Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh meets the media in Edmonton yesterday (Photo: Dave Cournoyer/Twitter).

The Alberta portion of NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s election campaign got off to an upbeat start in Edmonton yesterday with an enthusiastic outdoor crowd of supporters, a substantive policy announcement, and some fair shots at Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

Mr. Singh’s visit to the Edmonton-Griesbach Riding indicates party strategists have concluded candidate Blake Desjarlais has a decent chance to knock off two-term Conservative MP Kerry Diotte, a former journalist controversial for threatening to sue local critics and posing with a well-known white nationalist in social media posts. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the stump in Calgary yesterday (Photo: Justin Trudeau/Twitter).

Mr. Desjarlais is director of public affairs and national operations for the Metis Settlements General Council and in 2017 and 2018 served as co-chair of Alberta’s Indigenous Climate Leadership Summit. 

Mr. Singh targeted Mr. Kenney for some well-deserved criticism of his United Conservative Party Government’s attacks on physicians, nurses and other health care workers and promised that if the NDP forms a government in Ottawa he will create a $250-million fund to train and hire health care workers, including 2,000 nurses. 

That may be a drop in the bucket compared to the 60,000-nurse shortage Canada is experiencing right now, but it’s certainly better than the UCP plan to eliminate 11,000 Alberta health care workers’ jobs, including those of about 750 Registered Nurses.

“Conservatives always cut health care, and while Justin Trudeau promised he would reverse the cut, he has not,” Mr. Singh said. “New Democrats will restore funding for health care and make sure it’s used to improve health-care services by hiring nurses.”

The NDP leader’s welcome may not have been quite as delirious as the enthusiasm that met Jack Layton on his last visit to Edmonton during the 2011 election campaign, but it’s still the early days in the 2021 campaign, called two years prematurely by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

Meanwhile, in Calgary, Mr. Trudeau dropped in briefly to do much the same thing, touring the city’s northeast Calgary Skyview riding with the Liberal candidate there, City Councillor George Chahal, and taking a few potshots of his own at Mr. Kenney. 

Like Mr. Singh, the prime minister assailed Mr. Kenney’s mid-pandemic effort to cut health care workers’ salaries and the UCP’s flawed response to COVID-19. “While Jason Kenney was making decisions that were hurting all of you and blaming people in Calgary Skyview for the pandemic, the reality is Erin O’Toole and the federal Conservatives weren’t there to fight for you,” Mr. Trudeau said. “He was too busy praising Jason Kenney to have your backs.”

NDP Edmonton-Griesbach candidate Blake Desjarlais (Photo: New Democratic Party).

Naturally, a few Conservatives complained about the NDP and Liberals targeting Mr. Kenney and his government, but strategists for both parties have rightly identified Mr. Kenney’s repeated COVID-19 blunders and his unpopular policies as a major liability for Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and an opportunity to make gains at the Conservatives’ expense in Alberta. 

Once beloved by Conservatives and employed on the campaign trail in their doomed 2019 effort to elect Andrew Scheer as prime minister, Mr. Kenney is now the country’s least popular premier. 

The Alberta premier’s characteristic response has been to disappear from public sight. As political columnist Graham Thomson wrote in iPolitics yesterday, “during the federal election campaign, Kenney has kept such a low profile so far, you’d need a backhoe to find him.”

The late Jack Layton, NDP leader, during his Edmonton campaign stop in 2011 (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Of course, Mr. Kenney may be dodging questions about Alberta’s latest COVID statistics as much as he’s trying to stay out of Mr. O’Toole’s way. 

For the third time, Mr. Kenney’s haste to reopen business and social activities and declare the pandemic over has backfired, with 817 new infections reported yesterday, the first time the province has added more than 600 new infections on consecutive days since late May. 

There are now 6,367 active COVID-19 cases in Alberta, the highest level since June 1.

So much for the June 2 advice of Mr. Kenney’s “issues manager,” Matt Wolf, who crowed on Twitter: “The pandemic is ending. Accept it.” 

I imagine we’ll be hearing a lot more about Mr. Kenney and his handling of COVID-19, and not just in Alberta, before the federal election on Sept. 20. 

Right-wing Ontario MP Derek Sloan confirms intention to run in Banff-Airdrie

Derek Sloan on stage in Cochrane, wearing a big Alberta belt buckle (Courtney Theriault/Twitter).

