Ken­ney: Change or no change?

The McLeod River Post - - Front Page - Ian McInnes

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.

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