In the wake of the failed attempt at a coup by supporters of Donald Trump, conservatives across the country are scrambling to distance themselves from Trumpism and the far-right media-grifter complex that propped it up. Closer to home, Alberta conservatives are scrambling to distance themselves from something too--their own leader.
Jason Kenney’s approval ratings are in the gutter after we all learned last week that six of his caucus members and a whole whack of his staff ignored the pandemic restrictions they’ve imposed on all of us to go party in Hawaii, Mexico, London and Las Vegas, and it doesn’t look like everyone in the UCP caucus wants to follow him there.
Don’t get the wrong idea. These are folks who happily carried water for Kenney through the lies, through the layoffs, through his whole disastrous COVID response. But you can tell they smell the doom on him. Zealous right-winger Drew Barnes has got the knives out. So does Michaela Glasgo. The most brutal condemnation so-far has come from Nathan Cooper, who called the vacationers’ and Kenney’s conduct an “embarrassment” in a frustrated response to a constituent last week. And who commissioned the poll itself that has the UCP in this panic? Well that’s old Derek Fildebrandt, still haunting this good province from beyond his political grave.
Duncan and I had a chat about this on the latest Progress Report podcast and our conclusion was that a caucus revolt right now seems unlikely. But our local conservatives do love to turn on each other, don’t they? Another few points down in the polls and anything could happen.
Last night on Facebook Live the Premier took a swing at Justin Trudeau by inveighing against people using the COVID emergency as cover to ram through their own agenda--a not-so-subtle reference to the Q-adjacent “Great Reset” conspiracy theory that conservative media has been peddling--and around the same time, folks discovered the UCP had secretly rammed through an agenda of their own. On December 23rd the UCP seized control of many independently-administered pensions across the province and handed them to AIMCO, the bumbling government-controlled investment corporation that blew up billions of dollars of workers’ nest eggs in the same sort of dubious shenanigans that precipitated the US financial crisis. It’s exactly the opposite of what the UCP kept assuring us was going to happen, and reps for the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund are outraged. We’ll be investigating this breaking story immediately so keep an eye on our social media for more as the week continues.
Danielle Smith, former Wildrose leader and present-day climate-, COVID-, and science-denying radio host--and one of the province’s most influential conservative voices--is stepping down from her long-running show on the Corus network. Smith claims that her corporate job and the ‘woke mob’ were constraining her speech too much, which is a little rich considering the ridiculous things she would say on an almost-daily basis. Word is that she will be expressing herself for the time being through a subscription newsletter and a new podcast.
B117, the new more-infectious strain of COVID, has reared its head in Alberta and could make the outbreak even harder to manage. Keep an eye on your Stitcher, Google Podcasts, or Apple Podcasts for the next Progress Report podcast this week, because Duncan will be interviewing a contagion expert for all the details.
More than a third of all new union certifications in Alberta this year went to CLAC, a ‘employer-friendly union’ that has never gone on strike and which other unions decry as “a tool for union-busting.” We have a breakdown of all the new union certs up on the Progress Report blog.
Despite the repeated promises from the UCP and Environment Minister Jason Nixon that Alberta’s parks aren’t being sold off or turned into industrial zones, the Alberta Wilderness Association has discovered that oil and gas leases are being offered by the government in the ecologically-sensitive Milk River Natural Area.
Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn--one of the UCP MLAs who took off during the holidays (Pat went to Mexico)--apparently hasn’t impressed much of anyone in his constituency; not only did the Slave Lake town council write an open letter calling for his immediate resignation, and not only did the Slave Lake mayor call him out in a scathing interview with an Associated Press reporter--the High Prairie town council is demanding he call it quits too. What makes this extra dramatic is the contrast with the area’s last MLA, Danielle Larrivee, the NDP cabinet member who even a never-satisfied radical like me has to admit was just very, very good at her job. Perhaps Pat can get out of the way and the folks up there can have her back.
- Twitter rabble-rousers The Breakdown caught the UCP in a lie this week too--we were all told that there was no political interference in the decision that led to a significant chunk of Alberta’s COVID mask contract going to IFR, a company that had made political donations to Adriana LaGrange. Well, Nate and the Breakdown folks filed a FOIP on that and the emails show otherwise. A deal for the whole contract was on the table with Old Navy, but officials intervened and insisted IFR get a cut too. And not only were the masks they made us pretty mediocre, but they ended up charging us nearly twice the price for them too.
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