Monday, July 18, 2016

Conservative leadership "a yawnfest"

 #cpc #cdnpoli -
The Calgary Stampede is one of those mandatory events for politicians at all levels to don cowboy gear and swoon party-goers with pancakes and parties.  What I find odd is the poor timing of a local Calgary candidate Deepak Obhrai to enter the race when Stampede came to a close.  Or Tony Clement, who's no stranger to the circuit, announced then as well.  You'd think they'd take advantage of this top silly summer event to create some excitement and momentum.

As I follow all the candidates on social media, the only one who made any real posting poise was Maxime Bernier.

In general, was there any real excitement about this leadership race?  Because I gotta tell ya, I'm not really feeling it.  I'm getting emails, mostly from Bernier.  No phone calls yet (I'm pretty sure I'm on some old lists.)

A big thing is that the media isn't into this race.  There's no buzz. All the other new names touted, I have never heard of.

Nik Nanos has an article similar to what I've been saying about this.

I believe the folks who've entered this race are simply positioning themselves for a top cabinet position in the government of the next person who leads the party and wins many years from now.  There's no shame in that.  It's a good, but expensive, way to keep a high profile.

It seems only natural that Peter Mackay should lead the party though, and him not doing so is causing a heightened build of tension.  He was leader of the PCs prior to the big merger and if any can read the mood of voters, it's him.  And the mood is a plurality if not majority of Canadians are still on a bit of a honeymoon with Trudeau--giving him the benefit of the doubt.

But when the dust settles, he'll release that tension at the right time.

And right now, that right time is still after the next election.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Does Stephen Harper's endorsement of Jason Kenney make a difference?

 #abpoli #cpc #pcaa

The timing was impeccable. Right in the middle of the Calgary Stampede, at a Conservative event, Stephen Harper endorsed Jason Kenney in his bid to lead the Alberta PCs to merge with the Wildrose Party.  Watch here.

There is no doubt now that the federal Conservatives are and have been actively involved in getting the two parties to merge, as was done federally 13 years ago.

Let's set something straight though--and it's in plain sight.  The Alberta PCs and their federal cousins in the Conservative Party are different.  The Alberta PCs have changed with more emphasis on the "Progressive" moniker in the last 10 years than compared to the more "Conservative" Klein-era.

Let's look at the history, otherwise, we are sure doomed to repeat it.

The PCs elected two leaders that were inside cabinet ministers of a more liberal-bent.  "Steady" Ed Stelmach, who then led the party to a huge victory, was internally dumped for Alison Redford, who also won a comeback victory, but was also internally dumped, but this time for former federal PC leadership candidate and federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice

Prentice, who insiders were hoping would successfully pull Wildrose supporters over, concocted a sneaky backroom deal involving Wildrose MLAs and even the leader Danielle Smith over to the PCs.  But Albertan conservatives didn't like it one bit.

The Wildrose under newbie Brian Jean made a surprising surge in a riding-focused campaign, and the PCs saw their first defeat in 42 years.  Methinks the dumpings weren't smart moves by the old party machine.  And it backfired.  The NDP, of all parties, won.

What's the lesson there?

We then learned that former Reform leader Preston Manning was involved in brokering this deal.  He then later apologized saying it should have been brought to the grassroots.  Of all people, he should know this.  That said, the creation of the Canadian Alliance was only to rid the tarnished Reform name to make it more palatable to Ontario PCs and then the federal PCs to successfully merge the parties.

But let's not forget that the federal Conservatives were successfully led by a former Reform Party MP and many of the Western MPs were from the Reform and Canadian Alliance parties.

They included one Jason Kenney.

Kenney was a Reform MP from back in the mid-90's and part of the "Snack Pack"--the young fresh group of Reform MPs from Alberta including Kenney, Rob Anders, and Rahim Jaffer.  One survived.

As one of my friends in the Alberta PCs keeps reminding me, "provincial politics is not federal politics" and the more I think of it, the more he's spot on.

