Jason Kenney at a press conference in 2012. Photo: Rob Salerno/Daily Xtra/Flickr

While much of the world looked on in dismay as the results of the Brexit votes rolled in two years ago last month, Jason Kenney tweeted his congratulations to the people of Britain for “choosing hope over fear by embracing a confident, sovereign future, open to the world.”

How’s that looking for them now?

With the United Kingdom roiled in chaos, edging toward a post-European recession or worse, separatism reignited in Scotland, little sympathy from the frustrated leaders of the European Union who are taking a hard line in the divorce negotiations, and Prime Minister Theresa May’s minority Conservative government falling apart before our eyes, I’d say not so good.

It very much sounds as if the British people, so hopeful and optimistic back in the spring of 2016 if we believed what Kenney was trying to sell us Canadians, were themselves sold a bill of goods by the far-right wing of the country’s conservative movement. Now they know it and they sincerely wish they could have another go at the Brexit vote, which unfortunately for them is not likely.

A headline in the reliably conservative National Post sort of says it all: “With time running out to make a deal, Britain faces the reality of its Brexit folly.”

Two years ago, when he made his foolish comment, Kenney was running simultaneously to be the next Conservative prime minister of Canada and to engineer the double reverse hostile takeover of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives by the Wildrose Party, and then of the Wildrose by the PCs, so he could someday be premier of this province.

It seems likely he hoped for the former and, when that appeared increasingly unlikely, settled for the latter.

On the face of it, it was weird in 2016 for someone who until a few months before had been a senior minister in a government that prided itself on its trade agreements to be so delighted about the potential breakup of the EU. However, it seems likely Kenney was just playing to the basest instincts of the Conservative base — no fans of the European Union because it seemed, well, too European, meaning in that context cosmopolitan and liberal.

By that time, too, the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign was in full swing, with Donald Trump already chosen as the Republican candidate, so Kenney may have figured he was just cashing in on the zeitgeist. That’s probably another one for the How’d-That-Work-Out? File.

Kenney also ripped into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s observation just before the Brexit votes that “I always believed that we are stronger together” and his hopes Britain would remain in the EU.

“Justin Trudeau was wrong to interfere in the British people’s internal democratic decision on EU membership,” Kenney said in a huffy tweet, calling the PM’s remarks “a terrible, short-sighted gaffe.”

With the benefit of hindsight, of course, the prime minister’s remarks sound prime ministerial, even statesmanlike. Kenney’s rather less so.

The people of Canada are doubtless thanking the gods of politics they don’t have to listen to Kenney’s bloviations in the House of Commons. Alas, we seem to be stuck with him here in Alberta.

Well, thank God for small favours, at least he’s unlikely to commentate on Brexit any time soon!

Market-failure in action: The hound fades to grey

Speaking of Kenney, I wonder where he stands on the decision announced by Greyhound Canada to pull the plug on its rural bus service throughout Western Canada.

As a market-fundamentalist, I’m sure the leader of the United Conservative Party Opposition is dedicated to the proposition a provincially run rural bus service to link rural communities in Alberta with the province’s principal cities would be a horrible idea.

On the other hand, since market failures are a feature not a bug in the capitalist system, it’s hard to see how any for-profit corporation can provide this essential service in the current economic circumstances. In other words, like health care, provincial transportation is a service that simply can’t be provided without determined intervention by governments, and which is done best as a pure public service.

And since Kenney is the self-declared champion of rural Alberta, he’ll be hard pressed to be true to his economic dogma. What a conundrum!

Of course, as we learned in the matter of the Trans Mountain pipeline, Kenney’s principles are flexible. You simply declare the situation to be a “major market failure” and sign on with the Trudeau government’s plan to bail out the faltering project, all the while proclaiming you could have done it sooner, better.

Oddly enough, the troubles of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which all Canadians are now on their way to owning, were probably a classic example of markets operating as they are supposed to. Like a greyhound, the pipeline project may have been a dog, and if so, the market reacted appropriately.

In the case of the genuine market failure, it will be interesting to see if Kenney proves to be flexible again and demands Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP government create a Crown corporation to operate rural bus service throughout Alberta.

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

Photo: Rob Salerno/Daily Xtra/Flickr

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David J. Climenhaga

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga is a journalist and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. He left journalism after the strike...