Jason Kenney and Doug Ford used to be the best of friends. But times have changed. Kieran Leaviett and Alex Boyd write:
The anti-carbon-tax rally in fall of 2018 was perhaps the peak of what, once upon a time, was dubbed the “bromance” of Ford and Kenney, when they marched arm in arm against the Liberals in defence of provincial jurisdiction and the imposition of a federal carbon tax.
Back then, the newly elected populist leader of Ontario and the former federal politician who’d gone west to champion Alberta — Kenney would become premier in April 2019 — were the vanguard of a cross-provincial conservative movement going full tilt against Justin Trudeau in Ottawa ahead of last year’s federal vote.
But Trudeau won the election. And now Kenney and Ford have to work with him:
After Andrew Scheer and the Conservative party failed to take down Trudeau, who won a minority government in October, political analysts say Ford and Kenney now must focus on the problems at home and look at working with the federal government.
The realities of running a province are creeping in, [Conservative spokesman Tim] Powers said. That means the close political alliance may be starting to take a back seat to the demands of two very different jurisdictions that have their own problems to deal with.
It may have been an unlikely match. Ford was a populist, riding a wave of anti-establishment support all the way to Queen’s Park in 2018, while some see Kenney as an establishment Conservative, who spent many years in Ottawa as an MP before swapping out suits for jeans to campaign for premier across Alberta in a dark blue pickup.
But according to one former Ontario Progressive Conservative staffer, the bromance — a term Postmedia reported that Kenney used himself at the national Conservative convention in 2018 — was more than just politically expedient for the two premiers.
Now each man faces different priorities:
Ford must try to capture moderates in the centre of the political spectrum at home and Kenney will have to deal with a separatist movement on his right, which could prove dangerous for him in the next provincial election.
“For Kenney, the real challenge in the next election is keeping from having a Wexit party that is siphoning off 20 per cent of his vote.”
Politics makes strange bedfellows. And when their priorities change, they change beds.
Image: The Toronto Star