July 20th, 2024

Author shares insights into the politics of Jason Kenney


By Theodora MacLeod - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on February 16, 2024.

Herald photo by Theodora MacLeod Jeremy Appel, author of 'Kenneyism: Jason Kenney's Pursuit of Power' speaks to SACPA on Thursday about the politics and practices of former premier Jason Kenney.

It has been nearly 18 months since Jason Kenney served as Alberta’s 18th premier, having resigned from the role effective Oct. 6, 2022. But as a contentious and divisive figure in Alberta and Canadian politics, Kenney, his approaches, and his policies remain a topic of analysis for Albertans and journalists alike.

Presenting an in-depth exploration into Kenny and his career in his book ‘Kenneyism: Jason Kenney’s Pursuit of Power,’ Jeremy Appel spoke to session of SACPA on Thursday.

Providing insight into the framework of Kenney’s politics, Appel outlines how the neoliberalist approach of market deregulation and individualism seen reflected in the economic moves of the Kenney government, contrasts the neoconservative values promoted in tandem.

“Neoconservatives use the power of the state that remains after this sort of neoliberal offloading onto the private sector to lock into place the hierarchies unleashed by neoliberalism, giving them this higher moral justification by evoking things like tradition and patriotism and religion and this general sense of wester chauvinism,” Appel said.

Sometimes referred to as neo-Victorianism, neoconservativism promotes a vision of social hierarchy that Appel said is contradictory to Kenney’s attempts at winning public support, given its roots are firmly in the soil of elitism. The approach, he said, is what is known as authoritarian populist, a method British sociologist Stuart Hall coined to describe Margaret Thatcher’s approach, which utilized the anger and discontent of those who were excluded from the hierarchy. By claiming to represent the masses, the policies are presented as ‘common sense,’ and work to earn the support of the people by the promise of disadvantaging the fortunate few at the top, when, in actuality, it is the majority or ‘masses’ who are being disadvantaged.

“The ultimate goal here isn’t the strengthening or weakening of the state or corporate power, per say, but to uphold and strengthen existing power relations, locking them into place by whatever set of policies will do so,” explained Appel.

Going back to the days when the former premier served as leader of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation during Jean Chrétien’s time as the Prime Minister, Appel said that even then Kenney pushed for deeper cuts to spending.

“He was quite open at this time about his intention that – I think you see when he returns to Alberta – of using these attacks on government perks as a proxy for the entire social safety net.”

In support of that statement Appel referred to the cuts Kenney made to his salary and that of MLA’s during his first year as premier. A move that is said to have been clearly made to win the affections and support of the public as he proceeded with cutting funding for social safety nets.

Noting the hypocrisy of Kenney’s fiscal policies in contrast to millions of dollars spent on what was called “The Energy War Room” and an inquiry into an alleged plot by foreign funded environmentalists to threaten Alberta, Appel said it was done to “uphold fossil fuel industry hegemony.”

He noted similar examples of hypocrisy from Kenney in his role as federal minister of citizenship and immigration from 2008 to 2013.

“Once you see Kenneyism as an ideology dedicated to strengthening existing hierarchies and power structures, this disparate treatment…is fully consistent,” Appel said.

Throughout his talk, Appel presented a full deconstruction and analysis of Kenney’s history in politics and the beliefs he dubs ‘Kenneyism.’ And noting the ongoing legal investigation into the 2017 election, he poses the question, what’s next for Jason Kenney?

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buckwheat

What is the authors CV

lortho

“ Jeremy Appel is a freelance reporter based in Medicine Hat, Alta., as well as Calgary, who has covered criminal justice issues, education and general news in the region for several years.”

lortho

I look forward to reading the book to understand better Kenney and his agenda. What does Kenney want and who does his work benefit. I know when he was in public service he was the second richest politician in Canada so no doubt he will be trying to make more money . Hopefully he will steer clear of influencing policies and practices in Alberta . Anyway congratulations to Jeremy Appell on reieasing this boom