Canada Alberta's Kenney urges party to back him or risk division and election loss to NDP
Alberta premier calls Ottawa's greenhouse gas targets 'nuts'; pledges to fight them
EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is calling Ottawa's federal emissions plan that was tabled in the House of Commons last week "nuts," and is pledging to fight it "with everything we've got." The federal government says the country's oilpatch is capable of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 42 per cent below 2019 levels by 2030. Kenney told his weekly phone-in radio show on Saturday that the plan would require a production cut, which he says would only shift energy production from Canada to places such as "Putin's Russia and the OPEC dictatorships.
EDMONTON — Premier Jason Kenney, in a speech to party members deciding his fate, told them he is an unblemished election winner who saved Alberta from servitude in a dystopian socialist hellscape.
“I’m 12-0!” Kenney said Saturday in a speech before cheering, applauding, whooping, placard-waving supporters in Red Deer.
“I know a thing or two about winning elections.”
The speech to the party formally launched what has become a fractious, acrimonious intraparty fight to determine whether Kenney should remain in charge of the United Conservatives.
Kenney has faced open dissent from some party and caucus members for more than a year, and he made it clear in his speech this vote must end the feuding one way or another.
Opinion: Parties plagued by infighting should look to Saskatchewan
Before the first major coliseum battle in Gladiator, Russell Crowe’s character tells his fellow barbarians that they have a better chance of survival if they work together. Led by Crowe, the barbarians take that advice and surprisingly defeat their opponents, much to the chagrin of Commodus and to the delight of the coliseum crowd. It turns out several political parties in Canada could have learned a lot from Gladiator. After progress in the It turns out several political parties in Canada could have learned a lot from Gladiator.
“If the members decide they want to have a leadership election, I will step aside,” he said.
“But if the members decide that they want to choose the path of unity and stability … then I, and I believe all of our members, will expect every member of our caucus and our team also to respect the decision.”
Ballots will be mailed out this weekend to almost 60,000 party members. They must be returned by May 11, with results announced May 18.
If Kenney gets less then 50 per cent plus one of the votes, a leadership race must be called.
Kenney’s critics say his policies coupled with an imperious, controlling management style have alienated supporters and sent popularity numbers plunging to the point the party could lose the next election to Rachel Notley’s Opposition NDP.
Mandryk: Hospital closures, past NDP budgets already haunting Beck
It has been 48 days since Opposition Leader Ryan Meil i announced he was stepping down and 37 days since Carla Beck kicked off her campaign to replace him as the next Saskatchewan NDP leader. However, it was Monday when we were again reminded how daunting that job is. It’s not as if the Saskatchewan Party hasn’t gifted Beck and the NDP plenty of material to work with. Monday was a rather typical post -budget spring sitting day in which the Opposition scored points in question period on important matters like tax hikes and the price of gas.
Kenney has labelled his opponents racial and religious bigots bent on dismantling his big-tent conservative coalition.
In his speech, he said decisions he had to make during COVID-19, particularly restrictions on personal freedoms, lit the powder keg of anger against him.
“I ask for your forgiveness if there were decisions that we made which you think were wrong or which offended you,” he said.
But he said now is not the time to fight past battles with the next provincial election just around the corner in May 2023.
Video: Premier Jason Kenney defends recorded comments calling party opponents ‘lunatics’ (Global News)
Kenney reminded them he left his job as a Conservative MP to unite feuding conservatives under the new UCP in 2017 and then defeat the NDP in the 2019 election.
He characterized that 2019 campaign as a mission to stop “left wing ideologues who want to turn Alberta into some kind of socialist lab experiment” with an agenda he said had pulverized the economy, atomized jobs and sent thousands fleeing.
FIRST READING: Canada left out of an Anglosphere defence pact (uh, again)
First Reading is a daily newsletter keeping you posted on the travails of Canadian politicos, all curated by the National Post’s own Tristin Hopper. To get an early version sent direct to your inbox every Monday to Thursday at 6 p.m. ET (and 9 a.m. on Saturdays), sign up here. TOP STORY Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom all agreed this week to work together on developing hypersonic weapons (which are kind of like ballistic missiles, except they can zig-zag to their target to avoid radar defences). Conspicuously left out of the agreement is Canada , which happens to share either a border or a head of state with the three participants.
“I decided something had to be done,” said Kenney. “I knew if (the NDP) got a second consecutive term they would fundamentally change this province forever.
“We would lose this province as a beacon of hope.
“They would drive their toxic ideas into our schools, they would regulate and unionize everything that moves, they’d crush businesses with their class warfare politics of resentment, and they’d turn Alberta into a vassal state for (Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau’s Ottawa.”
The ballot question is simple: “Do you approve of the current leader? Yes or No.”
But the process has been tortuous as unhappy party members battled to mark a ballot and have their say.
It was supposed to be before 2022. Then it was supposed to be late in 2022 before it became a one-day, in-person vote Saturday in Red Deer.
But less than three weeks ago, after the membership cutoff date, the UCP board changed it to a provincewide mail-in contest.
The board said widespread interest — with 15,000 party members expected to make the trip to cast a ballot — made the one-day in-person option impossible.
David Staples: No easy answers around the Jason Kenney leadership conundrum
Welcome to Alberta’s days of conundrum. The vote on Jason Kenney’s leadership presents a series of troubling concerns and issues for Kenney, his United Conservative Party, the NDP and the rest of us. Essentially, it’s a difficult moment to discern what’s best for any of us. Let’s start with Kenney. His conundrum is that to win the leadership review — which starts this weekend, with mail-in voting ending May 11 — he’s got to hammer hard on a wing of his party that he and the UCP will need if they’re going to win the next election.
Opponents, including UCP caucus member and Kenney opponent Brian Jean, said they worry the goalposts were moved to broaden the voting base because it had become clear Kenney would lose the in-person contest in Red Deer.
Jean, in statement, said, “Kenney's rhetoric and approach have divided our party. The premier gave a speech that said the choice is between more of the same or Rachel Notley's NDP.
“You know someone is losing when they resort to fear.”
Political scientist Duane Bratt, with Mount Royal University in Calgary, said Kenney's demand of unity if he wins is easier said than done, especially if he gets a slim majority.
“Do you expect (no-voters) to say, ‘You won, we lost, therefore we will work really hard for you and we will volunteer for you and we will donate money to you, and we will run as candidates for you?’
"Or do they just say, ‘We’re walking away.”
“No matter what the result is, I don’t know how this party stays unified.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2022.
Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
FIRST READING: The NDP plan to prop up Trudeau while still hating him .
First Reading is a daily newsletter keeping you posted on the travails of Canadian politicos, all curated by the National Post’s own Tristin Hopper. To get an early version sent direct to your inbox every Monday to Thursday at 6 p.m. ET (and 9 a.m. on Saturdays), sign up here. TOP STORY The federal NDP finds itself in a bit of an awkward position of late. On the one hand, they just signed a deal guaranteeing NDP support for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau until at least 2025. On the other, the party’s messaging relies heavily on its criticisms of the Liberal government. Rather than square these two mutually exclusive ethos, the party is simply doing both at the same time .