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.
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.
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!