What does Jason Kenney’s candidacy mean to Albertans?

Conservatives have choices to make as Unite the Right campaign unfolds

 

Jason Kenney is hoping that his years of political experience are enough to attract conservative voters to his Unite Alberta campaign in preparation for the next provincial election. The question is, will it happen? Can it happen?

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave Kenney, 48, his stamp of approval recently, saying that Kenney, “Has demonstrated time and again that he is a principled, thoughtful and highly capable conservative.

“Friends, I would ask you tonight, I would ask all of Alberta’s members of the Conservative Party of Canada to join me and work to elect as the next leader of the PC Party the Honourable Jason Kenney.”

Kenney was thrilled with the endorsement, given at the Calgary Heritage Stampede barbecue last week, adding that he was proud to be a member of Harper’s Cabinet and, “I’m so encouraged by his show of support.”

Shortly after Kenney unveiled his campaign, he said, “We must fight the ideological agenda of this accidental NDP government to limit the damage they do to our province now. And we must do everything within our power to eliminate the risk of a second NDP term, which would be catastrophic to the long-term future of Alberta.”

No matter where one sits on the political spectrum, it will be interesting to see how all of this unfolds.

It must be tough for Wildrose Leader Brian Jean to see this blast of attention being currently focused on Kenney, as Jean himself has been diligently working on shoring up support for his own party. He was also a former MP in Harper’s government as well.

Ultimately, one could say what matters most? An individual political path or being absolutely open to discussions about ‘uniting the right’ no matter who ends up leading the charge.

Kenney, who currently represents the riding of Calgary Midnapore, was first elected to the Canadian House of Commons in 1997 at the age of 29.

He was born in Oakville, Ontario and raised in Wilcox, Saskatchewan.

Other highlights of Kenney’s political career include in February 2015, he was promoted to Minister of Defence after a cabinet shuffle in which Foreign Minister John Baird left federal politics, and former Defence Minister Rob Nicholson became Foreign Minister.

According to Wikipedia, while Minister of Defense, Kenney took a hard-line approach to security, saying it was necessary for Canada to fight against Islamic State militants to prevent them from becoming a threat to Canada.

Personal highlights for Kenney include being named one of Canada’s ‘100 Leaders of the Future’ by Maclean’s magazine; “one of Canada’s leading conservative activists” by the Globe and Mail; and “one of 21 Canadians to watch in the 21st Century” by the Financial Post magazine.

So what does all of this mean to the average Conservative in Alberta who is still reeling from current Premier Rachel Notley’s election in the spring of 2015?

It is too early to tell at this point as how this will all play out. There is still much to learn about Kenney and his views as well how well he fits in with the provincial conservatives as a whole. And is Harper’s endorsement a hindrance or a help?

In rebuilding the PC party we have heard they want to listen closely to the grassroots membership. Kenney’s campaign will have to touch on issues such as merging with the Wildrose, if that is even a possibility; getting Alberta out of economic doldrums and just renewing faith in the party as a whole.

One has to give some credit to Kenney for entering into a political landscape that is not only complicated, but full of issues and quite divided. It will be interesting to see over the next couple of months if Kenney remains the sole candidate, or if others join him in the race.

One thing we know for sure is that right wing Albertans are demanding a new vision, renewed hope and a stable leadership.