Alberta United Conservative Party Premier Jason Kenney, literally partly lit by a gas fire, during his Facebook Live performance yesterday (Photo: Screenshot of Facebook Live).

How low can he go? 

It’s probably more than coincidence that the second poll in just over a week has placed Alberta Premier Jason Kenney at an approval rate of 22 per cent. 

Angus Reid Institute’s chart showing its poll results of Canadian premiers’ approval ratings (Image: Angus Reid Institute).

Still, that’s pretty low no matter how you look at it. 

Right now, it’s as low as you can go if you’re a Canadian premier, according to the Angus Reid Institute, which published the poll yesterday. 

It’s lower than Rachel Notley ever went when she was premier of Alberta.

It’s exactly as low as the ThinkHQ Public Affairs Inc. poll put Mr. Kenney last week – so the good news for Alberta’s premier, if you happen to be an issues manager employed by his United Conservative Party anyway, is that his approval rating doesn’t seem to have fallen in the past week. 

According to the pollsters at Angus Reid, with a 9-per-cent slide in the past quarter, Mr. Kenney’s low approval rating hasn’t fallen quite as far as those of his fellow conservative premiers Blaine Higgs in New Brunswick and Scott Moe of Saskatchewan, who saw their approval ratings plunge 18 and 17 points respectively in the same period, to 43 and 38 per cent.

Messrs. Higgs and Moe, however, still garnered more approval than two other Conservatives, Ontario’s Doug Ford (actually up a statistically insignificant 1 per cent) and Manitoba’s just-appointed temporary job-holder, Kelvin Goertzen, of whom it’s probably fair to say it’s too soon to tell. 

The leaders, all tied at or near 56 per cent approval, were Newfoundland’s Andrew Furey, a Liberal, B.C.’s John Horgan, a New Democrat, Quebec’s François Legault, of the Coalition Avenir Québec, and Nova Scotia’s just-elected Tim Houston, apparently that rare bird, an actually progressive Conservative. 

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, of the conservative Saskatchewan Party (Photo: Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan).

As noted a week ago, when the ThinkHQ poll came out, lots of Albertans were inclined to doubt Mr. Kenney’s 22-per-cent approval number … because they thought it was way too high! 

According to the Angus Reid Institute’s analysis – and common sense from anyone who reads the news daily – the proximate cause of Messrs. Kenney, Moe and Higgs’s declining popularity seems to be their lousy performance dealing with COVID-19, lately in Mr. Higgs’s case, and right from the start of the pandemic for the other two. 

“It’s been a brutal fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta, and after characterizing the pandemic as ‘over’ in July, Premier Jason Kenney is bearing the brunt of what was most definitely not the ‘best summer ever,’” said the pollster’s analysis of its results, rather mockingly. 

“Hospitals in the province – home to nearly half of Canada’s active cases – now depend on the help of Canadian military nurses, as Alberta deals with impact of ICUs full of patients with the infection,” the analysis went on, not entirely fairly, as there are fewer than a dozen military nurses in the province’s hospitals right now, compared with about 30,000 Registered Nurses alone employed in public health care. 

New Brunswick Conservative Premier Blaine Higgs (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

“Thanksgiving weekend brought no new restrictions to the province, instead Kenney pleaded with Albertans to avoid a repeat of last year when cases started to build after the holiday,” the analysis added – without commenting on the likelihood of Mr. Kenney’s pleas gaining any traction. (Hint: Probably less than his approval rate.)

So there will probably be a post-Thanksgiving uptick in new COVID-19 infections and deaths in Alberta in about a week and a half. 

So it seems unlikely that Mr. Kenney’s political troubles are over, whether or not the pro-vaccine Crips and anti-vaxx Bloods in his divided UCP Caucus can get their act together enough to oust their boss.

The Reid poll was in the field from Sept. 29 to Oct. 3. It used a randomized panel of 5,011 Canadian adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum, a pool of Canadians willing to take part in the pollster’s surveys. 

