Alberta Politics
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, upon whom the electoral axe has fallen (Photo: Flickr/Andrew Scheer).

What a strange, strange night it’s been: Andrew Scheer snatches defeat from the jaws of victory!

Posted on October 22, 2019, 1:40 am
6 mins

Well! There’s certainly no shortage of safe Conservative seats in Alberta Jason Kenney could use to saddle up and ride back to Ottawa to save conservatism after Andrew Scheer’s disastrous impersonation of the Conservative Party of Canada’s leader ended in ignominy last night.

It takes a special talent to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory the way Mr. Scheer did — and if we know anything about Alberta’s newish Conservative premier, an Ottawa insider if ever there was one, it’s that unlikely catastrophic losses like Mr. Scheer’s are not part of his election night repertoire.

Will Alberta Premier Jason Kenney soon return to his old stomping grounds Ottawa? (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

You would have thought almost any Conservative leader could have crushed Justin Trudeau’s hopes after the prime minister’s dismal performance of the past couple of years — even Maxime Bernier!

So never let it be said that Mr. Scheer did nothing for Canada. Even though he’s not admitting it, he appears to have hired Warren Kinsella, the seemingly disaffected Liberal political consultant, to “seek and destroy” Mr. Bernier and his odious nativist People’s Party of Canada. That part at least worked out. Too bad for the Conservatives that Mr. Scheer himself may have suffered some collateral damage from the hire.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

So how about it, Stephanie Kusie? Are you ready to step aside in Calgary Midnapore to help catapult Mr. Kenney back to his old stomping grounds on the banks of the Rideau Canal? Mr. Kenney’s former Calgary riding has to be his sentimental favourite for the swift return to the nation’s capital he’s long been rumoured to be plotting.

There he is said to dream of becoming the Canadian prime minister whose leadership most resembles that of William Lyon Mackenzie King — “pay rent if necessary, but don’t necessarily pay rent” — something that Liberals who are entitled to feel relieved tonight should nevertheless take seriously.

Mr. Kenney is as formidable a campaigner as there is, whatever you may think of his divisive politics or the ethical standards of his leadership campaign, and anyone he challenges should take the challenge seriously.

Senator Paula Simons — is she soon to be the Liberal cabinet minister for Alberta? (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

For those in Alberta who will think they will be glad to see the departing back of Mr. Kenney as he heads back to Ottawa, if in fact that’s what he has in mind, I have just three words for them: Premier Jason Nixon. (History can blame him for the fallout from Thursday’s Alberta budget.) So be careful what you wish for!

And for those Conservatives pleased at least that the Liberals have been reduced to a minority and all but driven out of Alberta, I have some thoughts for them too.

Premier Jason Nixon? (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

First, the likely elevation of NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh to holder of the balance of power in the Parliament of Canada does not sound like good news for that pipeline expansion project Mr. Kenney and Opposition Leader Rachel Notley have persuaded Albertans is essential to our province’s economic future.

You’d better start making nice with Prime Minister Trudeau, as distasteful as that may seem to you, if you want to get what you say we must have. Unless, of course, you never really believed it and just used it as a stick to beat Mr. Trudeau. In which case, I suppose, carry on.

New Democrat Heather McPherson, after the dust settled last night, she was Alberta’s sole Opposition MP (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Second, how does the phrase “Independent Senator Paula Simons, Liberal minister of the Crown,” sound to you? It sounds fine to me, by the way, and a happy development for a fine journalist who just months ago was trapped toiling for the wretched Postmedia chain — which surely the prime minister will now stop considering subsidizing with our tax dollars!

Don’t like the sound of that, well, how about Minister Heather McPherson in the coalition government? Less likely, I grant you, but not impossible. Ms. McPherson was the only non-Conservative member still standing last night in Alberta. She was elected for Mr. Singh’s New Democrats in Edmonton Strathcona, despite another Mainstreet Research poll that apparently wasn’t exactly as advertised.

Or how about the self-fulfilling Conservative prophesy: Ambassador Rachel Notley. (If it happens, just remember where you heard it first.)

As this is written, Mr. Scheer’s concession speech is still awaited. I wonder if he’ll declare a moral victory?

20 Comments to: What a strange, strange night it’s been: Andrew Scheer snatches defeat from the jaws of victory!

  1. Dave

    October 22nd, 2019

    I am sure the Conservatives will be going on about their “moral” victory, despite previously being the strongest proponents of first past the post. It will probably resonate well with around 34.5% of the population and go over like a thud with the majority. If insanity is repeating the same thing and hoping for a better result, the current Conservative leadership should be committed immediately. Appealing to a committed base who turns out to vote can only get you so far, particularly if that base resides in places like rural Alberta where they don’t need more votes to win seats.

