In the News May 30
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s Resignation
A “Leadership Review” in Which Accountability Is the Victim
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced his resignation as United Conservative Party (UCP) leader on May 18 after receiving only 51.4 per cent approval from UCP members voting in a mail-in leadership review. Kenney immediately offered his resignation, stating “The result is not what I hoped for or frankly what I expected. While 51 per cent of the vote passes the constitutional threshold of a majority, it clearly is not adequate support to continue on as leader.”
Three days prior to the announcement of the results, Kenney repeated that he would stay as leader if he received 50 per cent plus one votes. This, he said, was because this was no ordinary vote, as thousands of people whose aim was to “destabilize the government” had “diluted” the Yes vote. These people had never before been members of the Conservative, Wildrose or United Conservative parties, he said, and were driven by anger over things like COVID-19 vaccines.
Of a membership of around 60,000, the UCP said 34,298 people or around 57 per cent of UCP members voted. Of these, 17,638 said Yes and 16,660 said No to the question “Do you approve of Jason Kenney’s leadership?”
Following a caucus meeting on May 19, it was announced that Kenney will remain as leader until a new leader is chosen. This decision was pitched as bringing “continuity and stability and for his government to focus on the people’s priorities, including revamping the health care system and growing the economy.” Kenney subsequently stated that he will not run in the contest for a new leader.
Kenney’s resignation as leader of the UCP signals that the private interests which control the decision-making power in Alberta have concluded that Kenney could not win the next election which will take place in the spring of 2023. Kenney’s assault on the rights of workers, youth and students, women, seniors, farmers and ranchers, Indigenous peoples, and on the natural environment have made him the most unpopular premier in Canada, which is saying a lot, with polling numbers prior to the leadership vote indicating that only around 20 per cent of electors think he should stay as premier.
In the months leading up to the leadership vote, Kenney and the UCP governing body used every trick in the book to try and save him. Meanwhile, the factions which oppose him cried foul, describing the workings of the UCP as reeking of a dictatorial, mafia-like organization, rife with fraud and illegality.
Despite the fact that fewer than one per cent of the population of voting age in Alberta voted in the leadership review, political pundits are drawing all sorts of conclusions. A recurrent theme is that Kenney was booted because he was “not right-wing enough.” Such statements are intended to obscure and derail the resistance to the neo-liberal, anti-social offensive. Kenney and the UCP have been rejected for their criminal negligence and refusal to uphold their social responsibility to the people of Alberta during the pandemic, their aggressive agenda of privatization, huge handouts to the rich energy oligarchs, brutality towards migrant workers, attacks on education, pushing projects such as coal mining on the eastern slopes of the Rockies that endanger precious sources of water, and attempts to impose a reactionary, backward, racist and misogynist school curriculum.
Kenney arrogantly assumed that all he needed was a pair of jeans and a blue pickup truck, and he would be transformed into a true (blue) Albertan and could get away with his flagrant disregard for the demands of the working people. His rule was characterized by revenge-seeking against the workers and their unions, environmentalists, teachers and education workers, doctors, health care workers, and anyone who opposed his rule. His last act before he announced his resignation was to go to visit his masters in Washington, cap in hand as salesman for the oil monopolies who control Alberta’s resources.
The news media also promote the idea that Kenney was caught between those who opposed him for imposing measures that were too restrictive and those who wanted further restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19. This picture of a working class and people at odds with itself is used to keep people divided and divert from the need for democratic renewal. Unity can only be built on the basis of an informed public opinion, not by disinforming public opinion to prevent the development of an opposition which stands against the integration of Alberta and Canada into the U.S. war machine and economy and the anti-national, anti-people rule which is being imposed at a rapid rate.
What the leadership vote displayed in all its ugliness is a process where the tiny minority of electors who are members of a cartel party are permitted to say Yes or No to who will potentially lead a province, in a process rife with corruption and intrigue. The people are then said to have surrendered their right to govern themselves to these cartel parties and their leaders who exercise prerogative powers and rule by decree. The conception of representation has no credibility as a result of the abuse of power by governments which wage the anti-social offensive while claiming to “represent” the people. Nowhere in the process of selection of the leaders of these cartel parties are the concerns of the people to be found. It shows that the democratic institutions said to be representative are a subterfuge.
Alberta workers and their allies, the Indigenous peoples and Métis are determined to see their claims on society met in a manner that mobilizes them as a force which humanizes the social and natural environment. This is the way forward today to throw off the yoke of the cartel party system.
TML Daily, posted May 30, 2022.