UCP Mods versus Rockers? (Image: Twitter/Ace Café London).

Are rival gangs of UCP Mods and Rockers* heading for Red Deer spoiling for a fight?

If you thought the recent opposing demonstrations by outlaw truckers, most of whom don’t seem to own trucks, and local residents in Calgary’s Beltline neighbourhood were rough, imagine how ugly it could get if Mr. Kenney’s Mods and Mr. Jean’s Rockers started showing up in Red Deer and jostling over their place in the voting line at the United Conservative Party leadership review on April 9! 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Mr. Kenney, of course, is Alberta’s premier and leader of the governing United Conservative Party. In trouble both with voters generally and his own party, he’s the man whose job is on the line on April 9. 

Mr. Jean was his rival to lead the UCP in 2017 and thinks he was snookered out of the job by Mr. Kenney’s electoral shenanigans. Now he’s back as a UCP MLA-elect, determined to topple the premier and go after his job.

Dissatisfaction with Mr. Kenney’s performance as premier, possibly given an additional jolt by Mr. Jean’s challenge and his March 15 victory in the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election, seems to have encouraged something like 14,000 UCPers, many of them new members, to sign up to pay $99 to cast a ballot at the Cambridge Hotel in Red Deer for or against Mr. Kenney’s continued leadership. 

As of today, it’s going to cost $150 for the privilege, but the party says as many as 20,000 could sign up by April 5, the deadline.

Given the premier’s electoral history and recent changes to Alberta’s election laws that allow party memberships to be purchased for multiple people, that kind of talk soon sparked worries Mr. Kenney was up to no good, and might use the number of party members signed up to vote as an excuse to rig the system to win again. 

Rumours have been flying that the party board will meet today and change the rules to improve Mr. Kenney’s chances. 

The right-wing online news site run by former Wildrose and UCP MLA Derek Fildebrandt – a man who was booted from jobs by both Mr. Jean and Mr. Kenney – reported yesterday that the board will allow voting to take place over three days in three cities, Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer.

Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

That means, as Mount Royal University political science professor Duane Bratt pointed out on social media yesterday, that while the rebels were focusing on getting party members who could actually make it to Red Deer to register, Mr. Kenney’s supporters were signing up voters in Calgary and Edmonton secure in the knowledge the rules were going to change to make it easy for them to vote.

This, Dr. Bratt said, “looks like the political equivalent of insider trading.”

No one should be surprised by this. As former Kenney communications director Blaise Boemher wrote for the CBC on Thursday, he thinks the premier and his inner circle “have been planning … for this moment for months.”

“In the roughly two years that I worked directly with him, I never got the sense that Kenney would allow his fate to be decided by factors he cannot control,” Mr. Boehmer wrote. “It was never a question of whether or not we would win; it was always how much would we win by.

So if Mr. Kenney doesn’t win, Albertans should brace for political unpredictably in the wake of the leadership vote, however it’s conducted, he warned. 

Kenney challenger Brian Jean, recent victor in last week’s Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche by-election (Photo: Facebook/Brian Jean).

The premier might call a snap election, or a snap leadership race. His caucus might fire him. 

It’s said here the smart money’s on Mr. Kenney getting a satisfactory result in his party confidence vote – perhaps with a little help from all those new members in Calgary and Edmonton, whoever they may be.

If so, Mr. Jean will be sworn in as an MLA and told to get over it. Maybe he’ll stick around and make mischief. Maybe he’ll go back to Fort Mac and retire from politics for a third time. 

If the UCP Board acts as expected, presumably the good merchants of Red Deer won’t need to board up the windows of their shops along Gaetz Avenue.

*Those of you too young to be familiar with Mods and Rockers will just have to look them up. I was feeling nostalgically jovial when I wrote this, otherwise I might have called the two UCP factions Bloods and Crips. DJC 

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29 Comments

  1. Yes, things are getting a bit fishy here. Kind of like the last UCP leadership race, although no Kamikaze candidate yet. I suppose this is a leadership review, so they will save that for the actual leadership race, if that happens.

    I was wondering why Kenney’s gang was apparently signing up a lot of new members in various Calgary ethnic communities. I doubt they would be up to a bus ride to Red Deer. So, the last minute rule change makes more sense. Kenney has a much better chance of winning if the in person vote is also held in the two larger cities, in addition to Red Deer.

    Of course, one wonders why someone would want to actually pay $100 or $150 to vote to keep Kenney. Although, I could see some of those that want to get rid of him willing to pay that much. However, assuming the members are paying the fee themselves is something that may not always be true.

    Its a wonder Kenney isn’t going to the homeless shelters and getting bus loads there in exchange for a meal and a beverage, like some conservative politicians did years ago. However, perhaps now they will ask for photo ID at the door, so that might not work as well any more.

    On that note, I haven’t yet heard a response to Jean’s request to get an independent auditor to monitor things. I wouldn’t be surprised if that does not make it into the last minute changes.

