Alberta Premier Jason Kenney addresses the mostly maskless masses at the UCP AGM (Photo: United Conservative Party/Twitter).

Jason Kenney’s keynote speech at the United Conservative Party’s annual general meeting yesterday didn’t amount to much more than the usual Conservative bromides, empty promises, and unjustified braggadocio.

Typical headlines for the day’s efforts emphasized the unity theme: “Alberta premier urges unity among UCP members ahead of April leadership review,said the CBC. 

Mr. Kenney during his keynote speech yesterday (Photo: United Conservative Party/Facebook).

Under the circumstances faced by Mr. Kenney and the UCP, this is hardly an unexpected message. 

Mr. Kenney’s claim that he, and pretty much he alone, was responsible for saving us from the worst ravages of the pandemic seems farfetched given the incendiary role he played in creating the conditions for the fourth wave of COVID-19 at his now notorious Open for Summer news conference on June 18.

His vow to the members gathered at the Gray Eagle resort and casino on the Tsuut’ina Nation adjacent to Calgary’s southwest that Alberta is Back and the economy is about to boom is standard fare for such events, not worth much until there are some actual contracts to back up the vague corporate promises he cited.

“We’re havin’ the best year ever,” he exclaimed, arrestingly. After a couple of beats, though, he went on … “in venture capital.” 

“We are seeing an entire new industry taking root, filling up hospitals …” Whoops. That was supposed to be hotels full of people making movies. But it may have been, as one wag observed, the most accurate observation in the premier’s speech.

Certainly his apology to members for the current fractured and unpopular state of the party seemed glib and cursory, at least to your blogger, who has heard professional politicians in hot water rap off this kind of insincere balderdash before, summed up, as indeed Mr. Kenney did, with the plea for everyone to pull together and hope for better days.

“I hear you,” he said. “And I do so respectfully…” Mmmmm-hmmmm. This is the political version of “just move along, folks, nothing to see here.”

Mr. Kenney’s effort to make it sound as if his own and the party’s unpopularity with voters and even many members was because he took too hard a line on suppressing COVID-19 would be hilarious were it not tragic.

Then Wildrose-leader Danielle Smith’s unfortunate blunder bus in 2012 (Photo: John Archer, CBC News).

He is either deluded about what the UCP’s principal problem with voters is, or, more likely, disingenuously trying to have it both ways, dogwhistling to party’s the anti-vaxx base that it could have been worse from their perspective while telling the rest of us he deserves credit the province’s hospitals didn’t quite collapse at the height of the fourth wave. 

And, no, badgering U.S. President Joe Biden to bring the Keystone XL pipeline back to life isn’t going to work. 

Yet, with the exception of his not-quite-successful effort Friday to raise the bar on a leadership review, Mr. Kenney seems to have largely succeeded at pacifying most of the opposition to his continued leadership, if only for the moment. 

The most interesting, and entertaining, news of the day was that Danielle Smith, the other former leader of the Wildrose Party, will challenge Brian Jean for the leadership of the UCP in the event Mr. Kenney fails to keep himself from being pushed into quitting.

Former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Having already committed political suicide once, why not a second time? I refer, of course, to Dec. 17, 2014, a day that shall live in infamy with former Wildrosers, when Ms. Smith led a tattered remnant of the party back to the bosom of the Progressive Conservative Party.

That was when Mr. Jean emerged from his first retirement to save the Wildrose Party for a spell. He returned to the life of a gentleman of leisure in Fort McMurray after Mr. Kenney’s sharp practices ensured he did not inherit the leadership of the UCP. Now he looks to be preparing a second coming. 

If Ms. Smith proceeds with her rekindled ambition, nothing will prevent the frequent use of the term “Kamikaze Candidate” on social media, and questions are also bound to be asked about who will do the wrap for her campaign bus this time. 

It will also be interesting to see, as a commenter on this blog observed, if the mostly maskless delegates manage to spark a fifth wave of COVID-19 just in time for the winter holiday season. 

Not that I was paying attention: A note to readers from the author

A couple of the lads who tested for new black belt ranks with the author in St. Alberta yesterday, with Sensei Manuel Desa, in jacket and tie.

The observations in this post were mostly based, well after the fact, on news accounts by reporters who were at the UCP AGM and the party’s own highlights video, which presumably didn’t include what the premier’s boys in short pants judged to be their boss’s worst moments. 

I would have loved to have been there, but even if the UCP hadn’t been seemingly striving to ban progressive media from the meeting, I had other fish to fry. 

I have been training hard these past few weeks for an important milestone in karate, my fifth-degree black belt test, which took place today at the Desa School of Karate in St. Albert. So I was in the dojo much of the day today working on something that really feels like a big accomplishment, especially considering that my 70th birthday fast approaches. 

