It would be too easy for critics to flip their collective lids to react to the quickly becoming famous “I don’t need this job” remark made by Premier Jason Kenney to party caucus staff March 22.
In hockey they are known as the agitators.
In wrestling, they are heels.
They just seem annoying, someone to throw you off and someone you love to dislike, but somehow they get all the attention and end up on top.
In Alberta provincial politics, that person is Kenney. A staffer recorded the conversation and conveniently forked it over to CBC who ran with it. The conversation was of Kenney telling UCP staffers, (paraphrasing) “hey, I was this close to resigning. You don’t know how lucky this party and this government is I decided to stay.”
“What’s the easiest path for me? Just to take a walk. I don’t need this job. I could go to the private sector, have my evenings, weekends off,” the premier said. “I thought a lot about it, honestly, before Christmas, and I decided that would be grossly irresponsible because if we were to have a leadership election in this context, it would, I think, permanently divide us [and] hand the NDP the next election.”
“I don’t say this stuff publicly, these are just kooky people generally…Preston Manning used to say that a bright light attracts a few bugs, well, there’s more than a few bugs attracted to us, this party, right now.”
Whoa. Again, before the many of critics don’t yell in unison “noooooo, reeeee-siiiiiign!!!!” or criticism him for being naive for saying something so brazen or arrogant, consider this: all planned.
The polls show him with a small amount of support even within his own party.
Kenney is probably right: despite all of his growing list of vehement critics both UCP and non-UCP based, with the leadership review coming and all of the controversy happening, one would think being humble and trying to stay out of trouble would be the best bet. Not smart on Kenney’s part…right? Wrong.
Kenney is someone who doesn’t seem to care or is obvious about what people think about him. Any premier that would use a picture of the infamous Will Smith smack of Chris Rock as meme to take a shot at green energy policies vs. reality, doesn’t care about the reality of personal opinions of him in regards to his critics. Period.
For him, he has a job to do: first things first: get re-elected as leader. There is a lot to do for Kenney to make this happen. The UCP leadership review protocol has changed with mail-in ballots being the method of election as was announced by the UCP party president March 23. Of course this caused a great uproar as shortly thereafter, constituency presidents plus some backbench MLAs who are not part of the Kenney inner circle (none of which were from Southern Alberta) expressed their outrage.
Kenney loved the idea of mail in ballots. Brian Jean did not. Hence you gotta know Kenney knows something the rest of us don’t understand. It is all to his advantage.
From the outside as a regular voter, the optics look horrible.
While the idea of self sabotage is out there that Kenney is doing this so he can get what he really wants, a crack at the federal Conservative leadership leader title, that sounds self-defeatist.
Getting dumped by a provincial party doesn’t exactly give you the platitudes to lead a national party, especially from Alberta where right the Conservatives are avoiding at all costs. They know they have Alberta voters in the bag and with the sour taste the Freedom Convoy left in Ontario, the hope for the federal party is that someone from the east takes the job. Look at the current list of candidates and see where they are from and you will understand.
No, Kenney bad remarks is basically daring the party faithful to not re-elect him. After all, who would run against him other than Jean. There is no one strong or remotely popular enough to take over.
Kenney has created this scenario through how he leads. The only one who seems to have any strength is Tyler Shandro and he is uhhh… not a popular figure in Alberta politics, especially anyone in health. Jean, who just got re-elected as an MLA in a by-election, is being made to look like the radical, fringy Wildroser (see Kenney’s comment referencing Preston Manning).
Again when you hear from the outside the NDP calling on Kenney to resign, it may seem strange. One would think they would want Kenney as the leader in the next election as he has the lowest approval rating in Canada amongst premiers with voters. However, Kenney still has time for the oil industry to save provincial coffers, the pandemic restrictions should be null and void and in foggy distant memory other than for those unfortunate souls who tragically had directly suffered. Kenney can play the survivor and true leader of getting them out of the dark times card. Jean has proven nothing other than being a political opportunist.
These aren’t unintelligent people, these strategists have been doing it for a long time. There’s a method to the madness.
See? Go ahead UCP supporters, Kenney is daring you. Elect Brian Jean, see what happens.
Ryan Dahlman is the editor of Prairie Post East and Prairie Post West