Alberta Premier Jason Kenney was trying to shore up the United Conservative Party's rural base in Strathmore, east of Calgary. Image: Jason Kenney/Twitter

Another poll by a respectable pollster suggests that if an Alberta provincial election were held today Rachel Notley’s New Democratic Party would triumph handily over Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party.

This is starting to look like a trend.

Such an election won’t be held today, of course, so everyone can stop hyperventilating.

Still, if I were a member of Premier Kenney’s strategic brain trust, I would be worrying about the results of the online poll by Leger that were revealed by Postmedia’s newspapers.

Postmedia, which is not really a very respectable news organization nowadays, has a partnership with Leger to release these surveys from time to time. Given Postmedia’s often undisguised partisanship for Conservative causes, it must have just about killed its executives to publish such results. Still, to their credit, they did. Some vestigial instinct to practice traditional journalism must have gotten the better of them.

The results are pretty dreary from the UCP’s perspective — at least as long as Kenney remains at the helm. They are a different matter for Notley, of course, the Opposition leader and former premier of Alberta.

According to the pollster, 39 per cent of Albertans now support the NDP, compared to 29 per cent still clinging to the wreckage of the UCP.

More than half the 1,377 Albertans who responded to the pollster’s questions between July 22 and 26 thought the province was headed in the wrong direction. Only a quarter gave the direction the province was heading as being the right one.

The NDP led in all parts of the province, even among the UCP’s rural base. Its support was overwhelming — 45 per cent of committed voters, compared to the UCP’s 28 per cent — in the Edmonton region.

The NDP also has the committed support of most younger voters, polls very strongly among women, and leads quite strongly among men. Only the geezers — present company excepted, of course — seem to still support the UCP.

The timing of the poll, obviously, means Leger’s questions were posed before the Kenney government announced its effective surrender to the coronavirus and its decision to stop collecting statistics about COVID-19 that might make it look bad, or requiring anyone with symptoms of the disease to get tested or self-isolate.

Friday’s announcement could well turn out to be the moment when very large numbers of Albertans decide the direction in which their province is heading is actually now at that point of the compass commonly known as “going to hell in a handbasket.”

This, in turn, may make Leger’s poll a complementary development to Elections Alberta’s revelation at the end of last week that the NDP raised more than twice as much in contributions as the UCP did in both the second quarter and the first half of 2021.

Those spending decisions by politically alert Albertans were also made before anyone knew what their UCP government was going to do on the COVID file.

Naturally, Postmedia’s coverage tried hard to find a silver lining for the UCP in this cloudy forecast. “NDP has wide lead on UCP, but many Albertans aren’t fully committed: poll,” said the Calgary Herald’s headline, a little wistfully.

Political columnist Don Braid quoted Leger Western Canada VP Ian Large saying “there’s lots of potentially good news for the UCP” upcoming — included in his calculus was the Trans Mountain pipeline that’s being built thanks to the efforts of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Lorne Gunter, another right-wing Postmedia columnist (is there any other kind?) made some sound points. To wit: that committed UCP support is actually up, just not as much as committed NDP support, and that Kenney needs to shore up support with the party’s far right.

My guess is the UCP’s fringe — tempted by a smorgasbord of fringy separatist parties and infected by the Q-virus from south of the Medicine Line — will already be pretty happy with Friday’s announcement of the government’s new COVID policy.

So if that doesn’t work, there’s probably not much more Kenney can do to win them back and get them contributing again — short of welcoming back rebel MLA Drew Barnes from exile, anyway. (Wait for it.)

Meanwhile, a majority of Albertans appear to think the new COVID policy actually is lunacy. However, we’ll need to see some polling on that issue from someone to know if that is really true.

The UCP does have a long time to get its mojo back, and still could.

Kenney, though, really seems to have a talent for doing things that infuriate large groups of voters. So it wouldn’t necessarily be a good bet at this point to put money on the proposition Kenney won’t continue to mess up right up to the next election in 2023, or whenever it ends up being called.

UCP caucus press release played fast and loose with truth about MLA’s support

Alert readers will recall how a couple of weeks ago, Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn was welcomed back into the UCP caucus after a short sojourn on the independent benches as punishment for ignoring his constituents 140-some kilometres north of the fleshpots of Edmonton.

Rehn, who had also been caught holidaying in Mexico as the pandemic raged over the Christmas holiday, had learned to behave himself since Premier Kenney cast him into outer political darkness, Caucus Chair Nathan Neudorf said in mid-July in a press release.

“The United Conservative Caucus was presented with letters of support — including from several municipalities and the Lesser Slave Lake Constituency Association — requesting Rehn be allowed to rejoin caucus,” Neudorf’s release said. (Emphasis added.)

Now, thanks to the reporting of South Peace News editor Chris Clegg in High Prairie, we know that claim wasn’t strictly true.

Actually, it turns out, no municipalities in the riding expressed any support for Rehn’s return, Clegg informed his readers on Wednesday.

“The Town of Slave Lake, Town of High Prairie, M.D. of Lesser Slave River, Big Lakes County and Northern Sunrise County, all deny they wrote letters of support,” Clegg reported.

There were some letters of support from individual councillors — one of whom, oddly, wrote on the letterhead of the Church of the Nazarene — but none of them acted in their role as council members.

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.

Image: Jason Kenney/Twitter

David J. Climenhaga

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 Globe...