ThinkHQ also uses the Angus Reid Forum to ask its questions, which may explain the identical results in the approval category, and was in the field from Sept. 20 to 27. 

B.C. NDP Premier John Horgan (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

If yesterday’s Reid poll is to be believed, Mr. Kenney’s approval among Alberta voters fell only 9 per cent in the last quarter. 

So Alberta’s premier still has a little wiggle room. If it falls as much again in the next quarter, though, it’ll be at 13 per cent. If it fell as much as Mr. Higgs’s did, it’d hit 4 per cent!

Not saying those things will happen, of course. But it does raise the question for his friends and foes alike: How low can he go? 

A rare moment of honesty from Alberta’s premier

In a rare moment of honesty last night, Premier Kenney confessed that his anti-equalization referendum question is basically codswallop. 

Asked what impact ending equalization payments would have on Alberta during a Facebook Live session, Mr. Kenney responded: “The referendum on equalization is a chance for Albertans to say yes to our de… request for a fair deal in the Canadian federation.”

Then, he admitted: “Voting yes on this will not end equalization because it is a principle embedded in the Constitution, Section 36, and it could only be amended out of the Constitution with the consent I believe of seven provinces representing 50 per cent of the population plus both houses of the federal Parliament. And that’s just not going to happen.” (Emphasis added.)

He went on: “Our expectation is not that there will be a constitutional amendment or the end of equalization, but we’re using this to get leverage …”

If readers have the patience, they can listen for themselves. The question is at the 10:50 mark in his painfully long bloviations. 

The point here is that he has now admitted the question his referendum asks is constitutionally meaningless and quite deceptive. In the best of all possible worlds, that would be enough to persuade voters to vote no. 

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  1. Hm, as I understand it there were 38 COVID deaths in Alberta in the last 24 hours. Is that not a new daily record? Jason the gross reaper scores again?

    Any how, perhaps after trying everything else the MBA, master of bloviator arts, has decided to tell the truth. But at this point who believes Premier Stumble N’ Bumble. Still I am left to wonder what hallucinogenics his caucus are consuming, that they cannot show him the door at 22 percent in the polls.

    The great bloviator must have some really embarrassing information on his caucus members; I am guessing. Or do they all have a collective suicidal urge?

    1. I think the fine distinction her is that while there were 38 COVID deaths recorded in the previous 24 hours, they are said to have taken place over the previous four days. This seems an unusually large number from earlier days, from what we have heard in the past, but having previous days’ numbers adjusted like this is not unique. DJC

  2. Somehow, someway, the writing is on the wall for the head honcho of the UCP, and the UCP itself. But the hyper inflated ego of the head honcho of the UCP will continue live in denial, while chaos and uncertainty go unabated in Alberta. It’s going to be an ugly mess, that’s for sure. It will be very difficult to correct all the damage that the UCP has done.

  3. How low can he go? Well, with Kenney it seems he is already in the basement and I am not sure he has stopped digging quite yet.

    He is already about 13% lower than his nearest challenger, the interim Manitoba Premier who replaced another unpopular Conservative. It is possible the interim Premier there might actually outlast ours, so it is very dire for Kenney.

    I doubt the fall referendums have played out as Kenney hoped. I suspect he intended they would serve as a distraction, allow him to engage in some populist ploys and attack the Feds, three of his favorite tactics. Well it seems almost everyone has tired of or wised up to his old tricks and they aren’t working so well anymore.

    Instead, Kenney has barely talked about his referendums, mainly because the fear he is so unpopular he will drag them down too. I suspect many voters are looking forward to the first chance they can get to say no to Kenney.

  4. No wonder Kenney has suddenly started appearing at the Covid news conferences. He’s hoping voters will remember who he is when the party’s leadership review rolls around next spring. The flip side of ruling over the people of Alberta in person again is that familiarity breeds contempt.

