A Letter to Jason Kenney

c/o of UCP

Photo of recipient is attached.

The best available image from flickr with a Creative Commons Licence of Jason Kenney. Photograph courtesy of Policy Exchange via Flickr. Modified size and cropped.

Dear Jason,

Congratulations, on your plan coming together. A United Conservative Party for Alberta, complete with nice set of initials for your new party.

Sweep away the old Progressive Conservatives and Wildrosers.

The UCP is on the march…. Wait…. U — C — P? Really? Oh, that’s just precious Jason, absolutely precious.

There aren’t many Canadian political watchers who have forgotten the C-CRAP, the Canadian Conservative Reform whatever, that had to swap around the initials after being a national joke.

That first conservative merger at the Federal level didn’t exactly take, especially after it ended up electing Stockwell Day as leader.

There were three conservative groups in Parliament for a while, the exact opposite of the whole merger idea too! Jean Chretien greatest allies were all the incompetent conservatives he was facing.

You were also involved (not the naming bit), in that weren’t you?

Oh well, you’ll get that all sorted out sooner or later. Something suitably anodyne and generic.

Has anyone registered the People’s Action Party of Alberta?

Jason, as an opening move in provincial politics, this is an impressive start.

True, others have swept in promising to re-unite the warring conservative factions. Jim Prentice, he really swung for the fences trying to lock in one-party rule. I’ll bet he registered People’s Action, just as a backup brand.

And regardless of what happens with the membership vote, you’ve almost certainly swept aside the remnants of the Progressive Conservatives.

Good riddance.

You’re really more of a Wildrose type anyhow, so no big loss there.

You remember the Wildrose Party right? They’re the province’s official opposition, currently led by Brian Jean, who’s a somewhat better human being than you are. You two know each other right?

That’s right you were both Members of Parliament and part of the Conservative Party of Canada, one big happy Harperite-family.

He’d be a terrible Premier, not as bad as you, but still terrible.

And he’s definitely not as accomplished a pol as you are, well liked but just another Ottawa benchwarmer.

Didn’t even get noticed in the CPC’s jeering squad for Question Period.

Still Parliamentary democracy are built on the folks who don’t ever get to be Ministers of the Crown, the constituency representatives.

The kind of politician you eat for lunch.

Also the kind of guy who comes back and tries to save a party that had just been decapitated by its own leadership and was facing a snap election.

So now he’s Leader of the Opposition. Wait, isn’t that the job you want?

Let’s be honest, the PCs outside of their surviving elected caucus was basically a shell of an organization. They were barely keeping the lights on.

But it still had a legal structure but with many, many of the human positions long empty, the activist energy drained by 40 years of one-party rule. It was perfect for an easy takeover.

Some of your acquaintances tried to take over the Alberta Party but its got people who still care about it, outside of professional obligations.

Not so for the PCs.

I doubt you ever wanted “Final Leader of the Alberta PCs” on your resume but its a big and worthy sacrifice on your part, for Alberta’s sake.

It was just sitting there, its remaining functionaries unable to organize a birthday party, let alone a decent leadership contest. And you had so many activists willing to sign up, many of them already active Wildrose members.

And from there, you could in the name of ‘Conservative Unity’ challenge Brian Jean for leadership. The PCs are just a tool for that purpose.

Now, its not a divisive internal Wildrose fight.

There wasn’t much of the Progressive Conservatives left to unite with Wildrose and they weren’t much of an obstacle to winning the next election.

The unity theatrics were great advertising. But the whole ‘unite-the-right’ thing is ultimately just a scam, so that you can have a chance to steal Brian Jean’s job from him. It’s rightfully yours anyhow, right?

This is the real contest too, I’m sure you think. Whomever is that Wildrose Leader is gonna have a nice easy march to the Premier’s office in 2019.

Why should Jean, who only worked for it, get to take that cake walk?

After being a Minister for a decade, it must suck to go back into Opposition.

No matter how much you respect the position as the basic unit of our parliamentary democracy, being just an MP again must feel like a demotion.

For all the talk about how the Conservative Party came through the election in good shape, the party’s members clearly don’t think they have a chance in hell of forming a government after the 2019 election.

Even now, they’re so very well conditioned to being the second party at the national level. Knowing you had Alberta in stasis probably helped.

In the old days, Federal Conservatives who thought the next election was a write-off, would still try to find some decently competent fall guy to be leader.

Just in case they got lucky and the Liberals self-immolated, as the responsible second party they would have someone plausible ready to go.

The current version of the Federal Conservatives, however, seem to be genuinely torn between doing that or just going for the leadership candidate that will provide maximum lulz.

You weren’t going to be a fall guy leader and you probably know that you’re gonna be a tough sell to most of the country as a Prime Minister.

Not gonna work in 2019. The 2023 election however….

Cooling your heels in opposition in Ottawa until 2023, not even getting to move into Stornoway until 2021 or 2022, not gonna work. Private sector? Wait, you’ve never worked in the private sector. Never mind.

Why not dust off the old Jim Prentice plan? Restore Conservative hegemony in Alberta and catapult yourself into the leadership. You can even tell people you’re only doing it because your country needs you and two terms of Justin Trudeau is just too much.

Won’t actually have to do much of the work of being Alberta’s First Minister either, a year or two tops.

That’s what flunkies are for: someone like Brian Jean but not him. Awkward.

