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Divided they stand, united they fall: The UCP, George Orwell, Axl Rose and the Partridge Family

Posted on 23 November 2021 by Ryan Dahlman

 It was quite the Nov. 19-21 weekend for 1,600 ultra gleeful, almost stepford-like delegates of the United Conservative Party’s annual convention at an apropos location of the Grey Eagle Resort and Casino. 

   Unlike Vegas where what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” many observer were more than interested and heavily reported “what happened at the casino didn’t stay at the casino”. 

   After all, how perfect of a weekend for those who are right. Jason Kenney got a standing ovation from the delegates after keynote address, and former Wildrose faction leaders Brian Jean and Danielle Smith both say they are interested in becoming leader of the UCP. Ex-UCPers Todd Loewen or failed UCP candidate Drew Barnes were silent. 

   “It was really kind of a family reunion, and I found the whole spirit here incredibly positive,” Kenney was quoted as saying following the wholesome event. 

   There were convention delegates who wearing cute “I stand with Jason Kenney” buttons. 

   No word if the officials brought in a meadow with flowers for the obviously deliriously happy delegates to skip through.

   While on the surface, the well numbered and well paid UCP communications team created the atmosphere and message to the media that the convention had all the edge and controversy of an episode of the Partridge Family.

   However, it had its moments. It doesn’t matter how many coats of paint you put on something sometimes the cover-up paint just doesn’t hide the ugly mold… 

   The reports of the cabiney ministers being introduced with the song Welcome to the Jungle by Guns and Roses for the Nov. 20 evening bearpit session. Somewhere Axl’s screeching even angrier than usual and Slash’s hair has fallen out. I can picture it, the apparently partiers of the legislature coming on stage to a heavy metal song which was about buying and doing drugs in late eighties’ Los Angeles. First stanza…

“Welcome to the jungle, we’ve got fun and games,

We got everything you want honey, we know the names;

We are the people that can find, whatever you may need, If you got the money, honey, we got your disease…”

   You can’t make this stuff up. Sure, a lot of sporting events use this classic, the beat is fast and is a good pump-up song but… yikes… considering the context, what we just went through with the pandemic, maybe not the best lyrics? 

   How about these bits of glory?

• “Driving forward diversification, filling up hospitals… ahh, excuse me, filling up hotels,” said Kenney in the keynote. Face palm.

• Brian Jean, a new MLA, was hob-nobbing in the crowd, gauging the delegates. Always carrying a drink. Hey, you can’t wear a mask if you are ALWAYS carrying a drink right? Facepalm.

• Danielle Smith who hasn’t been relatively since she left her cushy radio hosting job because she wanted new challenges indicated she wanted the UCP leadership reigns. She was a Progressive Conservative unit 2009 when she quit and went to the Wildrose Alliance a.k.a. Angry Conservatives. She was the leader of the Wildrose, then took eight WIldrose MLAs with her to cross the floor and joined the Jim Prentice’s governing Conservatives Dec. 17, 2014. Facepalm.

• While Kenney’s leadership was scheduled to be reviewed April 8-9, 2022; the required 22 constituency association which voted and called for an earlier leadership (before March 1) review came through… except a last second convention motion changed it from 22 to 29. I guess author George Orwell was right, all constituencies are equal, but some are more equal than others.

• Outside the casino, where the water flows from the mountains, there was a protest by a group against coal mining in the Rocky Mountains. Their concerns include environmental destruction which would destroy ecological reserves, landscape, the aesthetics of park land and perhaps most important harm and disrupt water flow which the southern part of the province depends on for feeding tributaries. Energy minister Sonya Savage did a report “hearing from Albertans” in regards to their thoughts on coal and will present it when all Albertans will be around, Dec. 31. Facepalm.

   All in all, it sounds like a united party within the casino. The trouble is when get outside the safe confines of a casino, you have a province that is angry because they have a government which is out of touch with concerns of ordinary Albertans. Kenney spoke to delegates who were angry about the measures regarding the pandemic. Kenney understood the anger from delegates who thought he went too soon or mandating any Covid-19 guidelines at all.

   “I get it, I really do. I heard you and I do so respectfully… But please heard me, if we had not made tough decisions, for example in September, there is absolutely no doubt we have exceeded the total possible capacity of our hospitals to provide critical care,” stated Kenney.

   Incredulously, Kenney was trying to convince the delegates he did what he had to at the latest possible moment and succeeded. I guess the panic the entire medicial community was stating was an overreaction and the interprovincial flying and shuttling of patients was an over reactions as was the army being sent in. What is even further astounding is that many Albertans were livid when he and others leading the pandemic operations seemed to go AWOL and disappeared for nearly a month in August.  Apparently not wanting to ruin or interrupt the (ridiculous) Best Summer Ever. BSE ball caps are still available, but sadly no buttons.

   They are in their own world where the sky is Tory blue and nothing ever goes wrong. If it does, shrug. If people die of Covid, well, they die. 

   Forget the fact that Kenney’s provincial popularity across the province was 22 per cent. The logic is that petroleum prices will go up and the province will be flush with money and with a new provincial police force, they will be able to write more tickets, thus helping the coffers. 

   Whether they are still standing, quibbling or flat out battling sometime before March 1 or April 7-8, is anyone’s guess. The same old problem of mistrust and philosophy between the harsh Conservatives and the fun loving ones, who are willing to cut important jobs in health and education while still having the Energy Centre, still exists… 

  As they say, actions speak louder than words…well except when the words are being screamed to Welcome to the Jungle. Facepalm.

Ryan Dahlman is the managing editor of Prairie Post West and Prairie Post East

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