Alberta Politics
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, back in the day (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Interesting times for Jason Kenney: Premier’s loyalists fail to defang rebel constituency associations

Posted on November 20, 2021, 1:31 am
3 mins

The motion that would have quickly solved Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s most pressing political problem failed to pass last night at the United Conservative Party’s annual general meeting near Calgary.

The constitutional amendment proposed by the Edmonton-North West UCP constituency association, which is headed by Premier Kenney’s communications manager, would have raised the number of constituency associations required to demand a quick leadership review from 22 to 29. 

George Clark, the #Kudatah guy (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

The problem with the present situation from Mr. Kenney’s perspective is that 22 rebellious constituency association boards have already voted to require an early review.

It wasn’t that the nays had it. The constitutional amendment received the support of 57 per cent of the UCP members voting on the resolution. 

Alas for the premier, the UCP constitution requires a 75-per-cent supermajority for constitutional change. 

That’s a high bar – too high even for a master manipulator like Premier Kenney, it turned out last night.

While this certainly won’t be the end of Mr. Kenney, it raises the tantalizing possibility, suggested by veteran political columnist Graham Thomson yesterday, that it may offer a glimpse of the beginning of the end. 

We’ll see what happens. Mr. Kenney already faces a leadership review in April, so moving it ahead by a few weeks may not make it much more than an inconvenience. Or he may yet find another way to derail his foes’ effort. 

Veteran political commentator Graham Thomson (Photo: Provenance uncertain).

In the meantime, according to reports coming from the convention floor at the Grey Eagle Casino on the Tsuut’ina Nation adjacent to the city of Calgary, George Clark of the Calgary-East UCP constituency association was on his feet supporting Mr. Kenney, arguing 22 seats was just too low a threshold. 

Can this be the same George Clark who promised in 2016 the NDP government could be toppled with a snap of the fingers by a visit to the Queen in London, a bloodless #Kudatah?

If so, that wasn’t necessarily the only irony of the AGM’s first night. The CBC reported that a group of anti-vaccine protestors calling for the premier’s head – once the kind of people whose support he would have courted – blocked the doors for a spell, preventing some delegates from making it into the hall in time for the debate on the constitutional resolution.

We await developments. 

13 Comments to: Interesting times for Jason Kenney: Premier’s loyalists fail to defang rebel constituency associations

  1. Bob Raynard

    November 20th, 2021

    I wonder if this will be a super-spreader event. The UCP rules for the AGM say everyone must wear a mask except when eating or drinking. The background of the CBC photo shows a lot of people sitting at tables with no masks. It appears that as long as you have a water bottle in front of you, participants can play the drinking card.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/ucp-motion-aimed-at-preventing-early-leadership-review-fails-to-pass-1.6256669

    https://static.unitedconservative.ca/Public-Health-AGM-2021.pdf

    Reply
  2. brett

    November 20th, 2021

    Perhaps taking away the grassroots option for a supposedly grass roots party was just a little too much for the great unwashed and unconnected members of the UCP Party.

    Maybe, just maybe, they got oh so tired of being taken advantage of and allowing themselves to be misled by the Premiers political fixit men.

    Reply
  3. !?

    November 20th, 2021

    “…the UCP constitution dates back to the days when the grassroots populist philosophy of the Wildrose Party was still influential in Alberta conservative circles, and requires a 75-per-cent supermajority for constitutional change.”

    75% is from Alberta’s Societies Act, RSA 2000, c S-14 @ s. 1(d)(i)(B)
    https://www.canlii.org/en/ab/laws/stat/rsa-2000-c-s-14/latest/rsa-2000-c-s-14.html

    UCP Bylaws @ 10.2 say “majority”. I guess somebody dropped it on this one, or was delusional in thinking he could get 75%, or was purposefully trying to humiliate Kenney knowing this was going to fall way short of the mark.
    https://static.unitedconservative.ca/United-Conservative-Party-Bylaws-Approved-October-17.-2020.pdf

    Reply
  4. Just Me

    November 20th, 2021

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if all some of those pro-Kenney partisans, who received paid memberships and a laundry list of motions to support, decided to just toss their support and vote for an early leadership review?

    Judging by the weirdly surprised look on Kenney’s face in the graphic, he’s the most surprised person of all.

    The next step will be a snap election, called very soon, with the purpose of threatening the entire UCP to get behind the leader, or else he burns it all down.

    Gotta stop Notley and her commie horde. That was the counter in the backrooms and the hallways in response to those who want to get rid of Kenney tout suite. Don’t play into her grubby hands and the Globalists. We’ll be in lockdowns forever if you do that — get behind Kenney, or GTFO.

    Or, to avoid an election, Kenney makes a deal to resign and leave, provided they make it worth his interest. To avoid and election, what would the UCP agree to? Allison Redford is famously believed to have received $2.5 million when she departed. And back in the day, Brian Mulroney received a cool $3.5 million from the PCs to take a walk. Surely it must be worth that much to get rid of Kenney? Maybe more?

