Premier Jason Kenney at a public announcement in Calgary on October 9, 2020. Image: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr

Maybe you’ve heard of the “Trump stink.” As growing numbers of current and former Trump administration staffers, acolytes and random hangers-on fast realize that the president will not win re-election, they’re getting busy dusting off their resumés and cold-calling the people in their networks looking for their next gig. 

Alas, they’re discovering the Trump stink. It’s embedded itself into their clothes, their hair, the very marrow of their bones. It’s on their resumés, too. And it’s there in the background of their trying-to-sound-jaunty but clearly worried voice mails to their old networking contacts.

Right now, the Washington Post has reported, bearing the foul-smelling Trump stink is making soft landings in the private sector increasingly difficult to find. Calls with even a whiff of the Trump stink are left unreturned; resumés leaking the Trump stink from the paper they’re written on wind up at the bottom of the pile, if not the trash.

The way things have been going in Alberta lately, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if United Conservative Party staffers and acolytes and various hangers-on will shortly come to know what the “Kenney stink” smells like.

The latest rotten egg smell wafting across the province, of course, comes from leaked elementary school curriculum proposals cooked up by a UCP-managed and directed “expert panel.” Among other things, the panel thinks Alberta kids should “listen to, memorize, and tell parts of the Judeo-Christian creation story (Genesis) about the creation of stars, sun and moon, water and earth, birds and animals, plants, etc.” Meantime, the panel also recommends cutting any references to residential schools because those stories are ugly and traumatic.

Other curriculum proposals, too numerous to itemize here, are equal parts preposterous, ridiculous and naively uninformed. But they all have on them the Kenney stink.

The offensive Kenney stink has, sadly for many a staffer, embedded itself much deeper into the UCP fabric, despite the governing party’s relative youth (it’s hard to believe, but the UCP government is at present only a year and a half into its mandate).

In the lead-up to the general election in mid-April, 2019, for example, Jason Kenney promised Albertans “jobs, economy, pipelines.” He has thus far delivered on none.

As most Albertans now know, the province’s unemployment rate is higher than it’s been in decades. The economy is in tatters. And the completion of Kenney’s hallmark Keystone XL pipeline is riding on the improbable re-election of the current occupant of the White House.

To be sure, some might point out, Mr. Kenney’s promises have been side-swiped by COVID-19, a pandemic of, um, biblical proportions. And that may well be true enough. But unlike his provincial counterparts elsewhere in Canada, his strategy seems designed to make a terrible pandemic worse by piling more awfulness on top of it.

Following the utter shadiness of what Alberta political blogger David Climenhaga has called a “double-reverse hostile takeover” of the Wildrose party and the Alberta PCs, Kenney has proceeded to make deep and devastating cuts to public educationhealthcare and social services despite promising he wouldn’t.

He’s needlessly waged a costly and unwinnable war against doctors and nurses, and created an expensive and laughably incompetent “energy war room” meant to counter supposed “misinformation” aimed at the province’s oil and gas sector. He appointed in 2019 a super-secret inquiry to root out and expose imaginary enemies of Alberta’s energy sector, and he’s squandered time and money and credibility appointing panels with pre-ordained conclusions sympathetic to UCP ideology.

He’s made it easier for employers to take advantage of workers, laid the groundwork for selling off provincial parks, undermined Alberta’s democratic institutions, and unfairly downloaded basic service costs to rural municipalities, urban-dwellers, seniors, parents and the severely disabled, to name just a few.

By any reasonable measure, nearly everything the Kenney government has touched has turned into a stinky disaster. And he’s managed to anger almost every constituency in the province.

Left behind is little more than a fetid and raunchy smell. The Kenney stink. If I were associated with the UCP government, I’d be quietly looking for the exits right about now.

Erik Strikwerda is a professor of history at Athabasca University.

Image: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr