Alberta Politics
Cypress-Medicine Hat United Conservative Party MLA Drew Barnes (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Hinterland Who’s Who: Hear the haunting call of the wild Deep South Alberta UCP MLA …

Posted on May 13, 2020, 12:29 pm
6 mins

With friends like Drew Barnes, does the United Conservative Party really need enemies in these troubles times?

The right-wing Frankenparty may have won the 2019 provincial election convincingly soon after it was cobbled together from the fringy Wildrose Party and the old Progressive Conservatives by former Harper Government cabinet minister Jason Kenney, but that was back when it was still possible to make the case in some circles that the NDP was responsible for the province’s economic troubles.

Hinterland Who’s Who: From the common loon episode (Photo: Screenshot).

Now, with COVID-19, the UCP’s War on Doctors, and talk of Great Depression 2.0 in the air, it’s the competence of the province’s current managers that is attracting critical attention while Mr. Kenney and his online Praetorian Guard insist there’s nothing Alberta can do about stuff that happens in other countries except build more pipelines.

Certainly, the UCP needs to be mindful of the anxieties of voters in the three years leading up to the next election expected in 2023, which look like they’ll be a challenging time to govern by any measure.

So Mr. Barnes’s timing was probably not ideal when he took to Twitter yesterday to endorse a call for a 20-per-cent pay cut for all public employees — including those health care workers so many of us are out there banging pots and pans to thank for standing between us and the coronavirus.

Touting a 20-per-cent COVID-lockdown haircut for health care workers may play OK in Mr. Barnes’s Cypress-Medicine Hat Riding in Alberta’s southeasternmost corner. But in Calgary, the region that gave the election to the UCP last year, maybe not so much now.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

As for Edmonton, it will further convince voters the only mistake they made in 2019 was the single UCP MLA they elected in the NDP Opposition’s citywide sweep.

Mr. Barnes was first elected to represent Cypress-Medicine Hat for the Wildrose Party in 2012. After Wildrose leader Danielle Smith eloped with Jim Prentice’s Progressive Conservative Caucus in 2014, the former ’Hat real estate salesman even sought the Wildrose leadership, collecting a respectable 3,502 votes in 2015 to eventual winner Brian Jean’s 4,792.

Still, that may have been one of Mr. Barnes’s last brushes with credibility. Afterward, came climate change denial, separatist-sounding grumbling and like things. Nevertheless, he rushed to Mr. Kenney’s side early in the days when the Wildrose and the PCs were still separate entities.

After Mr. Kenney’s second coming as UCP leader and the party’s subsequent election victory a year ago, Mr. Barnes’s nose was rumoured to be out of joint when the new premier wouldn’t let him anywhere near the cabinet table. Still, Mr. Kenney gave him a number of committee posts and put him on the so-called “Fair Deal” Panel, which is supposed to report any day now.

Just in the last few days, Mr. Barnes has been in the news again.

Alberta Union of Provincial Employees Vice-President Karen Weiers (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

There was a revelation a property management company that manages more than 30 rental properties in Medicine Hat owned by Mr. Barnes and his wife had threatened a tenant with eviction days after Premier Kenney announced a one-month ban on evictions. In 2017, Press Progress also reported, Mr. Barnes was identified by Alberta Health Services as owner of a property found to be in a condition that could be “injurious or dangerous to the public health.”

A few days earlier, there was a Twitter uproar when Mr. Barnes seemed to endorse a Postmedia article by Conrad Black, the septuagenarian failed newspaper publisher, complaining about the economic impact of measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

His latest re-tweet exasperated the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees sufficiently to issue a news release yesterday calling on Mr. Barnes to apologize for devaluing front-line workers.

“When provinces like Ontario and Quebec have been providing raises to staff to recognize their work, Barnes seems to want to do the opposite,” said AUPE Vice-President Karen Weiers. “Instead of Twitter trial balloons, we need this government coming to the table with unions like AUPE to talk about how we can better support our front line heroes.”

Mr. Barnes could save himself and his party a lot of trouble by not re-tweeting Postmedia drivel by former jailbirds and “senior fellows” at a right wing “institutes.”

As for the piece that caught his attention yesterday, the one demanding a 20 per cent reduction of public service pay, it seems like a strong argument for no more federal subsidies, tax breaks or other benefits for Postmedia — a company that since 2016 has been almost totally controlled by U.S. hedge funds.

8 Comments to: Hinterland Who’s Who: Hear the haunting call of the wild Deep South Alberta UCP MLA …

  1. brett

    May 13th, 2020

    Difficult to discern if he is just another fruitcake or if he, like so many other no hoper politicians and simply resorting to any ploy whatsoever to get noticed and/or to get their names in the media.

