Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, his lapel pin drooping toward the distress position, a week before his secret speech to UCP political staffers (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

In a secret pep talk to his troops Tuesday, revealed yesterday by the CBC, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said he’s only sticking around as leader of the United Conservative Party to keep the “lunatics” from “trying to take over the asylum.”

In May 2020, Mr. Kenney’s social media flying monkeys excoriated Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan for having referred to charter and religious school operators who refused to follow Alberta’s curriculum as “nutbars.”

Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

“Ole Gab,” as former Kenney issues manager Matt Wolf liked to call Mr. McGowan in his characteristic personal attacks, was “insulting thousands of Albertans” with this take, said the UCP’s United Alberta sock-puppet Twitter account.

Now Mr. Kenney is calling similar numbers of his own party’s members not just lunatics, but extreme, hateful, intolerant, bigoted and holders of crazy views! 

What a difference a couple of years can make! 

Well, to pile on the cliches, that was then and this is now, and desperate times call for desperate measures. 

Heaven knows – or Premier Kenney does, anyway – these are desperate times, with his once and future leadership rival Brian Jean halfway back into caucus after a March 15 by-election victory in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche with a plan to replace the foundering former federal cabinet minister as premier and “save” the province from the NDP. 

Mr. Jean, presumably, will be sworn in as an MLA eventually.

“I don’t say this stuff publicly, these are just kooky people generally,” Mr. Kenney told his (mostly) loyal staffers, gathered together to rally their spirits before the premier’s upcoming day of destiny, the leadership review he faces at the party’s annual general meeting in Red Deer on April 9 and the controversial mail-in vote that will follow it.

Kenney rival and former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean (Photo: Brian Jean/Flickr).

Apparently his five-minute inspirational was supposed to be confidential, on the QT, just between them and him – so, naturally, somebody at the meeting recorded it on their smartphone and leaked it to the national broadcaster. 

One imagines a mole hunt worthy of James Jesus Angleton is now underway among the ranks of the UCP’s myriad spokesthingies! Unless, of course, there’s something to the school of thought Mr. Kenney had his comments intentionally leaked to save the UCP’s vote in Calgary by demonizing his party’s rural base. This kind of rhetorical three-dimensional chess is possible, I suppose, but not very likely.

In the meantime, tout le monde political Alberta is analysing  – and laughing at – Mr. Kenney’s bons mots. 

He claimed to have considered quitting in the face of opposition from his party base. “What’s the easiest path for me? Just to take a walk. I don’t need this job. I could go to the private sector, have my evenings, weekends off,” he said according to the CBC’s report. 

Can’t you just see Jason Kenney spending long, reflective weekends … doing what exactly? The man has no life other than politics! Anyone who believes this whopper doesn’t know much about Mr. Kenney! 

He continued: “I thought a lot about it, honestly, before Christmas, and I decided that would be grossly irresponsible because if we were to have a leadership election in this context, it would, I think, permanently divide us.” And that, Mr. Kenney said – queue the menacing theme music – would “hand the NDP the next election.”

Well, once more unto the breach dear friends, once more!

Since it was a private gathering, Mr. Kenney felt confident enough to all but admit he can’t win an honest election against Mr. Jean. “Normal internal politics I can handle. I can handle that. There’s nothing normal about this.”

This explains the switecheroo to the latest version of the UCP voting scheme – which Mr. Jean called “a travesty” the day before yesterday – that will allow members signed up by March 15 to mail in their ballots until May 11. 

Since it’s now legal in Alberta for folks with deep pockets to pay their supporters’ membership fees – and for memberships to be purchased for people who haven’t even given permission for their identities to be used – it’s thought by Mr. Jean’s supporters the chance a fraudulent election result will be announced on May 18 is high. 

On Wednesday, the former Wildrose Party leader beaten by Mr. Kenney for the UCP leadership in the party’s tainted 2017 election said in a Facebook video he would consider legal action to challenge the rule change. He said he would have more to say about his plans yesterday. 

There was no official word from the Jean Camp yesterday about next moves, but I understand they have all but given up on the idea of a legal challenge and will settle for a promise of arbitration in the event of a dispute instead.

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30 Comments

  1. Well, there. Kenney said it — what everyone has been thinking about the UCP for a long time.

    Kooks. Idiots. Morons. Extremists. It all there and laid bare, in Kenney’s own words.

    It’s come to the point where political hacks can’t trust other hacks to keep a secret. But these are the days where loyality is a scarce and hard won commodity, that can be easily lost on a whim. Kenney’s unfortunate choice of words gets caught on the audio record feature of someone’s Apple Watch. Played back, it reveals the levels of darkness and dementia that has taken over Alberta’s peaceful kingdom.

