Notice how Albertans haven’t heard much from the NDP and Rachel Notley lately? You don’t hear anything else from the other opposition parties because they don’t exist.
We don’t hear much from those who should be standing on their orange crates — other than the obligatory protest —because well, they don’t have to say anything. The NDP should be sending thank-you cards to the UCP for making their jobs so easy.
The UCP is that brash, loudmouthed person you get into an argument with at a social function (remember those?) or in this day and age, the fools recorded on a cell phone and put onto to social media, and you just let them talk…
Besides controversial policies, they are very unlikeable. Now with only a few of them allowed to speak publicly besides Premier Jason Kenney or maybe the ‘ever-popular’ health minister Tyson Shandro, the UCP’s popularity is melting faster than a Hawaiian iceberg both publicly and internally. They sent their most earnest cabinet minister, Energy's Sonya Savage, to tell angry Alberta residents they are reversing their decision on coal.
If it isn’t his social media keyboard warriors going around insulting or blocking access for opponents following their political accounts, it is smug attitudes at news conferences, social media posts and the implementing of policies without considering other ramifications other than just business and revenue generation (See health care and education).
People don’t like arrogance from their politicians and rightly or wrongly, the UCP is DOA on delivering success in the area it is heavily-tilted towards. But, it is the attitude which make them easy targets for public and media’s venom.
Take for example this Feb. 2 social media post talking about Covid-19 conspiracy theories. While you may agree in principle with Kenney, do you really need to sit like you’re trashing someone with different ideas: “When you’re sitting in my chair, you don’t have the luxury of indulging in all of this denialism of trying to blame some globalist conspiracy, some —I think Klause Schwab is —his ideas are cockamamie and I will fight those ideas politically and democratically. But they have nothing to do with the actual challenge we are facing. That is not Klaus Schwab, it is not Justin Trudeau; it’s not the Great Reset, it’s not Q-Anon, it’s not a conspiracy. It’s just a reality. And folks for those of you who are in deep denial about this, wake up and smell the coffee, alright? Wake up and look at the real numbers here. It would be grossly irresponsible for any government of any political persuasion to allow unlimited, uncontrolled exponential growth that overwhelms our hospital capacity. When you’re implying that our response is because some socialist in Switzerland told me that he wanted to shut down businesses in Alberta, folks, give your heads a shake and please deal with reality.”
In other words: shut up, you are stupid. If you watch the video, Kenney has a smirk and smugness the whole time.
There is obvious pressure to deliver and regain public support with the good old stand by of oil and gas revenue’s pipeline being turned way down. Covid has deeply damaged the world’s economy and everyone is struggling, including politicians apparently in coming up with any new strategies.
After a while with so little control, you just want to get into a tight group with only the most trusted of people and try to fight your way out. The problem is that this inner circle of “Yes” people, provincial bureaucrats and Kenney inner cabinet loyalists is small. When you only have a small pool of, ahem, wisdom to draw from, there are a lot of things you may not know or see.
The coal mining controversy is one. Were they that naive that people wouldn’t protest? They set themselves up to fail.
When you have a cool kids club and you don’t at least pretend to listen to friends or associates of the club, they turn on you. It is like a real life version of the movie Mean Girls.
This is what has happened: Kenney is in charge. Period. For media, it is very difficult now to get an interview with government workers. They have to get some sort of clearance because and then they return saying there is always “unforeseen circumstances” and won’t be able to talk.
One would assume and surmise that this is how everything is operated.
Even former Conservative media friends like Rick Bell are turning on Kenney with a series of “I’ll show you” articles criticizing Kenney’s arrogance in one column, then handpicking UCP outsiders such as Drew Barnes and Brian Jean. Bell featured Barnes in a soap box-beauty of a column talking about Barnes’ propensity for wanting a referendum on the province’s independence from Canada and his straight-up, no nonsense style about his push for it.
Bell also stood up and cheered vociferously Jean on a column the former leader of the Wildrose Party wrote for Post Media Feb. 2 in which he wrote a condescending piece, which after criticizing many aspects of government and its protocol, Jean even told Kenney to get more sleep and eat better. Really?!
The UCP was an attempt to get both conservative and Conservative high flyers on the same team, no vote splitting wth the PC’s and Wildrosers. After the infamous nine Wildrosers crossed the floor including Danielle Smith, the leader, it is hard imagine that any sort of close collaboration, team unity, or cooperation could ever be achieved amongst these right wingers. Maybe if they come up with some sort of internal new democratic system…
So, if you hear muffled giggles from the folks sitting on their oversized orange crates, you will know why. What would’ve have they done different, other than the obvious non-cancellation of the Coal Policy leading to some atrocious environmental damage in the southwest, who knows? Perhaps they have nothing concrete to add or if they do as critics charge they will lead Alberta into major debt. They don’t have to say anything, the UCP is building the NDP’s popularity without Notley having to do anything. Besides, the NDP is too busy eating popcorn watching the drama.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor of Prairie Post West and Prairie Post East