The Cambridge Hotel in Red Deer, where Jason Kenney faces his day of destiny on April 9 (Photo: Cambridge Hotel).

Hard on the heels of a new poll indicating a majority of United Conservative Party voters want Jason Kenney gone, the premier was busy defending his decision to disqualify a couple of candidates tipped to beat pro-Kenney MLAs in a party nomination votes.

Meanwhile, the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election is just four days away with the premier’s self-declared leadership rival, former Wildrose Party leader and Fort Mac area MP Brian Jean, expected to win. Mr. Jean had endorsed the two freshly dumped nomination candidates. 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

And the unpopular premier’s own date with destiny, his party leadership review, is scheduled to take place in Red Deer on April 9. 

And to think, for more than four decades under the Progressive Conservative Party’s steady hand, this province’s politics were the most boring in Confederation!

For a political columnist, it just doesn’t get any better than this.

The new Think HQ poll reported Wednesday indicates that 59 per cent of the Albertans who voted for the UCP in 2019 now want the premier gone. Which means, if the survey of 1,136 Albertans got it right, that UCP voters feel just about the same way as everyone else, since the pollster concluded 61 per cent of all eligible voters would like to say goodbye to Mr. Kenney. 

That’s true without much variation throughout the province, according to the poll, except within shouting distance of the U.S. border in Alberta’s consistently conservative deep south – where 67 per cent want the premier out!

This can’t be good news for a guy facing a leadership review in just 29 days. It does go to show, I guess, that you really can annoy almost all of the people all of the time. 

Meanwhile, as predicted in this space on Feb. 18, Mr. Kenney has disqualified former Clearwater County municipal councillor Tim Hoven from challenging UCP House Leader and Environment Minister Jason Nixon in the Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre riding.

Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre UCP MLA Jason Nixon (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

There’s no question Mr. Hoven was farther to the right than Mr. Nixon, who is no New Democrat, but if the thwarted nomination candidate’s claim is true that he was dumped for being registered on an inactive social media account, platform unnamed, that seems a bit of a stretch for a party that loves to scream about cancel culture. 

I suppose we’ll have to wait to pass judgment, though, until we know what the social media platform was. 

The real reason, it’s much more likely, is that Mr. Hoven was widely thought to have an insurmountable lead over Mr. Nixon among UCP members in the riding. 

Also dumped last week was Jodie Gateman, supported by the anti-Kenney Take Back Alberta group in her challenge of MLA and UCP Deputy Whip Joseph Schow for the UCP nomination in Cardston-Siksika in southernmost Alberta. She too was disqualified for a social media post, the details of which have also not yet been revealed.

So it’s hard to say if the premier’s claim is justified that if either had been nominated the UCP could have faced another Lake of Fire – a reference to the 2012 discovery of a recorded sermon by a Wildrose Party candidate who doubled as a fundamentalist pastor asserting that gays and lesbians were bound for eternal damnation. 

Disqualified Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre UCP nomination challenger Tim Hoven (Photo: Linkedin).

One has to be skeptical that no matter what she said, any candidate could be defeated in the region around Cardston for being too conservative. But that doesn’t mean that such a revelation couldn’t have had an impact elsewhere in the province. 

The Lake of Fire incident may well have ruined Wildrose leader Danielle Smith’s dream of knocking off the Progressive Conservative Dynasty, a task left to the NDP’s Rachel Notley to complete in 2015.

Ms. Notley is now the leader of the Opposition NDP, which is leading in several polls of voter intentions for the next provincial election. Contested NDP nomination races are also taking place in many ridings, but mostly without the theatrics associated with the UCP.

Meanwhile Mr. Jean, who recently returned to politics vowing to replace his former rival for the leadership of the UCP back in 2017, will be in a position to cause considerable mischief for Mr. Kenney in the leadup to the leadership review if he wins as expected on March 15.

Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche UCP by-election candidate Brian Jean (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

But as Calgary Herald political columnist Don Braid pointed out, as horrible as the premier’s latest polling numbers may seem, they don’t mean Mr. Kenney can’t survive his leadership review on April 9. 

“Kenney retains some strength among loyal UCP voters,” the long-time observer of Alberta politics wrote, reminding his readers that “only party members will make the decision on the floor of a convention in Red Deer.”