The Wildrosers are the true cousins of the federal Conservatives, not the Progressive Conservatives. Wildrose leader Brian Jean is a former Conservative MP, where there are numerous Alberta PCs that voted for Trudeau's Liberals.  Why the federal Conservatives believe they can change and influence the Alberta PCs, can only be done through brute-force infiltration, otherwise, again, it will backfire.

It's also why the Reform Party was created in the first place. As the Mulroney PCs ignored the West and vamped up federal spending and taxes, after 12 some-odd years of Pierre Trudeau's disastrous economic policies, Mulroney offered a big change.  It didn't happen. Westerners were mad.

I've also read that provincial party mergers in Alberta law works much differently than federally in that the party with the most money envelopes the "smaller" one.  I've also read that the use of the name Conservative Party of Alberta is a tricky one too.   I'm sure someone will find a legal way around this though.  These may be just stumbling blocks placed there by folks in the PCs who don't want a merger to happen.

Anyway, with Harper's endorsement of Kenney, will it make any difference to the Alberta PCs?

In all honestly, I don't think it changes the minds of those who already have doubt--i.e. the Progressives and Red Tories in the PCs.  They see this as interference and hostile.

But what it does do, is possibly strengthen the Conservatives in the PCs and Wildrose to lay down their arms and join them together if they can see that it could work.

Whether Kenney can convince a majority of the 30 delegates from each riding to do so is another matter.

If this seemingly hostile takeover does happen, and progressives are unable to stop it, it is the best opportunity for the liberalesque Alberta Party and its leader Greg Clark to gain traction from PC defectors.

And it's likely exactly what Kenney and Co. want to happen.

In the immortal words of the first PC Premier of Alberta, Peter Lougheed, "A liberal is a liberal is a liberal."

And it's going to take the progressive liberals to leave the PCs to make it conservative again.

Friday, July 08, 2016

"The nagging nabobs of negativity" - Jason Kenney enters PC race

 #abpoli #cpc #pcaa
With a leak a couple weeks ago, it was no surprise that federal Reform/Canadian Alliance/Conservative MP and former star cabinet minister Jason Kenney announced his leadership for the Alberta PCs.

So far, he's the only person who has declared and has the advantage up until October to fundraise galore.

In getting a lay of the land from friends in the PCs and Wildrose, the stalwart conservatives are happy about Kenney entering the race to "Unite Alberta", while the more liberal/progressive folks either aren't excited or are worried that he might actually win.

With the Trudeau Liberals in place in Ottawa, you'd think this would be a chance for Alberta Liberals to finally come together instead of spinning off to the Alberta Party startup.  But as many know, and that I calculated when Alison Redford won for the PCs, the PCs have had much support from long-time Liberals themselves.

Would Jason Kenney becoming leader of the PCs mark the right time for liberals in the party to go back to their homeland?

Sandra Jansen seems to think so... well, at least not be in the same caucus as Kenney.

Would Jason Kenney becoming leader of the PCs mark the right time for Wildrose folks to rejoin the PCs?

Yes and no.  There will be numerous Wildrose folks who want the parties to merge and especially those involved in the Alberta Prosperity Fund to join Kenney's journey to re-unite conservatives.

But there are still many Wildrosers who want nothing to do with the PCs and believe their leader Brian Jean has a shot at winning in 2019.  With Kenney as leader of the PCs, you'd have two former federal Conservatives as leaders of Alberta conservative parties.

Can you say, vote split?
Can you say, hello, four more years of NDP?

There isn't much time left.  The PC leadership convention is next year.  Whoever wins, will need to work hard to convince the membership that merging to create the Conservative Party of Alberta is the only opportunity forward to ensure the NDP do not continue as government for another four years.  Conversely, the Wildrose membership will need to do the same.

And Kenney has words for those who don't think uniting is the best route.

"The nagging nabobs of negativity".

So there's that, you know.