Alberta Politics
Alberta Justice Minister Kaycee Madu (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Oppositional by nature, the UCP acts as if Rachel Notley’s NDP was still the government

Posted on November 30, 2020, 12:59 am
8 mins

Perhaps because he’s the only United Conservative Party MLA in Edmonton, Justice Minister Kaycee Madu seems to have become the Kenney Government’s main spokesperson responsible for yelling at the NDP.

Whether Mr. Madu writes his own social media material or has an aide to perform that function for him, his comments have taken on a rather hysterical tone in recent days that suggests whoever in writing them hasn’t quite come to terms with the fact the NDP is the Opposition, not the government, and that Rachel Notley isn’t premier any more.

Former Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, now the leader of the Opposition (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

On Saturday, Mr. Madu was tweeting about “the NDP’s record of failure and irresponsible behaviour during this pandemic.”

It would seem logical to most of us, presumably, that as the official Opposition, the NDP’s record during the pandemic, such as it may be, is not the one upon which any perceived failure in managing the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta can be pinned.

Since the UCP was in power well before the novel coronavirus first made its presence known in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, it’s going to be pretty hard for the Kenney Government to persuade anyone but its most committed followers that the NDP should have to wear that still-unfolding catastrophe.

The rambling statement appended to Mr. Madu’s tweet focused on the baseless claim the NDP supports completely defunding the police, which the UCP strategic brain trust has apparently concluded is a good way to distract from its completely self-evident failure to manage COVID-19 while keeping its anti-masker base sweet.

But, even there, despite an awkwardly worded acknowledgement that Ms. Notley’s NDP is now in opposition, there was the strong suggestion that Mr. Madu, or perhaps the entire UCP caucus, still thinks of the NDP as the government.

“The NDP is the only opposition government in North America and the civilized world that has used the pandemic to spread fear, division and cause more anxiety to our population,” it said. (Emphasis added.) It rambles on in the next sentence to accuse the NDP of refusing to work with the government on the pandemic.

This is demonstrably false. The accusation could be said to accurately describe both the Trump Administration in the United States (much admired by the Kenney Government) and the Conservative Party of Canada Opposition in Ottawa. As for refusing to cooperate with the government for the public good, that sounds like the UCP itself when the NDP was the government.

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

Whether the author of this statement thinks the Opposition is the government or, more likely, wrote government first and then failed to delete the word after revising the sentence, a common editing error, it nevertheless suggests the UCP is actually reacting to the NDP as if the former were still the opposition and the latter still the government.

This is but one example, of course. There are others. “I wish the NDP would resist the urge to politicize every aspect of this pandemic,” Mr. Madu moaned rhetorically a couple of days ago, better describing the not-very-successful strategy of his own government to politicize everything, including public safety and public health.

Without doubt, this kind of whining is far removed from the stately dignity of past Progressive Conservative governments in Alberta, which mostly refused to acknowledge even the existence of an opposition, let alone the possibility it might have relevance or a chance of success.

But the UCP is not the PC Party of yore, of course. The latter was a big tent party, extending even unto people who would have been blue New Democrats in any other province. The UCP is and forever shall be a party steeped in the mentality of opposition.

It is, in other words, dominated by the oppositional, conspiracy minded, angry minority who were but a tiny faction of the old PCs. Premier Jason Kenney is right to be concerned about splits with the Wexit fringe on his right-wing party’s far right. But if the cost of appeasing the UCP’s libertarian faction is hundreds or even thousands of deaths from COVID-19, that will not play well with a majority of voters, even in Ponoka.

So, perhaps Mr. Madu and his colleagues have been reading the polls and contemplating the possibility that if their mismanagement of the pandemic continues unabated, they may one day find themselves in opposition again. (Or, in the case of the justice minister himself, winner of the only UCP seat in Edmonton and not by much, having to return to the drudgery of chasing billable hours for some legal firm.)

I speak, of course, of the recent Environics Research poll that put NDP support at 47 per cent province wide and that of the UCP at 40 per cent.

Of course, such results, in the middle of a government’s term, must be treated with the proverbial grain of salt. North American polling tends to overestimate the progressive vote and underestimate the conservative vote fairly consistently, as the recent U.S. presidential election illustrated.

