Jason Kenney has headed back to the Calgary Stampede, proudly waving to the crowds. But, Michael Harris writes, it's easy to spot the phonies:
Jason Kenney is taking part in a parade — riding in the back of a 1958 Ford Fairlane, with an army tank behind him, and a gas-guzzling 1959 Caddy in front carrying fellow-delusional Michelle Rempel. I guess the cars were interesting. (At least Premier Notley rode a Pinto that wasn’t made in Detroit – the kind with four legs, not an explosive gas tank.)
Like Stephen Harper, Kenney claims to be a son of Alberta. But Kenny was born in Ontario -- Oakville to be precise. And he has had an interesting political journey, claiming various residences along the way:
As for his resumé, Kenney left university to work for the Saskatchewan Liberal Party. That led to an odd post for a guy who would one day run the right-wing Canadian Taxpayers Federation, and after that, spend so much time at Harper’s side dismantling Canada: Kenney became executive-assistant to Ralph Goodale, now Canada’s public safety minister in the Trudeau majority government.
Later, Kenney bounced around like a rubber ball, from Liberals, to Reform, to Canadian Alliance and finally to the CPC. He then entered a decade of celebrity and someonehood as cabinet minister, organizational Machiavelli, and heir apparent in the event Harper had died of fright reading political polls in 2015.
He has always had a nose for the main chance. And his nose brings him back to Alberta to, he says, "unite the right." But Albertans may not buy the package:
Kenney’s conversion on the road to being a mere MP smacks of the worst kind of political opportunism. Someone should ask Kenney when he decided to save Alberta — before or after the Harper government’s crushing loss? And what will he tell the voters of Calgary Midnapore? They thought they were voting for a federal MP. Will they really believe that he always wanted to be a provincial messiah for a discredited Conservative party but just forgot to tell them about it when he was soliciting their vote? What would he have done had Dear Leader won the federal election, returned to Alberta to perform a by-pass operation on the beating heart of Conservatism, or settled down into some jammy ministerial post in Ottawa?
On the face of it, there is monstrous presumptuousness operating here, exactly the kind that consigned the Alberta PC’s last carpetbagger, Jim Prentice, to the ash-heap of political history. Does Kenney really think that Albertans will swallow the story that the carnage in the oil patch is Notley’s doing? And why would Wild Rose want to unite behind a man whose party couldn’t get a single pipeline built after a decade in power, and which aligned itself with a PC party in Alberta that mismanaged one of the greatest resources on earth and then told Albertans they were the problem when the bitumen hit the fan?
On the weekend, Kenney got Stephen Harper's blessing. Sometimes a blessing turns out to be a curse.