“We must have an approach… that empowers the grassroots members to decide the policy direction of this new party.”
~ Jason Kenney, Former “Servant Leader”, August 2017
To the surprise of few, Jason Kenney’s Grassroots Guarantee is no longer in effect after the grassroots of the United Conservative Party democratically voted for policies Jason Kenney can’t win the election with. Because as we all know, it’s not about the membership (but please donate) and it’s not about the people (well, some people, not you people), it’s about power.
Kenney’s foray into politics began with a campaign against free speech and women’s healthcare choices at the University of San Francisco in the mid-eighties. While he certainly made a name for himself advocating for efficient spending of taxpayer dollars (until he was part of government), Kenney has continued his fight against evolving social norms with his near perfect voting record supporting “traditional” family values. And there is nothing wrong with following your conscience if that is where it leads you; the issue here is honesty.
His more optimistic supporters will tell you he has changed his views. Kenney said MLAs would have free votes but there’s been no sign of that being true. On Bill 24, strengthening support for Gay-Straight Alliances, Kenney said the UCP would oppose. Although more UCP MLAs were present directly before the vote, the only ones who came back did indeed oppose the Bill. All UCP MLAs were also notably absent during both the debate and vote for Bill 9, to create a 50m “bubble zone” around abortion clinics to deter harassment. Ironically, one UCP MLA said their absence was due to harassment.
There is also his continued absence from Pride, currently two years and counting, since he launched his campaign to “Unite Alberta” (but not all of it). And his suggestion that the government should “compromise” on Alberta’s GSA law because “freedom of association and religion are also the law of the land”. Unfortunately it is obvious he feels “religion” trumps “association”. And only a couple of months ago, Kenney made a “joke” about gender-neutrality. Why? Because although he wants the UCP to look like a big tent, it is a very, very small tent. And this is all for them; unless they mess with his chance at “Winning Alberta”.
While traveling the province for 11 months in a campaign to unite conservatives, Kenney spent his days and nights speaking specifically to PC and Wildrose members. He detailed how NDP policies were encroaching on parental rights and also that the government was changing the curriculum to brainwash children. And now his supporters are scared; because he scared them. And they not only proposed bad policy but they voted for it.
That “new” party has spoken and Kenney has said he “holds the pen” on the platform. So what was the point of the policy convention? What was the point of paying $250 to be there and vote for the policy that this new party is supposed to stand for? If I was one of the 566 people who voted for the policy Kenney refuses to implement, I’d be asking for my money back. As they often say, “money talks”; and that’s something you can actually take to the bank.