Question: Now that Jason Kenney has taken to social media to announce he’s retiring from Alberta politics, how likely is it that Premier Danielle Smith will call a by-election in his Calgary-Lougheed riding?

Surely a nice condo like this is waiting somewhere in Ottawa for Jason Kenney (Photo: Found on the Internet, unattributed).

Answer: Not very. 

Premier Smith presumably will use the same excuses she did in October when she called a by-election in a conveniently vacated safe rural seat for herself but didn’t bother calling one in Calgary-Elbow, where MLA and former cabinet minister Doug Schweitzer had quit more than a month earlier. 

To wit: She said she didn’t have to fill the seat because there’s an election planned in less than a year, and anyway, only holding one by-election would save money.

The real reason, of course, is that she was afraid the NDP would win a by-election in Calgary, and still is, even in a normally safe Conservative riding. 

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

However, residents of Calgary-Elbow and Calgary-Lougheed can comfort themselves that they won’t really need an MLA anyway if Ms. Smith’s Sovereignty Act is passed, which of course it will be by the UCP’s spineless caucus. 

Conservative MLAs in Alberta are mostly decorative at the best of times, all the more so since the Sovereignty Act – technically but tendentiously known as the Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act – will make their presence in the Legislature purely ornamental. 

One is tempted to suggest their roles are about as meaningful as those of members of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China.

Admittedly, that’s bit hyperbolic. In truth, the ASWUCA if unchallenged would leave Premier Smith with more in common with Hungarian Premier Viktor Orbán, known for his efforts to erode judicial independence, undermine parliamentary democracy, and encourage ethnic nationalism while maintaining the trappings of democracy. 

Mind you, as I expect we will see, it’s a lot easier to turn a unitary state into an “illiberal Christian democracy,” as Mr. Orbán puts it, than a province in a federation where all provinces are already sovereign within their jurisdictions and a mechanism for resolving sovereignty disputes already exists in the courts. 

Former Calgary-Elbow MLA Doug Schweitzer (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Given the existence of Canada’s courts, I would say the chance the ASWUCA will not be challenged are nil, and the chances it will survive a challenge unscathed are remote. 

Q: Is Mr. Kenney unhappy about the Sovereignty Act

A: Of course he is. 

He denounced it during the leadership campaign, in which he demonstrated how little influence he had over the party he all but created, just as he did in his failed effort to win a party leadership review in the face of the attacks by the Take Back Alberta cabal that backed Ms. Smith and now controls the UCP.

And he vaguely complained about it again in his resignation statement, which he tweeted along with his resignation letter yesterday. 

“We are the inheritors of great institutions built around abiding principles which were generated by a particular historical context,” he bloviated. “Our Westminster parliamentary democracy, part of our constitutional monarchy, is the guardian of a unique tradition of ordered liberty and the rule of law, all of which is centred on a belief in the inviolable dignity of the human person and an obligation to promote the common good. 

“How these principles are applied to any particular issue as a matter for prudent judgment,” he continued wishy-washily. “But I am concerned that our democratic life is veering away from ordinary prudential debate towards a polarization that undermines our bedrock institution and principles.”

Hungarian Premier Viktor Orbán (Photo: Palácio do Planalto, Brazil).

This is pretty cheeky, coming from a politician whose stock in trade was division and polarization – at least when it worked for him – notwithstanding his dubious shot at “the far left” for wishing to “cancel our history,” etc., and his complaint about his own side for “a vengeful anger and toxic cynicism which often seeks to tear things down.” (That is to say, presumably, for dumping him and then choosing Ms. Smith to replace him.)

Well, sometimes that’s what happens when you let the genie of divisiveness out of the bottle, and it’s hard to feel much sympathy for Mr. Kenney’s wish for a chance to “continue contributing to our democratic life by sharing some of what I have learned on a range of issues, including immigration, national security, indigenous economic development, the state of the federation, economic growth, energy, and much more.”

No thank you, Mr. Kenney! You should forget about your dream of being an elder statesman beloved by all if you’re not even willing to forthrightly and bluntly condemn Ms. Smith’s Sovereignty Act for what it is, a gross power grab that will be deeply harmful to Alberta and those of us who live here. 