    A realistic plan on climate change, might have lost them a seat or two in Alberta, but gained them more elsewhere in a country increasingly concerned about climate change. It is is not 2008 any more, Mr. Scheer is not quite as clever as Mr. Harper and Mr. Trudeau is still a far better campaigner than Mr. Dion, despite all his current troubles.

    I suppose there are now two serious dilemas for local Conservatives. First, the Liberals are shut out of Alberta now, so Mr. Trudeau is less constrained to support the environment over energy. Alberta has again put almost all of its eggs in the basket of the losing party. In particular Edmonton and Calgary may find themselves in a weak position in looking for future infrastructure funding. Second, they have a dilema about what to do with Mr. Scheer. If he couldn’t beat Mr. Trudeau after all the self inflicted damage over the last nine months, he is likely not the guy to do it. They will need to act quickly because minority governments do not generally last long, usually only a couple of years.

    In the end it wasn’t the loss of four Alberta seats that reduced the Liberals to a minority. If it were not for the resurgence of the BQ in Quebec that kept over 20 seats out of the Liberals hands, its quite possible the Liberals could have got still got a majority despite their losses here and elsewhere.

    Reply
  2. Prairie Observer

    October 22nd, 2019

    “Mr. Scheer is not quite as clever as Mr. Harper”

    Mr. Climenhaga, you have a gift for understatement. I cannot recall in my lifetime another candidate for PM who is so intellectually unsuited for the office. He is an empty walking suit.

    Reply
  3. J.E. Molnar

    October 22nd, 2019

    Federal election 2019 was not all for naught — especially relative to significant Conservative losses and other momentous electoral events.

    The ever polemical Lisa Raitt from Milton, Ontario — her of the bleached-blonde Three Amigos CPC posse that consisted of Candice Bergen, Michelle Rempel and Raitt — lost badly to a star Liberal candidate by 8,600 votes. In Edmonton Strathcona, Heather McPherson torched CPC candidate Sam Lilly by 10 points and 5,500+ votes, which according to the conservatively tendentious Postmedia National Post was a “narrow” defeat for Lilly. And just for fun, Jody Wilson-Raybould figuratively gave Justin Trudeau the proverbial middle finger by winning the riding of Vancouver Granville as an Independent. What’s not to like there? (Sadly, Jane Philpott another ousted former Liberal cabinet member did not fare as well.) And can Canadians now safely say we are finally rid of Maxime Bernier after his calamitous fall from political grace after losing his Quebec seat? One can only hope.

    Reply
  4. Jim

    October 22nd, 2019

    What a perfect storm for continued inaction on pretty much everything. Conservatives can continue to complain about pipelines to those who still naively believe that is an answer. Trudeau can continue to claim strong action on climate change and the environment by increasing our indulgence, carbon, tax. Again not really doing anything but it provides good talking points.
    Will the knives come out for Singh as they did for Mulcair when again NDP seats are down almost by half? Will Sheer be allowed to stick around? Is Kenney the answer for Conservative’s future? The longer Kenney sticks around in the premier’s office and his promises don’t materialize the less likely this happens one hopes. It is interesting that Ford was kept away from the federal campaign while Kenney who will follow the same austerity path as Ford wasn’t.

    Reply
    • Expat Albertan

      October 22nd, 2019

      Regarding your latter point, it’s because Ontario has a tendency to vote opposite to the party that is in power provincially. Given the number of seats in play in the 416 and 905 area codes, this was a Real threat to the Conservatives. That and Doug Ford is very unpopular in Ontario, even with some Conservative supporters.

      Reply
  5. Gail

    October 22nd, 2019

    Everyone seems to be focusing on Alberta elected conservatives but at least they managed one NDP seat. Saskatchewan is solid blue but seems to be forgotten. Perhaps we should start wondering if Moe & Co will lead the western separation charge and not an Albertan.

    Reply
    • Expat Albertan

      October 22nd, 2019

      You know, that makes me think that Alberta separatists are rather presumptuous when they talk of ‘western’ separation. Like they don’t even bother to ask B.C. or Manitoba (or even Saskatchewan for that matter) but just assume they would support it.

      Reply
  6. Magda

    October 22nd, 2019

    We’re going travelling today so don’t have time to comment long, but this nonsense about how PMJT can’t proceed with a pipeline because the NDP will frown on it and the Greenies will begin a great big pout is really something. Of course the CPC MPs will vote for it, and the NDP/GPC will vote for environmental changes that the CPC refuses to. It will be a helluva balancing act but that’s the norm these days.

    Please explain, someone, how an Alberta CPC MP would justify voting against anything to do with TMP?

    Reply
    • Expat Albertan

      October 22nd, 2019

      To play a long game?

      Reply
      • Magda

        October 23rd, 2019

        And this means – what, precisely?

