Alberta Politics

Jason Kenney emerges from hiding at Conservative fundraising dinner in Vancouver

As Premier Rachel Notley returns from leading a ten-day economic trade mission to China and Japan, political watchers have been wondering where the recently elected leader of the Progressive Conservative Party has been? Jason Kenney appeared to go into hiding around a month ago after he sparked controversy with his comments about Gay-Straight Alliances and outing gay kids in Alberta schools during an interview with the Postmedia editorial board in Calgary.

Vancouver-based website TheBreaker reported this week that Kenney was recently spotted in British Columbia speaking at a $500-a-plate federal Conservative Party fundraising event at Hy’s Steakhouse in downtown Vancouver. Kenney tweeted that he was in Vancouver for a conference, but did not mention any other political activities the PC Party leader has been engaged in on the west coast.

The website author, journalist Bob Mackin, alleged that Kenney urged guests at the fundraising dinner to support the BC Liberal Party of Christy Clark in the province’s May 9 general election and that a new conservative  party could be formed in Alberta as soon as this weekend.

Readers will remember that a question first asked on this blog on December 5, 2016 about whether the Alberta New Democratic Party would lend a hand to their BC cousins led to a decree by Notley banning any west coast election-related travel by her government’s political staffers. The BC NDP under the leadership of John Horgan oppose the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain Pipeline, a project that the Notley NDP are firmly in favour of.

According to the latest opinion poll, conducted on April 22, 2017, Horgan’s NDP leads Clark’s Liberals 44 percent to 34 percent, with an insurgent Green Party led by Andrew Weaver polling at 22 percent support.

Meanwhile, as the unite-the-right discussions continue, a new poll released by Mainstreet Research asking Albertans who they would prefer as leader of a merged Wildrose-PC party showed Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean leading Kenney with 29 percent to 24 percent support. Twenty-four percent of respondents chose “Someone Else” and 23 percent were unsure, suggesting that there could be appetite for a third or fourth candidate to enter the contest (some Conservative activists have suggested outgoing interim federal Conservative leader Rona Ambrose could fill this void).

Jean has been criss-crossing the province holding town hall meetings ostensibly to collect feedback on the party merger, but in reality he is campaigning for the leadership of the yet-to-be-named and yet-to-be-merged Wildrose-PC party.

I am told that one of the significant issues of debate between the leadership of the two conservative parties is the timeline for a leadership vote. Jean has firmly said the leader of a new party should be chosen before October 15, 2017 while Kenney has been saying since last year that he wants a founding convention to be held in late 2017 before a leadership vote takes place in early 2018.

Jean’s preferred timeline appears to be more sensible, as it would allow a leader to hold court over a founding convention that could be unruly and filled with bozo-erruptions if a leader is not in place to keep the rowdy membership base in line. Kenney’s preference would buy him more time to compete with Jean in a leadership vote, which he might need now that he has decided to lend himself out to conservative fundraising efforts in British Columbia.

4 replies on “Jason Kenney emerges from hiding at Conservative fundraising dinner in Vancouver”

Somehow, I don’t think there will be any shortage of bozo eruptions.

2. Man, I hope those BC poll numbers hold up, just because Clark is so casually corrupt she’s lowering the bar for politics in Western Canada.

When you begin to unpack the Jean rationale for an early leadership campaign, it’s apparent that Jean just may be hedging his bets by promoting an early vote. If he should lose the leadership vote he still has time to throw his hat in the ring for the mayoralty race in the Wood Buffalo district. I just don’t see the two leaders coexisting in a new party.

Kenney on the other hand has tapped the well dry with financial contributions from the PC leadership race. The added time parameter allows his campaign team the time necessary to hit his leadership donors up for more cash after suffering donation fatigue. Kenney would prefer a much longer leadership campaign to get his political ducks in a row — Jean, not so much.

Kenny may be an experienced politician and a good organizer, but he is not that popular and he know it. He might have thought he would be viewed as a hero for his Unite the Right efforts, but it seems that voters would rather have some one else unite the right. He is trying to buy more time to organize and fundraise which are his real strengths.

His sortie to Vancouver seems a bit curious given that he was supposed to be spending his time talking to Wildrose about how to set up a united party and that was his main mission right now. I wonder if keeping his toe in the federal political scene is a sign he now realizes it may be a more certain or better career move for him than attempting to lead a united provincial Conservative party in Alberta.

Perhaps the best leadership strategy right now is for Kenney is to legally change his name to “Someone Else”. However, I suspect that is as likely to happen as that internet driven petition years ago to get Stockwell Day to change his name to Doris.

I am of the opinion that Mr. Kenneys’ forays to BC indicate he is keeping his options open in case his Alberta leadership campaign does not succeed, so he can eventually resume his long career in Federal politics, as he is far from retirement age, has little experience or interest outside of politics and has no wife or children to spend time with.

I think a lot of Conservatives though the dour Kenney would some how catch on with Albertans and are genuinely surprised how lukewarm the reception has been. I suspect the “someone else” they want now is Rona Ambrose, who will be free to go wherever she wants after the next Federal Conservative leader is chosen. However, if I was her I would be mindful of the recent terrible past experience of Federal Conservatives trying to jump into Alberta provincial politics. It might seem like an easy transition, but it may be more perilous than it appears.

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