reply
    • Jerrymacgp

      April 18th, 2019

      Well, Mr Pounder, I hope you’re satisfied. Environazis like you torpedoed the Notley Government, and you got Jason Kenney instead.

      I’m normally loath to cite Postmedia columnists, since most of them are right-wing corporatist shills, and in particular the one I’m about to link to is normally just plain silly. But in this column Tristin Hopper takes off his usual silly hat and blazes away with both barrels.

      http://edmontonjournal.com/opinion/tristin-hopper-how-environmentalists-killed-rachel-notleys-government/wcm/0be23185-02f6-449d-a96b-52cd08c67a33

      Reply
      • David Climenhaga

        April 18th, 2019

        Jerry: Mr. Pounder is way ahead of you and had answered both of your questions before they had a chance to be published. Speaking as the moderator here, I will allow the term “environazi” this once, but I think it is both unfair and inappropriate and it will be struck out in future. DJC

        Reply
        • Jerrymacgp

          April 18th, 2019

          Chastisement cheerfully accepted … I was angry too, although more at the election results, and at those individuals who contributed—however indirectly—to the defeat of one of the most progressive, activist governments in recent Alberta history.

          Reply
      • Geoffrey Pounder

        April 18th, 2019

        Farmer Brian tells me to enjoy my day, and Jerrymacgp hopes I am satisfied.
        After being crucified for my views on Postmedia comment boards, I can’t tell you what a relief it is to land here on Alberta Politics. Your heartfelt concerns for my emotional well-being move me to tears.

        Jerrymacgp : “But in this column Tristin Hopper takes off his usual silly hat and blazes away with both barrels.”
        As usual, I see the world a little differently: “In this column, Tristin Hopper PUTS ON his silly hat and blazes away with both barrels.”
        Hopper’s. Dumbest. Column. Ever.
        Cheers!

        Reply
  7. David

    April 17th, 2019

    Now things have flipped, governments are generally held much more to account for the state of the economy, fairly or not and what the opposition says is not as seriously scrutinized. Perhaps the first thing Mr. Kenney should do is pray for a big increase in oil prices and the second is to pray Mr. Trudeau will be very magnanimous to him. I don’t see the first happening and the second is unlikely after how much Mr. Kenney attacked Mr. Trudeau and the level of personal animosity.

    It might not be fun to be in opposition, but hey you get to torment your former tormentors and if the Alberta economy stays stuck in its current rut Mr. Kenney’s honeymoon may be brief. That anger he so effectively fomented could quickly turn back against him, if the people who voted for him begin to feel he has failed to deliver his promised boom. Perhaps the best strategy for the NDP now is to catch its breath, rest, regroup and wait for Mr. Kenney to hoist himself on the petard he may have created for himself. They have enough members to be a deadly effective opposition, particularly with someone as articulate and likeable as Notley leading them. It is not as common now, but it has happened several times in the past Federally where Prime Ministers became opposition leaders and then have returned to power in the next election. Yes, Kenney will probably quickly try to shut down the Elections Alberta investigations of his party, but I wonder if that horse is to far out of the gate to stop. Certainly it will be more difficult to shut down the RCMP part.

    Interestingly, Mr. Kenney’s Federal political ambitions depend somewhat on Mr. Scheer and the Federal Conservatives failing in the upcoming Federal Election, so maybe Scheer and the Federal Conservatives should be as worried or more about Kenney than Trudeau and the Federal Liberals.

    Reply
  8. Gail

    April 17th, 2019

    It is nice for Canadians to see just how moderate Doug Ford is now that Albertans have elected the UCP. Perhaps the Alberta NDP can bring in some more losers from the BC NDP to advise them on what to do in opposition afterall the ones they brought in while they were in government did such a good job they managed to lose the election after getting a pipeline.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      April 17th, 2019

      I’m not sure about that. I believe the problems with the campaign really began after most of the “losers” from B.C. went back to B.C. DJC

      Reply
      • Gail

        April 18th, 2019

        David, I respectfully disagree with that assessment because the losers from BC (and I shouldn’t forget the ones from central Canada either) were the ones who set the stage for the disasters that happened later and they also hamstrung (to put it nicely) the NDP from getting things done effectively in the first two years. So while those losers might not be responsible for the direct problems of the campaign they certainly built the foundation for its failures.

        Reply
  9. Lars

    April 17th, 2019

    David, can Kenney shut down the Office of the Election Commissioner?

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      April 17th, 2019

      It’s a provincial office. The UCP has a majority. So the answer is yes. I am not so sure he can legally have the records shredded without a vote of the Legislature. DJC

      Reply
      • Lars

        April 18th, 2019

        My, that’s disquieting. But thanks for your answer.

        Reply
  10. Kang

    April 17th, 2019

    The prayer among Albertans of a certain stripe once was “Please Gawd, send us another oil boom and we promise not to pee it away.”

    With the symbolism of M. Kenney doing his victory entrance in a bloated and useless truck (all that was missing was the box full of looted tribute and slaves running behind) the new prayer, endorsed by most of the pee-pull of Alberta goes: “Please Jason give us another oil boom and WE PROMISE to pee it away again.”

    Can’t wait for the Kenney thought police to come around. https://twitter.com/Raffi_RC

    Reply

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