The day was a success and my name now hangs in the “godan” section of the dojo wall. I am extremely pleased with this development.

As a result, I gave very little thought to what Premier Kenney had to say for himself until yesterday evening. I certainly wasn’t following it in real time. And I’m not sorry.

Join the Conversation


  1. Don’t expect anything from these pretend conservatives and Reformers, in the UCP, other than empty promises, supporting their rich corporate friends, doing the priciest shenanigans, which cost us billions of dollars, and gutting the essential things that keep the province going, like healthcare, just so they can privatize it, while costs go up for Albertans. Peter Lougheed, a true Conservative, had no use, let alone lacked any praise for these Reformers. The more Albertans are duped by these pretend conservatives and Reformers, the worse off Alberta will be. It was the same way under Ralph Klein. Peter Lougheed, and MLAs from his government, also didn’t speak too kindly about Ralph Klein. Why should they? Ralph Klein was another pretend conservative and Reformer who ruined Peter Lougheed’s legacy. Too many Albertans were duped by this. They were also duped by the UCP. The UCP would absolutely love to finish Ralph Klein’s idea of having private for profit healthcare in Alberta, and we would be worse off. Albertans would be suckers and fall for this. Where is the sense with this?

  2. On the surface it seems like those UCP members are a polite bunch, at least in front of the TV cameras and their leader. However, I suspect they are more candid and critical when neither are around. Those who want Kenney to go didn’t need to do much at this annual meeting, except make sure the leadership review date was advanced and well just talk to people privately.

    I suppose those that nominally still support Kenney because of their position in caucus or cabinet are at a bit of a disadvantage at this point in this undeclared leadership race. So you see people like Danielle Smith try to get off to an early start. I doubt Conservative voters will easily forgive her, but stranger things have happened.

    With the strong recovery of the price of oil, it is likely the Alberta economy will improve. Perhaps this is one reason Kenney is still hhanging on, but I doubt it will improve quickly and soon enough to save his bacon. Also, there are many non economic reasons past UCP voters and other Albertans are so unhappy with Kenney.

    Lastly, while Kenney can be a good speaker to such a partisan crowd, he really doesn’t do contrition very well. His grudging apologies do not come across as very sincere or heartfelt. Real contrition might indicate he has learned something and the potential for growth, instead it sort of comes across as a perfunctory thing he knows he has to do.

  3. Congratulations on your fifth degree black belt. I fully appreciate what you are doing because I have similar goals but much more modest. I am a decade older than you and walk a mile and a half with my mongrels at 5:00 and my goal is to be able to chin myself 10 times by my 80th which is next week. I guess you and I get as much exercise as Kenney’s jaw.

  4. Excellent column, Dave–very smart and very funny, though you have a lot of material to work with. You should be doing standup in Ponoka. You could open by shattering a brick with your head. Albertans love props comics. But seriously–Danielle Smith? Really?

  5. During the Lougheed and Getty years our family were all card carrying P.C. supporters. I continued to renew my membership after Klein came along. I had known him since the early 1960s and was interested in seeing what lies he would be spreading. I got invited to all sorts of things , but wasn’t dumb enough to waste $250. on one of his fund raising dinners.
    I did however attend breakfast meetings and the one the irked me the most was one in St. Albert with Gary Mar ,Health minister as the speaker. There were six nurses in the audience who asked him some simple questions about what the Klein government was doing to our health care system. I will never forget the stupid way he adverted their questions. It brought me back to my school years when I beat up bullies who bothered other students. I found they were cowards and easy to stop. My sister often says I wonder how many students would still be alive today if they had a guy like you to defend them? she was upset about how many had committed suicide.

    Gary Mar will never know how close he came that day to getting his face slapped. I really had to fight to control my actions. I met all sorts of other Albertans who were doing the same thing I was. Snooping to see what these fools were up to.
    One guy told me that he was at one of their $250. a plate dinners in Calgary. After Klein’s drunken, full of lies, speech they lined up to ask questions. A retired oilmen asked Klein why they were giving away all our oil wealth and taxes to these rich foreign oil corporations. Klein asked him if he was another one of those damn Left-Wing nuts and began hurling all sorts of sarcastic comments at him. He didn’t say a thing he got out his PC card ripped it up, walked up to Klein and threw it at his feet and about 30 other people did the same thing. While they were walking out Klein and his ignorant friends were hurling sarcastic comments at all them. He left also.
    At lunch one day I was telling a retired RCMP friend about what I was doing and about how I had almost slapped Gary Mar across the face. He suggested that, that wouldn’t have been very smart. He also told me to take note of who was at these meetings and I asked why. He said I think you will find that about 80 to 85% will be ignorant seniors. Seniors are easy to fool and Klein is playing on their stupidity to support him. He was absolutely right.