    Of course, a victory for Kenney could prove hollow. Particularly if there is a suspicion that the rules were changed last minute to favour him, the half or so of the party against him could walk. There is no way Kenney can force them to say. The result could be a much diminished UCP that could barely survive a confidence vote on its own and suddenly a very large third party of dissenting MLAs. If this sounds far fetched, remember something similar happened to Stockwell Day, who was Kenney’s original role model.

  2. All I can say is that the provincial election in Alberta can’t come soon enough. It’s time to dump the UCP, because they simply aren’t a good government.

  3. Pete Townsend, the musical and cultural godfather of the mods, described them thus in The Who’s Quadrophenia album:

    My jacket’s gonna be cut slim and checked
    Maybe a touch of seersucker with an open neck
    I ride a G.S. scooter with my hair cut neat
    I wear my wartime coat in the wind and sleet

    One things is sure, they knew how to brawl (at least on the beaches of Brighton).

    1. I think a lot of Albertans are hoping that Kenney shares the fate of Jim at the end of Quadrophenia, and takes a metaphorical exit off the cliff edge never to be heard of again.

  4. “Sharks and Jets” could have worked. Both camps squared up, about to launch into some beautifully choreographed moves, snapping their fingers at each other.

    1. Jaundiced: You have me there. You made me remember the Broadway production of West Side Story I saw some years ago … not the B cast, or even the C or D, but somewhere down around E, F or G. You could almost see the clouds of dust coming of the sets. DJC

      1. The Mods and Rockers battles in the days of yore were overblown by the media. For an analogy of the overblown hype, think of the book “Chicken Little”. Despite predictions to the contrary, it was not the end of the civilized life. I stand by my “Sharks and Jets”, with Jean and Kenney facing off, glaring at each other, wearing their best dancing pumps, snapping away.

  5. Seeming to pulls the string again, Kenney is using the UCP’s executive to improve his chances of a win. I thought the fix was already in, thanks to all those new, more flexible conditions that were passed into law a while ago?

    Short of declaring that only member’s born on July 4th, whose lasts name is “Jefferies” will be able to cast a ballot at the leadership review, there should be no doubt that there will be tons of rigging going on right up to the final moment.

    The recent, and wilfully leaked polling, that suggested that the UCP had been reborn may be offers an interesting twist, that is that the UCP’s polling is better if Brian Jean was leading the party, is a notion that Kenney loyalists can’t seem to accept. Even stinking rich, Twitter-blowhard, and terminal victim, Brett Wilson declared in a tweet that Jason Kenney is the greatest, most intelligent, most effective, bravest premier Alberta has ever had — and it’s only going to get even better if he sticks around — sounds like the engineering of the holiest of Hail Mary’s. All this serves has bold-faced declaration that the review vote will be twisted in every possible way to assure that Kenney wins.

    Since I have already predicted that a snap election will come, either, immediately before, or soon after the leadership review, the nuclear option is already in play. Jean’s faction could take matters another step further and declare a boycott of the vote. Or, the Trucker Convoy surrounds the voting facility in Red Deer and prevents Kenney’s people from entering. How they’re going to be able to do that is another matter. (It’s not like the FREEDUMB Convoy types put much thought into anything.) However, it points up what an enormous mess is waiting.

  6. As I have said before, just wait, Vladimir Kenney has got a few more tricks up his sleeve and sadly I doubt the UCP will turf him at this point. The big question being are there enough smart Albertans willing to turf this gang during the next election?
    The comment that we may need to brace for political uncertainty is quite humerous as we already are in uncertain times and in my view headed for way worse unless we get rid of Kenney. I once thought that Jim Prentice was the worse premier in Alberta but he can’t hold a candle to Kenney. Just like Putin virtually nobody has shown the fortitude to stand up to Kenney.
    I wonder how many free shares of GEMXX were given to Minister Orr or Premier Kenney? It is really telling when the NDP is calling for an emergency debate on stopping power and gas companies from cutting off people that are behind on their excessive bills, and the UCP shuts that down so they can promote a rainbow colored provincial rock.

  7. Those of us who are smart enough to remember when the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party was one that could be trusted and cared about looking after the well-being of all Albertans are sick and tired of all this crap. To say we are the laughing stock of all Canadians is a huge understatement.

    Those of us who have relatives in other provinces can hear them laughing at how stupid Albertans truly are, just like the American oilmen that I was involved with did years ago. Nothing has changed Albertans are extremely easy to fool. Any fool can call himself a conservative and that’s good enough for them and they are just too dumb to figure it out.

  8. Why anyone would chose to vote for Kenney after the last few years is something that “I Can’t Explain”. Maybe there’s something “Behind Blue Eyes” that I just don’t understand about the Conservatives.

  9. DJC, Thanks, as always, for your trenchant observations.

    You could also have used the Sharks and the Jets as a metaphor. However, the reference the Mods put me in mind of the great Who album, Quadrophenia, which I have not listened to for decades now. Some of your readers may recall that Quadrophenia is rock opera that concerns that travails of a troubled young man who attaches himself to a gang of Mods, only to have his identity completely shattered when the group deserts him. This is somewhat evocative, perhaps, of the travails of Bumbles, not that I would want to stretch the analogy too far.