Instead, Mr. Kenney left the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, of all organizations, to do the heavy lifting on the Sovereignty Act reaction file

Chamber President Deborah Yedlin said today the bill is unsupported by even “a shred of evidence” it will do anything positive for Alberta’s economy. “You can’t tell me this is going to support economic growth and support continued economic diversification in this province,” she said.

Well, at least no one is likely to condemn Mr. Kenney if in future he chooses to use his mom’s nursing home’s address as his legal address for Alberta, as he did back when he was an MP. 

But I think he’s more likely to look next for a condo here in the nation’s capital, where he is a fully paid-up member of the “Laurentian elite,” after all, and is sure to have many congenial friends.

He should be able to afford it: Mr. Kenney’s generous Parliamentary pension from his many days in Ottawa as a Calgary MP is scheduled to kick in on his 55th birthday, May 30, 2023.

That’s the day after Alberta is supposedly scheduled to hold a general election, an event that is unlikely to take place on schedule if the Smith Government’s electoral prospects look as grim next spring as they do right now. 

Join the Conversation


  1. Just call him Jason de Robespierre. The question now is how soon the tumbril will be coming for his successor. Going from bad to worse to catastrophically unfortunate is how these things seem to work with conservatives these days.

  2. It’s weird, in his final statement before departing into private life, Jason Kenney writes a dispatch that reads like a warning for the destruction to come. Democracy is in danger, and there must be a concerted and overwhelming effort to oppose those who seek to destroy it.

    Umm … okay. What have you done with the *real* Jason Kenney?

    It’s pretty rich of Kenney to start sending out mea culpas, considering it was he who created the perilous climate we are not living in. It was his open and brazen courting of the worst people that allowed their hatreds and crazy to enter the mainstream of the political discourse. Now that Danielle Smith has bested Kenney by not only winning the premiership with the loonie vote, she has effectively doubled-down on the more demented aspects of his tenure of governance.

    Does Smith lie? Oh, not only does she tell enormous whoppers, she’s very proud of it. And even when she says she’s walking back her latest giant fib, she tells everyone that they got it wrong in the first place, before she drops another doozy. In other words, she lies to your face and tells you that you’re an idiot for even letting her tell the lie in the first place. Oh, and she’s the premier, so it sucks to be you.

    This is what it has come to, and it will surely last until 2024 and, perhaps, even beyond.

    1. I live on the Left Coast and started following this here blog of Mr. Climenhaga’s because of the implications of one Jason Kenney’s rise to power in Alberta. My wife has her brother residing in St. Albert and one time or another all of our daughters have lived in Alberta for work or education. One daughter and her husband might become Alberta citizens in the future. Kenney’s ascension to premier of Alberta was supposed to be a stepping stone in his rise to leadership of the federal Conservative Party and the Prime Ministership of Canada with Stephen Harper’s backing. Kenny never had interest or investment in Alberta and it shows in the construction of the UCP. He helped build it, constructing and expanding the party by aligning with the anti-democratic loons of the Reformers the way one would extend a house next to a quagmire by building over the quagmire. Then he was shocked to see not only did that part of the house collapse but the heavy rains turned the whole site into a quagmire with the whole house collapsing and sinking, with nothing left to salvage. But hey, of little loss to Jason. Good luck Alberta, you’ll need it.

  3. I had thought Kenney might tough it out until May 30, so he could have an easy financial transition to getting his pension. However, I suspect when he heard about the details of Smith’s ridiculous law he decided to get out ASAP.

    Another hasty departure of a Calgary UCP doesn’t help Smith’s cause, nor does the Chamber of Commerce position. However I suspect Smith will continue to avoid having by elections and just ignore the Chamber. Smith is good at denial, but the Chamber has a valid point. What company in their right mind would be eager to invest in Alberta right now when it looks there might be a massive battle against the Feds? No one want to be caught in the middle of this and the uncertainty that comes with all of this is also very off putting for business investment.

    Of course Kenney wants to be no where near when this all blows up on Smith and the UCP. He may have stoked this, but I am not sure he truly realized what he created. I suspect he at least initially believed he could control it. Unfortunately, fringe Frankenstein (or should we say Dictator Danielle?) is now on the loose in Alberta and is threatening to destroy a lot of things.

