Opinion

How many weak links does it take to pull Jason Kenney’s bandwagon?

United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney was always the weakest link.

In the months leading up to the 2019 election, many a conversation in conservative circles revolved around a dislike for, and distrust of, the man. Even so, they supported the party that would offer blue signs and warm, comforting memories of times gone by.

Despite the lack of trust, and the lack of respect, many Albertans handed their votes to a person who would approve the candidacies of political novices and yes-men and women who would carry his water over the next four years.

Fast-forward from the “historical win” in 2019 to a year into a global pandemic and the Jason Kenney bandwagon, like the party’s war chest, has a lot of empty space.

Of course, no one inside thinks the party’s revenue problems stem from the predatory fundraising tactics revealed to members, and the media, at the UCP’s 2020 online convention last October.

Martha and Henry likely recognized themselves easily enough, but so, too, did their children, and their grandchildren, and maybe even their great-grandchildren – they’re already the target of every other scam out there, so why not your political party too?

Credit: United Conservative Party of Alberta Virtual Annual General Meeting, October 24, 2020

Or maybe it was just, as UCP-turned-Independent Central Peace-Notley MLA Todd Loewen said during a Facebook Live chat: that the “dramatic decline” in party membership and “enormous reduction in fundraising” is simply due to poor leadership.

United We Roll founder Glen Carritt, who hosted Loewen on Sunday’s FB live, suggested the membership was less than a third of its remarkable initial tally, falling from more than 150,000 to “less than 50,000”.

While Loewen tried to stay on message, that the problem would easily be fixed with new leadership, he instead described a one-man show whose audience stands at the ready to laugh, clap, or say “awwwww”, when cued.

For about the last year and a half, we’ve been seeing the government take directions – and let’s face it, Jason Kenney is in control of almost everything that goes on in government – there’s nothing that happens that isn’t under his control. That’s just the type of person he is, the type of leader he is – he likes to control absolutely everything.

So, we’ve seen many decisions this government has taken that they’ve had to backtrack on, and of course some people say ‘that’s good the government can backtrack’; but you do that so many times, and, obviously, each time you do that, you lose trust with Albertans.

Central Peace-Notley MLA Todd Loewen, May 16, 2021, Facebook Live with Glen Carritt

Jason Kenney was the original weak link, assuredly, but he’s surrounded himself with people who will follow his lead, even if they don’t agree with him.

It should be noted that although Loewen called for the Premier’s resignation, he did not leave Kenney’s fold by choice but was removed, ostensibly via text message voting, by an alleged majority vote of the caucus.

While it’s true that some of the UCP’s constituency associations (CA) are trying to get the numbers they need to force a leadership review this fall, it hasn’t happened yet – although sources say they are close.

According to the Party’s Bylaws, the number of CA boards required to pass identical motions calling for a special general meeting is only 22. With 26 ridings in Calgary and 20 in Edmonton, there are 41 additional ridings around the province – mostly held by UCP MLAs – but amenable to a 2021 leadership review, I’m sure.

Even so, a leadership review is open to all members of the UCP – that is, people who support Kenney as well as those who do not – and even, allegedly, individuals who have no idea they’ve been signed up as members.

Kenney’s leadership has proven to be one of the worst across the nation and is likely due to the personality and people he chose to surround himself with. However, much like the removal of the NDP was supposed to be the only action needed to return Alberta to its former glory of plentiful oil and gas employment, that alone was not enough.

Despite the fact that support for Kenney is diminishing, the bandwagon was once well over capacity.

Chopping the figurehead off the UCP may not be all it’s promised to be either.

This post contains opinion.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a half-Modernaized political commentator physically distancing in Southern Alberta. 
Connect: @Mitchell_AB for more, @thisweekinAB for posts@politicalRnD for something in between

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