Alberta Premier Jason Kenney was trying to shore up the United Conservative Party’s rural base in Strathmore, east of Calgary, yesterday (Photo: Twitter/Jason Kenney).

Another poll by a respectable pollster suggests that if an Alberta provincial election were held today Rachel Notley’s New Democratic Party would triumph handily over Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party. 

This is starting to look like a trend. 

NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Such an election won’t be held today, of course, so everyone can stop hyperventilating. 

Still, if I were a member of Premier Kenney’s strategic brain trust, I would be worrying about the results of the online poll by Leger that were revealed yesterday by Postmedia’s newspapers. 

Postmedia, which is not really a very respectable news organization nowadays, has a partnership with Leger to release these surveys from time to time. Given Postmedia’s often undisguised partisanship for Conservative causes, it must have just about killed its executives to publish such results. Still, to their credit, they did. Some vestigial instinct to practice traditional journalism must have gotten the better of them. 

The results are pretty dreary from the UCP’s perspective – at least as long as Mr. Kenney remains at the helm. They are a different matter for Ms. Notley, of course, the Opposition leader and former premier of Alberta. 

According to the pollster, 39 per cent of Albertans now support the NDP, compared to 29 per cent still clinging to the wreckage of the UCP.

More than half the 1,377 Albertans who responded to the pollster’s questions between July 22 and 26 thought the province was headed in the wrong direction. Only a quarter gave the direction the province was heading as being the right one. 

The NDP led in all parts of the province, even among the UCP’s rural base. Its support was overwhelming – 45 per cent of committed voters, compared to the UCP’s 28 per cent – in the Edmonton region. 

Leger Executive Vice-President, Western Canada, Ian Large (Photo: Leger).

The NDP also has the committed support of most younger voters, polls very strongly among women, and leads quite strongly among men. Only the geezers – present company excepted, of course – seem to still support the UCP. 

The timing of the poll, obviously, means Leger’s questions were posed before the Kenney Government announced its effective surrender to the coronavirus and its decision to stop collecting statistics about COVID-19 that might make it look bad, or requiring anyone with symptoms of the disease to get tested or self-isolate. 

Friday’s announcement could well turn out to be the moment when very large numbers of Albertans decide the direction in which their province is heading is actually now at that point of the compass commonly known as “going to hell in a handbasket.”

This, in turn, may make Leger’s poll a complementary development to Elections Alberta’s revelation at the end of last week that the NDP raised more than twice as much in contributions as the UCP did in both the second quarter and the first half of 2021. 

Those spending decisions by politically alert Albertans were also made before anyone knew what their UCP Government was going to do on the COVID file. 

Independent MLA Drew Barnes (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Naturally, Postmedia’s coverage tried hard to find a silver lining for the UCP in this cloudy forecast. “NDP has wide lead on UCP, but many Albertans aren’t fully committed: poll,” said the Calgary Herald’s headline, a little wistfully. 

Political columnist Don Braid quoted Leger Western Canada VP Ian Large saying “there’s lots of potentially good news for the UCP” upcoming – included in his calculus was the Trans Mountain Pipeline that’s being built thanks to the efforts of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

Lorne Gunter, another right-wing Postmedia columnist (is there any other kind?) made some sound points. To wit: that committed UCP support is actually up, just not as much as committed NDP support, and that Mr. Kenney needs to shore up support with the party’s far right.

My guess is the UCP’s lunatic fringe – tempted by a smorgasbord of fringy separatist parties and infected by the Q-virus from south of the Medicine Line – will already be pretty happy with Friday’s announcement of the government’s new COVID policy. 

So if that doesn’t work, there’s probably not much more Mr. Kenney can do to win them back and get them contributing again – short of welcoming back rebel MLA Drew Barnes from exile, anyway. (Wait for it — Ed.)

Meanwhile, a majority of Albertans appear to think the new COVID policy actually is lunacy. However, we’ll need to see some polling on that issue from someone to know if that is really true. 

The UCP does have a long time to get its mojo back, and still could. 

Mr. Kenney, though, really seems to have a talent for doing things that infuriate large groups of voters. So it wouldn’t necessarily be a good bet at this point to put money on the proposition Mr. Kenney won’t continue to mess right up to the next election in 2023, or whenever it ends up being called. 