    We’ll see how desperate they really are to heave Premier Crying & Screaming Midget overboard.

    Reply
  5. Just Me

    November 20th, 2021

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if some of those pro-Kenney partisans, who received paid memberships and a laundry list of motions to support, decided to just toss their support and vote for an early leadership review?

    Judging by the weirdly surprised look on Kenney’s face in the graphic, he’s the most surprised person of all.

    The next step will be a snap election, called very soon, with the purpose of threatening the entire UCP to get behind the leader, or else he burns it all down.

    Gotta stop Notley and her commie horde. That was the counter in the backrooms and the hallways in response to those who want to get rid of Kenney tout suite. Don’t play into her grubby hands and the Globalists. We’ll be in lockdowns forever if you do that — get behind Kenney, or GTFO.

    Or, to avoid an election, Kenney makes a deal to resign and leave, provided they make it worth his interest. To avoid and election, what would the UCP agree to? Allison Redford is famously believed to have received $2.5 million when she departed. And back in the day, Brian Mulroney received a cool $3.5 million from the PCs to take a walk. Surely it must be worth that much to get rid of Kenney? Maybe more?

    We’ll see how desperate they really are to heave Premier Crying & Screaming Midget overboard.

    Reply
  6. Scotty on Denman

    November 20th, 2021

    Win some, lose some, Kenney still has Magister Ludicrous cards up his sleeve. His failure to game his own party’s constitution does stand out, though. Beginning of the end? One can only hope.

    I’m intrigued at discovering here that UCPer George Clark had suggested that “the [Alberta] NDP government [2015-19]could be toppled with a snap of the fingers by a visit to the Queen in London,” UK, Canada’s Sovereign Head of State. The hypocrisy illustrated is not particularly surprising: it’s a CPC-cum-UCP tradition that goes all the way back to—well, back to the beginning of the CPC—and has persisted all the way to—well, right now, leaving no expectation of change in the foreseeable. But when was the last time the Monarch was petitioned by a political party to interfere in a purely partisan matter? To answer that we’d have to go back all the way to—uh—well, back to the CPC minority government of 2008…

    …back to 2008 when prime minister Harper bullied the Queen’s Governor General, Her Excellency Michèle Jean, into granting a parliamentary prorogation in order to avoid a confidence vote that would have toppled his government. Not only was this an outrageous affront to respectful decorum normally accorded the Queen (this occasion being the first exception since, I suppose, Queen Anne—last Monarch of the Royal House of Stuart—who refused to grant assent to a bill duly passed by Parliament in 1708), Harper’s affront looked all the worse because a CPC bill had, of course, already been tabled AND three parties comprising altogether a majority in the Commons (Liberal Official Opposition plus the NDP and Bloc Québécois) had already sent the GG their written commitment to assume government in coalition when (as it should have been) the CPC lost parliamentary confidence. Instead of waiting for the confidence test to decide the matter, the GG appeared to have been sweated into granting the most unusual prorogation. Can you imagine sweating the Queen? Wasn’t so long ago you’d lose you head for much less. At the snap of the fingers…

    The GG allowed the CPC minority to survive. An outraged Liberal (I can’t recall if he was an MP, Senator or unelected party official) then threatened to petition the Queen herself to protest what could only look like partisan favouritism which, naturally, is not constitutionally permitted the Sovereign or her representative governors. Thus, to stay in power, Harper either gamed or cheated the system (we can’t know for sure: the GG, like the Queen, never explains); he also offended Royal Protocol and, in the opinion of many, fomented a constitutional crisis. Nevertheless, Harper finally—after two minorities—subsequently won a majority in 2011. It was the CPC’s first and, hopefully, last. More lasting, unfortunately, is the question whether Harper’s skulduggery could be used as precedent by some future rotter.

    Ultimately the Liberal’s petition threat was withdrawn: after all, it was too late because parliament had already been prorogued (as it always is, but usually at a session’s or term’s end, with no bills on the table, not to escape the democratic will of the people—that is, done properly); and the petition itself risked compounding the original affront by putting the Queen on the spot. That’s something one never does, of course including any of her governors who represent her person. The GG, naturally, did not disclose her reasoning, but the circumstances and outcome were enough to condemn Harper’s plainly improper prorogation request.

    Thus it would appear that George Clark’s threat to petition the Queen was as empty and moot as his attempt to protect Kenney by moving the leadership review goalposts in his favour. The difference between his and Harper’s offence is that Clark’s was overtly partisan in nature, the petition intended to complain that a party he didn’t like was elected by voters, whereas Harper’s involved a number of likely offences of protocols and process, not least that of flirting with constitutional crisis for his own and his party’s sake, and at the expense or endangerment of the nation. In comparison, Clark ranks as twerp—essentially harmless.

