Kenney: Change or no change?
The right wing of Alberta politics has changed much in recent years. The Progressive Conservatives (PC) had been in power for over four decades when shock upon shock it was decisively ousted in 2015. I was not that surprised, the groundswell among people that I talked to indicated that, “It was time for a change,” a phrase to strike terror in any career politician’s heart.
Other factors played a part too. Not least the right-wing vote being split by the Wildrose Party, which did better than the PCs in the election. There were other factors too. A sense of entitlement and privilege that came across and the publicity around leader Alison Redford’s expenses did not help. A proven professional politician in Jim Prentice took over and when I spoke to him he came over well and I’m sorry he is no longer with us. However, his, “Look in the mirror,” comment stands out for me as the day he may have lost the election. Albertans got angry and goes to show how easy it is to make a mistake and how difficult, if not impossible it is to recover from it.
The Alberta New Democratic (NDP) party under Rachel Notley won hands down in 2015 in what must have been a surprise to the NDP let alone the province that woke up to a new government with the Wildrose Party in opposition under Brian Jean.
The only way forward for Conservatives was to unite the vote and that meant uniting the Wildrose and PCs. That has been done and the United Conservative Party (UCP) has been born. And, very recently there is a new leader in career politician Jason Kenney. From what I’ve seen Kenney has worked tirelessly up and down the province and has the drive and the experience to lead the province. Before I go on I have to say here that I’ve never joined a political party in my life and probably never will. I see my job as to report and analyse and my vote is my own. Now, back to the story. After the UCP leadership election it was reported that members of the Alberta party, which describes itself as a centralist party, rose 30 per cent. Are we going down the same road again I ask?
Presumably there will be members of the former Wildrose Party and PCs that are not happy for one reason or another with the UCP. Could the right-wing vote be split again? Kenney is a renowned campaigner and will fight hard, hopefully the 2019 campaign will not be nasty. Kenney’s next step is to win a byelection to get into the legislature and get himself seen walking the walk.
The NDP are the incumbent government and will be on the defensive. It’s impossible not to make mistakes and keep everyone happy all the time. And, events are events. There to take the rug out from under one when one least expects it.
The momentum should be with the opposition if it is united and can keep the gaffs to a minimum. Can Kenney do that? Or will another career politician come to electoral grief in Alberta? Interesting times ahead.