    That said, it does look like Bumble’s entire political career is at stake here: a point of no return for him. As someone who has not had employment outside of politics and sucking on the public teat in one form or another for all his adult life, Bumbles may well feel that his entire identity is trammeled up his position as the top mongrel within the UCP. I am sure that many of your readers will not be surprised that Bumbles will cheat and rig the game in his favor midway through the contest. Typical. Our lying narcissist-in-chief has no morals or ethics when it comes to saving his own skin.

    The stink of his fear and desperation is palpable. But, the strong feelings on both sides of this issue are going to cause problems for ordinary Albertans for years to come. Each side in this farrago will be making Faustian bargains with the extreme right, anti-vaxxers, and pro-abortionists that will extract a price in terms of policy. For example, Breakdown AB on its Twitter account pointed to a communication from the Wilberforce group (who strongly oppose women’s choice) to support Kenney.

    https://twitter.com/TheBreakdownAB/status/1505630793439199232

    Who knows if there are quid-pro-quo deals for such support and what other deals may be in the offing for either side of this conflict? It is already the case that Albertans are in a situation where the will of a fringe minority is imposed on the majority – a tyranny of the minority. This leadership review will only exacerbate this unhappy condition.

  10. When can I find out if I am registered to vote at this shambolic event? My health data was leaked by the government. I suspect my name will be used for nefarious purposes, like the vote on April 9.

    No consent required? It’s almost like an assault on an entire province.

  11. When the NDP was defeated in the 2019 election, I lamented the loss, but I never considered how entertaining Jason Kenney’s ascendency would make Alberta politics.

    So what happens after Jason Kenney comes out of the review successfully, but with an even more disgruntled party?

    There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Brian Jean and the Disgruntled MLAs will huddle and discuss leaving the party and forming a new one. Together with Drew Barnes and Todd Loewen they will have enough members to qualify for official party status. The first thing the Disgruntled MLAs will consider, of course, is which strategy best serves their re-election chances. No doubt the dissatisfaction of the general public will be a guiding influence.

    I really question Brian Jean’s learning ability, especially if this scenario goes ahead. Leading a party made up entirely of members with a history of betraying their leader is just asking for trouble, and Mr. Jean has already experienced the problems out-of-line MLAs can cause:

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

    The problems a future Premier Jean will have will be exactly the same as what Premier Kenney has had: a real life situation that requires the leader to abandon his ideology for the pragmatic. For Kenney, he had to impose restrictions, something that adamantly went against his nature, but was necessary; for Jean he had to censure Derek Fildebrandt. If Brian Jean were premier in September of 2021 I really expect he would have just as reluctantly imposed the same restrictions.

  12. I tried to explain who Jason Kenney was and what his premiership would mean for alberta to a good friend of mine who was planning to vote UCP. He assured me that while Kenney was “a clown” (his words) but that the real power was with the party and nothing fundamentally bad would happen.

    It would appear the UCP faithful still believe this to be true, those folks will never learn.

  13. Jason Kenney and his UCP Executive level supporters will do whatever and will say whatever is necessary to keep him in place. Rules are meant to be broken, ignored, whatever.

    The only question that remains is will the ground level UCP membership accept this behaviour?

    These machinations have already transformed the Party. I just wonder how far they can push it.

  14. Kenny’s rigged tactical win as the UCP {I hate using the term} ‘Leader’ in the short term, will result in the party’s strategic loss, come the Provincial election…

  15. “Mods and Rockers Quasiphrenia”

    One can’t hold cher breath for two-and-a-half weeks
    For fears loathed after soothes Sibylline
    Nor dance half to death when blue in the cheeks
    Tears of laughter are in truth anodyne

  16. Your point is well taken David but I do take issue with your headline metaphor. You see, the Mods and the Rockers were at one point considered cool. Jean and Kenney….not so much. This is more like a grudge between the leader of the chess club vs leader of the math club.

    On another note, I’m not sure where Premier Randy is hoping to find all these instant supporters in Edmonton. I can honestly say I don’t know a single person who likes Kenney – quite the opposite, really. And that’s from a broad socio-political-economic range of people, not just so-called pinko radical NDP supporters. If this sudden support does magically appear I will definitely suspect that something untoward has occurred.

  17. There is also seems to be a clumsy attempt to resurrect (dead man walking Kenney) by creating a made in Alberta version of “Grease”; whereby, “Alberta’s Opposition leader is ridiculing accusations from the governing United Conservatives that she and the UCP’s newest member of the legislature are in cahoots.” Because, more political theater for all of the ‘deaf, dumb, and blind kids’ pretending to be informed and ‘discriminating’ voters is always needed in a Province where you can always count on fooling all of the people all of the time, just not all at once.

    “Grease – You’re The One That I Want”

  18. I am very disturbed by this win at any cost attitude of Mr Kenny. If our politicians have no honour and no regard for their voting constituents, and a moral compass directed by $$$ then we are in deep doo doo.

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