    Ottawa is probably much safer and I hear it is quite nice at this time of the year. Perhaps Kenney’s mom will go there for Christmas too.

  4. All I can say is good riddance to another pretend conservative and Reformer who also couldn’t be trusted. He is jumping off the sinking UCP ship. One pretend conservative and Reformer was replaced by another. Albertans have a hard time learning that these pretend conservatives and Reformers aren’t out to help them. This foolishness was never present under Peter Lougheed.

  5. Bloviate. He did have a talent of turning even generous acts into tactless calculations empty of soul and void of heart. That generosity was always with other peoples stuff tho , so there’s that. His squishy sweatiness will long be remembered. Bloviate.

  6. Well, some former MLA’s do better than Jk did, re Michaela Frey— hired by Danielle, as an adviser…..reference: the Tyee, Nov 29….and so it goes…

      1. Here’s a line from the second article:

        “He is just a small guy who I think is way out of his depth and reacts by just bullying and giving ultimatums and keeping his fingers crossed that people will step into line.”

        Surprisingly, that is not a reference to Jason Kenney.

    1. On November 29, talks broke down between AUPE and the University of Lethbridge, so ULeth is potentially facing its second labor strike within a year. Who fomented all this strife at universities? Anyone? Anyone who did a runner on November 29? Is November 29 the new Ides of March?

  7. If Mr. Kenney even remotely believed in the stuff coming out of his mouth about Parliamentary democracy, he would have stayed on as an MLA, and voted against the so-called Sovereignty Act.

  8. A headline lists four Alberta government accusations of Ottawa overreaching. On the list is fertilizer. “The Alberta Government along with Saskatchewan said in July that it was disappointed with Ottawa’s fertilizer emissions reduction target.”
    The best way for Ms. Smith and Mr. Kenney to protest such overreach could be to have a shovelling contest to see who can pile the most fertilizer higher and deeper. TV ratings would approach Super Bowl numbers right across Canada.

  9. The sad little man packs his Penguin suits into a suitcase and decamps the Sky Palace muttering, “Woe is me,” taking a swig of his favorite budget whiskey on the way out. Which is worse: the fact that barely anyone noticed his departure, or that his legacy is a stupid statue of a racist that almost nobody wants? All the great white men fall back to earth eventually.

    1. We all eventually come around to feeling sorry for what we see becomes of various leaders in the game of manufactured instability ,honest misguided,disoriented leaders,pathetic too , we must have sympathy for ourselves as we must repeatedly witness fools being manipulated,knowing the instability is furthering itself with the “cull”
      Albertans desire stability and part of that is saying no to leaders constantly being stuck in trap lines

  10. Wow, I had several scathing remarks for Mr Kenney but between the blogs author and the readers there’s basically nothing left to say, except to state by opinion that if rank and file right wing voters knew or cared what democracy is or whether a given fact is real or really anything except winning the culture war by owning the libs, alberta would have a completely different set of problems.

    Kenneys voters deserve their fair share of scorn. Rubes.

  11. Kind of a funny thought – right wing online culture warriors have been calling Trudeau and Singh communist dictators for months because they don’t know what either of those words mean but they like the way they feel when they type them. If dictators upset right wingers so much, now is their chance to show it.

  12. Killed over 5000 people with a preventable disease in two years, significantly raised the annual death rate in the province, and left with the number one cause of death in the province. Unknown?! Was it terrorists, communists, vampires, werewolves, or perhaps green commie vampire werewolf leftist terrorist radicals! What are the chances his replacement gets to the bottom of it anytime soon. What a sad legacy unless… no unless, sad.

  13. “Oh noooo! All the milk I spilled is all over the place, and it keeps not going back in the jug!”
    -Jason Kenney, lamenting the polarization of Albertan politics.

  14. So, how long before Jason walks into any/all of the below:
    a) contract with the CPC/Poilievre as a consultant (immigrant whisperer)
    b) a job with Stephen Harper’s “Harper & Co.”
    c) a job with Harper’s IDU
    d) a consulting job with the UCP
    e) a consulting job with the SK party
    f) a board job with some CAPP member
    g) a board job with a pipeline company
    …oh, the opportunities are endless.