Moreover, Alberta’s electoral map with its many underpopulated and solidly conservative rural ridings gives an unfair advantage to the UCP in any contest with the NDP.

Still, if there’s anything to the buzz that the UCP has its own polls that are even worse from the government’s perspective, just such a thought may have lodged in the basal ganglia of the collective Conservative brain.

After all, it is a truth nearly universally acknowledged in parliamentary democracies that a government that acts as if it were the opposition may soon have the opportunity to be the opposition.

22 Comments to: Oppositional by nature, the UCP acts as if Rachel Notley’s NDP was still the government

  1. Just Me

    November 30th, 2020

    I guess this is the part where Kenney and the UCP deflect attention from their own failures and point their collective fingers at Rachel Notley’s tenure as premier.

    Yeah, the UCP had a lockdown. But it’s only for three weeks; Notley would have locked Alberta for three years…OR MORE!!!!

    Sure, infections are rising; but Notley would have had 20 times the infections and as many deaths, because she’s collecting that “COVID 19 Bounty” that Alex Jones keeps talking about.

    Oh and …. JOBS, JOBS, JOBS.

    The Angry Midget is getting nervous in a weird way. He’s not exactly ready to head back Ottawa, but he can’t wait to get back. Timing is everything at this point, and so far it’s not working in his favour. Based on current polling data, if there was an federal election today, the Liberals would score a majority, crushing the NDP’s support. As for Erin the Toole, Canadians can’t make their minds up about him; but I suspect they see a combination of Andrew Scheer and Stephen Harper, which is certainly not a good start for the new CPC leader.

    As news coming forth about the antics of the UCP government, and three years away from the election, Kenney’s braintrust is pulling every trick in the book, reminding Albertans of the dark and terrible Notley years. Well, actually more Albertans are beginning to consider those dark times as more stable and optimistic than the present.

    Ken-DOH! isn’t so much as the genius as was advertised during the last election. At the moment, he looks more like a klutz, constantly putting his foot in his mouth, and forever coming up with one bad idea after another.

    Reply
  2. tom

    November 30th, 2020

    It’s too bad only one idea at a time can lodge itself in this government’s “collective brain.” Small government=small collective brain.

    Reply
    • Mike in Edmonton

      December 1st, 2020

      Why is it that Cons are so convinced “business = good, government = bad”? Is it because, as soon as they form a government, they prove themselves correct?

      Reply
  3. !?

    November 30th, 2020

    o/t to today’s topic, but relevant to the Kenney Klown Klub. As has been mentioned on here many times the KKK has its greedy eyes on provincial & federal public pension plans… Here’s how it’s playing out south of the medicine line:

    Can’t Do America: Kick the Can Approach to Public Pension Fund Crisis, Even Though Canada Cleaned Up Its Mess
    https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/11/cant-do-america-kick-the-can-approach-to-public-pension-fund-crisis-even-though-canada-cleaned-up-its-mess.html

    Reply
  4. Hammer

    November 30th, 2020

    It is time for centralist parties in Alberta ( and I include the NDP) to join together, become a big tent party and rid ourselves of these miscreants. Here you have JK call out NE Calgary where we have ten’s of thousands of service workers for their high level of COVID, then remain silent on the hundreds of anti-everything’s that marched through DT Calgary without a word. The service workers have to work at minimum wage type jobs, where JK can sit on his double pension and spew nonsense. I have voted PC in the past , but never again!

    Reply
  5. Political Ranger

    November 30th, 2020

    Well, they sure as heck are not acting as a government!

    Yelling out empty threats and empty promises in between self-righteous proclamations of personal responsibility and other imagined virtues is not a proven method for gaining public trust or legitimacy.
    This is what the nutjobs out there on the far right fringe of sanity sound like.

    I wonder if all those “many underpopulated and solidly conservative rural ridings” recognise that they are being represented by barely sane and wholly incompetent freaks?

    Reply
  6. Abs

    November 30th, 2020

    Apparently the UCP is running out of fingers of blame to point at everyone for everything.