UCP Caucus press release played fast and loose with truth about MLA’s support

Alert readers will recall how a couple of weeks ago, Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn was welcomed back into the UCP Caucus after a short sojourn on the independent benches as punishment for ignoring his constituents 140-some kilometres north of the fleshpots of Edmonton. 

Lesser Slave Lake UCP MLA Pat Rehn (Photo: Facebook/Pat Rehn).

Mr. Rehn, who had also been caught holidaying in Mexico as the pandemic raged over the Christmas holiday, had learned to behave himself since Premier Kenney cast him into outer political darkness, Caucus Chair Nathan Neudorf said in mid-July in a press release. 

“The United Conservative Caucus was presented with letters of support – including from several municipalities and the Lesser Slave Lake Constituency Association – requesting Rehn be allowed to rejoin caucus,” Mr. Neudorf’s release said. (Emphasis added.)

Now, thanks to the reporting of South Peace News editor Chris Clegg in High Prairie, we know that claim wasn’t strictly true.

Actually, it turns out, no municipalities in the riding expressed any support for Mr. Rehn’s return, Mr. Clegg informed his readers on Wednesday. 

“The Town of Slave Lake, Town of High Prairie, M.D. of Lesser Slave River, Big Lakes County and Northern Sunrise County, all deny they wrote letters of support,” Mr. Clegg reported. 

There were some letters of support from individual councillors – one of whom, oddly, wrote on the letterhead of the Church of the Nazarene — but none of them acted in their role as council members. 

Join the Conversation


  1. Thanks for writing another great column, David.

    I wonder if the people at Leger will start to consider another question: Would a different leader make you more inclined, or less inclined, to support the UCP?

    I also wonder how long it will be before crashing events like the rodeo in Strathmore will become a political blunder if he starts getting booed like he did at the 2019 Grey Cup.

  2. My guess is that this will cause some influential UCP brass to commission another poll. They will want to poll Kenney’s personal popularity separate from that of the Party. It will not be pretty IMHO. Perhaps change is in the air.

    Kenney would never resign for the good of the party. They will need to drag him out kicking and screaming.

    I believe the combination of the polls and the money has them spooked.

    1. It would be interesting if UCP insiders finally came out of the woodwork and spoke to the RCMP about the UCP leadership, at long last. I’ve heard (and maybe someone here knows more about this) that one of the reasons that the investigation into this matter has gone nowhere is stonewalling by UCP high-ups when approached by the Mounties. If they start seeing Kenney as liability, this would be a relatively easy way to put the skids under him.
      The question remains, of course, of why the UCP brass tolerated him when he looked like a winner, despite the cloud about the methods that brought him to the fore. But seeing as the party as a whole doesn’t seem to have much of a moral compass, they probably don’t regard this as anything that would matter to anybody else.

      1. IMO very bad look for the RCMP that their investigation into credible allegations of voter fraud from the last election appears to either lack urgency or ability.

    2. Does it matter if it is him or the party?
      The UCP is a disgrace and anyone replacing Jason Kenney would be worse. Who would you want to see?
      Drew Barnes? The minister of Justice Madu? Savage? Shandro? Carpay? They all need to go and replace the sheep weeding parks in Sherwood Park.

  3. Let’s watch the simmering pot of protests against Jason Kenney’s move to endanger children under 12 by removing all Covid restrictions and almost all testing. Let’s also “read the signs’ as those protests shift to protests against Kenney himself and his Chief Minion of Health.

    It’s one thing to recklessly endanger Albertans, including young children, but how long can the rest of Canada and our neighbors to the south stand by silently while these actions recklessly endanger them? Not too long, I think. If Kenney wants his constitutional challenge, he’s about to get it. His latest move proves that the man is a danger to self and especially others.

  4. To paraphrase the well known saying, the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing again and again and expecting a different result. So, the UCP and Kenney is again having a premature and hasty reopening and, after a COVID reprieve, going after health care, those that rely on it and work in it.

    Yeah, I suppose the Postmedia had no choice to publish this poll. They probably couldn’t credibly manufacture a better one and at least they could try spin it as positively for the UCP as possible. Yes, I suppose voters are never really fully committed until they actually vote, but as you said, there is a definite trend here.

