In a secret pep talk to his troops Tuesday, revealed yesterday by the CBC, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said he’s only sticking around as leader of the United Conservative Party to keep the “lunatics” from “trying to take over the asylum.”
In May 2020, Kenney’s social media flying monkeys excoriated Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan for having referred to charter and religious school operators who refused to follow Alberta’s curriculum as “nutbars.”
“Ole Gab,” as former Kenney issues manager Matt Wolf liked to call McGowan in his characteristic personal attacks, was “insulting thousands of Albertans” said the UCP’s United Alberta sock-puppet Twitter account.
Now Kenney is calling similar numbers of his own party’s members not just lunatics, but extreme, hateful, intolerant, bigoted and holders of crazy views!
What a difference a couple of years can make!
Well, to pile on the clichés, that was then and this is now, and desperate times call for desperate measures.
Heaven knows — or Premier Kenney does, anyway — that these are desperate times, with his once and future leadership rival Brian Jean halfway back into caucus after a March 15 byelection victory in Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche with a plan to replace the foundering former federal cabinet minister as premier and “save” the province from the NDP.
Jean, presumably, will be sworn in as an MLA eventually.
“I don’t say this stuff publicly, these are just kooky people generally,” Kenney told his (mostly) loyal staffers, gathered together to rally their spirits before the premier’s upcoming day of destiny, the leadership review he faces at the party’s annual general meeting in Red Deer on April 9 and the controversial mail-in vote that will follow it.
Apparently his five-minute inspirational was supposed to be confidential, on the QT, just between them and him — so, naturally, somebody at the meeting recorded it on their smartphone and leaked it to the national broadcaster.
One imagines a mole hunt worthy of James Jesus Angleton is now underway among the ranks of the UCP’s myriad spokesthingies! Unless, of course, there’s something to the school of thought Kenney had his comments intentionally leaked to save the UCP’s vote in Calgary by demonizing his party’s rural base. This kind of rhetorical three-dimensional chess is possible, I suppose, but not very likely.
In the meantime, tout le monde political Alberta is analyzing — and laughing at — Kenney’s bons mots.
He claimed to have considered quitting in the face of opposition from his party base. “What’s the easiest path for me? Just to take a walk. I don’t need this job. I could go to the private sector, have my evenings, weekends off,” he said according to the CBC’s report.
Can’t you just see Jason Kenney spending long, reflective weekends... doing what exactly? The man has no life other than politics! Anyone who believes this whopper doesn’t know much about Kenney!
He continued: “I thought a lot about it, honestly, before Christmas, and I decided that would be grossly irresponsible because if we were to have a leadership election in this context, it would, I think, permanently divide us.” And that, Kenney said — cue the menacing theme music — would “hand the NDP the next election.”
Well, once more unto the breach dear friends, once more!
Since it was a private gathering, Kenney felt confident enough to all but admit he can’t win an honest election against Jean. “Normal internal politics I can handle. I can handle that. There’s nothing normal about this.”
This explains the switecheroo to the latest version of the UCP voting scheme — which Jean called “a travesty” the day before yesterday — that will allow members signed up by March 15 to mail in their ballots until May 11.
Since it’s now legal in Alberta for folks with deep pockets to pay their supporters’ membership fees — and for memberships to be purchased for people who haven’t even given permission for their identities to be used — it’s thought by Jean’s supporters the chance a fraudulent election result will be announced on May 18 is high.
On Wednesday, the former Wildrose Party leader beaten by Kenney for the UCP leadership in the party’s tainted 2017 election said in a Facebook video he would consider legal action to challenge the rule change. He said he would have more to say about his plans yesterday.
There was no official word from the Jean camp yesterday about next moves, but I understand they have all but given up on the idea of a legal challenge and will settle for a promise of arbitration in the event of a dispute instead.
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