    So, upon further reflection on the latest disastrous Covid numbers, they came up with two strategies. First, blame comorbidities, and list them for every person who dies from Covid from now on. This expands the previous strategy of blaming old people for contracting the virus. Redirect contact tracers to comorbidity tracing, since their previous jobs have largely been abandoned, and there are fewer dead than contacts. Fun fact: if you give enough hints, such as female in her 90s with comorbidities, health zone X at care home X, people will be able to recognize the victims of this dread disease with only a quick scan of the obituaries. Keep them busy blaming each other and the families of the deceased, and no one will notice that Covid numbers are wildly out of control.

    The second strategy consists of picking out a racialized minority to blame for all this, as the premier did when he was a weekend guest on a local radio show, chastising South Asians. Perhaps he was emboldened by the crowd of mostly white people, Proud Boys and other such special interest groups protesting against Covid restrictions on Olympic Plaza in Calgary on Saturday. Did he notice the huge crowds of unruly teenagers, now off school, fighting at Chinook Centre on Friday? Hint to premier: this was not a group of South Asians. He may not have noticed, but the South Asians accused of being prolific spreaders sure did, and pointed all this out to him. They also reminded him that he ignored the plight of northeast Calgary residents, many of whom are in the castigated group, hit by a devastating once-in-a-generation hail storm in the summer. (Yes, houses are still unfixed.) One reminded him that her father earns his living out in public, which is why he is at greater risk for contracting Covid. And BTW, his taxi insurance jumped from $200 to $500 a month, thanks to changes brought in by Kenney.

    It’s unusual for politicians to stir up seething resentment and even outright hatred against themselves. Let’s wait and see how this works out for the UCP. It’s becoming clear that they don’t want to be in office any more. If only we could grant them their wish. So their popularity plummets in proportion to the skyrocketing Covid numbers, and we all move closer to the absolute catastrophe promised by Jason Kenney. Promise made, promise kept.

    Reply
    • Mike in Edmonton

      December 1st, 2020

      More blame-deflection from Lord Jason. He’ll have to work pretty hard to convince his True Believers that everything Kenney does is their fault (because they voted him in).

      I’m not so sure the UCP “don’t want to be in office anymore.” Pretty sure Kenney et al still want the power and prestige–just not the responsibility. Kenney made a decent #2 or maybe #10 under Harper–but he’s sure not ready for the Big Chair. He’ll never admit that, though. We’re stuck with him till 2023.

      Reply
  7. Alan K.Spiller

    November 30th, 2020

    I hope all Albertans will take a look at the survey done this weekend by the Medicine Hat News. This paper has proven what most Albertans are now saying they wished the hadn’t supported this phoney conservative. He is the worse liar we have ever seen. They sound like my American relatives when they talk about Trump.

    The survey asked the question “If there were an election next week who would you support” The people who voted gave Notley a 68% approval to Kenney’s pathetic 19% support . They have obviously had enough of this liar, just like Ralph Klein when he accused him of spreading lies and stealing from seniors years ago. Nothing has changed he is still doing it. Everything he promises will be a burden on us seniors.
    My sister spent 20 years volunteering for conservative MLAs in Alberta and conservative MPs in Ottawa and wasn’t paid a penny for doing it yet Reformer Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney with their lies about the Income Trusts cost her $23,000.
    We were told Canadians lost $35 billion and much of it was lost by seniors who really couldn’t afford to lose it.
    MLAs from the Lougheed era taught me that you can’t trust a Reformer and they were certainly right.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      December 1st, 2020

      ALAN K. SPILLER: I still see many people trying to defend the UCP. When will they realize the UCP are not benefiting Albertans at all? We are seeing the UCP try the same failed policies of Ralph Klein. We know how badly that turned out.

      Reply
      • Alan K Spiller

        December 2nd, 2020

        There are still a lot of fools who just don’t get it and sadly many are our fellow seniors who should be a lot smarter. University professors have taught me over the years that you can’t change them they are what they are losers who can’t handle the truth, they aren’t man enough and they certainly won’t admit it when they know they are wrong.
        I will never forget the nurses bawling their eyes out in my office when Klein destroyed their careers. I helped nine doctors and at least two dozen nurses relocate out of this province and not one wanted to go.
        After my parents and two sisters had spent countless hours volunteering for the Lougheed and Getty governments Klein almost killed my father with his health care cuts. Dad had also donated around $30,000. to their party and Lougheed’s energy minister Bill Dickie was a brother in law of one of my uncles..
        Ironically our family had known the Klein family since the early 1960s and we certainly knew what a jerk Ralph was.