    Worse, Kenney blurts out that he doesn’t really need to be premier and could gladly do without. But why does he fight so hard to remain premier?

    To protect Alberta from the crazies in his own party. It seems that Kenney doesn’t care much for those rural folk, either.

    I’m going to need a super-sized bag of popcorn now.

  2. The UCP are the worst provincial government Alberta has ever had. It’s just better that they are gone. We need a return to the type of government that Peter Lougheed had, and that was with Rachel Notley.

    1. I think William Aberhart still has that title.
      Lt Governor John Bowen referred a fascist & draconian media control bill to Supreme Court.
      Kenny hasn’t gone there … yet.

        1. DJC: I was actually thinking of all 3 of the bills Lt. Governor Bowen refused royal assent on; the media control bill was just the one I used as an example.

          I suspect Premier Kenney is not foolish enough to give Lt. Governor Lakhani cause to use the reserve powers, but as you and other commentators have noted (Mr. Thomson for example), things are getting rather … weird in Alberta politics.

          I would note that if you read the Letters Patent under which the Governor General and Lt Governors derive their reserve powers, Vice-regal representative have the power of dismissal of first ministers.

          One near example is Lt. Governor David Lam of B.C., who stated he would have used that power to dismiss Bill Vander Zalm if Mr. Vander Zlam had not resigned over his real estate conflict of interest scandal.

          The bar is very high for the dismissal power, but with the “through the looking glass” state of Alberta politics, who knows?

  3. Yes, Kenney the king of the drive by smears is reving up his engine and telling us that those who oppose him are extremists. Well he has used that line against other parties that opposed him for such a long time so it is getting a bit stale. Of course in his desperation he is now using the same attack lines against his own party members.

    Yeah, there are some extremists in there, but there are plenty of reasons more moderate conservatives could also be against Kenney. For instance his unpopularity, his lack of integrity and his incompetence.

    The well was poisoned by Kenney some time ago. First there was Kenney’s kamikaze puppet candidate in the last leadership race, then there was allegations of voting irregularities that are still being investigated by the RCMP and lest we forget that grassroots guarantee to his own party which he repudiated before the ink on the big fake plastic prop was even dry. One could see why even his own party members would have serious trust issues with him and none of these involves extremism.

    We probably need to start a pool soon. How many UCP MLAs are going to come out against Kenney and if he does manage to engineer a win in the leadership review, how many will leave the UCP? He may manage to save his job, but if he does it will probably destroy the UCP.

    It really is too bad for his party that Kenney does not have a profession he could fall back on or he is not quite old enough to start collecting that nice pension he will get for all his years as a Federal MP. He really should get a life, but unfortunately he still needs the job and the lifestyle he has become accustomed to.

  4. So tell me, if the Yoo See Pee is stocked with flakes, nuts, and loonies as the dear leader claims , how can Albertans vote for such a creation, knowing by the great leader’s sermon that there is no one truly sane at the helm of state.

    Perhaps even more startling is the great leader’s willingness to insult his own followers. This surely demonstrates that what the unbelievers have thought is so. The Ultimate Crap Party is indeed a party of fools. And/or Jason Kenney has something terribly wrong with him; who votes for a person who spits in their face, figuratively speaking. Does the Premier believe his party to be sadomasochistic and loving it? Alberta politics is certainly not Social Credit boring any longer. Hats off to the Univeral Crap Party as it reveals how Albertans are being taken. God I hope Albertans come to their senses.

  5. He said it, not me.

    After all, Kenney is only saying what many of us have known for months about a growing faction within the UCP.

    I guess things were all hunky dory when those ‘lunatics’ were firmly in his corner and supporting him all the way.

    Not so much now though,,eh?

    And so the worm turns.

  6. It makes one wonder what the real goal is here. The UCP has had quite a few MLA’s touting how bad Kenney is. Right now there are a few that lost cabinet spots for being critical of Kenney and right two that have the guts to challenge him and get turfed from the party.
    Again a couple of back benchers talk about turfing Kenney, but moments later vote in favor of his budget, when they had a real chance to stand out. Looks like another wimp out, or was that the goal all along? Can’t trust Kenney or any of the UCP MLA’s as far as I can tell.

  7. I think it’s wonderful watching these Reformers prove just how stupid they truly are. Let’s hope all Canadians are watching and learning just how dangerous these reform party fools are. They don’t care who gets hurt. Let’s hope they all disappear like we saw with the Social Credit Party of Alberta. The NDP are certainly the answer to getting us out of this financial mess that we should never have been put in. Alaska and Norway are good examples of where we should be.