        Reply
        • Expat Albertan

          October 23rd, 2019

          Better to try and defeat then government and win a majority. But I’m just guessing.

          Reply
          • Magda

            October 24th, 2019

            Okay, so the situation of O&G workers and their families is absolutely desperate and everyone should drop everything to fix it but CPC MPs should vote against support for TPM because this will make sense at some point down the road for reasons that no one can articulate right now but will surely exist at that future time.

            Seriously, huffing fumes hurts your brain. Don’t do it.

  7. Andy M.

    October 22nd, 2019

    If the pipeline (s) is (are) to be built, the Cons will need to co-operate with the Libs. What the federal NDP or the Bloc or the Greens think won’t matter in the seat numbers game.
    So, can you imagine the Cons will be able to tone down their vituperation of the Trudeau Libs so as to push the project forward? Me neither. You, David, have pointed out a few times how counter-productive Alberta’s vilification of Trudeau is. That’s the only tune the Cons here can play. I guess we hunker down for the separatist howling to pick up a few notches. Sigh.

    Reply
  8. October 22nd, 2019

    .. deary me.. some trifling facts are tickling me..
    Lisa Raitt ‘suddenly gracious in defeat’ .. oh right, partisan deadwood prolific bitter and daily nasty tweeter who parachuted into Milton Ontario. Read Kinsella’s blog to see the right wing commentariat trash, trash Adam van Koeverden.. its laughable

    Watch for Peter McKay to spot opportunity..

    Kenney ? I still await a bulletproof intrepid journo.. Michael Harris ? To set his sights on Multimillionaire Kenney.. You know, the guy who claimed Calgary, His mom’s retirement home as principal residence, and ran as a Calgary MP while living in Ottawa. His Ottawa condo declared of course as his secondary residence, bilking taxpayers monthly for years. Submitting Calgary hotel and airfare, per diems etc while claiming he lived primarily in mommy’s basement during his 3 or 4 annual visits while he was ‘looking after her’ .. This carpet bagger from Toronto via Saskatchewan and Ottawa deserves a rail and a ride out of town.. a little tar and feathers too. He is rewarded for being glib.. yes GLIB.. He’s a ‘skinwalker’ .. and a forked tongue demon evangelical, the ‘smartest guy in the room’ syndrome fits him perfectly, the little general too.. smugger .. no the smuggest current active elected self serving ‘public servant’.. did I mention vindictive prick ? Not me.. was someone else

    Reply
  9. Bruce Turton

    October 22nd, 2019

    And still there is nothing in the MSM, such as the monopoly is here and in much of Canada, or in other media for that matter, as to why so many of the world’s large oil companies have vacated Alberta. The pitiful protesters of the Yellow Vest – Canada version – have no knowledge of such regress, while still insisting that the only thing that Alberta has going for it is oil (as did Nemshi on the little panel on CBC election coverage last night). I know we will be using fossil fuels for quite some time yet, but maybe, if lucky, not as much (Asthma does not permit me holding my breathe, but even without that impediment, I would not do so!). No one wants to ask why the rest of the world seems not to want our cheap “dregs of the fossil fuels” (this from the ‘old’ oil men who knew about the quality of tar sands). And after yesterday, what marvelous fantasies will come our way!

    Reply
  10. Scotty on Denman

    October 22nd, 2019

    Watching from the West Coast I must admit I worried predictions of the Dippers’ demise might not have been exaggerated; it seemed plain the Liberals would hang on to power from the very first Atlantic returns, but the NDP—after being all but shut out of ridings east of the Capital, mostly by the resurgent Bloc Québécois, and remaining in the single digits for most of the evening—began to pick up seats west of the Rockies, including Big Island seats the Greens were predicted to win. Texting and phoning back and forth between here and Vancouver where my significant other does grandmother duty —and voted—in Jody’s riding was exciting enough, first when we realized the Dippers were going to hold the balance of power, next as the GreenCon threats to NDP incumbent seats on the Big Island fell one by one, and finally to the supreme relief that the competitive Conservative didn’t slip up the split in Jody’s riding—she took it herself, the only Independent elected to the HoC. What a night! (But if I have to endure too much pro-rep babble, my head’s gonna explode.)

    Next, the obligatory speeches form leaders before capping the night with emails, texts and messages to relieved NDP MPs on the Big Island—and to my Green compatriots who voted with their heads, not their hearts, to help us thrash the ScheerCon Candidates we were afraid would win if the vote was split.

    The speeches seemed arranged to happen at nearly the same time (modern technology really helped). I was too tired to appreciate much of a Schadenfreude moment for Green leader May who’d predicted her party would take every single riding on the Big Island only the day before (she kept her own seat with a reduced, but very convincing percentage of the riding vote, and the other Green incumbent who only won his seat in a by-election last spring hung on to a shrinking lead for the win) only to end up winning exactly the same two Green seats. But I was happy at least one more Green was elected in New Brunswick, another place where the movement made its debut provincially before a hesitant foray into federal politics.