  5. Jason Kenney, who many consider the Conservative Champion in Canada, is dishonest and such a fake and cheat.
    In any conversation about Alberta politics people feel anger about this government. Not disapproval, but anger.
    Interesting to note the quality of politics in our country these days. At the Federal level we all know what is going on but look at the graphic of provincial politics and only one premier went up in approval rating and just a 1%. Everyone else is going down and fast. The lack of quality is quite striking these days and not getting better anytime soon. People with high standards no longer bother about politics. They now are as low as door to door salespeople in reputation. In summary it is no wonder we have people like Jason Kenney running the show – just clearly the bottom of the pit.

  6. If anyone has read The Rise and fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer, the main take away for me from that excellent read was not what happened AFTER Hitler came to power ( we all know that ) but how he came to power. What is happening right now in the US of A is more than analagous to Hitler’s rise and just as disconcerting. It is hard to believe that Trump (with the whole hearted complicity of the GOP ) is more than willing to destroy democracy ( such as it is ) in America. The January 6 insurrection wasn’t the end but could very well have been the beginning, much like the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923.

    The demagogue Jason Kenney and his UCP party have lost the confidence of the people of Alberta, this much is obvious. We don’t care about UCP leadership reviews or obfuscating referendums. He should call an election. Why wait for 2023? Is there a law that says we have to wait while they wreak havoc with their inane leadership? He is the leader of the UCP. What does that even mean now?

  7. “The point here is that he has now admitted the question his referendum asks is constitutionally meaningless and quite deceptive. In the best of all possible worlds, that would be enough to persuade voters to vote no……”

    Given a number of reports about how little people in Alberta actually understand how equalization works, I am not too optimistic that the overall vote will be a NO.

    1. I agree Hana Razga with your last paragraph – most people are brain washed to ‘KNOW’ that the money comes from Alberta to Quebec. We pay the whole bill for them.

      1. Yeah, sure ya don’t Marcel.
        There ain’t no such a thing as “federalized socialism”. Where’d you hear that doozy boyo? Care to make an attempt to explain to us over here what the heck it is.
        Another thing occurs to me; if you don’t ‘agree’ with something is it because there is something you do agree with? Care to try to elaborate on that?

  8. “Crips” and “Bloods”? Don’t think I’ve ever heard that before, but OK….

    Oilberduh is so polarized right now over Covid-19 that I’m ready to accept any outcome that kicks Jason Kenney to the curb. If the Bloods kick him out because he did “too much” to protect people (hah!!!) that’s fine. They can do the right thing for the wrongest of reasons–as long as they do the right thing.

    Riling up the loonie-right separatist fringe has come back to haunt ol’ Jason. Sadly, this will hurt more than just Kenney’s chances of surviving the looming leadership review. The “It’s not fair” crowd think they have a case now, but it’s really no more than the usual bitching by people ignorant of how Confederation works. They just got noisier, is all.

    “There is nothinig new under the sun.” So sayeth the Good Book. To illustrate, check this article by way of National Newswatch:

    There’s a link within the article to another IRPP publication, which gives some historical background:

    The authors also point out that Alberta could stop being “poor” if the government would accept reality and impose a sales tax. For that matter, reversing Kenney’s idiotic corporate tax cut ($4.7 billion per year, remember) would be an even better start.

    I wonder how many of those Facebookies who heard Kenney’s (accidental?) confession will start thinking, “Why bother?”

  9. Like many of Kenney’s and the UCP’s policies, the referendum question on equalization is not just dishonest, it is irresponsible and ultimately damaging to the electorate, the province and the country.

    The referendum question relies on manipulating the electorate with the dishonest assumption and dog whistle that somehow we are directly paying the federal government out of our own provincial coffers. This is clearly not true. Equalization relies on a formula that considers a province’s capacity to generate revenue from personal income taxes, business income taxes, consumption taxes, property taxes and natural resource revenues (see for more detailed information). If the province falls below the average, it is entitled to equalization payments from the federal government. Otherwise, it is not. It is Alberta’s choice to keep taxes low, to not collect higher royalties, to allow oil companies to abandon wells and leave the Alberta taxpayers with the bill, and so on. If Alberta revenues are stretched, it is not because we do not receive a “fair deal” from the federal government; rather, it is because the UCP and previous governments have mismanaged our finances, in particular, the Klein and Getty governments.

