Jason Kenney tried hard to convince Albertans that he was one of them. He failed to even convince members of his own party. In a confidence vote, he could only muster 51 percent support, a slight majority but hardly enough for him to continue on as leader. He sensibly announced he was stepping down.
A recent survey by Angus Reid indicates he never caught on with Albertans generally either. Fifty percent were “pleased” or “very pleased” with his resignation. A third were neutral and only 16 percent were “upset.” Not to be unkind, but he just isn’t a very likeable politician.
Nor has his leadership enhanced Albertan’s satisfaction with his government. Their top two concerns are inflation and health care, and seventy percent say the government has performed poorly on both.
Kenney is, however, in good company, you might say. The last six Alberta premiers have spent a total of barely fifteen years in office. Only the NDP leader Rachel Notley completed her term.
Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams suggests that Kenney stoked the anger of Alberta’s disaffection from the rest of the country, and then the anger turned on him. Will his successor follow his lead and continue to feed the anger?
The current leader in the race certainly indicates she will. Danielle Smith, former leader of the defunct Wild Rose Party, promises an “Alberta Sovereignty Act.” According to Smith, “On day one I’m introducing the Alberta Sovereignty Act, authorizing our provincial government to refuse to enforce any federal law or policy that attacks Alberta’s interest or our provincial rights.” The rule of law be damned. So, if this is Kenney’s successor, she will most certainty fan the flames.
The second runner up is Brian Jean, also a former leader of the Wild Rose Party. His slogan “autonomy for Albertans” also sounds a tad secessionist.
Prior to the leadership vote, Kenney said he would stay on to protect the UCP, and the province, from the lunatics in the party. It appears that two of his lunatics are the current front runners.
We Albertans might remind ourselves of the old expression about being careful what you wish for. We wished for the departure of Kenney and, heaven forbid, we could wind up with someone worse. Anyone who thinks the successor can’t be as bad as Jason doesn’t know the UCP as well as he does.
Party caucus and party establishment favourite former finance minister Travis Toews appears to be one of the sane candidates. As to dealing with the feds he has said, “When we deal with these issues there’s a danger in over-promising and under-delivering . . . a bellicose approach that’s full of rhetoric I don’t believe is the strategic way forward.” A bellicose approach not the way forward—definitely not Kenney.
Unfortunately, Toews is currently running a poor third. But he’s gaining and it’s early days. Sanity may yet prevail.