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

Have Albertans grown so inured to Conservative “bozo eruptions” they no longer have much impact?

To put that another way, have we grown so accustomed to the Lake of Fire that we imagine we can bathe in it comfortably without putting on an asbestos swimsuit?

Progress Alberta Director Duncan Kinney (Photo: Twitter).

That’s likely at least part of the story behind the most recent pre-election polls in Alberta, which suggest that with the provincial election now only a week away, the United Conservative Party led by Jason Kenney is by and large maintaining the lead it has held over Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP.

Duncan Kinney of Progress Alberta argued in a CBC commentary over the weekend that Albertans are much more progressive than Canadians from elsewhere give them credit for being – or than we often do ourselves.

There are more Millennials than Boomers here now, he pointed out. University enrollment is way up. Alberta’s population is diverse and growing more diverse – in the next 20 years the majority of Calgarians won’t be white. And most Albertans live in cities.

From this he suggested Mr. Kenney may be significantly overestimating conservative sentiment in Alberta.

As we know from recent history all over Canada, sometimes polls do get it wrong. Still, you’d think that given such attitudes, Albertans would be more troubled than they appear to be by the serial revelations about UCP candidates and their attitudes on a variety of topics, from white supremacy to reproductive rights, from LGBTQ rights to climate change, from paranoid theories about the United Nations to outright Islamophobia.

Facebook exile Faith Goldy with another Alberta Conservative, not Mr. Kenney (Photo: Screenshot of Facebook).

Still, there have been so many disturbing bozo eruptions on the right since the original Lake of Fire boiled over in 2012 – shocking voters and without any doubt turning many away from the Wildrose Party, which was thought then to have a strong chance of defeating the Progressive Conservatives – that there’s a possibility we no longer even notice the heat when another one slops over.

The twin shockers about the recent pattern of inappropriate comments we’ve learned UCP candidates or influential party supporters have uttered are how little they seem to concern the party’s leadership, and how seldom they seem even to register with significant numbers of voters.

Every political party has the odd wingnut, of course. Most parties do a pretty good job of keeping them out of prominent or sensitive positions.

Mr. Kenney vowed to do that too. Who can forget his promise of the “rigorous” vetting procedure that he would implement?

Yet the sheer number of candidates or party officials expressing repugnant or dangerous views seems not to have abated very much through the lead-up to the campaign and into its final days. If there was any UCP vetting process at all, it must have had some other objective.

Of course, people do say stupid things and later change their minds. Reasonable people accept this. But this many people with unreasonable views under one metaphorical roof suggests something more sinister is at play.

Whatever the leader’s personal philosophy, it certainly indicates that far too many people see the UCP as a vehicle for outdated, dangerous or downright bigoted views significantly out of tune with the Alberta mainstream.

As for the party’s leadership, it’s hard not to draw the obvious conclusions. As the author Ian Fleming, creator of the fictional spy James Bond, famously observed: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”

This should add up in the minds of voters – if only anyone were paying attention – to a party that’s likely to make them very unhappy in the near-term future. Such dissonance between the majority of citizens and the government they elect is bound to end in tears for someone.

As Mr. Kinney wrote: “Voters in Alberta need to take a hard look at what the UCP are actually proposing, or they’re liable to get an ‘accidental government’ for real – a premier who, at the end of the day, fundamentally doesn’t share their beliefs.”

If we do get such a government, though, it may well be because we’ve become so acclimatized to the conditions associated with lakes of fire that the brimstone feels cool when we dip our toes in it.

Like the proverbial frog brought slowly to a boil, we may be in for a very rude surprise after April 16 when we realize what we’ve actually done.

Facebook bans Faith Goldy – still welcome in Alberta?

I note than Facebook, which has long seemed willing to tolerate almost anything, yesterday banished far-right extremist Faith Goldy from its virtual pages.

Alert readers will recall that back in 2016, Mr. Kenney responded to a complimentary tweet by the prominent white nationalist, who ran for mayor of Toronto last year: “You’re always welcome in Alberta, Faith!” He never seems to have mentioned that exchange again, but he’s never renounced it either, so presumably she’s still welcome here in the UCP leader’s estimation.

She has also appeared on more than one occasion with Edmonton-Griesbach MP Kerry Diotte in photos the Conservative politician has published on social media.

Yesterday, the social media platform also banned the Soldiers of Odin and the Wolves of Odin, a couple of white nationalist organizations whose members have been spotted on at least one occasion at a UCP function, although in fairness they were swiftly disavowed.

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  1. And then there is Jason Nixon, a ‘shoot the b…ch’ bozo… who relies on a world wherein his buddies provide, as one wag on Facebook puts it, his defence: ‘She’s lying Just ask the poachers I was with!’


    Same upstanding citizen who fired a single mom employee for reporting a customer’s sexual harassment and faxed the firing to the customer, just in time for Xmas An employee who was awarded a $32,000 compensatory judgement by BC gov’t..

    Same guy who was implicated in charges of shooting a wild horse and related threats to a Fish and Wildlife officer and some vulgar threats around sexual relations with someone’s wife.

    Just a real choir boy of a candidate for public office.

    #Unfit to govern.

  2. “If we do get such a government,”, I suppose it will be because in the last election 60% of Albertans voted for Conservative Parties, as they have in equal—if not much larger proportions—in every election since 1935. That margin must be larger by 20% than any other jurisdiction in Canada. At some point you have to admit that the problem is the Alberta electorate, and how they have taught their children for at least five generations. I suppose we can trace this to the US civil war and the unlucky geo-historical cattle connection between southern Alberta and the South.

