Jason Kenney clamours for Alberta election as he sows politics of division

Jason Kenney in 2013. Photo: michael_swan/Flickr

It does not matter that United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney -- who wants to be the next premier of Alberta -- was born in Oakville, Ontario and grew up in Wilcox, Saskatchewan. It matters that he wants to turn Albertans against other Canadians, particularly Quebecers. Kenney screams that Alberta makes equalization payments to "have not" provinces, when he knows the payments come out of taxes paid to the federal government by all Canadians.

It does not matter that Jason Kenney chose to study in San Francisco, California at a Jesuit university, rather than in Canada. What matters is that while in the U.S. he became an anti-abortion activist, a vocation that he practiced when he returned to Canada.

It does not matter that Kenney never completed his university degree. It matters that he left after he opposed freedom of speech on campus for pro-choice activists.

It matters that over 40 per cent of his nominated United Conservative Party candidates are part of an anti-choice alliance called Wilberforce that wants the Alberta legislature to be "the most pro-life legislature in decades and maybe ever."

In the U.S. Kenney became an anti-gay crusader, active among those preventing men dying from AIDS from receiving hospital visits from their partners. While in Parliament he fought against same-sex marriage being adopted.

Defending a political philosophy of low taxes and small government, Kenney described a commitment to national child care as "deeply troubling."

It does not matter that Jason Kenney has lived with his mother as an adult. It matters that while a minister in the federal government of Stephen Harper he pocketed a housing allowance in Ottawa, while claiming his principal residence was a subleased basement suite in the Calgary seniors' residence where his mother lived -- a residence that did not allow subleases.

It does not matter that Jason Kenney contributed to the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. It matters that he did so several times while claiming to be a resident of Alberta, which made the donation illegal. If he were a resident of Ontario at the time of the donation, it matters that he would fib today about having maintained his residency in Alberta throughout his parliamentary career in Ottawa.

In a not-to-be missed profile, Toronto journalist Marci McDonald described how as an Ottawa cabinet minister Kenney denied refugees health care if they arrived without sponsors in Canada, trashed 267,000 immigration files, and admitted 400,000 temporary foreign workers with no route to citizenship, no social benefits, and low wages. Minister Kenney refused entry to Tamils fleeing civil war and Roma refugees from Hungary (one-time Nazi death-camp victims along with the Jews).

Jason Kenney said Peter Lougheed, Don Getty and the Alberta Progressive Conservatives used "neo-Stalinist make-work projects" in governing Alberta. It matters that he now pretends he was joking, when the public record shows he criticized Lougheed while praising Ralph Klein who cut taxes for the wealthy, an agenda Kenney wants to emulate.

It matters that Jason Kenney calls himself a "conservative" when he incites hate and fear like a right-wing populist.

A conservative believes in public institutions and respects those who make them work. Kenney sees teachers -- guardians of civilization as Bertrand Russell identified them -- as enemies. A Kenney-led government would cut spending per student on education while ranting about "teacher bosses."

The price of oil fell worldwide, and had a major impact on Alberta and on the Canadian economy. It matters that Kenney chooses to blame this on the lack of pipeline capacity to deliver oil to world markets -- hoping no one would notice that increasing the supply of oil would only depress world market prices further. Indeed, Premier Rachel Notley achieved modest success in raising prices by limiting oil production.

It matters a lot what United Conservative Party candidates have been saying about their fellow Albertans. A UCP candidate has compared the Pride flag to the swastika without being rebuked by other candidates.

The next Alberta election, whenever it comes, matters a lot. Electing a party headed by a mean, deceitful individual, when the position of premier requires integrity, is a terrible risk for all citizens of Alberta, and not just those most in need of a strong, caring government.

Duncan Cameron is president emeritus of rabble.ca and writes a weekly column on politics and current affairs.

Photo: michael_swan/Flickr

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