Meanwhile, in the town of Cochrane just west of Calgary, former federal Conservative leadership candidate Derek Sloan as expected declared his intention to run as an independent in the Banff-Airdrie Riding before a boisterous crowd of supporters in the local curling club. 

The Ontario politician, who now claims to be a resident of Calgary despite still technically being the MP for the riding of Hastings-Lennox and Addington, will be campaigning under the slogan “Make Alberta Great Again.”

In a nice touch, he was introduced by former Calgary Conservative Rob Anders, for many years credited with being Canada’s worst MP. Mr. Anders, who nowadays is president of something called the Firearms Institute for Rational Education (FIRE, get it?), is scheduled to face tax evasion charges in October. 

According to social media accounts, Mr. Sloan said he still needed 100 signatures from residents of the riding to sign his nomination papers. 

Brian Jean assails the usual suspects, advocates new party, or something

Also yesterday, former Wildrose Party leader and unsuccessful UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean published a short screed in the form of 23 tweets assailing his former rival Jason Kenney, the UCP, the Alberta NDP, “public sector union bosses,” and Rachel Notley. Apologies to anyone I missed. 

The key all-caps takeaway: “ALBERTA NEEDS SOMETHING LIKE THE SASKATCHEWAN PARTY”.

If Mr. Jean fails to persuade the Alberta Party to let him run for leader, I suppose he can always form the Saskatchewan Party of Alberta. 

Premier Kenney’s principal secretary ducks out 

Finally, the Globe and Mail reported yesterday that while Premier Kenney ducks reporters and critics, his principal secretary and sometime interim chief of staff is ducking out of politics completely to serve as chief executive of Ducks Unlimited Canada. 

Perhaps Larry Kaumeyer, one of the folks pictured at the table during the Sky Palace Patio Party, quacked under the pressure of the fallout from that notorious affair. He is scheduled to depart for the Winnipeg-based wetland conservation organization in October. 

Mr. Kaumeyer is the latest in a parade of senior aides who have left Mr. Kenney’s service: principal secretary Howard Anglin, communications director Katy Merrifield, chief of staff Jamie Huckabay, and Invest Alberta Corp. chief executive and advisor David Knight Legge. 

All capable operatives, Mr. Kenney’s tactics have not improved with their loss.

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24 Comments

  1. Do I think a vote for O’Toole means kissing the Canada Pension Plan goodbye in Alberta? Why yes, I do. It’s the hive mind. It’sa BOGO deal. Vote O’Toole, get Kenney, amplified at the federal level.

    Don’t be a fool. Stay away from O’Toole.

    1. ABS has nailed it and former MLAs that I knew from the Lougheed era would certainly agree. You can’t trust a Reformer was their message loud and clear. Their constant plan to destroy our public health care system should be enough to make all Canadians avoid them. No knows it better than Albertans after watching what Klein, Stelmach, Redford and Kenney have done to us.

      We aren’t fans of Trudeau but he’s done nothing to hurt Albertans like the way these fools have. In fact oilmen tells us he did a lot more for us than Harper ever did.

  2. Kenney seems to have now taken over the role of Conservative Premier most likely to be hiding or locked up in a basement. Last Federal election it was Doug Ford the Premier of Ontario, that the Federal Conservatives really needed to stuff away in a basement or closet for the duration of the campaign.

    I’m not sure where Kenney actually is. He could be holed up in his mom’s retirement home residence basement in Calgary, although it was never clear whether he actually lived there as claimed, or if it even exists, when he received a housing allowance based on this residence claim as a Federal MP.

    My first guess is he could be travelling outside of Alberta. His staff may be reluctant to disclose this as it does not convey a good image to be so far away as COVID cases here rise a lot again. It is also possible he took another rented motor home trip to the Banff Springs Hotel. He seems to enjoy glamping around a bit. However, he is as secretive about his travels as many other political and personal things, so maybe we need to start a game called Where in the World is Jason Kenney to try find out where he is.

    In any event, O’Toole who seemed to really appreciate and benefit from Kenney’s endorsement when he ran for the Conservative leadership not so long ago now likely wishes wherever Kenney is, that he just stays there and stays silent for the next 30 days or so.

  3. I am sure the super intelligent Brian Jean would be proud to rename the Alberta Party to the Saskatchewan Party of Alberta. He has shown throughout the years that he is very capable of logic thought of that magnitude. You know Einstein type level. 🙂

  4. In “Uncivil Warriors” (1935) the Three Stooges played Union spies trying to discover Confederate secrets. Their assumed names were Duck, Dodge and Hyde. Any comparison between them and Jason Kenney’s office is of course purely coincidental.