    Really, at this point, the UCP’s best hope is to dump Kenney as soon as they can and focus on repairing the worst of the damage. However, unfortunately for them, Kenney does not seem to want to go at all. After all, he has no pension yet or a profession or trade to fall back on, other than his career in politics.

    I suspect by the time the UCP is able to finally get rid of him, or Kenney decides to go, it will be too late for them.

  5. Does anyone have any theories, psychological or otherwise, as to WHY Kenney seems SO inclined to shooting himself in the foot?
    Someone mentioned boredom, which is possible, but my theory is the bizarre but reliable appeal of Christian martyrdom. Him being a serious, closet gay Catholic clinches that I’d say….

    1. I am not a forensic psychiatrist, but take a look at the opinion of someone who is. This article about Trump explains:

      Protests are happening every day in Alberta, organized by doctors. This is effectively the “Declaration of Geneva, which mandates that physicians speak up against destructive governments,” Lee says. “This declaration was created in response to the experience of Nazism.”

      This is very serious. We are at a point now when doctors are invoking their obligations and mandate to speak up against the Alberta government, using the vested authority of a declaration set up to deter Nazism: the Declaration of Geneva, established in 1948.

      We should all let that sink in.

    2. Re: Kenney being “a serious, closet gay Catholic”…..Perhaps the question could be: Would the older folks who would still tend to vote for the UCP as mentioned in the blog, particularly the hard right Christian folks, would they still vote for him if they knew this? For me, it would not matter re: the being gay or straight, but, I did not, and would not, vote for Kenney and his UCP party anyway. What is the thing about not coming out, perhaps, is the fear of possibly/probably, losing these votes.

  6. While the universal perception that Premier Crying & Screaming Midget is nothing more than a grifting carpetbagging CON from Ontario (with a lengthy stopover in Saskatchewan) who is ready to use any amount from the public purse to buy his political survival, I don’t believe this is an indication that Alberta has decided to grow a brain and actually vote rationally in the next election. Rather, I think this is more of a “park your vote here” situation.

    Everyone believes (knows or expects) that Kenney has every intention of getting out of Alberta as fast as his short legs can carry him back to Ottawa’s gold-paved streets. Kenney has never given up his residence there and has made no secret that he doesn’t like Alberta’s tiny political pond. A big fish wants to swim in a big lake, and Ottawa is the sort of lake Kenney wants to splash around in.

    The UCP disastrous polling numbers and even worse fundraising reports are meant to send Kenney the message that he has really overstayed his welcome in ‘Berda. Maybe settling into that Regina riding, presently held by the very disappointed and unceremoniously discarded former CPC leader, is just the ticket for Kenney’s return to Ottawa’s political scene. It will be the “Ressurection of Jason Kenney” … maybe it will make a good passion play, too.

    1. It’s hard to imagine K-Boy returning to Ottawa, even though—by the time O’Toole has flogged a dead horse to death—the CPC leadership would be Kenney’s to win (as per usual right-wing party politics, leaders who don’t win are soon retired and, if O’Toole doesn’t win power whenever the next federal election is, another opening presents for would-be riders of the blue-glue-horse).

      Kenney likes to win—and he avoids losing by whatever means necessary, including switching horses before charges of electoral cheating become convictions. He appears to be buying time in the investigation of the “Kamikaze” tactics he used to secure the UCP leadership—that is, by laming Alberta’s system of electoral invigilation— while the dust of, currently, two CPC leaders settles over the trial of federal electoral perfidy left by K-Boy’s old boss and mentor, the good old “in-and-out Robocaller” himself, CPC founding leader and prime minister Stephen Harper. In this sense K-Boy is now more prepared to take a much safer run at CPC leadership than the embarrassing field of extremists (who eventually split the 13th ballot between SoCon Scheer and Blue-Flame bigot Bernier) afforded back in the acrimony of the party’s 2015 defeat. One more defeat at the hands of JT’s Liberals and the CPC will be as ‘tenderized’ as the shattered ProgCons were for both Harper and Kenney, federally and provincially, respectively. Perhaps this is wished for.

