Alberta Politics

Jason Kenney’s hostile takeover of Alberta’s PC Party is complete

Former federal politician Jason Kenney won the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta today, as was widely expected. Kenney received the support of 75 percent of the delegates attending the party’s voting meeting today at the Hyatt in downtown Calgary.

Richard Starke
Richard Starke

His only opponents, Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA Richard Starke and Calgary lawyer Byron Nelson, earned 21 percent and two percent support from the voting delegates.

Kenney’s leadership bid was more of a hostile takeover than a traditional leadership campaign. The central point of his platform was his plan to dissolve the 8-MLA PC Party and form a new party with the official opposition Wildrose Party. Kenney has said he plans to meet with Wildrose leader Brian Jean on Monday to further discuss his plans.

Over the course of the campaign, Kenney and his legions of social conservative supporters, many who also happen to be card-carrying members of the Wildrose Party, worked tirelessly to marginalize progressive voices in the party. Two leadership candidates, Sandra Jansen and Stephen Khan, said they and their supporters faced threats and bullying by Kenney’s supporters before they dropped out of the race. Jansen later crossed the floor to join the New Democratic Party and Khan endorsed Starke.

Kenney’s reputation for being a focused campaigner helped him win an overwhelming number of delegates at the local constituency votes. The lethargic and uninspiring campaigns mounted by his opponents were left in the dust.

Sandra Jansen
Sandra Jansen

But even with such a commanding lead, Kenney’s campaign couldn’t stop itself from getting into trouble. His campaign was fined $5,000 for breaking party rules and the party executive was faced with complaints from former MLAs and calls for Kenney to be disqualified from the race. One of his key organizers, Alan Hallman, was expelled from the party and was reportedly charged with assault last night at the convention hotel.

Despite all the big talk by party stalwarts about the strength of the progressive-wing of the party, the political moderates just did not show up to vote in this race. The progressives who showed up in droves to vote for Ed Stelmach in 2006 and Alison Redford in 2011 stayed home this time. Or maybe they, like Sandra Jansen, like what they see from Rachel Notley’s NDP government?

Alberta Party leader Greg Clark said this week that Kenney-ally Preston Manning is eyeing his party’s name, even going so far as to offer Clark a cabinet spot in a future government. It was only one year ago that the Kenney-front group Alberta Can’t Wait attempted a takeover of the Alberta Party.

Brian Jean Wildrose Leader
Brian Jean

Clark claims that a number of former PC MLAs and activists, including former deputy premier and vocal Kenney critic Thomas Lukaszuk, are in discussions with his party. This may be related to an upcoming “unite the centre” event in Red Deer that former PC MLA and Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel is said to be behind. Another former PC MLA, Heather Klimchuk, said in an interview on The Broadcast podcast that she is watching St. Albert mayor Nolan Crouse‘s campaign to lead the Liberal Party.

What we discovered today is that less than two years after Alberta’s natural governing party lost its first election in 44 years, the PC Party is a shell of its former self and was ripe for a takeover by Wildrose Party supporters.

In his victory speech, Kenney confidently told delegates at the PC Party convention that he plans to repeal all the changes made by the NDP when he becomes Premier in 2019. That would mean the repeal of policies unpopular with conservatives, like the carbon tax, the Climate Leadership Plan and new farm safety laws, all introduced by the NDP.

Thomas Lukaszuk
Thomas Lukaszuk

If Kenney is true to his word this would also mean that corporate political donations would be reintroduced, small business taxes would be increased, the minimum wage would be lowered, school fees would be increased, the wealthiest Albertans would get tax cuts, and laws protecting sexual minorities from discrimination would be repealed.

When Kenney pledged today to repeal all of the changes made by the NDP, he was not talking to the now former progressive-wing of the PC Party. He was talking to the social conservative and rural base of the Wildrose Party.

Now that the takeover of the PC Party is complete, Kenney will set his sights on his main challenger for the leadership of a new conservative party, Wildrose leader Brian Jean.

8 replies on “Jason Kenney’s hostile takeover of Alberta’s PC Party is complete”

Gotta be honest, Crouse doesn’t really strike me as all that interesting. I’m not even sure he could secure his own seat in St. Albert, let alone lead a revivification of the Liberals (as much as I’d like him to!). Maybe he isn’t completely in campaign mode yet, I don’t know.

Now Clark, I can see him going places. Like, third. He won’t go far beyond that, given Notley is still popularish (37% approval is nothing to scoff at these days). As much as it pains me, I think the next electoral battle will be between the left and right straight up. And I don’t think Jason Kenney scares as many centrists as you think he does.