        Reply
  8. Dave in Sask

    November 30th, 2020

    Wow! Here it is 12:20 Alberta time and I get to be the first to comment on it. I wonder if the reason the UCP Still blames the former government for Alberta’s problems with Covid-19 is that like their federal cousins in the CPC they know they don’t have anything to offer that will be an acceptable policy in the eyes of the voting public.

    Their preferred solution is austerity that will only enrich those already very well off and further impoverish the working job holders who would lose their jobs if austerity became the government policy. So the best they can do is blame someone else for their being unwilling to suggest anything that might be acceptable to the general public.

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    November 30th, 2020

    The UCP is so out of touch with reality, and in so many ways. The UCP are also the ones who cut funding to the police, yet they get upset at others who want the police defunded. Talk about double standards.

    Reply
  10. Jas

    November 30th, 2020

    Your Pride & Prejudice allusion gave me an idea for a game. Which Austen character is Jason Kenney most like? My vote is for the Rev. Mr. Collins (in Pride & Prejudice, as it happens), but close behind are Mr. Elton (another unctuous clergyman, this time from Emma), and Aunt Norris from Mansfield Park.

    Reply
    • Bob Raynard

      December 1st, 2020

      Do we have to limit ourselves to Jane Austen characters? Personally I have been thinking Kenney is a mix of Alfred E. Neuman (what me worry?) and Neville Chamberlain.

      Reply
  11. Bob Raynard

    November 30th, 2020

    I looked at the poll David provided a link to. What I found bizarre was that 40% percent of voters said they would vote for Jason Kenney, but only 33% of voters said they trusted him

    Reply
  12. Keith McClary

    November 30th, 2020

    “many underpopulated and solidly conservative rural ridings gives an unfair advantage” – For some reason the NDP did not fix that.

    “whoever in writing” – Did you mean “whoever is writing” or “someone in writing” ?
    :>)

    Reply
  13. Scotty on Denman

    November 30th, 2020

    It’s not that absurdities are surprising, coming from neo-right governments struggling to sustain carefully cultivated chauvinism within their electoral bases: 2 + 2 = 5 type of virtue or loyalty signalling amongst True Believers makes sense as a morale-boosting technique, as far as it goes.

    Too soon, yet, to tell if minister Madu’s scapegoating the NDP Official Opposition is one of these everyday UCP absurdities, or if it’s signalling a “Big Lie” manoeuvre, the most available free association being with similar tRumpoid scapegoating of the Democratic Party for allegedly inventing the Covid pandemic, or of “Democrat-run” states or cities accused of blocking federal Covid aid, or Democratic President Elect Joe Biden’s alleged plan to destroy the American way of life.

    The US example is classically Big Lie (große Lüge, coined by certain fascists in the 1920s and 30s) because, though their alleged ‘crimes’ varied In type and absurdity, at least it was the Democrats who were consistently cast as the enemy, repeatedly, over and over, the idea being that people will eventually believe it, even when false—the sole purpose being to get tRump re-elected by blaming the ‘enemy’ for everything his presiduncy did done wrong, particularly with Covid.

    Madu’s attack similarly tries to shift Covid blame away from his own UCP government where it belongs—since the UCP had become government long before Covid arrived—and pin it on the Rachel Notley and the NDP where it does belong since her government had been defeated for just as long before Covid hit.

    We’ll have to wait to see if Madu’s NDP scapegoating becomes a repeated, definitively Big Lie feature; perhaps other UCP MLAs or UCP-friendly mainstream news media will oblige. It easily doubles as morale-boosting absurdism for however long it’s repeated so, for now, it remains a stand-alone shift from the UCP’s usual, more classical große Lüge that the federal Liberals are out to destroy Alberta’s bitumen economy. And that other Big Lie criterion is already well in hand: keeping the base in a constant state of agitation.

    It’s an old narrative sprung from historical grievances from the 1920s and 30s on up to the hated National Energy Program. “The West Wants In” and “Firewall” made useful slogans but, starting with Harper’s edicts strictly forbidding Conservative MPs from after-hours fraternizing with Liberal MPs in the nation’s capital, and on up to flat-out, rote demonization of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by the UCP, Saskatchewan Party, and the Western Half of the federal CPC which swept both provinces in 2019, it only got worse when the CPC failed to win back power—indeed, that loss inspired an always-simmering—and repeated— western separatist sentiment, this time called “Wexit”, a Big Lie success if ever there was one.