      But Kenney is a long way from that. Foremost, the UCP is K-Boy’s creation who blue-glued together the guts and feathers of fractured right-wing provincial factions just like Harper showed him how at the federal level. However, heir to the CPC mantle, in whatever state of tatter O’Toole leaves it, would look too presumptuous by half if Kenney can’t pass the ultimate test of his first-term Alberta creation—incumbency. I find it harder to believe K-Boy would resign his sorry premiership before the scheduled Alberta election (in which, according to polling trends, the UCP risks defeat) in order to contest the CPC leadership if, as usual, O’Toole is turfed after another loss to the Liberal-NDP-Bloc bloc.

      It seems to me that Kenney would rather avoid the risk of losing by jumping kekangaroo-like to a better prospect. But this is precisely his dilemma: the CPC leadership has to be vacated for K-Boy to fill, but he can’t very well do that looking like a loser in Alberta—that is, by losing his rookie government’s incumbency bid or avoiding that by ducking out before the scheduled 2023 electoral judgement day. The only (marginally) successful scenario I can envision is O’Toole getting totally smoked whenever the next federal election is AND the CPC becoming manifestly schizophrenic: Kenney could then fabulate a ‘national emergency’ to rationalize dodging the UCP’s comeuppance. And picking up the pieces is, after all, a vultureCon specialty.

      Timing is everything for both opportunistic hares and patient tortoises. In the KeKangaroo Kenney goes-to-Ottawa scenario, the CPC leadership must be vacant. But O’Toole is a long-game player who, as a HarperCon backbencher and one-time minister, kept his head down as colleagues all around him were losing theirs during Harper first and last majority. Unlike the whole first field, himself excepted, he waited to contest the leadership a second time (after Scheer was turfed for increasing CPC seats, beating the Liberals’ popular vote, but losing to their new minority in 2019). He sensibly advised that the party broaden its appeal instead of sharpen its extremism and, even when policy delegates bitch-slapped him for moving to abandon climate-change denialism, he picked himself up, dusted himself off and tried a new tack. He seems aware that defying the worst of the CPC is what he has to do. It might take more than a mere loss for him to walk away and, if the CPC can hold the Liberals to another minority—a distinct possibility—then O’Toole would, if I read his nature right, likely stay on.

      That would force a longer game on K-Boy—if, indeed, he can hang on. I’m more inclined to believe his own UCP, already stretching the gummy bonds of hasty blue-gluing, would either shatter (again) or ditch the disappointing founder if the NDP were to defeat it as polls tend to suggest. As his geriatric rural base continues dying and glacierless rivers keep drying, the steamer Queen of the Prairies risks running aground on a sandy bar—but, for the present, Captain K has to keep on paddling—upstream to somewhere. It looks less and less like Ottawa.

  7. Anyway you choose to look at this, it spells trouble for the UCP. There are still some diehard UCP acolytes who cannot see that the UCP have been a terrible government from their inception. There have been Albertans who raised concerns about the UCP, but these went unheeded. It was the exact same way under Ralph Klein. Now, with Covid-19 cases in Alberta on the upswing, due to the UCP’s latest reopening experiment gone awry, before the end of August, more people in Alberta will be showing displeasure with the UCP. The UCP MLA who was fined for election based violations casts even more doubt of the legitimacy of the UCP’s position of power in Alberta. The UCP is involved with the most pricey shenanigans, and they are making Albertans pay for this. It was the same thing with the Alberta PCs, for a very long time. When legitimate conservatives, like Peter Lougheed were running things, it was quite different than who we have now, under these pretend conservatives, who are making a horrific mess. What’s the sense in that?

  8. The UCP are mostly the Wild Rose Party and not the Conservative Party which once dominated Alberta. There is no remnant of Lougheed in the UCP which is why Kenney had to rig his election as leader of it to beat out Brian Jean.

    Now it even looks like they are going to end testing so no new cases will be reported. That’s their best hope at this time but no service to Albertans.

  9. I believe that the money speaks louder than the polling results. It will be interesting to see the fundraising for both parties in the second half of the year.

    I have to believe that UCP insiders are scratching there heads and looking at the next 18 months as building blocks to the next election.