What many fail to realize, is that in Canada, including Alberta, we don’t really have a binary, left-right political culture. We have two axes of political alignment, one along the economic-fiscal policy continuum of levels of government intervention in the economy, and the other along the continuum of levels of government control over peoples’ lives, which encompasses the so-called social issues and “family values”. The Alberta NDP as it currently exists is for a very modest amount of government intervention in the economy, and a fair degree of personal freedom and social libertarianism; the Wildrose are in favour of minimal government intervention in the economy and greater limitations on personal freedom, especially where it involves individuals whose lifestyles are different from the mainstream: LGBTQ individuals for example.

The PCs have traditionally been all over the map on both axes throughout their 44-year history in government, reflecting the pushes and pulls of a “big tent” conservative party trying to reconcile social conservatives with social progressives; however, more recently the so-con wing of the PCs has gone over to the Wildrose, leaving a more socially moderate PC party which is still conservative on the economic-fiscal axis.

In my view, we will never see a true two-party system with the NDP on the left and the Wildrose or KenneyCons on the right; while there may be a dichotomy on economic-fiscal policy, there are still a lot of economic-fiscal conservatives that hold moderate to progressive views on social policy, and who will find a home neither in the NDP, which is too lefty for them, nor in the KenneyCons, which is too so-con for them. Do they now leave the PC party for the Liberals? The Alberta Party? So they throw up their hands in disgust and walk away from electoral politics altogether? We’ll just have to wait & see, I think …

Dave, You wrote “Despite all the big talk by party stalwarts about the strength of the progressive-wing of the party, the political moderates just did not show up to vote in this race.” Last year I joined the Alberta PC party with the intention to stop Jason Kenney from becoming the leader and only after I joined did I learn that all the voting delegates for my riding had already been selected. It appears to me that the changes the party put in place to stop the selection of another Alison Redford effectively silenced the votes of new members and ensured the win of Mr. Kenney. If given the opportunity, I will vote against the plan to create a new party although I expect Mr. Kenney and the big money that backs him will continue to get what they want.

Ken I was one of those that voted for the delegate system. I stand by my vote in that regard. Heck Prentice received an even higher % than Kenney did under the old system.

Ken to be honest, it wasn’t just new members hoping to stop Kenney who were silenced. I serve on my CA Board and even though I stood as a delegate I didn’t make it. The night of the DSM the room was filled with people we in the CA had never seen before. There was a full slate of Kenney delegates, only one of them known to us. I needn’t tell you how that unfolded. One woman was a delegate at the convention that gave us Lougheed and she didn’t make it as a delegate for this convention. Others with decades of work for the PC’s were equally unsuccessful. We were all displaced by the Wildrose imports. The same story played out in way too many DSM meetings.

At the heart of all of this is a completely irrational hatred for the NDP. Of course this is in no small part to the campaign of misinformation by the WRP which has been ongoing since May 5th. 2015. That’s how Kenney got his numbers. I expect this scenario to play out continually until the next election.

Right now my biggest fear is vote splitting in the centre and left. So I have made my decision to support our current NDP government. They are in the best position to defeat Kenney in 2019. That has to be the priority for anyone with a progressive bone in their body.

So let the fight begin.

“… the political moderates just did not show up to vote in this race.” They were swamped by WRP operatives signing up to skew the results.

The failing of PCAA was allowing Kenney to run in the first place.
“The argument for banning him was quite credible. Leadership candidates are supposed to promote the best interests of the party. Arguably, abolishing the party doesn’t quite meet that standard.”
– Don Braid, January 18, 2017

An amazing number of Albertans who helped with our petitions last winter that asked the NDP to hold Plebiscites on Bill 6 and Carbon Taxation got active in party politics in 2016. And I know for a fact that most picked one or the other of the Wildrose or PC parties to join, not both. During our petition drive we asked people to join whichever one best suited their beliefs with a goal of reunification. Well before Jason announced his leadership under a Unite the Right platform. As a matter of fact most of the prognosticators on the left laughed when I stated that the right would unite by 2018. The membership numbers in both parties has climbed equally over the past year. The votes to reunite will be solidly in favour. But here’s the thing most of you haven’t yet seen. The policies and constitution will be far more Inclusive and non threatening on any of the typical issues that the left likes to smear the right with. Because grassroots Albertans aren’t the Homophobic, Islamophobic, Misogynistic and Racist misanthropes you believe them to be. It was my message of basing all your actions upon LOVE for family, friends and fellow Albertans that drew over 1200 volunteers to our petition efforts. And that same philosophy has been helpful in exhibiting that we do indeed LOVE LGBTQ and Muslim neighbors as they are also definitely family, friends and fellow Albertans. I hope this helps you all realize that there is little to fear from a reunited right except for the socialist policies that in our opinion promote destructive entitlements ahead of an abundance of opportunity.

Oh George Clark. You also claimed that you had a secret legal mechanism that would force the Queen to call an election in Alberta and then you told people to buy NDP memberships to takeover that party.

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