Hell you might even discover that you like the job of being Premier and you want to run our school systems, instead of taking Tough Stands™ on global affairs.

You’re young enough that you can be a three-term Premier and still have a shot at the national leadership. Gotta time it right though.

Have to minimize your poor national profile and other disadvantages. Try and catch everyone when their really sick of Justin Trudeau and maybe he’s finally been tripped up by some scandal.

Lots of possibilities.

I heard you on CBC today, the clip from Friday of you talking to the Calgary station. Love the CBC’s app, great way to catch up on local news.

I love how you managed to sound like you were doing Alberta a huge favour, giving us a chance to redeem ourselves and that letting us mere citizens have this opportunity was a benevolent gesture.

You’ve got the PC arrogance down pat. You’ve managed to make ‘putting Province before Party’ sound smarmy. Well done.

Said all the right things about ‘fiscally conservative, socially progressive.’

I think I imagined the soft choking sound around ‘progressive.’ It’s so blatantly false, everyone’s noticed how cozy and some anti-gay bigots are.

Listening to you promise a return to the good old days of good government, like we had for 40 years under the PCs, I had to laugh. Anyone who’d lived here for a significant chunk remembers plenty of bad government.

I also noted you mentioning that you’re going to need ‘strong measures’ or something like that, when you win in 2019 to get the economy going again.

So basically Wildrose is going to get to lit their long dreamt of wildfire in our public services, so they can slash taxes for the wealthiest and subsidize them with revenue from Alberta’s publicly owned resources.

The price of oil will be whatever it will be and that will have for more impact than anything you do. But Alberta will become a more unjust place.

The good old days indeed.

Jason, you may be a three term Premier of Alberta, leading to a glorious conservative restoration. You may get to give our wealth to rich people and ignore our climate problems and destroy our public services.

But you will never found a political dynasty like Peter Lougheed did. You will never get strut around unchallenged like Ralph Klein.

You will never be as loved and feared as Ernest Manning was.

You will not be widely liked or thought well of, outside of certain quarters. Mostly you’ll be tolerated at the best times.

You will be loathed by many people across this province.

When you retire, no matter how grateful your party is to be intact at the end of your term, they will be glad to see the back of you.

And there will always be that pesky asterisk besides your name in the history books, regarding how you happened to get yourself into the leadership of your new united party.

Winning a couple of general elections may well make that detail seem minor or unimportant for a time.

History will make its judgements and on this aspect, it will not be kind.

As I listened to you Jason (born in Oakville, ON) and to your outmatched foe Brian Jean (born in Kelowna, BC), tell me again how Alberta electing Rachel Notley in 2015 just wasn’t who Albertans were, I realized you have a good chance of pulling this off.

After a decade in Ottawa (serving your constituents, I am sure) it was good to once hear you remind us that Real Albertans™ are conservatives.

There’s a lot going against the NDP Government, mostly from global economic forces and mismanagement of the last two terms of PC rule. Political inertia and apathy are real and powerful forces in politics.

The NDP winning wasn’t a fluke, Albertans could have gone with Wildrose then. They were just as plausible an option and we were done with the PCs.

The smart bet for 2019 is your Frankenstein UCP.

Then we can all enjoy you telling us all about who Albertans are, from the Premier’s chair in the Legislature.

Even if they are a lost cause, the NDP deserve to be supported and fought for in 2019. They’re not going to go down without a fight and I’m going to do whatever I can to help.

Me (born in Calgary, AB) is betting on Team Orange and putting my faith in the people of Alberta. They’ve come through before.

We’re not going back to the old days. No more dynasties.

No more decades between competitive elections. No more pathetic, Liberal opposition of disgruntled conservatives to provide a democratic facade.

We like our parliamentary democracy.

Its still kinda new and we’re still breaking it in, but we’re keeping it. One-party rule, we’re done with that, just as we’re done with the PCs.

I know that so far in your career you’ve never lost an election. Well, as far as I’m concerned, that just means you’re long overdue for that. There’s a first time for everything.

Just like there was a first time for an NDP Government in Alberta. Which was not, by the way, the first time a social democratic government was elected. Alberta’s first true dynasty, the United Farmers, were also the first social democrats to form a government in this province.

Alberta chose the NDP once. It can and will happen again one day. The orange genie is out of the bottle forever.

I think 2019 is going to be a good year to be orange.

Give my love to Brian. I look forward to watching you two duke it out in the UCP thunderdome.

Best regards,

Real Albertan & Wildly Leftwing

P.S. There is one last thing that Brian Jean has, that you don’t. And its one thing that you’ll never have. A Hair Icon from the 2015 Election.

For old times sake, one last time, the hair icons. From top left: 1. Premier Rachel Notley, NDP, 2. Brian Jean, Leader of the Official Opposition, Wildrose, 3. Dr. David Swann (still) interim Leader, Liberals, 4. Greg Clark, Party Leader, Alberta Party, 5. Jason Kenney, (last) Party Leader, Progressive Conservatives

One last thing….

Albertans come in many varieties, whether from neighbouring provinces or foreign countries, we’re all a part of our civic community and that’s a good thing. Trying paint those of us, of a different political leaning as somehow ub-Albertan however, is a tactic with a long and disgusting history. That this entire episode of NDP rule has not yet disabused you of this notion, is telling. So my fellow Albertans, Jason and Brian, I can only say this: fuck you.
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