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.
A study released by the provincial government last week argues that replacing the RCMP with an Alberta provincial police force would drive up policing costs by hundreds of millions of dollars, and so of course Justice Minister Kaycee Madu gave a press conference last week announcing that a provincial police force would cost less. Madu also asserted, very falsely, that the proposal is popular with Albertans. It is very much not.
Jason Kenney has finally reached the point of throwing Dr. Deena Hinshaw under the bus.
A young man in Edmonton is seeking justice through a lawsuit against the Edmonton Police Service, whose warrior-mentality meatheads beat him so badly that a section of his skull had to be surgically removed from his head. His attackers, of course, haven’t been charged and are still on the force.
One recent municipal electee is already out—and no, it’s not Sean Chu, sorry to get your hopes up. A re-elected trustee with the Edmonton Catholic school board, Carla Smiley, resigned after less than a week in her role. The only explanation she has given to media was in an interview with the far-right publication The Western Standard, in which she claims that she quit because she was outvoted on a policy mandating vaccines for Edmonton Catholic teachers. Smiley was the only one to oppose this policy, citing her duty as a ‘good Catholic.’ The Vatican strongly urges all Catholics to get vaccinated.
The ‘MAGA minister,’ Devin Dreeshen, is unrepentant over his part in the story that broke last about the toxic work environment in the UCP caucus offices—which ranged from alleged sexual harassment to drunken ministers abusing and yelling at staff—and has taken to trolling social media about it.
World leaders gathered in Scotland for the COP26 climate conference on Monday, and predictably Albertan politicians from both sides of the aisle are performatively shaking their fists in defense of fossil fuel corporations. Both Notley and Kenney took offense to Prime Minister Trudeau’s promise that Canada would put a cap on the greenhouse gas emissions it allows the fossil fuel industry to release. Good luck finding an honest position between the three of them; the cap Trudeau promised already exists, Notley already implemented it, and Kenney already opted to keep it.
- On the pod this week, Duncan interviews Sandy Garossino, a journalist and researcher who has been following the Allan inquiry since it kicked off, to discuss the inquiry’s disastrous conclusion.
This is the online version of the Progress Report email newsletter. Don't depend on some social media or search engine algorithm to find this content in the future. Sign up to get updates on the most important local political issues in your inbox every week. If you like what we do at the Progress Report there is also one big way you can support us and that's by becoming a monthly donor. The regular donations of the 500 or so regular monthly donors keeps this small, independent media shop going.