Kamikaze II: Return of the Jean

After months of teasing folks with noncommittal hints of somehow challenging Kenney, former Wildrose Party leader and UCP-leadership race-loser Brian Jean has announced that he will be taking the courageous step of seeking a position in the UCP caucus and supporting their legislative agenda. In his announcement on social media on Wednesday, Jean made no mention of Kenney, but urged voters to send him back to the Legislature so that he can stop Rachel Notley from winning a majority in the next election. Rachel Notley, says Jean, would be bad for Alberta.

Whew. I’ve had enough of this guy.

I know that’s a little heretical to say in polite Albertan company these days. We’re supposed to empathize with Jean, the poor victim of Kenney’s shady leadership campaign. There’s an impulse out there to look for help from the ‘good Tories,’ the same impulse that has folks these days thinking fondly of George W. Bush in comparison to Donald Trump (he’s just a nice charming doofus, please ignore the illegal war of aggression that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.) It’s an impulse that says ‘the only thing that can beat a bad guy with an austerity agenda and a caucus full of bigots is a good guy with an austerity agenda and a caucus full of bigots.’ 

Brian Jean as leader of the official opposition in 2017. Image via Dave Cournoyer.

But he’s not really a good guy, is he? In his two year stretch as Wildrose leader, Brian Jean led a party whose policy book leaned to the right of even today’s UCP. Their beliefs about climate science were even more unhinged, their obeisance to to the oil patch even more slavish. 

They cruelly went after some of the most vulnerable people in Alberta: Jean’s Wildrose was the only major party to oppose school guidelines that banned sending trans kids to conversion therapy, for example, and they were gleeful participants in the bashing of gay-straight alliance clubs in schools. The worst, most exasperating members of today’s UCP caucus are mostly not Kenney transplants, but Jean’s former team.

So no, I am not excited by the prospect that Jean might slink into the Legislature and someday hop into Jason Kenney’s chair when the Premier eventually burns out. It doesn’t matter that he’s a little more respectful. Jason Kenney and Brian Jean are villains.

A more-competent enactor of austerity would have made Alberta worse, not better. And does anyone think that replacing Kenney’s federal-Conservative power structure with the former-Wildrose folks—the very people in his caucus whose reckless, ignorant positions on COVID Kenney has been stretching to accommodate—would have delivered us any less carnage? Say what you will about the bumbling Premier, but at least he believes in vaccines. Some of these Wildrose guys believe weed gives you communism.

Independent MLA Todd Loewen, former Wildrose MLA Wayne Anderson, Brian Jean, and Independent MLA Drew Barnes at a Stampede event this summer. Image via Facebook.


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