Thursday, July 14, 2016
Is Jason Kenney's Alberta Crusade Heading for Disaster?
As we all know, Jason Kenney has set out to conquer Alberta by uniting the right.
And he has launched an all-out blitz to try to discourage anyone from even entering the leadership race for the heart and soul of that province's Progressive Conservative party.
So I was not surprised to see this poll come along to support that assault.
But is Kenney really heading for victory or is he heading for disaster?
For while he has made some progress in uniting the right. As Jen Gerson reports, that's only because some of those he would convert to his cause are uniting against him.
Federal Conservative MP Jason Kenney may indeed be on the cusp of uniting Alberta’s right; if rumours prove true, provincial conservatives of all stripes, long divided by ideology and personal acrimony, may be on the verge of uniting — against him.
Ringing endorsements of Kenney by both former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and current federal Conservative leader Rona Ambrose have infuriated more than a few long-time provincial Progressive Conservative organizers and volunteers.
The endorsement he received from Stephen Harper seems to have hurt him rather than helped him...
At an Alberta PC Stampede pub night in Calgary on Monday the phrase “they should have minded their own business” was overheard more than a few times. Kenney himself showed up to wave his flag at the event, to an atmosphere described by several of its hundred attendees as “tense.”
Kenney's appearance at that PC event couldn't have proved more revealing.
Or more embarrassing.
Surrounded by his own supporters for much of the evening, there was a noticeable physical gap between Kenney’s crowd and the rest of the Red Tories. In a room filled with cowboy hats and jangly earrings, potstickers and beer, Kenney — an apparently legendary retail politician — managed to alienate or ignore several key PC executives, organizers and volunteers.
And as the ex-Con Brent Rathgeber writes, Harper's betrayal of Wildrose leader Brian Jean, could also do Kenney great damage.
Wildrose Leader Brian Jean was in the crowd for this year’s riding association BBQ — feeling less than festive, no doubt. Patrons were expecting Harper merely to announce that he was resigning as their MP. Instead, he enthusiastically and unequivocally endorsed Jason Kenney for the leadership of the PC Party of Alberta — instantly turning a social gathering into a campaign event.
For it was a betrayal. The Wildrose crowd was not impressed...
Harper’s name still carries a lot of weight in Alberta, but his popularity grows as you move rightward on the political spectrum. Which is why his endorsement of Kenney ruffled feathers among some of Harper’s strongest loyalists — people who happen also to be Wildrose supporters. Jean’s supporters, speaking out on social media in recent days, have been voicing their disappointment with the fact that Harper failed even to throw their man a bone.
So instead of mowing down his opponents, Kenney may only have shot himself in the foot.
In the past week, Jason Kenney has antagonized several key PC players and many party supporters, while Harper has offended Brian Jean and his loyalists. Unification in politics is the art of making disparate players into a single unit. What we’re seeing play out in Alberta’s Right is a nuclear explosion waiting to detonate.
And the way he is going he could end up blowing his chances of unifying the warring parties, right out of the water.
On paper, the unification math looks simple: Bring groups 1 and 4 together, depose Jean and maroon all the progressives and Red Tories in the ‘mushy middle’. The situation on the ground is far more complex. Kenney could end up in charge of a party tent that’s once again too small to win back power in Alberta — one that looks remarkably similar to Wildrose.
Which shouldn't surprise anyone who has followed his long and sordid career.
For the man is a bigot, a bully and a loser.
And with a little bit of luck his crusade to unite the right.
Will end up going nowhere....
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