    What does the UCP mean by a “fair deal” anyway? Doesn’t setting up a “fair deal” panel and constantly referencing the need for a “fair deal” beg the question or imply the conclusion that we are not getting a fair deal? I get that Alberta might want more for medicare, but so do all the provinces. So, from that perspective, all the provinces are being treated more or less the same. But, let’s be real here: the federal government bought Alberta a pipeline to tidewater that looks like it will not cost the Alberta treasury any money, unlike the ill-fated Keystone XL pipeline. The feds gave or offered Alberta a pile of cash to deal with Covid, but the province is also leaving a lot of that money on table.

    Or, let’s say that Alberta wants to have the same kind of leverage that other regions of the country appear to have that Alberta might not. Well, this is a matter of electoral politics, and unhappiness with the equalization formula expressed through a referendum is not going to change this. If it were not the case that the Conservative Party of Canada could run hecatomb of dead, stinking goats in most AB ridings and get them elected to parliament, AB might have some more leverage in the form of cabinet ministers and a louder voice in government.

    When Kenney says the goal is to get more “leverage” even though he knows a “Yes” vote change nothing, what does he mean? It is likely he means that he will stop at nothing to whip up separatist and anti-federal government sentiment among the AB electorate using the full force of the AB government and its propaganda machine. That is an extremely dangerous path to go down indeed.

  10. Given Kenney’s tendency for obfuscation and gaslighting, I’m his efforts to soft-sell the effectiveness of his equalization referendum will, with its expected defeat, given to Kenney getting all full of bluster and demanding PMJT surrender to his will for face divine retribution. It was Alberta that was attracted to Kenney’s pitbull personality, so disappoint the masses now?

    Reading through the letter section of the Edmonton Journal today, I happened on one that demanded Alberta give Kenney the respect he deserves. He is, after all, and great leader and builder. To abandon him now would be a betrayal that would allow the NDP (and maybe Satan) to breach Alberta and ruin it. UCP issues managers are everywhere, it would seem.

  11. Oh, look a squirrel, or cynically manipulating the politics of resentment narrative in order to deceive all those willing to be deceived by a political flim flam man using a tried and true cribbed methodology: “never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”

    “The Harper Conservatives, Kenney among them, brought in a new equalization formula with the 2007 budget. The more generous formula – up 20 per cent between 2006 and 2008 – also contained provisions on treatment of property taxation that delivered an even larger increase to Quebec. Quebec’s equalization payment went up 50 per cent from $4.8 billion to $7.2 billion over the two years.”

    The only place Mr. Kenney needs to be is inside a courtroom defending himself against criminal negligence charges.

  12. 22

    22 percent they say and only in Alberta? That maybe his approval rating but how much of an approval is it. is it luke warm, are those 22% absolutely besotted with him? It can make a difference at election time. Although his ratings are low now, by the time an election rolls around people will hold ‘noses and still vote for him and his party. Now if the party were to unload him who will replace him? They are all part of the problem. There maybe MLAs who would like to see him gone, but have they done anything to improve things? I’m sure they haven’t.

    It is doubtful Kenny will call an election at this time if for no other reason that all of them are enjoying their salaries and perks. They might also be defeated. Lets see how many people die in the next month and then check back on his ratings. Now there are people who will support him regardless how many die, but there are those, if their loved ones die, they some times change their minds about politicians.

  13. When BC’s Gordon Campbell fell to single-digits, it meant outrage over his HST campaign lie had crossed party lines (in BC’s notoriously polarized political landscape, no less): he had offended even his own partisans, so was turfed by his own caucus because bottom-line loyalty was, and always had been, to keep the “socialist hoards” from winning power, trumping any personality no matter how dominant. In contrast, at 22%, Kenney appears to have kept at least a core of support which probably uses the same anti-NDP metric, but with something else in addition, likely to do with faith—a lot of it. As the high-risk gamble on the Keystone pipeline showed, we know a substantial proportion of the UCP puts a lot of stock in prayer. They must be wearing out their knees these days.