    • Dave Clements

      May 14th, 2020

      Agree totally. Definitely fruitcake in the making and presently aging. Don’t forget the right wing fruitcakes, including Kenney, were just kids when Reaganomics and Thatcherism came to be. They don’t know anything different than screw the working stiff, gov’t is bad , worker protection, environmental and financial regulations are worse. Then we are not social creatures but hardy individuals who must be selfish and let the market determine winners. The hell with social programs, taking care of the disadvantaged and our seniors. I hope COVID19 wakes some Albertans up, but for Barnes, no hope.

  2. Derek

    May 13th, 2020

    It’s amazing people will cheering this attack on because they have been breed to hate public servants because they have terrible benefits and no pensions. Instead of fighting for good pay and benefits they want to strip those that have them. The UCP is polling very high and I think they will continue their attack without much damage to their voters

  3. Dave

    May 13th, 2020

    Whatever happened to Mr. Barnes … ? I don’t think Mr. Kenney found him too kooky, the bar for that in the UCP is quite low. I suspect Mr. Kenney, who at times can be politically savy, might have looked at that Wildrose leadership run history and decided it might be best to sideline someone who has the potential to develop or sustain his own independent political base. For his kooks, Mr. Kenney seems to prefer the younger and/or more politically inexperienced. I don;t think that is necessarily better for Alberta, but it allows Mr. Kenney to call the shots and perhaps feel less threatened.

    However, in this case I have to wonder if there was something to Mr. Kenney’s approach. The Wildrose bunch including Mr. Barnes, was a constant source of needless bozo eruptions. The kiddie crew, Mr. Kenney has in tow mostly seems to be able to keep their kooky thoughts to themselves a bit better, perhaps partly out of fear of the boss.

    I am not sure why Mr. Barnes would chose this moment to antagonize and further inflame relations with public servants, perhaps it plays well to some of the local UCP base voters in his constituency or elsewhere. Perhaps it was even done with Mr. Kenney’s knowledge or approval for some reason. Kenney sometimes does like to float trial balloons from a safe distance or have someone poke a stick in things to see how it goes, or maybe he felt a good distraction was needed. Who knows.

    In any event, it is not a very good idea. Alberta’s economy is being battered on many fronts these days and some of the damage is self inflicted. It is probably not helpful to muse about inflicting more self inflicted damage.

  4. tom in ontario

    May 13th, 2020

    “…a property management company that manages more than 30 rental properties in Medicine Hat owned by Mr. Barnes and his wife…”
    Mr. Barnes could lead by example by ordering his management company to reduce monthly rents by twenty percent. His Postmedia darling Lord Almost might even applaud such public spirited generosity.

  5. Abs

    May 13th, 2020

    The fact that he retweeted an article titled “A Modest Proposal” did not go unnoticed by the Twitter flock, one of whom quickly noted the numerous ways that small children could be made beneficial to the publick, à la Jonathan Swift. It probably went straight over his head.

  6. Murphy

    May 13th, 2020

    Fry and Lauire hit the nail squarely on the head with their take on Barnes and fellow travellers:

    “Stephen: Estate agents. You can’t live with them, you can’t live with them. The first sign of these nasty, purulent sores appeared round about 1894. With their jangling keys, nasty suits, revolting beards, moustaches and tinted spectacles, estate agents roam the land causing perturbation and despair. If you try and kill them, you’re put in prison: if you try and talk to them, you vomit. There’s only one thing worse than an estate agent but at least that can be safely lanced, drained and surgically dressed. Estate agents. Love them or loathe them, you’d be mad not to loathe them.

    Hugh: That’s better.”

    I can’t even bring myself to read Postmedia papers that are free, but I noticed this gem today when I was searching Tailgunner Jay:

    This is the second article I came across from the talentlesss copromorph on this subject in recent weeks. He can’t even consistenly put together sentences that contain both subjects and predicates. Great Calgarians can almost taste their portion of the faith-based US “treatment” industry that is to be served up in Alberta with the clueless Luan taking advice from these people:

  7. Just Me

    May 13th, 2020

    Judging by the photo, there can be no doubt that Barnes is a mouth-breather.

    Considering that he endorsed the article written by Trump-bootlicker and the former-Lord of Cross Harbour Conrad “Tubby” Black, where His Grace declared that it’s always a bad idea to give benefits (like Trudeau did) to the people, but to forward them to the wealthiest because…they are divined to do the right thing with the aid. Considering that the billions provided in aid by the US federal government is being used to buy up stock and inflate share prices. (as was done in 2008)

    Demanding a 20% pay cut from heath care workers is really tone deaf, but go ahead. Alberta’s economy is in the toilet, so may as well flush it into the overflowing Athabasca River. Couple that with the news that Barnes is also an evicting slum lord just makes the UCP look like that stuff that one finds at the bottom of the overflowing Athabasca River.


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