    1. ALAN K. SPILLER: For anyone who was around during the Social Credit years in Alberta, it certainly must have been a relief to finally get them out of power, in 1971. Anyone in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, would definitely remember the Social Credit years. My dad, and my surviving aunts and uncles, who are in their 80s and 90s, certainly would. Peter Lougheed proved to be the answer to that, as he was a true Conservative. In the 1960s, Preston Manning, was trying his merger tricks in Alberta, for the first time. He wanted the budding Alberta PCs, led by Peter Lougheed to merge with his dad’s Social Credit Party. Peter Lougheed was smart and said no. The second attempt involved Danielle Smith and a bunch of Wildrose MLAs to cross the floor and join the Alberta PCs, under the leadership of Jim Prentice. That didn’t pan out. The UCP are are the third attempt of a political merger by Preston Manning. This is interesting watching the UCP disintegrate. What other political mergers will Preston Manning try to create, before he finally gives up?

  8. Who better to lead the United-flew-over-the-Cuckoo’s-nest Party than Cuckoo-Kenney? Alberta, are you ready for your ECT?

  9. A couple things come to mind right away….

    First, does anyone remember a few months ago when Premier Randy was told about the kooks and crazies that support him and he reportedly replied (paraphrasing here) “I need a new base”? Apparently nothing came of that as it was back to business-as-usual, courting the crazies as if his (political) life depended on it.

    Second, this newly leaked audio truly proves that Premier Randy not only has a massive ego (duh) but a sizeable Messiah complex as well. He, and only he, will be the saviour of us rubes from his own unholy creation. But let me run another scenario by you: Randy’s numbers are currently in the toilet so he loses his leadership race and goes away to private sector paradise (ya I know, but please stay with me). The lunatics do indeed take over the asylum and Alberta sinks even further into depression over the complete lack of brain power at the helm of the province. Flash forward a few years and there’s Kenney, the Messiah is back and ready to do his political resurrection schtick. He will be welcomed back with open arms and we will all wonder why we would ever have wanted him gone in the first place. His numbers will be at a record high and he can feel just like his hero, Jesus.

    Friends, if this were anywhere other than Alberta this would be a complete fantasy and that’s the sad part.

    1. Pride goeth before a fall.

      Is there anything larger than Bumble’s hubris, aside from his capacity for self-deception? It turns out he lies to himself just as often as he lies to everyone else.

      That Bumbles imagines himself as the savior of AB is risible. In a news conference that was ostensibly about an increase in funding for the Stars Air Ambulance, he doubled down on the leak, claiming that some members of the UCP were connected with tiki torch imagery that appeared during a notorious anti vax rally last year. In fact, he went further and accused his opponents in the UCP of organizing the notorious rally.

      Well, he is certainly singing from a different songbook than the one he had last year. You may remember that Kenney and the UCP were slow to condemn this rally (https://albertapolitics.ca/2021/02/advice-for-jason-kenney-if-youre-going-to-sup-with-the-devil-you-need-a-longer-spoon/).

      Jason Kenney created this monster of a political party and now he thinks he is the only one who can save us from it. The scenario reads like a bad sci fi movie. And, let’s not forget that he has tried this trope before, when he descended upon the province in a blue truck as the central protagonist in the heroic narrative to slay the NDP dragon.

      How much of this deluded buffoonery do we have to put up with.

  10. What a relief to hear Jason Kenney acknowledge that the party is being pushed by a bunch of kooks. How unfortunate, then, that trying to appease said kooks has set government policy for the past couple of years.

  11. Seems like instalment 358 of the same lesson, which is that it’s always projection.

    A central grievance of many years with parties on the right seems to boil down to, “Those elites? They’re laughing at you!” This was the gripe that helped whip their base up, over and over, to vote agains their own interests, in the name of owning the Libs. I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but I wasn’t laughing. I was looking for ways to come together on governing ourselves in a way we could be proud of.

    Guess we learned where the laughter was actually coming from.

  12. Off-topic, but Skippy gave me a couple real good laughs today, figured I’d share. Get this: he wants to ban oil imports from “dictatorships that fail to meet our environmental standards or abuse human rights”. Okay, I’ll give you a sec to finish chuckling then break this down. Ready?

    Chances are pretty good Mr. Putin is one of the “dictators” he means. Mr. Putin won a sham election. Mr. Kenney won a sham election. Mr. Putin used extralegal and illegal means to prevent credible candidates from running against him. Mr. Kenney used extralegal and illegal means to do the same thing, although to be fair to Mr. Kenney, he is not accused of poisoning anyone. Pretty sure “dictators” are not democratically elected, even in sham elections. Hard to imagine a way to define “dictator” that includes Mr. Putin but not Mr. Kenney, would welcome correction if I’m overlooking something obvious. Please note I’m not saying they are morally the same, only that I don’t know how to define “dictator” in a way that includes one but not the other.

