UCP lead­er­ship race has some Se­in­fel­dian over­tones

Medicine Hat News - - COMMENTS - Jeremy Ap­pel

The United Con­ser­va­tive Party lead­er­ship race is shap­ing up to be the Se­in­feld of Al­berta elec­toral pol­i­tics. That is, a race about noth­ing.

In­stead of con­crete pol­icy pro­pos­als, the con­test thus far has been more about broader themes than spe­cific poli­cies.

It doesn’t help that one fron­trun­ner, former PC party leader Ja­son Ken­ney, is openly re­fus­ing to re­lease spe­cific planks un­less he wins.

His com­peti­tors — former Wil­drose leader Brian Jean, Cal­gary-based at­tor­ney Doug Sch­weitzer and former Wil­drose pres­i­dent Jeff Call­away — have each re­leased a smat­ter­ing of pol­icy pro­pos­als here and there, but are mostly stick­ing to UCP talk­ing points.

They all want to cut taxes and bal­ance the bud­get (though how they plan to do both con­cur­rently re­mains a mys­tery), tame a pur­port­edly out of con­trol pub­lic sec­tor and pun­ish Bri­tish Columbia for op­pos­ing the Kin­der Mor­gan pipe­line ex­pan­sion.

Each can­di­date agrees on these themes, but has dif­fer­ent means of ad­dress­ing them, with the ex­cep­tion of Ken­ney.

Like Ge­orge Costanza in the series of Se­in­feld episodes when he and Jerry are pitch­ing a sit­com to NBC, Ken­ney in­sists that the lead­er­ship show must be about noth­ing.

As the most re­cent Leader of Op­po­si­tion, Brian Jean would be the show’s tit­u­lar char­ac­ter. He’s also the most pop­u­lar of the four can­di­dates amongst Al­ber­tans, with 51 per cent say­ing he’s the most suit­able to be leader, ac­cord­ing to a ThinkHQ poll re­ported by Global News.

He and Ken­ney ini­ti­ated the merger of their two con­ser­va­tive par­ties that sparked this race, just as Se­in­feld and Larry David, on whom Ge­orge is based, con­ceived of the sit­com.

Jean vows $2.6 bil­lion in bud­get cuts, ref­er­en­dums on photo radar and equal­iza­tion pay­ments, and a full re­peal of Not­ley’s car­bon tax.

His wacky neigh­bour, the Kramer of the lead­er­ship race, is Call­away, whose sig­na­ture pro­posal is to pur­chase Man­i­toba’s Port of Hope to get Al­berta’s oil to for­eign mar­kets, given the B.C. NDP’s re­luc­tance to al­low more pipe­lines through its ter­ri­tory.

This hare­brained scheme to pur­chase an­other prov­ince’s port is one the likes of which only Kramer could con­ceive.

Given his out­spo­ken so­cial pro­gres­sivism, Doug Sch­weitzer is the Elaine of the race.

Elaine, por­trayed by the now-leg­endary Ju­lia LouisDrey­fus, won’t date some­one who’s anti-abor­tion and Sch­weitzer doesn’t want to lead a party that re­jects a woman’s right to choose.

But Sch­weitzer is no Dip­per. He wants to kick B.C. out of the New West Part­ner­ship if they don’t ac­cept Kin­der Mor­gan and rad­i­cally al­ter the prov­ince’s in­come tax­a­tion to cre­ate two flat brack­ets — nine per cent for those who make less than $100,000 per year and 10 per cent for those who make more than $100,000 an­nu­ally.

Af­ter the first lead­er­ship de­bate, Jean, Ken­ney and Call­away rushed to so­cial me­dia to de­clare them­selves the win­ner, as if it were a box­ing match.

Sch­weitzer was the only one not to uni­lat­er­ally de­clare vic­tory, which shows good char­ac­ter. In a race about noth­ing, that goes a long way. (Jeremy Ap­pel is a News re­porter. To com­ment on this and other edi­to­ri­als, go to www.medicine­hat­news.com/opin­ions.)

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