    Senior friends who worked at the polling stations began telling us that the only people voting in Alberta were seniors and they were the ones keeping Klein in power. My own father said “I only vote conservative, and there is nothing conservative about Klein so I won’t vote”.
    Now these same ignorant seniors are the ones supporting Kenney and Ron was right. The pictures I saw last night of the gong show in Calgary showed the audience of mainly seniors. Ron passed away in 2015 but I think I can hear him saying I told you so. Seniors have a horrible reputation for being stupid and easy to fool.

    1. ALAN K. SPILLER: These seniors fool the younger generations to vote for these pretend conservatives and Reformers, and we are no better off.

      1. ANONYMOUS You are absolutely right and we are hearing a lot of young people saying they wished they hadn’t listened to them. Lets hope they won’t listen to them again.

    2. You know, I think that the $250 price tag to attend that dinner would have been worth it just to see Klein get told his fortune in public. Even if the food was lousy.

  6. Congratulations! I wasn’t paying attention to the UCP either. I was washing my hair or something.

    I did notice a photo of a bunch of amply-proportioned white guys and Danielle Smith.

  7. No surprise.

    Jason Kenney is an empty suit. Always has been. Good glad hander though.

    Alas, Alberta needs a responsible and an effective Leader. Being a good glad hander does not cut it in a crisis. Albertans found that out the hard way over the past two years.

  8. You accomplished a karate milestone at the Desa School. Congratulations to you and the other fifth degree candidates. You look great sporting your black belts.

  9. From what my ‘ears on the wall’ have relayed to me is that the UCP convention was not exactly a shiteshow, but a pretty close thing.

    Kenney’s keynote did not inspire. He is still acting like it’s 2019 and he owns the place. He spoke of “unity” and needing a “firm hand” at the wheel, but also for “flexibility”. He did bring up his favourite “best ever…” several times, as if he thought it would get a laugh. But for the most part it did look like a tired and bored premier speaking to a tired and bored room. They know the end is nigh, but the problem just will not leave. Perhaps Kenney is waiting for a big fat gift card?

    Holding political parties for ransom has been done before. Mulroney infamously did it to the PCs prior to his departure, and the rise of Kim Campbell. It was the worst kept secret that the party paid for their big problem to leave. In the aftermath, Mulroney made a point of swearing up and down that he did not fleece the party, citing that the party was financially sound. Well $3.5 M less sound but still sound.

    So, Kenney’s has already established that he believes we all live in a transactional universe, and he is prepared to use any financial escape to save his hide. Or demand any financial escape from the unwilling. It’s not like there was a revolt when Kenney bankrolled $1.3 B into a pipeline to no where. And he has been freely rewarding everyone who is loyal to him with positions and lavish pay packets. Mulroney did the same right up to the end.

    The fun is just getting started. One wonders if there will be anyone left in Alberta when it’s all over.

  10. Oh, the parlous state of Oilberduh politics. Cue ominous music….

    Did Kenney actually try to claim he “saved” us from “worst of Covid-19”? OMG. Imagine what would have happened if Kenney had followed his gut and ignored medical advice in the FIRST wave, instead of just all the following waves….

    Kenney calling for “unity” means “please don’t kick me out.” I was hoping for more delegates with actual backbones, but that’s too much even for hoping. I should have remembered that those folks would have wanted reassurance and comforting words, not revolutionary fervour. It’s easy to be brave until you actually face the “opposition.” (Yes, that’s the voice of experience.) At least they voted down the “make it harder” motion to trigger the leadership review.

    So Kenney is probably going to survive the accelerated leadership review. Good news and bad news; we’re probably stuck with this loser till 2023, but he can’t change enough to do the smart thing—ANY smart thing. We’re still on track to have a responsible, intelligent government when the anti-Kenney backlash puts Notley back in the big chair.

    Kenney is a one-trick pony. He showed that at the big announcement of the $10/day child care program. Trying to kick the guy who’s offering big money to help ordinary people was petty, spiteful and childish. That’s Kenney. He simply can’t rise to a challenge. Instead, he drags the challenge down into the gutter.

    Danielle Smith was never more than a talking head. Picked to lead the original Wildrose “party” (a collection of pissed-off rural folks and a big stack of Calgary oil dollars) because she was a moderately telegenic news reader on a Calgary TV news broadcast, Smith never brought anything more to the leadership. If she can cooperate with Brian Jean long enough to kick Kenney out, we’ll have an Oilberduh story, “Revenge of the Has-Beens.” I don’t expect it to be a best-seller.

    Congratulations on your fifth-degree black belt. That’s an excellent reason to not listen to the UCP gong show. Personally, I never, EVER, listen to politicians live. I always wait till the following day and read the analyses. Much easier on the digestive system….

  11. I’ve seen some speculation about a snap election. I don’t know if it means anything, but in driving around my home in NW Calgary last week, I saw a pickup with campaign signs for Sonya Savage in the bed. Interesting, no?