  5. Judging by Premier Crying & Screaming Midget’s notible absence from everywhere, I suspect that, like Doug Ford during the 2019 Election, he has decided to sideline himself a lie-low during the during of the 2021 Election. Considering that Erin O’Toole was installed into the CPC leadership, and financed by Kenney and his UCP cronies, it looks like Kenney doesn’t want to ruin what slim chance he has of returning victorious to Ottawa. Judging by this, I wonder if O’Toole will even set foot in Alberta during the campaign. I mean he’s already been here so many times already, appearing with Kenney at various events and annoucing that he has Alberta’s back. But I wonder about that now.

    O’Toole has been trying to turn back claims that he is a pro-choice leader of a party that is decidely pro-life. PMJT and Jagmeet Singh have already pointed out that the CPC caucus consisting votes against O’Toole on issues related to LGBTQ2+ and reproductive rights, so it’s clear he doesn’t speak for his caucus when he says he’s pro-choice. How credible a leader is he when his caucus is always against him?

    With Derek Sloan trolling around Alberta and running as an independent, and it’s very likely that “Mad Max” Bernier will be showing up soon enough to rally his respective band of crazies, not to mention the Maverick Party going all maverick, and that silly non-pandemic that still going around and infecting the UCP base, Kenney shouldn’t even show himself, maybe ever again.

    But I suspect that Kenney has been spirited away, likely by the some well-heeled UCP donor, to Ottawa (via private jet) to participate in the CPC War Room. Kenney, after all, has his own war room, so he knows all about war rooms. Given his Napoleonic ego, Kenney relishes commanding the troops of the soon to be his CPC, guiding them to great victory, the same way he guided Andrew Scheer to his triumph. Well, that one didn’t work out because Scheer wouldn’t stop wearing that “stinking albatros”.

    At some point, PMJT and the Liberals will point up the “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” between O’Toole and Kenney’s UCP/SoCONs and ask the very good question is O’Toole just another Trojan Horse for the nonsense coming out of Alberta?

    The “Alberta Uber Alles Ontario Tour” is on.

  6. Did Premier Kenney go missing in action of his own choice to avoid more Covid related public relations disasters or did the federal conservatives plead with him to keep his head low to minimize embarrassing their brand’s image?

    He and Minister Shandro seem quiet these days. Maybe they have noted and learned from another Jason that the less time the mouth is spent open the greater the chances that the foot will not enter it.

  7. If anyone is foolish enough to support these pretend conservatives and Reformers, the core services and things we take for granted will fall into private hands, and who will benefit from that? Not the everyday Albertans, that’s for sure. Albertans have a genuine stubborn streak to them. They can see that these pretend conservatives and Reformers only cause harm, but they continue to support them, like they did with Ralph Klein. Where is the sense in that. These are not the true conservatives that we had in the Peter Lougheed government.

  8. Further to the story about newly minted Albertan, Derek Sloan’s bid to run in the Alberta riding of Banff-Airdrie, not only was he introduced by none other than Rob Anders, but former Reformer/CRAP/CPC MPs/hangers-on Art Hanger and Eric Lowther were also there to lend their support. One wonders what other denizens of Alberta’s paleo-conservative wannabe GOP community will pop-up over this election cycle?

    Things can’t be great in Alberta for Kenney if all these guys start showing up at rival CON political events. If UCP caucus exiles start publically denouncing O’Toole leadership, this could be the one way of severely damaging Kenney where he’ll really feel it the most, in his aspirations to return to federal politics.

    Kenney’s actions in Alberta and federally may have caused an enormous rift in Harpo’s CPC coalition. If Harpo decides to enter the campaign to shore up support for O’Toole and Kenney, things will become very interesting.

    PMJT has been cited many times for having extraordinary luck. This election could reveal his biggest jackpot yet, the return of the massive rift between Canada’s CONs.

  9. NDP looking to keep the gravy train going. Suggesting that all you need to do is tax the rich to make every bodies life better.

    That isnt how it works. Digits on a computer screen arent corn cobs to feed the hungry or building materials for housing. Neither are they healthcare labour or imports of the things you need but cannot produce.

    You cant vote yourself prosperity you have to go out and earn it.

    Governments responsibility is to provide opportunity to build a life, not to have it handed to you by taking it away from somebody else.