As Think HQ boss Marc Henry pointed out in Mr. Braid’s column, it really all depends on who shows up for the UCP annual general meeting in Red Deer – where by Wednesday there were almost 5,000 people prepared to put down $100 bucks to be there. 

You can probably count on it that people like Mr. Hoven and Ms. Gatemen, not to mention many of their supporters, will be doing their best to pack the Cambridge Hotel in Red Deer, site of many storied Alberta political showdowns. 

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34 Comments

  1. I look at these pretend conservatives and Reformers in the UCP, and see they are doing very pricey shenanigans, like their hero, a Liberal turned Reformer, Ralph Klein, was doing, and gutting essential services, just so they can privatize it, as their hero Ralph Klein wanted to do. This includes getting private for profit healthcare in Alberta. Why are Albertans continually falling for these lies that these pretend conservatives and Reformers are feeding them? Brian Jean is also a pretend conservative and Reformer, who also proves he can’t be trusted, just like the Liberal turned Reformer, who is the head honcho of the UCP. All we will get is more substandard oil royalty rates, the worst corporate tax regime, which will cost Albertans billions of dollars. Those are the opposite of what the true conservative, Peter Lougheed was doing.

  2. Dumping nomination contestants who may not be loyal Kenney supporters seems a bit desperate to me. Usually this sort of thing is done with reluctance only after some embarrassing social media post comes out, but obviously Kenney wants to get ahead of something here.

    Most likely, he wants to save the loyal MLAs who are being challenged for the nomination. I suppose it will accomplish that, but I have to wonder if those thwarted will instead focus their efforts elsewhere with even more motivation.

    Kenney still has enough control of the UCP that he can silence or exclude some opposed to him, but he can’t force people to like him, trust him ot believe he can win the next election.

    This latest act doesn’t seem like something a person who was confident of vhis position would do. So this tells me the expectation is the leadership review vote could be closer than expected and perhaps it could go either way.

  3. I agree we have not seen Conservative infighting like this before, but clearly continues to demonstrate the dictator style Kenney uses. I can hardly wait until Brian Jean comes on the scene and really gives Kenney a really good run.

    No doubt Kenney has a few dozen more unethical tricks up his sleeve. One good thing is if he loses the leadership review thing, he has enough time to run for the Federal Conservative leadership. Instead of sparring with Trudeau in different arenas, he could tackle him head on in the House of Commons. Then again looking back, perhaps if Kenney decided to listen and negotiate with folks rather than dictating and overusing the law suit thing to get his way, maybe he and us would be better off?

  4. By the time the leadership review takes place in April, I imagine the number of delegates will be north of 6,000. That is a lot of angry, motivated folks who will be cajoling others to fall in line and kick the bum out at the meeting. That must be worrisome for Bumbles. Speeches do not persuade meeting attendees, no matter how eloquent and well crafted; peer interaction does.

    While we should not underestimate Bumble’s organizing skills (I am sure he will deliver busloads of dutiful voters from Catholic schools and churches, among other sources), it will be extremely hard to overcome both the rage and the sheer number of delegates opposed to him.

    Well, good luck, perhaps? I am a bit on the fence about this one. Bumbles is bad, but his replacement could be far worse, if that is even conceivable. We live in strange times for sure!

    Speaking of UCP misery, Rick McIvor got a very frosty reception at a meeting of municipalities the other day. Had to beg for applause.

    https://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=2399037&binId=1.1203428&playlistPageNum=1

    1. Thanks for the link. He asked for an “amen” and didn’t get that, either. I guess Alberta is not a tent revival kind of place. Stay frosty, municipalities!

  5. If ANYONE but Kenney was in charge, we would have seen double the covid death (Jean) or double the lockdown (Notley). Albertans are worthless little crybabies who will NEVER be happy because they don’t WANT to be happy. I’m moving back to Ontario. Alberta’s going to burn to the ground in a massive uncontrollable wildfire anyway. If that doesn’t scream “God hates your province” then I don’t know what does.

    1. Sh*tposts like these can accidentally be very revealing. For instance, the reasonable, well-informed adult who posted this seems to believe that lockdowns prevent covid deaths – there is an implied zero-sum sliding scale in between ‘covid death (Jean)’ and ‘double the lockdown (Notley)’. Also interesting that the admirable, upstanding citizen who wrote this seems to see both alternatives as equally bad, while also being unhappy with the status quo. One wonders which course of action this individual would have preferred. And oh, those lucky Ontarians, truly they are poaching our best and brightest!

