Canada: Opinion | Jabs between Kenney and Notley reach new level of ridiculousness - - PressFrom - Canada
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Canada Opinion | Jabs between Kenney and Notley reach new level of ridiculousness

16:45  08 november  2019
16:45  08 november  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

Ignorant and disloyal? Alberta's Kenney and Notley swap personal attacks

  Ignorant and disloyal? Alberta's Kenney and Notley swap personal attacks EDMONTON — A legislature meeting on budget numbers got personal Thursday, when Premier Jason Kenney accused NDP Leader Rachel Notley of being ignorant to Alberta's plight and Notley questioned his loyalty to Canada. The angry cross-talk erupted when Notley asked Kenney why he is threatening to hold a referendum on equalization, even though Alberta has no direct power to change the constitutionally protected federal funding program.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Just when you thought Alberta politics couldn't get any more divisive or combative or just plain ridiculous, you get Thursday morning's legislative committee meeting where NDP leader Rachel Notley butted heads with Premier Jason Kenney.

The committee was examining the spending estimates of the premier's office for 2019.

But Notley happily cast a wide net to question Kenney on a host of issues including the UCP's 2017 leadership race, Kenney's plans to fight the federal equalization program, and a $16,000 charter plane trip for Kenney's premier friends and their wives.

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This was like question period but on steroids. Notley was not limited to the kind of brief exchanges she has with Kenney in the legislative assembly each afternoon but was allowed to delve into topics at length. And delve she did.

She delved until she hit bone and nerve.

She attacked Kenney for spending $16,000 of public money to charter a plane to fly three premiers and their spouses from Calgary to Saskatoon for the Council of the Federation meeting last July.

She called it a "gross misuse of public funds" to have the Alberta government "flying Conservative premiers from other provinces who have their own budgets, and their wives, and their staff from Calgary to Saskatoon."

Kenney shot back that he was simply building alliances with "like-minded" premiers "to help to protect this province, its jobs, and its interest, against a hostile federal government."

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This is how it went for more than an hour with Notley, who turned what can be a terribly boring budget-related committee hearing into a cudgel to politically beat Kenney about the head.

Besides blaming Kenney — the self-described defender of tax dollars — of misusing tax dollars, she accused the self-described federalist of cynically fanning the flames of western alienation for his own political ends.

She ridiculed his proposal for a public referendum on the federal equalization program, pointing out that he is misleading Albertans by suggesting that he, as a provincial premier, can change a federal program.

"Do you think it is responsible as the premier and also a minister who has an obligation as a member of this federation to put to the people of Alberta that they vote on something that you know you cannot deliver?" asked Notley. "And then to speak out of the other side of your mouth about how you're worried about concerns around western separation."

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Jason Kenney, Rachel Notley looking at the camera: Jason Kenney and Rachel Notley debated heavily at Thursday's legislative committee meeting.© Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Jason Kenney and Rachel Notley debated heavily at Thursday's legislative committee meeting.

It was here that both politicians managed to take their debate down the rabbit hole.

An irritated Kenney accused Notley of questioning his patriotism.

"I resent the leader of the opposition casting aspersions on my loyalty," said Kenney. "I am, and always will be a proud Canadian."

Notley had not questioned Kenney's patriotism. However, Kenney's verbal misdirection served its purpose by changing the topic.

He then accused Notley of diminishing and ridiculing Albertans who feel alienated in their own country.

She had not done that (Kenney has himself in recent weeks referred to western separatism as a "ridiculous concept") but he managed to knock her off stride. Suddenly, she was on the defensive.

"Let me be clear: In no way, shape or form did I do that," said Notley, clearly irritated with Kenney for being so slippery. "I find it offensive every time – "

But she never got to finish her thought.

UCP MLA Glenn van Dijken, chair of the committee, called them both to order and announced time for that topic had run out.

Opposition calls out Alberta premier's principal adviser over travel expenses

  Opposition calls out Alberta premier's principal adviser over travel expenses EDMONTON — Alberta's Opposition says one of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney's top advisers spent almost $19,000 in taxpayer money for flights, meals and hotels on four trips to London. NDP ethic critic Heather Sweet told a news conference in Edmonton that principal adviser David Knight-Legg has expensed three times more than any other member of the premier's staff.

It had been a ridiculous exchange, with each claiming to be more patriotic than the other, perhaps proving the old adage that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

During Thursday's meeting, Notley even veered into the issue of the 2017 UCP leadership race that is under an RCMP investigation into complaints of voter fraud.

Kenney has long denied he or his campaign officials did anything wrong.

But it is a knife that Notley enjoys thrusting and twisting.

This is the current state of Alberta politics.

The premier and leader of the Official Opposition are like two vipers in a bottle.

Alberta politics is more polarized than ever before. We've seen deep divisions in the past between the government and the Opposition. But this is the Grand Canyon of divides.

We have a new government determined to wipe out all vestiges of the previous government. We have an opposition comprised, for the first time in Alberta history, of a former premier and almost a dozen former cabinet ministers.

The UCP and NDP are so hostile on so many issues that there seems little or no room for compromise.

As we saw Thursday morning, it is a political hostility made flesh in Notley and Kenney.

This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

Opinion | Kenney might be bilingual but he needs to learn a new language .
Alberta and Quebec have been strong allies in the fight for provincial rights, more money for health care and more provincial powers in international trade. But one discordant issue has been increasing in volume for years: climate change. Heading to the annual premiers' conference in Halifax in 2002, for example, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein complained that Quebec, developing its hydro power, was hypocritically targeting Alberta's emissions from the oilsands: "We should also consider the environmental impact of other forms of green energy, hydro power in particular, and the impact that the development of huge dams and reservoirs could

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