    That assessment is plausibly congruent with the bifurcated factions the K-Boy stitched together expressly to defeat Alberta’s first NDP government, at the time acquitting itself very well. If both UCP factions are equally anti-NDP, but the remaining loyal one distinguishes itself by faith-based conviction, then it’s probable Kenney has found the nadir of his popularity—presumably the SoCon faction being willing to catch him at 22.

    More importantly— assuming any of this is even remotely accurate—, the other faction is probably just registering its dissatisfaction for the moment and will resume its support, holding its nose if needs, when it comes down to keeping the dreaded socialists from returning to power in about a year and a half from now.

    So much has happened since the Alberta right was stunned by losing power (really, for the first time in eight decades), it sometimes needs reminding that Kenney’s UCP is still on its maiden voyage, has yet barely more than half the governing experience of the single-term NDP, and has never before won an incumbency. For any faction to throw in the towel and hive off now would effectively render the UCP a failed experiment and surely ensure an NDP win in the spring of 2023.

    That’s a sobering thought for the right, and probably means some of Kenney’s currently furious co-partisans will cool off well before election day —something like Daniel Smith and a significant chunk of her Wild Rose caucus did when they skulked back into the decrepit ProgCon fold (too late, it turned out, to hold off Rachel Notley’s circling pack of Dippers). The risk of allowing the NDP to show off its mettle again, this time contrasting with blinding brilliance against the UCP’s botched handing of Covid, is too frightful for the right to contemplate re-inventing itself again for—what?—the third, fourth or fifth time?—anyway, a lengthening litany of failures.

    It’s gonna be hard enough for the united UCP (could redundancy be so sarcastically necessary?) to hang on to power. Divided it will surely fall but, at this point, it looks virtually impossible for it to find new leadership—singular or even plural. The important thing is, as beset its leader and considerable number of its MLAs are, they’re in power right now—they have at least that and, if they lose it, the party, its factions and its exiles—their whole movement— is in grave, existential trouble. None of them is likely to open fire in the cabin while UCP Airline is at 37,000 feet.

    Scratch all that if they lose much more altitude.

    It says a lot that Kenney’s still there at 22%: it’s hard to imagine an alternative leader presenting from the existing caucus who would be acceptable to the opposite faction. Thus, K-Boy appears to be hanging on, at least for the time being, by default. It’s even harder to imagine him rehabilitated at twice the popularity he has now. But, knowing his Joan of Arc tenacity, even 23 would be enough to skidoo on.

    (It’s an interesting exercise in comparative hubris that both Gordon Campbell and Jason Kenney invented their own anti-socialist parties, their leadership styles were/are personally domineering and self-righteous, their pursuits of far-right agendas obsessively blinkered and heedless of risk. The difference is that the BC right didn’t fear disunity by firing its leader, whereas the Alberta right does. In any case, both leaders proved to their respective electorates that they’re much better off with NDP governments—that is, after the Dippers clean up the mess these neo-rightists always leave behind.)

    1. You seriously miscalculate how much Albertans outside Edmonton proper despise your socialist governments. Kenney or another UCP leader will be elected before the NDP are elected again. Most of the mainstream press in Alberta is in full disconnect with Albertans as they try to push progressive narratives on Albertans. Albertans will press for a new UCP leader at the next leadership review as Kenney has shown himself to be repugnantly stubborn, operating with low information and wholly presumptive regarding conservatives. He has stooped to aligning himself with progressive media and narratives to save his neck!

      1. Marcel: There is no progressive mainstream media in Alberta. You are living in a fever dream if you imagine that there is. That said, you may well be right about the willingness – nay, enthusiasm – of Albertans, especially in rural areas, to swallow neoliberal codswallop. DJC

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