      From what I understand, sh*tposters often don’t return to the scene of the crime, but if this one does I would pose a question to him: Given that scientists have been warning us for 30 years that one of the consequences of climate change will be massive uncontrollable wildfires, wouldn’t this scream “Climate change is real,” not “God hates your province?”

      Does anyone know a less obscene term that means the same thing? I find political discourse is usually more productive without swearing, but I don’t know another word to use. Googled it and everything.

    2. bye bye boobie! … don’t let the door hit yer ass on the way out!

      Neil, nothing wrong with ‘loser’ even if has been somewhat overused these last 5 or so years. Also, ‘white trash’ and ‘low-life nutjob’ might evoke the appropriate and accurate picture of this cowardly crybaby.

  6. It goes to prove what a dictatorship these fools run. None of us want this liar Brian Jean to get elected either. Not one of them has been smart enough to suggest that maybe we should be following what Lougheed did by collecting proper royalties and taxes and stop treating our doctors, nurses, teachers and students like third classes citizens.

    Of course you can’t change the minds of these stupid seniors who still believe every lie these fools feed them, but then as the retired RCMP Officers point out seniors have a horrible reputation for being easy to fool. Politicians and con-artists have been doing it for years.

  7. Jason Kenney will find a way to cheat his way to a win – just like he did before.

    This might be a blessing in disguise as I don’t think he can win a general election (too hard for him to defraud an entire province versus the UCP).

    1. Very good Public Servant.

      I was gong to write the same thing, before I read your comment. He will definitely pull every trick, legal or not, to hold onto the leadership of the UCP.

      That’s what sociopaths do. They have no respect for the law or procedures, and much less for other sentient beings.

      The has a little over 1 year left as Premier and he intends to use every last minute of it to plunder our Province’s treasury for himself and his supporters. So little time and so much money left to steal. He’s not done impoverishing average Albertans.

      I struggle with empathizing with suffering Albertans when they are the ones who voted for this monster. Karma is a bitch.

    2. My Alberta Election Predictions, ‘Hope-I’m-Wrong’ Edition

      Kenney cheats, is re-elected in an election widely seen as unfair
      The cops pretend to investigate but don’t do anything
      Kenney stays in power

  8. Im sick of all politicians, can we get rid of all of them?

    I tell my politicians that when they show on my doorstep all of the time.

    But when I suggested to Heather that the best way to fight climate change was to get rid of the government in Ottawa, she didnt take it too kindly.

      1. I tried to listen to her, but she doesnt respond to mails.

        Then when she was on my doorstep she allowed her manager to take the blame.

        There’s leadership for you.

    1. I think it’s been said before, if you don’t like any government then get better policies, better candidates, and for the conservatives have a leader more than a year. Heather does sound sensible.

  9. While I am delighted to see any kind of poll that would be embarrassing for Jason Kenney, I am afraid these poll results reflect 2 opposite displeasures to Kenney’s response to the pandemic. I think Kenney’s problems have resulted from his disinclination to impose any restrictions, even when they were clearly necessary, resulting in urban dissatisfaction, then his reluctant imposition of them when he could not ignore medical evidence any longer, resulting in rural dissatisfaction among his rural voters.

    The problem with a grassroots party is it creates the impression among its members that they will get exactly the policy they want, and dissatisfaction results when it does not happen. I am afraid we have cultured a demographic that is ungovernable.

    What if Rachel Notley wins the election next year? Given that the truckers convoy thought they could somehow overthrow the government 4 months after they were elected, and how they were successful forcing Jason Kenney to repeal Covid restrictions before it was smart to do so, I have a worrying mental image of bedlam around the Legislature Building immediately after an NDP election win.

    UCP faithful with short memories may soon find that Brian Jean is not the answer either. If anything, I expect the problem has gotten worse since David wrote this 6 years ago:

    https://albertapolitics.ca/2016/06/alberta-opposition-leader-brian-jean-now-officially-embattled-wildrose-insurrection-appears-spread/

    It was ironic to re-read this old post and see that MLA David Hanson, who is currently causing Jason Kenney so much grief, was one of the instigators to oust Brian Jean in 2016.

  10. Considering that what one posts on ring-wing social media platforms is concerning for everyone, it is a mind blown moment when the UCP adopts the so called Cancel Culture ethos and starts trashing nomination rivals based on what they’ve posted on Gad and Parler.

