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Keep an eye out for the 'Certified Kenney Fact'

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Jason Kenney. Image: Flickr/mostlyconservative

According to Jason Kenney, nobody can wreck a province's economy faster than an elected NDP government.

The 49-year-old Alberta Progressive Conservative Party leader, nowadays a candidate to lead the province's "United Conservative Party," last week blamed British Columbia's new NDP government for the cancellation of Petronas's $36-billion liquefied natural gas project on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert.

That was quite a feat, seeing as British Columbia NDP Premier John Horgan had been sworn in only seven days before!

And never mind that the Malaysian oil and gas giant stated, plausibly enough, that the reason the project was cancelled was low natural gas prices and an unpromising global market for the stuff.

It's a Certified Kenney Fact.

Kenney, of course, is the former federal Conservative cabinet minister and Ottawa insider who has "returned" to Alberta, where he briefly resided in the 1990s, to help us benighted citizens of Wild Rose Country save ourselves from our decision to elect an NDP government in 2015. He even bought a great big pickup truck, presumably in hopes of looking more like a real Albertan.

On Saturday, Kenney officially announced his bid for the leadership of the new conservative Frankenparty, an unlikely combination of the Wildrose Party and the no-longer-very-progressive Progressive Conservatives, at a rally in Edmonton.

According to a tweet during the event from Emma Graney of the Edmonton Journal, Kenney told the crowd "he ended up -- like so many others -- in Alberta as an economic refugee under failed SK NDP schemes."

Hmmm...According to Kenney's Wikipedia biography, after a stint as executive assistant to Ralph Goodale, who was then the leader of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party, the native of Oakville, Ontario, raised in Wilcox, Saskatchewan, turned up in Alberta in 1989 as the first executive director of the Alberta Taxpayers Association, which a year later merged with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

The date is important date because after nearly a decade of Progressive Conservative governments led by premier Grant Devine, the Saskatchewan NDP returned to power in late October 1991!

So, if the Wikipedia biography is accurate, the New Democrats led by Roy Roman had already wrecked the Saskatchewan economy roughly two years before they came to power!

However, as is frequently pointed out in the comments section of this blog, and in fairness to Kenney, the Wikipedia of course may be wrong, although you'd think someone would have fixed it by now.

I covered a speech by Kenney for the Calgary Herald three weeks before his 25th birthday in May 1993, and also did a short interview with him. He told me then he had come to Alberta to run the anti-tax lobby group two years before, so it's possible the NDP had been in power for a few weeks or even a couple of months by the time Kenney fled to Alberta.

But as we know from Kenney's recent Petronas example, several weeks should be more than enough for an NDP government to wreck a province's economy.

So, one way or another, it's another Certified Kenney Fact.

Mind you, having in 1993 so recently been a Liberal, perhaps Kenney honestly confused Devine's scandal-riddled Tory regime that of the NDP that followed.

Scandal riddled, you ask? Devine was never implicated in any criminal wrongdoing himself, but 13 of his 55 MLAs were, and some staffers as well. Eight Tory cabinet ministers were convicted of expense account fraud committed during Devine's second term. A few served time.

After the Saskatchewan PC Party was banished from power, it was forced to do business under a different trade name. The Saskatchewan Party regained power under the increasingly cranky Premier Brad Wall, the former Mr. Congeniality of Confederation, 16 years later in 2007.

In that 1993 interview, interestingly, Kenney didn't sound all that different than he does nowadays. "There is an end to our line of credit," he grimly warned that warm spring evening, speaking of Canada's national debt.

"Canada may be 12 to 24 months away from a total fiscal collapse," he went on. Fortunately, close to 300 months have passed without incident since that warning, although one supposes the financial apocalypse could still happen at any moment.

I wrote then: "He paints a grim picture of rocketing interest rates, a worthless dollar, lost homes and businesses, control by foreign bankers, hyper inflation." So far? Not so much.

And Kenney blamed the usual suspects: politicians, bureaucrats, public service unions, publicly supported interest groups, the media. Or, as he summed them up, "the governing elites."

Wow! Talk about a man ahead of his Trumpian time!

Speaking of Dr. Devine (PhD, agricultural economics, Ohio State University, 1976), his rehabilitation under the Wall Government is now almost complete. In 2009, he received the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, and last week he was appointed to the Board of Governors of the University of Saskatchewan. Romanow is the university's chancellor.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Image: Flickr/mostlyconservative

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