Kenney’s tough task ahead

Can an outsider revive the fortunes of a political party that were buried by a previous outsider before him?

Can an outsider revive the fortunes of a political party that were buried by a previous outsider before him?

That could be a good question for hopefuls of uniting the right wing political forces in Alberta.

Apparently, Jason Kenney, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s close confidante, right-hand-man and trusted ally, has already found a positive response to that question because last week’s most talked about political development before the Brexit vote was the news that Kenney had decided to leave federal politics to head for provincial politics in Alberta.

Now we all remember how Jim Prentice’s dash to PC leadership looked so promising but proved so disappointing in last year’s elections.

PC leadership was so concerned after the clumsy Alison Redford brought the party’s support among the electorate almost to the bottom that they sought a figure who could restore the authority of the four-decade old PC dynasty and render another election victory for the old party.

It didn’t work because Prentice had very little clue on how provincial politics are conducted.

Now, will Jason Kenney fall into the same trap?

It is highly plausible that this time the game is to be played at another level.

Both Harper and Kenney have their political power bases in Calgary, the city where big oil pulls the strings and plays the tunes. Given that big oil has acquired considerable clout in Ottawa during Harper’s 10 year in power, it seems like the same big oil is betting on a horse that they believe has the potential not only to revive their fortunes in the province, but also help them maintain their influence in the national capital’s power corridors through someone who knows how to navigate those corridors.

Can this plan work?

First of all, if his intention to lead PCs of Alberta is officially confirmed, Kenney will have to first take on the task of uniting the right in the province, a very challenging assignment given the current position of the Wildrose Party and its leader Brian Jean.

As an ambitious politician, Jean has already made clear through ad hoc statements that he would welcome any effort to unite the right only if it comes under his umbrella. However, we don’t know his real electioneering skills (because he found the leadership of the Wildrose Party on his lap just a few months before last year’s vote), nor do we know how much real support he commands among the electorate (we have to recognize that 2015 election was primarily lost by the PCs while what put Wildrose in the position of the official opposition was only the protest vote).

Without a full-fledged election campaign, run against both NDP and a revived PC, we have little real opportunity to test Jean’s and his party’s popularity.

But even if we assume that Kenney proves to be charismatic enough to steal Wildrose’s current charm among the mainly rural and conservative voter base in the province, there is a more monumental challenge he has to conquer: The changing times.

The May 2015 election has put the province’s urban, youthful, blue-collar workforce on the political map for the first time. Yes, NDP leaders have made many mistakes and antagonized some sections of the electorate since forming the government, but that part of the voter base who feel themselves having gained a voice will not easily agree to surrender their newlyfound power back to the old guard without a fight.

Similarly, the October 2015 national vote has also shifted the sands in such a way that big oil will no longer be assured of a winning hand every time the cards are dealt.

In short, at both provincial and national levels, perceptions, trends and tendencies on the part of the population seem to have undergone a major overhaul.

Be it Jason Kenney or Brian Jean or any other hopeful who may wish to step up to lead the charge to unite the right and restore the power of conservative old guard in the province or in the country, that leader will have to adjust to the new circumstances to succeed.

Restoration of the powerful position of right wing politics in the province or in the country is not impossible, however, if and when it is restored, it will have to be a new right.

 

Just Posted

Snow flies at Ponoka Legion’s Flags of Remembrance ceremony

Despite the chilly weather, 128 Maple Leaf flags were raised at Ponoka’s Centennial Park

Ponoka senior Broncs take second win of season

The Broncs defeated the Wetaskiwin Sabres at home

Young Ponoka barrel racer one to watch

Janae McDougall won Lakeland and Wildrose Rodeo Association peewee barrel racing

Ron Orr to return for another run as MLA

Lacombe-Ponoka UCP contest won by incumbent MLA

Wolf Creek Schools raises Treaty 6 flag for first time

Chiefs, school officials took part in a ceremony that is aimed at acknowledging Treaty 6 land

Video: Flyers new mascot ‘Gritty’ a bearded, googly-eyed terror

The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled their new mascot Monday, and as one would expect of the team that gave us the “Broad Street Bullies,” he’s far from cuddly.

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Ottawa working to iron out kinks in public alert system

The alerts are being credit with saving lives during last week’s tornadoes

Assault charge withdrawn vs. ex-Jays pitcher Roberto Osuna

Former Toronto player agrees to peace bond

UPDATED: Bill Cosby gets 3-10 years in prison for sexual assault

Judge also declared the disgraced comedian a ‘sexually violent predator’

U.S. worker charged after video shows him spitting on customer’s pizza

Jaylon Kerley of Detroit is charged with a felony count of food law violations

Robbery report at outlet mall turns out to be fake: police

Leduc RCMP respond to weapons complaint at premium outlet collection mall

Canada aiming for the moon, and beyond, with new space technology efforts

With an eye on future lunar exploration, Canada’s space agency is calling on companies to present their ideas for everything from moon-rover power systems to innovative mineral prospecting techniques.

New Brunswick Premier meets with lieutenant-governor as Tories, Liberals vie for power

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant said the only other leader he had spoken with since results came in was Green Leader David Coon.

Most Read