    Okay, next, Skippy has suddenly become concerned about “environmental standards,” which is a real knee-slapper to anyone who has ever heard the guy talk before. As per National Geographic and the Sierra Club, tar sands are the single most pollution-intensive way to get oil, and Alberta has the single largest development of tar sands in the world, would again welcome correction but this time would require someone to cite a credible source cause I researched those claims before posting them.

    “Human rights” – If you were Indigenous, LGBTQ+, an environmentalist, poor, etc. what do you think you might say about Alberta’s commitment to human rights? Also, Alberta seems to care very little about the “right to life” enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, based on how it handled the pandemic. I suppose those who lost loved ones can feel comforted that their sacrifice enabled a bunch of patriotic, freedom-loving heroes to go about licking doorknobs and inciting violence against health care workers.

    Also got a chuckle out of this Skippyism: “Justin Trudeau supports oil — as long as it is foreign oil. Every time he kills a Canadian energy project, foreign dictators like Putin do a victory dance because they get to dominate the world market.” Hey Skippy – remember when Justin campaigned on “social license is required for pipelines” then forced the Canadian taxpayers to buy a pipeline for Alberta at the cost of more than 21 billion* dollars and then forced BC taxpayers to assume all the environmental risks? Of course not, it would not be convenient for you to remember that at the moment.

    Truly, Skippy is Canada’s Tucker Carlson. He’d fit right in with the Fox crew.

    *I didn’t believe this the first time someone told me, wouldn’t fault you if you are also skeptical, so: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trans-mountain-pipeline-tmx-1.6389874

  13. My kid in grade 9 is learning about leadership from a really fantastic teacher (who is an actual leader). So even a 14 year old will know that Kenney is no kind of a leader whatsoever. Why else would someone be driven to record and leak audio from a staff meeting? His talent seems to be in the area of drawing out the worst in people. As for humans with strange ideas about society and government taking over the UCP, well that horse sailed out of the station a loooong time ago.

  14. Next provincial election:

    Nurses please vote for Rachel Notley.
    Public school teachers please vote for Rachel.
    Post-secondary professors please vote for Rachel.
    Doctors, please vote for Rachel Notley.
    Daycare workers please vote for Rachel Notley
    Social workers please vote for Rachel.
    All grandparents who care about a go future for their grandchildren please vote for Rachel.

    On the other hand, those who want a corrupt government that doesn’t care about Albertans’ health, standard of living, or social justice, feel free to continue to vote for the worst party in Alberta history.

    1. The real haters are those with Trudeau Derangement Syndrome. They can’t even stand each other, as clearly demonstrated by the UCP and the CPC.

  15. I think one can only attribute Kenney’s sudden moment of clarity too, maybe, alcohol. Did Kenney’s rant occur during a boozy planning session at the Sky Palace? It’s seems that only bad things happen there.

    Going out on my favorite conspiratorial limb again, I suspect that Kenney could use this moment as an issue in the upcoming snap election. Why not make the election about his own party and Kenney’s mission to save it from itself? It’s a weird gamble, but it maybe all Kenney has left.

    Vote NDP and the darkness over Alberta will never end.
    Vote for Brian Jean’s UCP and the clowns will really take over.
    So give Alberta a fighting chance … vote Kenney. Because it’s the only sensible thing left to do.

    I better not run out of popcorn.

  16. You have to laugh at these ignorant Albertans who are bad mouthing the federal Liberals and NDP for daring to join forces to make certain Canadians are well looked after and treated properly after the horrific mess we have seen under this conservative / reform party merger deliberately destroying Albertans. We think it was a smart move to put these phoney conservatives, reformers, in their place and to keep them from causing anymore problems, like supporting criminals who are creating $36 million nightmare for citizens of Ottawa or billions of debt in Alberta while they give our oil and tax wealth away.

  17. I believe that the UCP will become unraveled.

    It was was a hasty marriage with no depth of feeling. The goal was not to unite. The goal was to gain power. That is not enough IMHO to hold a party together in turbulent times as we have just experienced.

    So I expect to see a spin off party with a large number of former Wildrose members headed in that direction.

    The CPC Party could also be going in the same direction if they fail to read the tea leaves, understand where Canadian voters are on key issues, or even what those key issues are.

    It will take some strong leadership and some incredible internal political skills to hold the CPC together. So far, over the past five years those skills have been absent.

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