Jason Kenney has thrown his hat into the leadership race for the Progressive Conservative party of Alberta. This is a bold move considering the treacherous environment of politics in Alberta, especially among conservatives. No sooner after his announcement many naysayers have opined that his decision is tantamount to the hijacking of the PCAA. Let us see whether this is true or not.
Because there is no doubt that this blog will be deemed by many to be biased, in the spirit of full disclosure I have served on Jason’s constituency board, I have been a lecturer, confidant and adviser to Ric McIver, I have served as a Director at large on Rick Fraser’s Calgary –South East Board. I was also a member on Redford’s Results Based Budget (RBB) Committees. So yes, I have been a biased PC member, until I found out that a few PC elected members and constituency board members helped and voted for Liberal candidates in the last federal elections. As a born small ‘c’ common sense conservative I could no longer continue as a PC member. I will support Jason in his endeavour; because not only is he the right man but he also has the right strategy to unite the right.
As for the assertion of naysayers and opponents of a Kenney’s leadership that his decision is a hijacking of the party, it would be wise to look at some recent PCAA history. Peter Lougheed left a vacuum in Alberta’s conservative movement until Ralph Klein’s premiership.
So let us examined the hijacking of the party: Klein was a card carrying Liberal before becoming a PC. Redford was a ‘Clark’ progressive more than a conservative, as was Jim Prentice. Over the years the PC party became a gathering of closet liberals who could never be elected if they declared their true colors. It was obvious that with so many disguised conservatives that the party policies would gradually move to the left. Make no mistake that after Klein fiscal conservatism disappeared, the provincial debt increased, social programs and public sector jobs grew. The last straw was the Prentice budget which removed the flat tax and ignored most if not all the recommendations made by the RBB committees. Having moved to the left under both Redford and Prentice, even long-time supporters deserted the PCs and the electorate voted a socialist government under the NDP.
The Wild Rose party came into being because many conservatives felt that they had been betrayed by the PCs. While many of the members were fiscal conservatives, there also were many social conservatives, who believed that their religious and cultural beliefs were being eroded by social engineering legislation- especially on abortion and gay rights. To that extent the WR were immediately branded as a party of bigots. Despite their many weaknesses the party was still Albertans second choice. There is no hijacking of the WR if there is a willingness to get together with a renewed PC to promote strong conservative ideas and principles. In my opinion, members of both parties have more in common than differences. The great divide seems to be on social issues, which have hijacked any civil discussion about real issues. So-called progressives have used social issues as a wedge among conservatives to detract from their failures. There is nothing about progress among progressives. It is all about pandering to get votes. True conservatives are law abiding citizens. I for one believe that it is time to live and let live. Canada has laws that allow for same sex marriage and abortions. While I am not a social conservative I would accept that citizens are free to have their own beliefs. By the same token citizens also have the right to disagree and have different views. Progressives have hijacked the debate on social issues and made politicians the slaves of their views. Today it seems that a politician must attend a gay parade as a prerequisite for being elected. It is no longer allowed for conservatives to disagree with any liberal views for fear of being labelled as racists, xenophobic or homophobic.
Progressives in the PC party have already dismissed the idea of a Kenney run for leadership, because he may be a social conservative and too strong of a fiscal conservative. However we must consider the source of these accusations. Leading the pack of opponents are Sandra Jansen , who campaigned for Liberals in the last elections. Another is Thomas Lukaszuk, Redford’s deputy Premier and failed PC leadership candidate. Then there is Stephen Carter, former campaign manager for Liberal Mayor Nenshi, who has said that he will work with any progressive who would challenge Kenney. As for Danielle Smith, who jumped ship from leader of the WR to the Prentice PC party – it just sounds like sour grapes. Looking at this list of Kenney’s detractors, who do you think is trying to hijack a Conservative party?
Jason Kenney is opened to a merger with the WR if elected leader of the PC party. If Brian Jean is willing we will then have two to tango. An open election once the parties have agreed to get together will allow members of a united party to elect a new leader. Then a united right party, perhaps under a new name could replace the NDP at the next elections. Failure to unite the right will see Alberta descend into the abyss of socialism, which believe it or not was started by Progressive Conservatives.
So if there is a hijacking of the Progressive Party of Alberta, ask yourself the question who started it?