Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, dating back to his college days, has never been comfortable with people who hold divergent views. Perhaps chief among the views he despises the most are those of environmentalists.
That may account for his surprise at responses to recent policies of his government. For example, early last year the UCP announced a plan to fully or partially close 20 provincial parks and identified others “for proposed removal from the system.” The backlash was immediate and strong. And it wasn’t restricted to environmental groups. Even in wealthy, old-money enclaves such as Calgary’s Mount Royal, signs reading “Defend our parks” sprung up like the proverbial mushrooms. This is conservative fund-raising heaven and each one of these signs must have felt like a stab in the heart to the premier.
And then there was the coal mining fiasco. Following their declaration of park policy, the UCP announced it was killing the coal policy set by the Lougheed government. The policy had protected the eastern slopes of the Rockies from coal mining for over forty years. Once again the reaction was fierce. Environmentalists, municipalities, ranchers, a medley of country musicians and other assorted Albertans expressed their dismay at potential defiling of the iconic eastern slopes.
Kenney, given his opinion of environmentalists, was very likely greatly surprised to discover there were so many under Alberta’s beds.
More recently he has received a surprise from the other side of the political spectrum, starting with a caucus revolt. Almost half of his party’s back-benchers wrote him a letter criticizing his approach to the pandemic, accusing him of imposing excessive measures. As it turned out, the measures haven’t been strong enough and Alberta now has the highest infection rate in North America. The premier has had to impose even stricter measures. This has brought out the right-wing crazies. He has received death threats, one of which stated “We know where your mother lives.” (His 83-year old mother lives alone.)
For a man who isn’t comfortable with divergent views, all this must be bewildering. Red-blooded Alberta conservatives over here vigorously defending the environment against development; red-blooded Alberta conservatives over there threatening their leader. Has the conservative world gone mad? No, Mr. Kenney, it’s just Alberta doing its thing.