July 12th, 2024

Circumstances of Kenney’s fall examined at SACPA session

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on June 7, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs welcomed Duane Bratt to their June 2 meeting to speak about how Albertans are likely to be affected by the recent UCP leadership review.
Duane Bratt is a political science professor in the Department of Economics, Justice, and Policy Studies at Mount Royal University in Calgary. He was educated at the Universities of Windsor and Alberta. He teaches in the area of international relations and Canadian public policy. His primary research interest is in the area of Canadian nuclear policy.
United Conservative Party (UCP) members voted by mail-in ballot from April 9 to May 11 on whether or not they had confidence in their leader Jason Kenney. Originally, a special general meeting was planned to be an in-person voting event in Red Deer, but because of soaring attendee numbers, it was decided by the provincial UCP board to move the vote to a mail-in ballot over a five-week period. 
“It’s been an eventful couple of weeks going right back to May 18, when Jason Kenney received 51.4 per cent of the vote and despite saying that as long as he got 50 per cent plus one he would remain as premier, he announced his intention of resigning that led to a caucus meeting where caucus agreed that he would remain as premier and leader until replacement was chosen,” said Bratt.
He said the UCP was not utilizing an interim leader like when Allison Redford stepped down.
“At his first press conference, he (Kenney) said he really has no regrets, he did nothing wrong it was a small minority of members who are not really members of the party and just signed up who are anti vaxxers and conspiracy theorists,” said Bratt.
He said it was a sign again that Jason Kenney believes he did nothing wrong and he should not have been removed as leader.
“This has caused more turmoil within the UCP, so how do we explain this story?” said Bratt.
He said the story has a really dramatic rise involved.
“When you think about Jason Kenney coming into Alberta politics after a strong track record as a federal cabinet minister, he comes in and wins the PC leadership, helps to merge Wildrose and the PC party into the United Conservative Party, wins the leadership of United Conservative Party, wins a majority government and doesn’t even fulfill his first term in office. It is really almost a Shakespearean tale of rising and falling,” said Bratt.
Bratt tried to explain the story about Jason Kenney with a book he is currently editing titled “Blue Storm: The Rise and Fall of Jason Kenney.”
He said the book tells the rise and fall story, the government’s ambitious plans to return to true conservatism reminiscent of the early Klein years of the 1990s and how these plans were received, it examines the government’s efforts to will the province out of its sense of decline by taking on national and international forces calling for a shift away from fossil fuels, it traces the way in which COVID-19 laid bare the internal tensions within the United Conservative Party and enumerates the tragic consequences of government stability.
“Through many of the chapters, the book tells the story of excessive pride and self confidence that left Jason Kenney resigning before finishing his first term,” said Bratt.
He said there are significant internal policy divisions within the UCP that go well beyond COVID-19 or the unpopularity of Premier Jason Kenney.
“The divisions between urban Alberta and rural Alberta, given the divisions between fiscal conservatives and social conservatives, given the differences of libertarians, given the differences between those that want a more ideologically conservative party and those that simply want to win and keep the NDP out of office,” said Bratt.
He said the book has a chapter examining the “blue truck” and the methodology of the blue truck, as well as the image of Kenney trying to use this with his own personal brand to show Alberta exceptionalism, sovereignty, anti-elitism and populist homogeneity.
Bratt said critics never saw the blue truck as a positive symbol, instead they saw the symbol as reliance on oil and gas, about resource management, and about exclusionary conservative populist values and politics.
“In fact, some of the UCP members who voted against Kenney also believed that Kenney was never a true populist, never really drove his truck and pointed out he doesn’t even know how to fill the truck with the gas,” said Bratt.
For more information and to watch SACPA talks visit https://www.youtube.com/c/SouthernAlbertaCouncilonPublicAffairs/videos

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