  12. Regarding an earlier contribution that declared that seniors are stupid and easily duped, I will agree and go further.

    They are not only easily duped and stupid, they are imbued with hatred, insanity, and a confounding degree of fear that leaves them desperate to cling onto any supposed savior. Why is that?

    I will argue that a lifetime of disappointment has made them this way. Disappointment over children who ignore them, friends that have departed, or opportunities lost or denied have made them angry. Angry at everyone and everything.

    I recall a conversation with someone who worked at an longterm care home, who related to me his experiences with seniors. They are an ungrateful lot, constantly complaining and never thankful that society has not shoved them onto an ice flow, allowing Nature to take its justifiable course. This is what seniors truly are. Worse, when it an election comes around, it’s all about “stopping the youth from taking everything”. It was deemed that there should be nothing left for others, establishing seniors well as the most envious and entitled group in society. They hate immigrants because they take too much; they hate youth because they need too much, and they hate those who care for seniors because…as one can see they are truly insane.

    Yet, they are the most reliable voting block. They will vote for anyone — anyone — who will be a conduit for their anger and hatreds. And along comes some slicker who tells them all the right things, while fleecing them and everyone else. Of course, why should seniors care? They hope they are not living when the shite hits the fan and all is lost. Other people’s problems, of course.

    I mentioned before an encounter I had with a car that was festooned with bumper stickers. Among the stickers the two that stood out to me read “I Support JASON KENNEY” and “JESUS IS LORD”. This car was owned by an elderly couple, the woman driving, while the man sat in the passenger seat, with a respirator attached to his face. This encounter was years ago, but they fit the description of the typical UCP voter: old, angry, and judging by their acclaim for Jesus, easily duped.

    This is the reality we all face, folks. Seniors will be the death of everyone.

    1. Dear “Just Me:” Yes, somewhat younger versions can be seen sporting stickers on their RVs boasting “we are spending our children’s inheritance” oblivious to the fact the generation previous to theirs had paid it forward by building the schools, roads, and peaceful society which had allowed them to prosper.

    1. Thanks, Mickey. Yes, some bruises, and it hurts to stand up if I’ve been sitting for a while. Still, a great sense of accomplishment. DJC

  13. As Twitter talk turns to whether the theme song at the AGM was stolen from BTO or used with permission, and whether a song about slacking off was a wise choice, may I suggest the following next time around, played by Stephen Harper’s band (at least the ones not presently incarcerated), with Jason Kenney on lead vocals, singing the high parts?

    Although who am I to argue that this one was not entirely appropriate for the Liquor Cabinet?

  14. Congratulations David now we know that none of these ignorant members of the UCP had better mess with you.

    1. Take it from me, a choke hold from a karate master can make one’s eyes pop. An experience no one would wish even on a deserving Kenney follower or the man himself. A fifth degree black belt could do it.

      1. Not all black belts are created equal, Tom. And karate should begin and end with respect, as we frequently say, so choking out people you disagree with, even conservatives, is definitely not done! DJC

  15. Congratulations David that is quite something. I can imagine how much work that involves.

    As far as our government and the UCP I believe I have said all that I can. It is in my opinion a complete display of lack of maturity and complete collapse of common sense and integrity. I am just mind frozen with what we have witnessed in the last couple of years and the pandemic. I think we advanced quite a bit in terms of resilience because it has not been easy at all to even just try to understand where these people come from. Nothing they have changed worked well, never mind the pandemic circus including the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED in the summer. But they still have work to do and that of course is to try to destroy any regulations or barriers for big businesses so that they can do whatever they want in Alberta including not paying taxes in arrear or worse abandon clean up jobs.
    But that is the UCP solution to implement their Alberta Advantage garbage.

  16. BRAGGADOCIO definition:

    Kenney entered the weekend bearing low popularity ratings and attacks on his leadership. But he told reporters Sunday that he heard nothing but support in Calgary.

    “I feel more confident about my leadership today than, frankly, I have in a very long time,” Kenney said during a news conference.

  17. DJC: I’m somewhat uncomfortable with the “elder-bashing” in some of the comments you have allowed through your personal moderation filter. You — our host — are self-acknowledged as a “senior” by most definitions, being on the cusp of the ripe old age of 70. I and many other commenters here are also over 60, and so meet at least some definitions of a “senior”.

    I think there is indeed a certain trend towards a level of unsophisticated parochialism inherent in some demographics, but to tar all seniors — aka people who did not die before 50 — with the same brush does all of us a disservice. The views being targeted are widely prevalent in younger people as well, especially those without a university education. But let’s not insult people with delayed mortality simply because they’re older.

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Jerry, but I do try to err on the side of free expression. You, of course, don’t see the stuff that I spike. DJC

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