The premier of Alberta has a mission, one that goes beyond leading the UCP and running the province. He must save his party from lunatics. At least according to a chat he had with his party’s caucus staff.
He doesn’t need the jobs of party leader and premier, he told them. He could just take a walk. He could go to the private sector, have his evenings and weekends off.
But such luxuries are not for him. He must stay on. Why? Well, in his words, “The lunatics are trying to take over the asylum. And I’m not going to let them.” Referring to the UCP as an asylum might be a bit strong, although it is beginning to appear that way and as for lunatics, it seems to have no shortage of them. But couldn’t someone else, Brian Jean, former leader of the Wildrose, for instance, maintain the sanity of the party? Perhaps not. Perhaps the premier considers Jean to be one of the crazies.
The idea of Kenney opting out of politics to have his evenings and weekends off simply isn’t credible. Politics is almost all he’s ever done and he’s never manifested much of an interest in anything else. It’s his life.
What is surprising is his opinion of his own party. Hillary Clinton referred to her opponent’s supporters as “deplorables,” Kenney finds them in his own party. And a major force in the party at that. He warns that without the right leadership they could take over and his “mainstream conservative party” would “become an agent for extreme, hateful, intolerant, bigoted and crazy views.”
But perhaps this isn’t so surprising. After all, his tone is classic Kenney. This is a man who would rather fight than negotiate, a man after his mentor Stephen Harper’s heart—a man who sees the world in black and white, us and them. Like Harper he’s big on control with no tolerance for dissent. If he’s being opposed, if he’s losing control, his instinct is to brawl. His instinct is to demonize and attack.
So far it’s worked for him. From a leading minister in the Harper government, he went on to head the Alberta Conservatives, then the leadership of the combined Conservative and Wildrose parties, and finally to premier of the province. An impressive record indeed.
We’ll soon see if the magic continues to work. His leadership is now to be voted on by party members with the results made public on May 18th. Even the lunatics will be casting a ballot.