The Conservative Culture War Gets Ugly
There is lots of news about how Wildrose Party President Jeff Callaway and newly elected Progressive Conservative leader Jason Kenney came together to collude and conspire in UCP leadership campaigns. They set Callaway up as a stalking horse “kamikaze” candidate to criticize and split the Wildrose support for Brian Jean’s bid for the United Conservative Party.
The political goal was to create a “landslide” result for Jason Kenney so he could personally take total control of the United Conservative Party. What they did is not illegal but it is especially unethical, conniving and conspiratorial. These internal partisan collusion tactics and immoral behaviours by the Kenney campaign people are bringing up serious questions about the trustworthiness of his leadership and his suitability for being our Premier.
How Corrupt is the UCP Brain Trust?
There are significant fines already levelled by Elections Alberta against Callaway campaign operatives for irregularities on source of donation issues. A co-chair was hit with $15,000.00 in fines for two counts of obstructing an Elections Alberta investigation. Another Callaway co-chair has been pushed out of his UCP candidate nomination by the Party for failing to be “forthcoming” about his campaign donations too. It looks like one of the Callaway co-chairs has flipped and is now cooperating with Elections Alberta and confirmed he would do the same with the RCMP if and when asked.
The other shoe that has dropped against the UCP suitability for political support is the more serious. That is the Elections Alberta referral of matters to the RCMP. This means there is a smoking gun around criminality in the UCP orbit on its Leadership process and results.
There are lots of Callaway-Kenney Kamikaze leaked documents emerging now that seemingly indicate Mr. Kenney has been at least deceitful and perhaps even lying about his involvement in this sordid partisan tribal matter.
That will all play out but it’s pretty clear we should not be going into an election with these clouds hanging over the legitimacy of Mr. Kenney’s leadership. The impact on voters over the political ethics of Mr. Kenney his people will be telling but we must know more about what went on in the UCP leadership collusion and conspiracy before we go to the polls. This is serious enough to delay the election beyond the May 31 deadline.
Is the Alberta Right United or Going Alt-Right?
Next, we need to expose some of the reality of the conservative support for the Kenney induced “unite the right” initiative. The political process to set up the new merged UCP required a majority vote by both the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative party members.
These parties had been enemies for decades but the motive was to stop the split of conservative votes because it was seen as enabling the NDP majority government in 2015. That was partly true but far from the whole truth as Albertans disposed of 44 years of Progressive Conservative governance and saw no reason to select the socially conservative Wildrose as the alternative.
The official party lines from the UCP merger votes was to abandon the Wildrose and PC parties. What happened way back in July of 2017 and was framed by Kenney as a”landslide” of support. The UCP merger results showed that 95.4% of Wildrose supporters and 95% of PC members affirmed the merger to form the UCP.
However what has been ignored was the many members of the Wildrose and PC Parties who did not vote at all on the merger. This gives more context to the “landslide” narrative. At the time the Brian Jean lead Wildrose Party had 42,617 members but only 24,598 (58%) bothered to vote, 95.4% of whom voted for the merger.
The Kenney lead PC Party had recently been through the leadership campaign that he won. They had 49,200 registered voters and only 27,060 (55%) actually voted, again 95% were in favour of the merger.
So the 95% support for the merger into forming the UCP is misleading when you consider how many members from both parties stayed away from this fundamental decision. What is the attitude and activist posture of those non-merger conservatives? How many of them have moved into the other new and evolving Conservative parties like the Alberta Advantage Party, Freedom Conservative Party of Alberta? Have some re-emerged in conservative movements aspiring to be parties like the Alberta Independence Party, Alberta Patriot Project, Alberta Freedom Alliance, or the Progressive Canadian Provincial Conservatives? It seems a safe bet they have not reconsidered and joined the UCP.
Something’s Happening Here and It’s Not Exactly Clear.
It is pretty obvious the Kenney controlled United Conservative mythology is more myth-leading than evidence-based facts. As the collusion, corruption and potential for criminality concerns are evolving we will see more corrosion of the Kenney brand politically.
Will we see Alberta’s moderate progressives get active in the face of this Conservative corruption? Will they show up and vote for more future-forward change like the Alberta Party or will they reaffirm the support for the NDP? Will we have a minority government that sends a message that we want more than a Left versus Right hyperpartisan option? There are so many moving parts and serious economic, environmental and social uncertainty these days. Anyone who dares to predict the outcome of this election isn’t paying attention to the new normal of Alberta politics.
The corrosion of the conservative brand is not great for affirming the everyday Alberta citizen’s confidence in our political culture. Partisan gloating is not going to overcome that growing sense of distrust the public is feeling in the culture all our political parties.