    From what I read on social media (never more doubtful an oracle than today), I’d say the NDP have “momentum”. If they win, I expect it will be an earthquake that will change Canada forever. But it seems like a tough row to hoe. As a former Albertan, with many social and professional connections there still, I am on tenterhooks.

  3. I think it is party true that the issue of bozo eruptions had an impact, but perhaps not as much as thought. First, of all partisans do tend to dismiss news that does not fit their views. Second, different issues are important to different voters with economic issues being more important to many voters at tis time. Third, I suppose when the bozo eruptions happen are also important – things that are said in the campaign, particularly later in the campaign get more attention than things said earlier in the campaign or before.

    Voters also do pay some attention to exactly what was said and when it was said, hence the lake of fire comment got a particularly strong reaction. Comments made by candidates more recently also probably are given more weight than those made many years ago. I suppose a bozo candidate can argue their views have changed say over the last 10 years and that may be accepted by voters, whether or not there is any or much evidence to support that.

    I suppose the key difference between Alberta and the US is in the US election the bozo eruptions mostly came from the very top. Here in Alberta the party leaders have run fairly disciplined campaigns and to some extent distanced or disavowed themselves from the bozos or their comments. One of the biggest problems in 2012 was the party leader’s weak response to the bozo eruption.

    However, I would also agree with political commentators who have recently said that if there are more or more serious bozo eruptions before the end of the campaign it could still be damaging. Voters do have reservations about the UCP on some issues and it may be dangerously close to the tipping point for them if something else stupid is said or comes to light, particularly if it is seen to be serious or the party or the leader does not address it well.

    If that doesn’t happen then the election will probably be decided based on other issues, but there are other issues the UCP is weak on too, so whether or not more bozo eruptions happen is not the only deciding factor for this election.

  4. I sure hope the NDP gets their media buy rolling pretty soon. With $2 million to spend I’m puzzled, as I’m sure most NDP supporters are, as to where the TV and radio spots, newspaper ads and digital media ads are? If they didn’t plan on province-wide saturation they missed a golden opportunity to fight back to counter UCP propaganda. At this point it’s pedal to the metal time!

  5. Remember that the Lake of Fire comment was in the 2012 election. I am sure it (and other similar things, like the high standing of the Wild Rose party in the polls) did have a huge effect, but I suspect most of that effect was to push a lot of Liberal voters into voting for the PCs instead of voting their conscience. This lending of the liberal/ right of centre vote to Alison Redford, who was perceived to be quite moderate, was most likely what pushed the PCs over the top in that election.

    Look at the Liberal vote from 1993 on

    1993 — 39.7 % (Decore effect ?) (also note combined Lib/NDP vote was over 50 % in answer to PIGL above)
    1997 — 32.75 %
    2001 — 27.3 %
    2004 — 29.4 %
    2008 — 26.4 %
    2012 — 9.89 %

    In 2012 a lot of people who voted Liberal in the past, and probably voted NDP in 2015, voted for the PCs. I am kind of afraid that all of the people who would be moved by bozo erruptions not to vote for WR or the UCP have already aligned with other parties (mostly NDP now, but also AP or Libs), and we can’t expect too much effect from future ones, unless they are really outrageous.

    Knocking on doors last weekend in our riding was an edifying experience. Only one person (who voted NDP last time) brought up Bill 24. A lot of people admitted finding Jason Kenny to be creepy, but were still considering voting UCP. One very friendly young lady said she would never vote NDP because they raised her families taxes — her husbands went from 10 % provincial income tax to 15, she claimed. Well, the 15 % would only be on the portion of taxable income over $ 307,000, and their taxes would have gone up under Prentice’s budget anyway, but anyhow…..
    Anyone involved in healthcare or education was going to vote NDP. Anyone in business, engineering or the oil patch was committed to UCP.
    A lot of people objected to the nasty attack style ads and flyers the NDP has put out, and social conservative issues don’t seem to be foremost in people’s minds. There may be a lingering Harper effect here – after all the years of Liberals federally scaremongering about Harper, it turned out that he did not move the needle much on social conservative issues, did not privatize healthcare, and so on (I won’t get into all the bad policy he did generate, and why I despise the man), so I suspect a lot of people think, possibly even correctly, that the same will end up being true of Kenney.

    1. ” A lot of people admitted finding Jason Kenny to be creepy, but were still considering…”

      I would love to know how often this happens, and if the UCP puppet masters are planning on pushing Jason Kenney out after the election.

  6. Had a couple of people come to my door tonight canvassing for the UCP candidate in my area. We discussed the pipeline issue and they agreed that the pipeline issue is for Federal Government approval. Then I asked why didn’t Kenney & Harper get it approved and built when they were in power in the federal government, they couldn’t answer. I asked is there anything you know that Jason Kenney did for Alberta while in federal politics, they couldn’t answer. And then I asked them about the Len Rhodes issue being appointed by Kenney when he lives in St. Alberta but is running in South Edmonton, they couldn’t answer. Asked them about their candidate issue in Drayton Valley, they couldn’t answer. They finally said your questions are much to difficult for us and you should call our office. I almost asked them if they knew the answer to what 1 + 1 was but that would have been nasty. They left in a hurry.

    1. You touched on something that concerns me after having a similar interaction with the UCP door knockers, they have no solutions. But boy are they angry at the NDP, where is this rage going to be directed if Kenney gets in and we are still in the same boat with no pipelines. Even if we get a pipeline through will the jobs come back? The NDP is trying to change 30+ years of mismanagement most understand this takes time, but there is a point where you can’t blame the previous people and you own it. The UCP will have 4 years of precived mismanagement they will own things much sooner and still have the 30+ years prior to that as their record.

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