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UCP candidate who played role in Kamikaze Campaign forced to walk the plank

Jason Kenney and Randy Kerr not long ago, but in happier times (Photo: Facebook).

Another United Conservative Party candidate has been sent packing for being neither "forthright" nor "forthcoming" with party Leader Jason Kenney. Leastways, that's the UCP's story, and they're stickin' to it.

Randy Kerr, recently chosen as UCP candidate in the Calgary-Beddington riding and a prominent figure in the party's rapidly metastasizing "Kamikaze Campaign" embarrassment, was given his walking papers on Wednesday.

A statement emailed to media that evening by UCP Executive Director Janice Harrington said that "in the last 48-hours, new information has come to our attention indicating Mr. Kerr was not forthright in responding to the Party's inquiries regarding his financial contribution to the Jeff Callaway Leadership campaign."

Callaway is alleged to have conducted a mysteriously funded UCP campaign in 2017 designed not to win, but to take down Kenney's principal rival to lead the then-new party, former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean, while allowing Kenney to keep his paws clean.

"To be clear," Harrington's statement continued, gingerly skirting dangerous ground for the UCP, "the Party is not making any allegations against Mr. Kerr regarding the legitimacy of his contribution to the Callaway Leadership, nor against Mr. Callaway or his Campaign. This is not the Party's rule to judge, and the Party does not in any way oversee financial contributions to leadership campaigns."

"However," she said, "it is our conclusion that Mr. Kerr was not sufficiently forthcoming with the Party's earlier inquiries, and for that, he has been removed as a candidate." (Emphasis added.)

As my blogging colleague Dave Cournoyer, the first commentator to spot this story breaking Wednesday night, observed, it's not entirely clear what the UCP had in mind when it said Kerr was insufficiently forthright, seeing as he reported his $4,000 donation ages ago to Elections Alberta as required by law.

Lack of forthrightness, though, is a complaint that has proved useful to the UCP before Kerr's troubles came to light. Derek Fildebrandt, once a rising star in the UCP and now leader of the Freedom Conservative Party, was similarly characterized after a series of politically embarrassing events led to his dismissal from the caucus.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Bob Wanner gave the UCP a gentle tap on the wrist, telling the party that letting its staffers make surreptitious video recordings of dissident Independent Prab Gill was "unbecoming for those who work in the office of a Member and is not in keeping with the dignity of the institution."

I'll say!

As noted here yesterday, the UCP has now moved on to other ways of trying to get Gill to stop talking about the party's electoral shenanigans, explicitly threatening to sue him for defamation for what he recently told the RCMP.

Political observers in Alberta are intensely interested in what Election Commissioner Lorne Gibson might have to say, and when, about his investigations into these developments.

So long, Karen McPherson

Speaking of Calgary-Beddington, Karen McPherson, the Calgary-MacKay-Nose Hill New Democrat who quit the NDP Caucus in 2017, sat as an Independent for a spell, and then joined the Alberta Party, has changed her mind about seeking another term in that redrawn riding.

She had been nominated to run for the Alberta Party in Calgary-Beddington before she changed her mind.

Despite a lengthy statement published on Facebook, McPherson was not completely clear about the reasons for her change of heart. But it almost made one wonder if she wasn't comfortable with the idea of abetting a vote split that would help the UCP end the progressive policies of her former colleagues in the NDP.

At any rate, McPherson's valedictory message made reference to the fact Alberta "doesn't need to be made great 'again.'" Sounds like acknowledgement that Kenney's planned program is worthy of Donald Trump.

Supply shrinks, prices rise. Who knew?

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. said yesterday Alberta's supply management program for crude oil supplies is working so well it won't be needed much longer.

"The Canadian oil market was very rocky in the fourth quarter with dysfunctional marketplace dynamics driving historically high differentials for both heavy and light oil in Canada," Executive Vice-Chair Steve Laut said during a telephonic dog-and-pony show for the business press. "The first quarter of 2019 is a completely different story," he continued. "With curtailments imposed by the Alberta government, market order has been established."

So when supplies shrink, it turns out that prices rise! Who knew?

Thank you, Premier Rachel Notley, for this teaching moment.

Same stuff; different domain

That new "think-tank" founded by a group of Canadian Taxpayers Federation staffers and officers has gone live.

Looking as if it's generously financed by someone, the SecondStreet.org website appears to be devoted entirely to attacks on Canada's public health-care system and paeans to the wonderful work done by private, for-profit clinics.

At a glance, at least four of the new organization's six directors are former or current CTF directors, two of whom remain on the CTF board.

The four staff members listed are former CTF president Troy Lanigan, former CTF Alberta director Colin Craig, former Fraser Institute spin doctor Mark Milke, and Melanie Harvie, who also remains that CTF's executive VP.

Well, the CTF can hardly deny it's part of the right-wing coalition against Canadian public health care, something to think about when you read CTF claims on any topic regurgitated as authoritative by mainstream media.

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Photo: Facebook

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