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The letter Jason Kenney said he received from Ontario is goofy, but probably real

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A letter purportedly sent by a resident of Kingston, Ontario, to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. Image: Jason Kenney/Twitter

Now, about that goofy letter from Kingston, the one wherein the generous author or authors sent Alberta Premier Jason Kenney $1,000 to help out the Alberta treasury, I have a contrarian point of view.

To wit: My opinion is that it's totally legit, the real McCoy, it actually happened, the cheque came in a proper extra-large envelope with the correct postage and everything.

I know there have been a lot of conspiracy theories in the past few hours among people who generally agree with the stuff we have to say on this blog. Mostly, they boil down to the idea that this letter makes no sense at all, on any level, no sane person would send 1,000 free-floating Canadian loonies to the taxman in another province, let alone the lowest-taxed province in the Dominion, and therefore something must be up.

Now, I admit, there are several reasons to be suspicious of this epistle -- not least among them the fact Premier Kenney has, shall we say, a somewhat casual relationship with the truth. And the sentiment expressed is, by any reasonable standard, basically bonkers.

"Every time we pass the gas pumps in Kingston, we are reminded that the economy in Alberta is hurting badly," say the signatories of the letter, their illegible signatures partly obscured and their identities redacted by Kenney or one of his minions when the decision was made to post it on social media with some enthusiastic commentary for all to see and thereby be encouraged.

The authors kindly reminded their readers here in Wild Rose Country that "we appreciate how Alberta has contributed to the financial health of Canada for years and years" (equalization!), thanking the province for its generosity and wishing it well in the fight against COVID-19 (those N95s!).

"We are not politicians nor are we among the top 1% of Canadian income earners," the authors wrote with apparent earnestness. "Nevertheless, we would like to express our support for Albertans in a manner that goes a bit beyond lip service.

"To this end, we have enclosed a cheque for $1,000. Please put this to use in a way that helps the people of Alberta in some small way."

"I often tell Albertans that other Canadians have got our back," Kenney chirped on Twitter. "This gesture is wonderful proof." Perhaps he is hopeful the idea will catch on in Ontario.

Now, I admit, some might think it is mildly suspicious the authors stick so closely in their missive to United Conservative Party talking points.

And while many writers of this kind of letter might have been tempted to send Kenny or his party a political donation, these ones seem to be cognizant of the current restrictions on out-of-province donations in Alberta political financing law. Well, as politically alert Ontarians, presumably they were aware of the difficulties experienced by Kenney when he donated $399 to Doug Ford's provincial campaign in 2018, which in fact should have been no problem at all since Kenney was a resident of Ottawa at the time … Oh! Wait!

Much has also been made of the fact that the letter appears not to have been folded, as one would normally expect of something that came in an envelope with a cheque. I have already dealt with this question: it obviously came in a large envelope, or, failing that, was photocopied by a device that cleaned up a few stray fold lines. Whatever.

Also raised by suspicious minds, the fact Kingston is a college town, doubtless chock full o' lockdown-defying young Conservative members of the Ayn Rand Reading Society looking for a way to impress a fellow like Premier Kenney. This in no way detracts from the balance of probabilities.

And finally, to the point that no normal person would do this: we are none of us normal, and we all get strange ideas on occasion. Moreover, there is a precedent, as several tweeters pointed out.

Premier Ralph Klein once got up on his hind legs in the legislature and informed the astounded honourable members gathered therein that "just yesterday, I received a letter in the mail. A gentleman wrote from Ontario. Basically, to paraphrase the letter -- I don't have it here -- he said that he appreciated the courage of this government, that he appreciated the resolve of this government, and that he would like to know the mechanism to make a donation not to the PC Party, but to the Provincial Treasury."

The date was March 22, 1994. Hansard does not reveal whether or not that donation was ever received.

But perhaps every quarter century or so, spring comes and someone in Ontario is moved to make a donation to Alberta's provincial treasury without actually bothering to move here. There's a reason they call it "March Madness."

Or perhaps the letter Kenney received, dated March 24, was from the same gentleman, finally getting around to keeping his promise. As we say here in Alberta, all too often: "Promise made, promise kept."

Who knows? The truth is often stranger than fiction. Why shouldn't that be the case this time?

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 at The Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. This post also appears on his blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Image: Jason Kenney/Twitter

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