    The elephant on the table is can this uphill climb be achieved with Jason Kenney at the helm. He represents failure tom many Alberta voters. This is the last thing that UCP execs want. Does it mean a change at the top? Perhaps.

    At them moment Jason Kenney is not liked nor trusted by Alberta voters. He is not liked or trusted by a large chunk of influential UCP leaders. Something has to give.

  10. One other thing I find interesting is Kenney’s attempt to distract voters with ‘shiny’ objects. The lastest daylight savings time, then an elected Senate, then the Senate appointment of Banff’s mayor.

    None of these has hit political paydirt. It is a sign of how tired Alberta voters are with Kenney’s nonsense. Even the Steve Allan show, designed to be especially shiny and distracting, has proven to be the exact failure. It has made Kenney even more of a laughing stock that he previously was.

    His efforts went to the absurd when he tried to sell the current equalization program that he sold to Albertans as a wonderful thing while in the Harper Cabinet as the worst thing since the grasshopper plague in the dirty thirties.

    I believe that there has been so much of this nonsense that many Alberta voters have switched the Kenney channel to off.

  11. I believe there’s less than 20 months max before an Alberta general election campaign must begin in earnest – not a lot of time left to manoeuvre when things are looking as bad as they are for the UCP. As this point nears, unless Jason Kenney can engineer a significant turnaround in perception I see two decision choices for the UCP. Dump him (who the hell is the replacement) or go with what you got and hope for the best. Note that not making a decision is actually a decision to go with #2 so that’s what the party will be inclined to do.

    The question I have is what are Albertans going to do when faced with either of these choices? If Kenney stays, Albertans should fight to get the NDP back in. But if the UCP/ex-Wildrose crowd try on a replacement face (Brian Jean?) you guys need to be prepared to fight whatever the replacement is and get the NDP back in. As someone above pointed out, without Jason Kenney it will still be the same-same.

    I’m sure some will quibble at “get the NDP back in” (cue Geoffrey) but they deserve another shot at it and it’s TINA. Some Green representation to work with the NDP and keep them honest would be good, but let’s be realistic about the situation.

    It seems weird I know, but I sort of like what Jason Kenney has done by “uniting the right.” It does make a more formidable obstacle for “progressives” to confront, but it sure clarifies things. It delineates the psychopathic, hating wackos from the rest of us. Having experienced the current gov’t what will Albertans do?

  12. Now that it appears that the report into the activities and the foreign funding of the enemies of Alberta’s O & G industry have turned up a giant nothing burger, what will Premier Crying & Screaming Midget do now?

    Have a referendum, of course. One to reform equalization, which no referendum will ever budge. The other is for getting rid of Daylight Savings time.

    While I suspect getting rid of one, which is little more than a legacy of a conflict with the long-dead German Kaiser, the other could serve to give Kenney some breathing room for his much pressured and gasping political career.

    I can hear it now … “Alberta has spoken! Rejoice. The will of Alberta will be obeyed. Trudeau must do as we command, for we are the natural leaders of Canada…”

    Kenney needs a good bluster every now and then, and this should be the ticket. It will be interesting to see if the referendums coincide with the upcoming federal election. I can see such a referendum saving Erin O’Toole’s hide in Alberta, by ramping up the culture of grievance among Albertans, but it will do nothing in the rest of Canada.

    Alberta’s ‘Kenney Years’ was perceived as a dark comedy, but now it may evolve into farce a la Seinfeld.

    1. On Daylight Saving Time, let’s all remembered that the original dates for the time switches have changed over years, & — at least in my lifetime, always in lockstep with the US. First, during the Carter Administration (1977-1981), DST was extended to “save energy” as part of the US’ response to the energy crises of the 1970s. Then, in this century, the George W Bush Administration extended DST even further, although the rationale for that change escapes me despite it being far more recent. But, IMHO it was this latter change that created the latest push for this abolition of the twice-yearly time changes, since we now do the “spring forward” at the tail end of a Canadian winter, meaning we send our kids to school in the dark & go to work in the dark longer than if we’d left things as they were pre-“Shrub”.

      And, as someone living almost along the 55th parallel, I really don’t think we should go to year-round DST. We only get about 5 hours of sunlight in December & January up here, and doing this would make the winter even more dark & dreary than it already is.

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