    Trudeau’s speech was sickly sweet and predictable.

    Only heard that Bernier got thrashed (thank goodness!)—but didn’t bother with the concession speech. Blanchet was risible —as far as my fading french could discern. I heard Jody say “WoW!”over the phone from my sweetie’s TV—that’s all. Naturally I was happy to listen to Jagmeet who didn’t disappoint and maintained his respect and optimism despite his likely elevation to the second-most important politician in the larger half of North America. I haven’t felt this proud since Mulcair went into the last campaign as leader of the most popular party in Canada—another first for the NDP after Layton won the Loyal Opposition before dying of cancer almost immediately after that astounding win.

    But it was Scheer’s speech I really wanted to hear. After predicting he’d be toast if he didn’t win at least a minority, I realized I hadn’t figured his CPC would win the so-called “popular vote”. I thought it would therefore be an occasion to confidently concede with grace, the consolation probably being the next best thing—an improvement over last time and a proverbial silver lining.

    I was surprised to hear his unconcealed bitterness—to be expected, I suppose—underpin an angry, defiant, threatening—even vengeful tone. No congratulation to the winner but, rather, a prediction: “when”, not if, the Liberal government falls, “ Conservatives will be ready!” And then: to return to the conservative principles Canada was [supposedly] built upon. He went on to remind the two spare-cloth prairie provinces that JT is out to destroy them and their industry and that he could not represent them. Nice, Andrew, really nice.

    Was he defending himself against the speculated leadership challenge by returning to the well of hatred his colleague Jason KeKangaroo Kenney has dug in the province he is now—for a time, anyway—premier of? Scheer seemed to be talking only to his base—obvious to any Canadian outside of it.

    One look at the map made me shake my head at such a spiteful concession speech from the man who would be prime minister of the entire country. Apparently he thinks winning the popular vote entitles him to keep the gin flowing to his snarling base (it was on hand, anyhow, for the hoped-for win) even though not really a majority achievement. But the map says a lot: the coasts are red in the East where Saudi oil comes in and orange in the West where dilbit leaks out and, with the Bloc’s light blue covering that distinct shape of Quebec and the ScheerCons’ dark blue concentrated in small agricultural regions of Annapolis, St Lawrence, southern Ontario, Okanagan and Lower Mainland BC, then all of Saskatchewan and nearly all Alberta—the country looks partitioned very neatly. That’s somehow worrisome.

    What bugs me is that a palpable atmosphere of anger has developed across these partitions: Atlantic Canada for its chronic economic stagnation, Quebec for its nationalist frustration, Ontario for its D’ohFo, and the Wet Coat because of pipeline proposals—and therefore that Scheer appeared ready to cultivate that when he should have been showing his five kids what good sportsmanship is—especially by a leader who would be prime minister of this diverse nation.

    Haven’t really analyzed the riding results across the country yet. There’s lots of time for that. Wait see what happens next.

    Way to go, Strathcona! (I used to occasion the eponymous hotel when I lived there, years ago.)

    Good luck Alberta!

    Reply
  11. Jerrymacgp

    October 23rd, 2019

    Not yet having had the chance to analyze the results riding by riding, all I can offer now are general impressions, but they are not positive ones. The CPC vote in AB & SK is highly concentrated in rural ridings, where they garnered over 75% of the votes in many seats. Meanwhile, over in BC, they also won seats in the Interior — including Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies (which is really almost Albertan, and the heart of BC’s oilpatch), where they got 70% of the vote — but aside from that one seat, the ScheerCons’ vote share was in the mid- to high-40s in the seats they took. This is a respectable level of support, but not as lopsided as AB & SK.

    In fact, I expect that after people have had time to review the results in detail, we will find that nowhere in Canada were the CPC wins so lopsided as in rural AB & SK. In fact, I don’t think any other seat anywhere in Canada, regardless of who won, will be as lopsided as a typical rural Alberta Conservative seat.

    Reply
  12. Just Me

    October 23rd, 2019

    Oh, no.

    Rachel Notley gets to Ottawa before Jason Kenney.

    Curse you, PMJT!!!

    Reply
  13. Jerrymacgp

    October 25th, 2019

    “For those in Alberta who will think they will be glad to see the departing back of Mr. Kenney as he heads back to Ottawa … I have just three words for them: Premier Jason Nixon.” Good one … reminds me of what some Democrats in the Benighted States worry about when they discuss impeaching The Donald: “President Mike Pence”. They worry that the country will be no better off with the doctrinaire so-con occupying the Oval Office, than they are now with the erratic Hairpiece That Walks Like a Man in that post.

    Reply

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