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Santa has presents for everyone in Alberta this year, regardless of political orientation

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S. Claus

Merry Christmas! Vladimir Putin has not yet hacked Christmas in Alberta, although he probably could, so there are political presents under the Yule tree for everyone, regardless of whether their orientation is to the right or to the left.

For our conservative friends, a new public opinion survey by Alberta pollster Janet Brown suggests that if an election were held tomorrow between a united right wing party and the NDP, the "conservative" option would win big regardless of whether the new political entity was headed by Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Jason Kenney or Wildrose Leader Brian Jean.

But the real surprise -- at least if you're a supporter of Kenney, the former Harper Government cabinet minister and inveterate Tweeter of mean-spirited commentary -- is that Jean would apparently enjoy considerably more support as leader of such an entity.

Only those two leaders were offered as possibilities in the poll, which will surely make Richard Starke and the other largely forgotten-by-the-media candidates for the PC leadership feel grumpy and aggrieved. But the findings by Brown, who has a long history of accurate polling, should certainly concern the government of Premier Rachel Notley.

That said, this is hardly a lump of coal in NDP supporters' stockings. After all, the NDP is phasing out coal in Alberta. What's more, it will doubtless encourage Jean's supporters to try to knock the wheels out from under the Kenney camp's juggernaut, which has the potential to keep the right disunited.

Regardless of what happens there, Alberta's right-wing parties are bound to shoot themselves in both feet many times before the general election expected in 2019. Accordingly, for our social democratic friends, a Calgary operative associated with Kenney's campaign delivered an early present to the NDP in the form of a defamation lawsuit against political strategist Stephen Carter.

One of Carter's most recent projects had been taking part in former PC MLA Sandra Jansen's campaign for the party leadership. According to a CBC report yesterday, Conservative strategist Alan Hallman last month filed a statement of claim against Carter saying his reputation suffered "irreparable harm" when Carter Tweeted that Hallman had used a gross obscenity to describe one of Jansen's supporters.

Regardless of the merits of the lawsuit, in which Hallman is being represented by former Redford Government justice minister Jonathan Denis, it is a gift to the NDP, among whose Legislative ranks Jansen now sits.

Alert readers will recall how Jansen, subject to harassment and intimidation by people assumed to be associated with Kenney's campaign, last month quit the leadership race, then the party, and then crossed the floor to join Premier Notley's government. Many observers think Jansen will be asked to join Notley's cabinet in the New Year.

Some social media commentary about Jansen attacked her socially liberal views in grossly misogynistic terms. Her complaints prompted a PC party investigation. However, as reported in this space earlier this week, the investigation commissioned by the party and conducted by a "third-party investigator” found that while the harassment happened, there was no evidence anyone in particular was responsible for anything.

Since it is highly probable Kenney will win the PC leadership vote on March 18 on the first ballot, the goal of the investigation was pretty clearly get the embarrassment under the rug as quickly as possible.

As blogger Dave Cournoyer put it: "The report was a way to end the story, and the allegation, that could tarnish the PC Party and Kenney's leadership."

Well, that won’t work now, thanks to Hallman's timely lawsuit.

Carter Tweeted yesterday the lawsuit "is simply an intimidation tactic." This presumably suggests he's prepared to fight it.

This in turn, guarantees that all the embarrassment about the way Jansen and Donna Kennedy-Glans -- the other female PC leadership candidate who dropped out of the race the same November day -- were treated will remain on public view well into the New Year, and perhaps longer than that.

This certainly benefits the coming New Democrat re-election campaign. It also helps the Wildrose Party's Mr. Jean -- whose hopes are also buttressed by Brown's poll, which was conducted between Nov. 30 and Dec. 11 using TrendWatch Alberta, a monthly omnibus survey of 900 Albertans, aged 18 and over.

Finally, for aficionados of satirical news reports, there is the most wonderful present of all: Word that Kevin O'Leary, doubtless emboldened by Donald Trump's victory south of the Medicine Line, has "amassed," as the CBC put it, a four-member "advisory team" on whether he should run for the federal Conservatives. Hosannas!

In addition to neocon has-beens former Ontario premier Mike Harris and former Conservative Senator Marjory LeBreton, the slaphead meat puppet's "exploratory committee" includes, from Alberta, former MP and MLA Ken Hughes.

After a lackslustre performance as an MP in the late '80s and early '90s before being beaten by a Reform Party candidate, the charisma-challenged Hughes became well known as the backer of such racetrack disappointments as Alison Redford and Jim Prentice, both of whom were premiers of Alberta for a spell.

Nowadays, Hughes's profile is so low that the CBC didn't bother mentioning his name in its report on his role with the O'Leary campaign. This oversight is certain to be remedied in the blogosphere, however.

As Santa Claus famously says every year on this night: Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!

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

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