  15. Seems to me she is tasked with not wasting money on things like by elections when they aren’t required. But keep on putting ndp politics in front of the needs to live within budgets, it’s a good look progressives wanting to waste money and tell everyone they want to waste money. As to kenney, yes he’s a federalist, which is why there is a new premier. A premier who will fight for legitimate alberta needs, like a fair deal. You know unlike notley, who’s connnected at the hip with the federal ndp who want nothing more than to destroy the industry which pays the bills in Alberta and Canada.

    1. Indeed! Why have elections at all when the cabinet can create new laws without going through the hardships of dealing with the legislature? Oh, she’s dropping that provision? Perhaps it will be amended so that the folks who call into talk radio shows can establish the laws in Alberta. That will be much cheaper than holding elections. Democracy is sooo expensive especially when the Supreme Leader has a telepathic understanding of what Albertans want.

  16. It’s an old question, but why did Kenney not contest the first post-Harper CPC leadership race? There was a pretty good chance he could have won. I’ve always thought part of the reason was that most of the other candidates sounded like bigots and he was concerned some of that would rub off on him, potentially spoiling his bid to become [drumroll] Prime Minister which, because of his temperament, history, and proclivities, many observers presumed his ultimate goal. I don’t think he cared much how radicalized the CPC would become while he took a pass for a term or two; rather, I think he presumed that CPC leadership candidacy would be more successful if he came agalloping out of cloud of Prairie dust with a successful unification of the Alberta right and completed provincial premiership on his resume, regardless whatever mire the CPC had gotten itself into in the meantime. The worse it got would probably be welcomed in K-calculus terms.

    Indeed, active schism is a “no-blame” kinda opportunity for the outsider, as K-Boy learned during the destruction of the federal ProgCon party and subsequent “unite-the-right” episode of treachery in which he was baptized, and which he put into practice in the Alberta version (where a number of parties of the right existed at the time). That suggests he was attracted more pheromonally to a schismatic opportunity in Alberta than to a leaderless federal party otherwise united in its bigotry and not yet on the verge of splitting apart. Perhaps he presciently predicted the subsequent schism between the CPC’s SoCon faction and that of blue-flame-libertarian Maxime Bernier who did hive-off to found the People’s Party (there’s no doubt the PPC split the vote on the partisan right, a good case for another “unite-the-right” drive). Perhaps the subsequent attempt to moderate the CPC’s continuing descent down the dark ladder promised even more stress on the fissure along which Kenney wished true schism would occur. After all, it was K-Boy, King of Albetar, who let Erin O’Toole, the main agent of potential CPC schism, kiss his ring and win the Albetarian Royal’s endorsement: insofar as moderate O’Toole sharpened his moderation rhetoric after downplaying it until winning the dubious honour of becoming CPC leader, it seemed to pry the party further asunder than it’d been hitherto.

    However, the timing wasn’t propitious because the Lib-Dippers were granted and won an early election—and O’Toole was, in typical conservative fashion, blamed for the resulting CPC loss and unceremoniously sacked. But the opportunity was spoiled because that happened before Kenney had completed what he’d hoped would be a successful term in Alberta, one that would commend him to both the CPC and the federal electorate.

    K-Boy might have endorsed the moderate schismatic O’Toole for ulterior reason, and then rubbed his palms together at his leadership win, but it couldn’t have been good news when the two Jays were granted an early election and caught K-Boy with his pants down (just like the wily Chrétien did to the hapless Stockwell Day in 2000).

    And just like BC Liberal premier Campbell, after his hero premier Mike Harris’s plan to privatize BC Hydro got the Ontario PC government un-elected, Campbell’s plan to imitate and privatize BC Hydro caught a sudden, deep chill, Kenney, too, took serious fright at the vitriol O’Toole got from his party’s libertarian (mostly Western) faction over his moderate position on Covid restrictions. Just like Campbell, K-Boy started to scramble in the unforeseen circumstances. And, again like Campbell, Kenney went from a big election win to pariah before the term was even half over—from hero to zero in less than a year. And, finally, K-Boy, like Gordo, was forced to resign by his own party.

    And so went Kenney’s plan to ride a great white Western mustang into the House of Commons as former premier of Alberta and father of its next interminable ‘conservative dynasty.’ In fact, neither are likely to ever happen, but it’s fun to speculate—or even fabulate.