    I would never say that provincial lieutenant governors are subordinate to federal federal governors general—each province is itself sovereign and, like units in any federated state, relinquishes the minimum amount of its sovereignty in order the federation can function. Because Harper’s affront doesn’t otherwise ever happen at any level, it’s hard to say what is normal practice with respect any ordination between federal and provincial governors. But I can certainly imagine the Queen asking: “Who?…a provincial?…feck oaf!…send it away and bring me my tea and corgi biscuits.”

    It’s also hard to know whether Harper merely gamed the system in this case, or trespassed beyond mere gaming into something more serious —as his party was proved to do with regard electoral regulations (convictions, fines and at least one prison sentence were eventually meted out to the party and members of his government). Certainly a constitutional crisis is serious—and, as we see in the USA these days, so is chauvinistic, partisan flouting of law solely to beggar a partisan rival—that is, to win at any cost. Unfortunately, it’s the habit of reactionaries, the way we live now, to self-righteously justify what is fair revenge for not winning enough votes democratically cast.

    Kenney’s UCP, no surprise, is the scion of such meta-gaming: as a CPC MP, he learned from the worst who, now retired from public politics, awards this dubious crown to you-know-who.

    Reply
  7. Jim

    November 20th, 2021

    Kenney’s done, but seems to be the only person that doesn’t realize it. It would be amusing to watch if there weren’t so many tragic consequences for Albertans.

    For accuracy the protest was against the vaccine passport and mandates, characterizing the group as anti-vaccine is a bit of a stretch. Not everyone who wants a choice in taking Trump’s big beautiful vaccines is not an anti-vaxxer.

    Reply
  8. Former Albertan

    November 20th, 2021

    Wait, is Premier Stumble and Bumble TM swirling down the drain plug? The great leader cannot count, and so much for high political skills. I think the knives are out.

    Reply
  9. Just Me

    November 20th, 2021

    So, the word on the streets is that Danielle Smith wants to be leader of the UCP?

    Really?

    Last time this happened, she crossed the floor and joined the PCs.

    I smell another Kamikaze candidate.

    Wash. Rinse. Spin. Repeat. Hasn’t everyone figured out this routine yet?

    Reply
  10. Alan

    November 20th, 2021

    After all the sarcastic comments that were hurled at Kenney by members of his own party now they are kissing his ass and giving him standing ovations. I love how stupid they are. Did you notice in the pictures from this gong show in Calgary most of the fools in the audience are seniors? You can bet they were hand picked by Kenney like I was told Klein used to do.
    It proves what retired police officers have been telling us for years Seniors have a horrible reputation for being easy to fool.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      November 21st, 2021

      ALAN: You certainly are correct. I have no use for these pretend conservatives and Reformers who are undoing the great things Peter Lougheed did for Alberta. They have fooled a lot of Albertans, both young and old. The older generations are telling the younger generations to support these pretend conservatives and Reformers, and Alberta is no better off. Where is the sense in that?

      Reply
  11. Zalm

    November 21st, 2021

    The end of the beginning?

    I’m actually hopeful this is just the intermission. It would be kind of nice to have the schizophrenia of the UCP on full display through the party convention and the next election, with Kenney’s passive-aggressive Bullwinkle character perpetually in the ring with whoever the TERDs (thought-exclusionary reactionary dinosaurs) put up against him to do the perpetual Popeye-Bluto bashfest. Doesn’t guarantee Notley and the NDP anything, of course, but it lets all Albertans see honestly what the choice is. Say what you will about Albertans (and most of the rest of Canada says rather a lot that is not very complimentary) you can’t call them blindly stupid, at least not for long.

    Reply
  12. Dave

    November 21st, 2021

    In the absence of anything better, I would take that vote on the early leadership review to provide some indication of how party members feel about Kenney’s leadership. In fact given all the efforts of Kenney to stack this meeting with supporters, I suspect actual support within the party is even lower than 57%. I believe probably somewhat under 50%.

    This makes sense. You don’t get to 22% overall support without losing a great deal of support within your own party. I think it is also becoming fairly clear even to party loyalists, that Kenney is dragging down support for the UCP which still polls in the low 30% range. The UCP was to a large degree a marriage of convenience between right wing ideologues and people who wanted to get back in power. Remarkably, Kenney now seems to have alienated a number of both. They do have different reasons for wanting him gone, but as it gets closer to the next election some of those reasons become much more urgent.

    Perhaps Kenney is one of those bosses who are the last to know. Maybe those around him were afraid to tell him how bad things were politically, or maybe they were true believers and in denial. Maybe Kenney was in denial too. However, the failure of his ploy to delay the leadership review should serve as a huge wake up call for him.

    Regardless, I expect Kenney will put on a brave face and continue on for a while. However, sometime in the next few months, before the advanced leadership review, I feel he will take the proverbial walk in the snow, which is generally fairly abundant in much of Alberta around this time of year.

    Reply

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