Federal elections in Alberta are real nail biters—assuming you bite your nails out of self-flagellating boredom. With a few exceptions, the province simply dutifully reapplies a fresh coat of Conservative smurf-blue to represent the party of simplistic morals and a fear of God.
But so far things have been decidedly stranger. On October 1st Premier Jason Kenney appeared before a coven of Calgary business leaders clutching a wrinkled, slightly sticky copy of the Canadian Constitution Act hollering
“Baby want pipeline” “We Albertans are true federalists… we reject the parochial vision of federal parties who are undermining the economic union and balkanizing this country at the worst possible time”.
Naked appeals to federalism have long been anathema to the Albertan spirit. We’re a province of separatist, equalization-hating Ottawa-resenters, but we let it slide. Kenney was an MP in Ottawa for most of the previous years, and the time he did spend in the province was in the basement of his mother’s house in Calgary, playing Diablo II and waiting for Showcase’s Friday Night Without Borders. Perhaps he is not yet attuned to the provincial culture. We forgave the man and forged on with the weekend, enjoying the waning autumn days. Perhaps going to the Smoky Lake Pumpkin Fair, or maybe doing some ketamine and visiting the Eleven Bridges of Wayne. With our blind eye turned however, Mr. Kenney—the cockswain of this great barge of rugged entrepreneurial individualism—took his frothing miscalculation further and went to Ontario to stump for federal candidates in the Greater Toronto Area.
The timing of such a move is ignorant and callous. In the previous federal election, the amount of non-conservative ridings in Alberta skyrocketed by 300%, from one to four—unacceptable losses in a so-called CPC stronghold. He is not using his clout to ensure his very own province will emerge from October 21st untainted by the syphilitic orange and red splotches of Edmonton Strathcona, Edmonton Centre, Calgary Centre, and Edmonton Millwoods. Instead, the Premier is spending time helping out his buddies in Toronto.
The morning of October 7 in Edmonton—writhing hotbed of socialism—nine eco-terrorists blockaded a bridge for an hour and a half, causing widespread inconvenience. Perhaps if Kenney were not out east he would have been able to deliver the swift, decisive response he had promised on the campaign trail.
What motivates Jason Kenney to forsake us at such a time? I have an answer as simple as it is straightforward. The reason Jason Kenney is in Ontario on the federal campaign trail is because he is here for a good time, not a long time. Premiership of Alberta is nothing more than a filthy roadside pitstop on his path to becoming Prime Minister.
Kenney is a career politician, and a vigorous one at that. Never having had a job or life outside politics, it is his cradle and his grave. So it’s natural he sets his sights on the highest unlockable achievement. Seen as a favourite to replace Stephan Harper, he was right on course until the CPC jumped the shark with an explicitly racist platform one or two years before its time and bungled the election. Rather than be a sloppy-seconds rebound for a bunch of pasty losers, Jason Kenney took reprieve. He committed himself to the live-action history museum of Albertan politics, where the passage of time is so skewed the feudal petroligarchy that governs us still vaguely resembles a democracy. It’s the perfect place to eviscerate individual liberties and public services in the mad hope for a brief uptick in the economy for his future federal resume.
The political machinations surrounding Jason Kenney often involve the backroom dealings and mistaken identities of an extremely problematic British sex romp. A key in Kenney securing leadership of the provincial UCP was “kamikaze candidate” Jeff Calloway, who had no purpose in the campaign other than to derail opposing front runner Brian Jean. This time around all Kenney needs is the thin, watery flour of another human ineffective enough to neither succeed nor outright fail as leader of the CPC—while Kenney spends a term auctioning off Alberta like an aging, impotent mule.
Enter Andrew Scheer.
Andrew Scheer will keep the seat warm until Jason Kenney returns to the federal campaign trail at the next opportunity. While in Ontario, Jason Kenney—drunk on his dizzying ascent to power—openly mocked the man he is campaigning for, calling him “severely normal.” Bland enough to keep things afloat, and not bold enough to make waves. The message has been sent loud and clear.
It should be noted the Conservatives have found success without raucous charisma—Stephen Harper, plucked straight from the uncanny valley, being a prime example. But while Scheer possesses the tepidity of Harper, he has none of the darkly compelling menace that captivated the nation. Who wasn’t beguiled by Stephen when he was able to turn a live rendition of “With a Little Help from my Friends” into a bleak, passionless dirge? Andrew Scheer is suited to Kenney’s long term goals so perfectly the odds of such a candidate naturally occurring seem almost impossible.
So where, then, does Jason procure his growing gang of patsies? Jeff Callaway and Andrew Scheer were both grown in laboratories. It’s the only viable explanation. They have the same pinched, roundish features as if roughly hand molded from piles of tube grown meat, their pasts drenched in confusion and mystery. Andrew Scheer’s claims to have worked in insurance are at best dubious and his dual citizenship is the result of being built by the international team of scientists required to craft such an affront to the natural world. The same might be said of Doug Ford but if that’s the case his was an abject failure, like Meatloaf in Rocky Horror Picture Show, which explains his conspicuous absence from the national political theatre.
Granted, it’s a wild postulation. Thankfully all Andrew has to do is show us he has a belly button, proving he was not designed in a lab and thus restore the public’s faith in democracy. I was hoping he would do this during the much sexier French language debates. But he still has three days (as of publishing) to make his appeal to Canada. When he does this, I will unconditionally concede my point.
However, if Andrew Scheer shows us his belly and instead of a button there is nothing but a smooth lily-white surface and a barcode tattoo, like a singular butt cheek except on the front, we can expect two things. The CPC will lose the election, and on October 24th, three days after the election, Alberta’s budget will be presented with an overarching vision of turning the province into a dog eat dog Thunderdome.
Four years later, with yet another looming election and the party’s existential worth at hand, Scheer will seep from leadership like a lifting fog, slippery and forgettable as a dream. Then Kenney will board a plane bound to Ottawa and click his tongue at the flu-infected cities below. Licking his scarlet lips, jowls quivering in anticipation, he will fall into a fitful sleep beset by lusty parliamentary fantasies.
Photo by Rainer Zenz.
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