TORONTO - NDP Leader Rachel Notley has made it official: it’s election time in Alberta.
Polls suggest that the public will exit a personally likeable Premier, along with her extremely unlikeable government.
Monday, an NDP government Speech from the Throne, designed to turn the page on its own record in office, was overshadowed by more revelations about the ethical and moral rot inherent in the United Conservative Party (UCP).
More specifically, additional evidence was presented that Jason Kenney, its Leader, was at the centre, if not the guiding architect, of a master plan to essentially “steal” the leadership of the UCP away from another contender, former MP colleague Brian Jean.
The Alberta Election Commissioner investigated allegations of wrongdoing in the 2017 Convention to Unite the Conservative Party and the Wildrose Party.
He found much troubling, supporting, almost overwhelming, evidence that he levied fines and called in the RCMP to pursue criminal investigations.
Jason Kenney denies knowledge of or participation in anything illegal, even as tape recordings, bank statements and email trails scream differently. The evidence so far is all provided from his own camp followers. That evidence does not paint a flattering picture of the former Federal Conservative Party of Canada Cabinet Minister.
“Something is terribly wrong here”, says Happy Mann, a former supporter of and donor to the Kenney campaign, “the Conservative movement in Alberta is in danger of becoming synonymous with immoral and unethical behaviour. That goes against the core principles of conservatism”. Happy Mann had been “vetted out” as potential candidate under the UCP banner because of the alleged behaviour of some of his own supporters.
He realizes that perception, sometimes unfair, is part of the reality of life, “a proper leader accepts responsibility and takes appropriate measures.”
“These latest indications regarding Jason Kenney tells us we are no longer talking about perception, but about facts. I don’t know if Jason is in denial or if he thinks that his approach is the best one, but he needs to admit fault and plead forgiveness … he cannot rely on the Right wing of Albertans to ‘hold their nose’ and vote for him”, adds Mann, “none of us can, none of us should”.
When asked what the alternative might be, Mann offered that Brian Jean – whom he did not support for the UCP leadership - should be encouraged to present himself, whether Kenney resigns or not.
“Brian Jean should show some spine and re-enter politics”, he challenges, “Albertans need someone with business background and education who understands the province is a true conservative and can offer Conservatives a conservative choice. He shouldn’t be bullied to stay out”.
It would be a lot to ask. Brian Jean’s wife, Kim Michelutti, a former parliamentary staffer in Ottawa, just gave birth to preemie baby girl, Annabelle. When contacted, he was in the hospital at his wife’s side.
He acknowledged mounting pressure to declare himself on one side or the other and that several (many) Albertans of substance from the business and political community have started to mount a campaign to influence his decision.
“Joe”, he said, “believe me, becoming a father to a beautiful baby girl has made me so ridiculously happy, I can’t recall when I have been happier (P.S. I remember the feeling, like all fathers do). I may have to make a decision, but it won’t be today”.