For South Peace News
When we’re in government Northern Alberta will be the heart of Alberta, said United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney to the party faithful in Slave Lake on Feb. 17.
Northern Albertans are the toughest of the tough, he continued, buttering up his audience.
Kenney was indulging in plain old politicking, crafting his message to what he thought his listeners wanted to hear. If he’d been speaking in Lethbridge, it likely would have been quite similar, but with the ‘Northern’ swapped for ‘Southern’.
Kenney certainly appears confident in his party’s chances in the next provincial election, not to say downright cocky.
Perhaps he has reason to be.
“According to the polls, the UCP is the most popular party in Canada,” Kenney said.
The day after I’m elected, he continued, a carbon tax repeal bill gets introduced. The news drew applause from the audience.
Another Day 1 pledge is to appoint a “Minister of Deregulation, whose sole focus is on cutting red tape.”
In other words, Alberta will be open for business again, after what Kenney calls “the NDP’s attack on our economy.”
Joining the current provincial government in the Kenney ‘bad guys’ book are the federal government, the governments of British Columbia and Quebec, Venezuelans, Saudis, Qataris and pretty much anybody that can be blamed for obstructing Alberta’s oil industry.
“It’s a moral question,” he said. “Qataris and Venezuelans don’t care about the environmental impact of oil. They also don’t care about human dignity and labour rights.”
Kenney’s point was Albertans do care about those things; therefore, our oil is better than their oil.
But there are these obstacles to getting our oil to market. Kenney sounds ready to go to war on that point. He noted that B.C. natural gas gets to U.S. markets via Alberta, toll-free – something that he said needs to be looked at.
Quebec – an opponent of new pipelines carrying Alberta oil – benefits greatly from Alberta oil wealth via transfer payments. A Kenney-led government would force a constitutional discussion on the equalization system, he promised.
“We must fight back,” Kenney said.
Hosting Kenney was the fledgling Lesser Slave Lake UCP Constituency Association, which had held its first annual general meeting just a few days before. Elected as chairperson was Ken Vanderwell, with Gordon Ferguson as treasurer. Other members include Paul George, Tyler Warman, Brice Ferguson, Shirley Torresan-Chykerda, Kirsty Boissoneault, Jerry Wallsten, Susan Giesbrecht and Wayne Sharko.
Kenney encouraged the association to start beating the bushes for people who might be willing to put their names forward to represent the party in Lesser Slave Lake in the next election. The process of actually choosing a candidate won’t officially start until after the party convention in Red Deer this spring.
“We’re going to need strong people to undo the damage of this government,” said Kenney.