Calgary Herald - - EDITORIAL -

Jason Ken­ney has hand­ily won elec­tion to Par­lia­ment sev­eral times. He has also over­seen the demise of two strong, es­tab­lished po­lit­i­cal forces — the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Party of Al­berta and the Wil­drose Party.

Ken­ney, 49, also moulded the for­ma­tion of the United Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Party of Al­berta, of which he de­ci­sively won the lead­er­ship of on Satur­day, claim­ing just over 61 per cent of the votes. What Ken­ney has achieved in re­cent months is im­pres­sive, even set­ting aside his ear­lier ac­com­plish­ments as a Stephen Harper cabi­net min­is­ter and some­one who sin­cerely reached out to new Cana­di­ans and brought them into the Tory fold. At every step of the way, he has risked the pos­si­bil­ity of fail­ure. His tenac­ity, which in­cluded driv­ing a blue pickup truck around the province in a bid to kin­dle an in­ter­est in his cause — and yes, it was his cause — has to be ac­knowl­edged.

And so does the labour of Brian Jean, who stepped for­ward to sal­vage the rem­nants of the Wil­drose. He’s a rare breed in pol­i­tics: kind, car­ing, thought­ful and ef­fec­tive. Al­ber­tans can only hope he chooses to stick around as a wise voice the UCP will need mov­ing for­ward. The party will also need the tem­per­ing in­flu­ence of Doug Sch­weitzer, who has quickly dis­tin­guished him­self as some­one who ap­pre­ci­ates the rea­soned sen­si­tiv­i­ties of Al­ber­tans.

Win­ning the hearts and minds of the elec­torate will be Ken­ney’s great­est chal­lenge, af­ter all. He has suc­cess­fully tapped into the re­sent­ment of con­ser­va­tives over the di­rec­tion the Rachel Not­ley gov­ern­ment has taken the province in. He’ll quickly dis­cover, if he hasn’t al­ready, that it’s one thing to stand on the side­lines and of­fer clev­erly crafted crit­i­cism of over­spend­ing. It’s a dif­fer­ent feat to of­fer real-life reme­dies for the bur­den­some deficits that have plagued Al­berta un­der var­i­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions.

Not­ley and her min­is­ters have fear mon­gered for years about the toll of so-called reck­less cuts that would bring Al­berta spend­ing closer in line with other prov­inces. For­mer premier Jim Pren­tice, to some ex­tent, lost the 2015 elec­tion be­cause of his re­al­is­tic ap­praisal that gov­ern­ment was spend­ing too much and col­lect­ing too lit­tle.

Al­ber­tans will wait to see what Ken­ney does next. And equally, what Not­ley, who has al­ways proven her­self able to ar­tic­u­late an as­pi­ra­tional vi­sion for the province’s fu­ture, has in mind. They’ll also look to see what the Al­berta Party and the Lib­er­als have to con­trib­ute to the con­ver­sa­tion, which should be con­sid­er­able as Al­berta wres­tles with con­sid­er­able debt.

Hope­fully, so­lu­tions — rather than rhetoric — will be on of­fer.


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