    This practice by the UCP has drawn the wrath of Ezra Levant, who now makes full throated denouncements of Jason Kenney, who he admits once called a friend. Rebel Media has made it official: Kenney is a closeted Liberal and a globalist, a Trudeau favoured lockdown enthusiast, and a willing tool of the Green Lobby.

    Wow. That’s a whole lot of pivoting on the part of Levant, considering his slavish fawning over Kenney in 2019.

    Mmmm… dashed CON allegiance flavoured popcorn.

  11. With regards to the disqualification of Tim Hoven in Jason Nixon’s constituency, blogger Dave Cournoyer wrote in his Mar 2 column that Mr. Nixon had been absent from the Legislature the previous week, and reported that it was rumoured that Nixon was driving around the constituency soliciting support. If that is indeed the case, it appears Mr. Nixon returned to the Legislature unsuccessfully.

    https://daveberta.ca/

  12. It is quite likely that both Mr. Hoven and Ms. Gateman have posted things on social media that will be embarrassing in an election campaign. However, if that is the bar that Mr. Kenney is going to use to disqualify candidates, will he be using the same bar for his existing MLAs? Grant Hunter’s support of the Coutts blockade should definitely disqualify from running again.

  13. Electioneering aside, Jason is on the run. First this very public step down from twitter and now this !? These are the actions of one who knows his enemies have their knives out and waiting.

  14. Charging people money for the privilege of voting seems extremely undemocratic. Does anyone know whether that is normal practice for all political parties?

  15. Hello Alan K Spiller,

    Your insulting comments that “seniors” are “stupid” and like comments are not acceptable on this site. Your comments are also ageist. Many seniors are intelligent and progressive. Please stop making this kind of comment.

  16. Given the very strong possibility that Kenney’s last ditch effort to steal his own leadership review may have hit a snag — everyone knows his tricks by now — I predict that he will call an election prior to the vote.

    Yes, Kenney, in a fit of pique and venom, will call a snap election and demand to be heard.

    The laundry list that Kenney will take to the polls will be an extensive list of crazy, unlike anything seen in recent memory.

    He will declare that the good times have returned, thanks to his shrewd management of the provincial economy, his spectacular performance on the global stage, and his excellent intellect and talents beyond compare. In other words, he will announce that it was his happy genius that saved Albertans from Rachel Notley and her evil NDP horde, bent on rape and pillage of everything that the Lord has unselfishly bequeathed to Alberta. Only a fool and a commie would dare vote against him now, as Kenney opens the doors to a new Jerusalem, and only he possesses the key.

    And taking the crazy one step further, Kenney will declare an endless string of victories against Ottawa and the worst human ever, PMJT. Kenney will boast of his impressive and powerful virility and the face of endless attacks on his Alberta flock, for only he … HE … is capable of defending FREEDUMB!!!

    And going another step further into the crazy, Kenney will denounce those within the UCP who oppose him as extremists, bent on unleashing a fascist hyper-moralist reality upon unsuspecting Albertans. Everywhere, there be dragons and satanic mills, churning out vermin of every description. But Kenney will smite these enemies, with his sword of burning gold, as he vanquishes them all under the might wheels of his chariot of fire.

    Yes, Kenney will put out all the stops and play every side of the street in this election. Being a gambler, he will toss all the chips on to the table and demand everyone match. This is a life or death cage match.

    “Two go in … one come out.” It’s the Mad Alberta Thunderdome and beyond. Get ready.

  17. Well folks, anybody here read Machiavelli? He wrote of the dark arts of retaining power. The point in his mind of governance. I find Premier Bumbles latest move clumsy. He may perhaps retain his own leadership by what he has done, but lose the next election because of the nasty appearance of this and other things on his hands. Others should never see the Prince’s dagger. To make it clear Jay boy may well blow up the UC pee bladder under him. Unfortunate that.

    1. Machiavelli considered it ideal if the ruler is both loved and feared. However, if only one of those was available, it was better to be feared. I am afraid Bumbles is neither loved nor feared by electorate or by the UCP party and caucus — they smell blood in the water.

  18. Hmmmm…should I save the Johnny Cash allusion until there are actually “25 [instead of 29] to Go” and risk it being diluted by the Fort Mac by-election?

    Hmmmm…I guess it’ll keep.

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