    1. BRET LARSON: The problem with corporate welfare is that eventually you will run out of other people’s money. This has been a longstanding issue with these pretend conservatives and Reformers.

    2. For the UCP partisan hacks the living is easy.

      All they need to do is join the AEC War Room, and they get to play in that sweet, sweet $30 million + slush fund.

      How about a federal riding nomination? Want it uncontested? It’s yours.

      Alberta’s own Daddy Warbucks has a few billion kicking away for that pipeline to nowhere. And there’s plenty more where that came from.

      Kenney’s public wallet is fatter than his girth, and he is so free with it, too. I bet he buys all the rounds of drinks for his drinking buddies. And he hands out $250K/year “issues manager” gigs as well.

      Kenney is the best drinking buddy ever.

    3. Maybe Bret Larson would like to provide us true conservatives with a list of all the horrible things Notley did to us, when we know what she was doing would get us out of this “Horrific Mess” as Peter Lougheed called. Why did former Conservative MLAs praise her for being a lot like Lougheed? Let’s hear Larson explain that.

      Maybe he would also like to explain to us , that if he is such a great Conservative, why he is supporting a Liberal turned Reformer, who has never been a true Conservative who is hell bent on adding to the financial mess that Liberal turned Reformer Klein created for us?

      I think Larson has a lot of explaining to do, don’t you? The conservatives in my world call these guys traitors because that’s what they are. Like Kenney , he show no respect for our doctor, nurses, and teachers who are being kicked around by Kenney and offers no support for those of us who are smart enough to try to stop it.

    4. Yes Brett, some one has to speak for the trust funders, those born on third base and those heavily subsidized by taxpayers such as the energy industry to inform the rest of us how much harder they work than us. We wait for further speeches from you about supply side economics and tax cuts paying for themselves along with other right wing fairy tales.

  10. Given that Jason Kenney is so unpopular that he has been asked to take a vacation during a federal election – can it be anything else? – and that the UCP will need to go into campaign mode in about 15 months, you really have to wonder who they want leading them at that time. It is interesting to speculate who would step up to replace Mr. Kenney.

    If the federal Conservatives go down to defeat, I wonder if they will look at the PC success in Nova Scotia at the same time and realize what they are selling is not working. It will also be interesting to see if Nova Scotia elects any CPC members.

  11. Is Covid over? Nope. In fact, we’re having a federal election because of it’s not.

    Oh, yes, we’re hearing the usual froth about an early election and that JT is only in it for the power, and some of that quibbling is warranted. But, because of Covid, the reason JT wants an election now, only halfway through a fixed, four-year mandate, is that he doesn’t want to ask voters for more power when Covid starts getting worse, as it appears it is going to do, what with the more virulent Delta variant, school starting up in a fortnight, and citizens making their annual trek into the lesser indoors which, as we’ve experienced, always results in elevated Covid infections. And we haven’t even got to compliance with restrictive protocols yet. But we will, to be sure, in the course of this election campaign.

    As naturally as “truthiness” is to Jason Kenney, so is “mootiness” to CPC leader Erin O’Toole. It’s easy to crow about what he would have done about Covid had he been PM but, looking forward instead, his promises to do a better job with the pandemic that the Liberals did will always fold onto back pages which reported that the political right wasn’t all that enthusiastic about compliance with Covid restrictions before, and isn’t likely to acquiesce when—not if—a fourth and fifth (and however many we will endure) wave recommends returning to previous protocols —and surely not if more stringent ones are called for. Thus we’re not surprised to hear O’Toole grumble about the Liberals’ handling of the Covid economy, not Covid epidemiology, and how he’s going to affect an economic recovery from the fiscal aspect of the ordeal.

    Nevertheless, O’Toole appears to be risking a backlash from the more ardent factions of his party, the Western Reformer faction, with what tiny hints he has gently alluded to with respect potentials for increased Covid restrictions. Is he attempting to peel his more traditional Eastern Tory faction away from its more intransigent anti-vaxxer counterpart in the West? That, of course, would be a long game which he probably should be playing with another election, two or three mandates hence, in mind. One thing’s sure right now, though: if Covid is on the rise in Canadian regions hitherto more compliant with restrictions, the prospect for Alberta, heartland of the CPC’s once-dominant Reformer faction where anti-vaxxerism is still as virulent as ever, is frightful indeed. O’Toole can detour around Alberta on campaign, but even this might indicate the long game he should be playing if he wants to put the right to rights.

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