    Caron’s is an excellent question: why didn’t Kenney stay an MLA long enough to vote against the Alberta Sovereignty Act? Could it have something to do with his exculpatory ‘bloviation’ which was so poorly received by commenters, may of whom find it hypocritically “rich” considering he is the bequeather of many unCanadian memes his heirs now wallow in? Still, the plea to return to federal politics is fairly plain: talk of high principles, immigration ‘n’ all. Perhaps he calculates that staking any particular position with regard the SA by voting on it, one way or the other, might be detrimental to whatever route back to federal policy he’s contemplating. To repeat, it’s a bit rich in any case.

    For now, the only gleanings must come from his resignation letter which is indeed whiny and bloviating. Still, it’s plain to whom it is addressed, what with nuggets like the Harperesque elevation of parliament to the sovereign’s position, the sneaky SoCon rhetoric of “inviolable dignity of the human person,” and the weird notion of “ordered liberty.” These, not the Westminster system, are “unique,” (as K-Boy mistakenly claimed). Oh well, “rich” again—an embarrassment of riches, that is.

    Speaking of election timing, the federal minority could, as the wily Chrétien’s accusers styled Liberal-granted early elections, “play politics” with the date of the next federal contest. There seems a spate of cookies on guns (banning of “assault-type” rifles), gums (public dental healthcare), and bums (funding diaper patrol in better-funded daycares) while newly-elected CPC leader Pierre Poilievre still hasn’t shaken off the hyper-partisan rhetoric of his recent leadership bid, and while the inquiry into implementation of the Emergencies Act—so damning of PP and the Freedumbites he took selfies with while cabinet weighed the first use of the Act —are still fresh in voters’ minds. Could Kenney be anticipating an early election that would catch the CPC flat-footed, cost PP a victory, and leave the CPC leaderless for the umteenth time? Nothing at this point could be so divisive between the two main CPC factions—a perfect storm for a political opportunist like K-Boy. As he showed with Alberta’s Soldiers of Odium, he might attract enough members of La Meute to neuter Bernier’s PPC. And reunite the right for the umteenth time. What other way is there for Kenney to get back into federal politics? Work his way up from some nobody’s speech-writer?

    Not that I wish Poilievre well at the polls, but if I were him I sure wouldn’t hire Kenney to manage his approaching general election campaign, no matter his CV.

    Wasn’t that always K-Boy’s strategy? Throw his hat in the CPC ring after it’s once again defeated, demoralized, divided and leaderless? He might not have to wait until 2025. But, then again, The Lib-Dippers know this as well as anyone. If they don’t pull the pin soon, I reckon the Liberals will start grooming a new leader while JT plays coy about his leadership plans, drawing CPC fire and fuel the whole while.

    Yet, if there’s a faint hope, I bet Kenney will take it rather than swing from the gallows of political anonymity. As has been mentioned here many times: the man has no shame.

    1. Does anyone have moral obligations in politics,never mind the autonomy to think for their well being of their own constituents ,
      Simply stated ,”no”,lower your expectations and you will never be disappointed ,one’s mind is better for it

    2. They all went to conservatives school,passed the same entrance exams ,we audited and has a lot of fun putting this theory to test ,and one again the chickencounters were so right

  17. The only good legacy Jason Kenney has left behind is a single change to the Elections Finances and Contributions Disclosures Act which dropped the need for an incorporated non profit to be formed before a political party is formed. This will make it slightly easier to form a new party in Alberta which will hopefully come back to haunt the UCP. Alberta still is the most difficult place to form a party in the country thanks to the anti-democratic Conservatives.

    We need to seriously upgrade the political system, not just the electoral system, if we are to have a real true strong and free Province where people can make the decisions that affect their lives rather than politicians screwing that up most of the time.

    1. James: Strong and Free is the UCP’s slogan, not their policy. That said, the changes you cite are not the only good legacy of Jason Kenney’s tenure as premier. There was also the creation of provincial recycling standards which is a teeny-tiny step in the right direction to deal with the chaos created by the prevalence of private sector contractors who refuse to collect recyclable materials for which there is no convenient market. Recycling, of course, should be a publicly run utility. Other that that, there’s … ummm. That’s it. DJC

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