    The late Jim Prentice was fairly moderate in this respect; neither did he deploy any kind of Big Lie narrative against his NDP election rival Rachel Notley, possibly because he didn’t think her party could win; yet we recall he found Harper’s hyper-partisanship and bitter enmity with other parties so distasteful he retired from federal politics for a rest before becoming Alberta’s last ProgCon Premier. Jason Kenney, on the other hand, adopted Harper’s implacable enmity for the Liberals. It was mostly because Notley’s government was concurrent with JT’s and, naturally, they’d developed some intergovernmental rapport, that Kenney could keep repeating the Big Lie of an anti-Alberta, Liberal conspiracy whilst ostensibly campaigning against his provincial rival—that is, he smeared Notley collaterally with the usual, long-standing, anti-Liberal Big Lie. It’s therefore hard to tell if increasingly nasty vitriol against Notley during her Premiership was really Big Lie material, or she its primary target. The fact that the Liberals became sole target again as soon as the NDP was defeated suggests she wasn’t.

    Anyway, classic große Lüge recommends having only one enemy at a time on which to blame everything that’s gone wrong; thus, if Madu’s miss-fired missive really does signal a new propaganda target, then the Liberals and JT should, classically speaking, recede from the limelight. It’s conceivable because the UCP will have to test its first incumbency bid in just 27 to 29 months (spring, 2023) against the NDP which has recently polled higher than the rookie government and, at the rate the UCP is botching Covid response and suffering popular opprobrium, might continue to look like a viable alternative to this tRumpian copycat government.

    Meanwhile, however, there’s lots happening in the next 27 to 29 months which will unavoidably involve the federal Liberals—who, as far as we can tell of this minority government—won’t be testing their own incumbency until after the UCP tests it own. Still, the sound of socialist footsteps coming up behind might force the UCP to breach Big Lie protocol and target both provincial NDP and federal Liberal parties at the same time. And we know what happened when another infamous große Lüge perp was forced to fight a two-front war.

    Reply
  14. Albertan

    November 30th, 2020

    Well, what are we supposed to think when Minister Madu was switched by the poobah from Municipal Affairs to Justice because he was probably going to be ‘ripped a new one’ by the, particularly, rural municipalities, but also the urban municipalities….very, strategically, and awkwardly, politically strategic, hm?….not sure it has done much good…problems continue, perhaps with how it is believed how votes are not going to be going to the Kenney UCP?

    Reply
  15. Dave

    December 1st, 2020

    I think you are correct. There is a dismal feeling about their political future in the UCP currently, felt particularly acutely by Mr. Madu because his riding is one they hold more tenuously. They may not be very good at governing, but I think they can read polls reasonably well and understand the other related writing on the wall, which is indicating similar huge storm clouds in their political future.

    I also agree it is too early to celebrate the UCP’s political demise. They do have built in political advantages to be overcome, such as rural over representation that favours them. Also, they still have two years left. While I doubt they will become any more competent, some of the challenges they currently face may eventually receed somewhat on their own. Covid will probably run its course at some point, or a vacine will help, oil prices may improve and people sometimes unfortunately do have short memories.

    However, governments also do at some point define themselves in the eyes of voters and once that happens it can be hard to change perceptions. The UCP may be at that point , or close to it, now.

    Governments that fall behind in the polls have recovered in the past. It is possible and not unheard of. However, it usually takes a bit of humility and change in approach and message. The UCP so far seems to show no sign of any U turn and seems to be sailing ahead as determined as ever towards the next election, which could be their political iceberg. While Captain Kenney still exudes self assurance, it seems at least some of the crew on his political ship are getting a bit concerned and increasingly rattled.

    Reply
    • Mike in Edmonton

      December 1st, 2020

      Unfortunately, the citizens of Oilberduh tend to be out of touch with their own best interests. As long as Captain Kenney ensures the band plays on and the bar doesn’t close, the passengers will overlook the looming iceberg. At least, they will till the deck chairs fall overboard and they realize the Captain already left on the only lifeboat….

      Reply

Leave a Reply

  • (not be published)