You know, it’s kinda odd. Jason Kenney hasn’t even taken office yet as premier of Alberta, yet the feeling I get both in the media and online is that he has already taken his place as the head of “The Resistance,” as Macleans characterized them.
The Resistance included Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and, of course, Jason Kenney. They were Photoshopped together for a front page on Nov. 7, 2018.
Kenney’s assumed leadership may be from the fact he’s been much more prominent on the national stage than the others and, for many years, as he held cabinet positions within the Stephen Harper government.
It also may be the fact he’s been talking toughest among them all, and the rest aren’t exactly shrinking violets.
Anyhow, there was much rejoicing in the firmament on April 16 as Kenney took his place among those premiers, the resistance to Justin Trudeau and his carbon tax. Most of the people I spoke to in the following days were grinning ear-to-ear. But that’s the kind of crowd I keep.
His acceptance speech was a barnburner.
It’s clear he’s a convert to the narrative that Vivian Krause has dug up, namely that foreign money has been doing its best to keep Canadian oil landlocked. Without saying her name, he noted, “Tonight Albertans have decided that we will no longer passively accept the campaign of defamation against the industry that has helped us to create one of the most prosperous and generous societies on Earth.”
He added later, “And now I have a message to those foreign funded special interests who have been leading a campaign of economic sabotage against this great province.
“To the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Tides Foundation, Lead Now, the David Suzuki Foundation and all of the others:
“Your days of pushing around Albertans with impunity just ended.
“We Albertans are patient and fair minded, but we have had enough of your campaign of defamation and double standards.
“Today, we begin to stand up for ourselves, for our jobs, for our future.
“Today we begin to fight back.
“From this point forward, when you lie about how we produce energy, we will tell the truth assertively, and we will use every means at our disposal to hold you to account.
“When multinational companies like HSBC boycott Alberta, we’ll boycott them.
“We will launch a public enquiry into the foreign source of funds behind the campaign to landlock Alberta energy.”
He went onto address Quebec directly, in French, basically arguing for the Energy East pipeline. It’s not normal for incoming premiers to talk to the people of another province, and in a language other than that of his own province, but that’s what Kenney did.
The reality is that one person, even someone like Kenney, is not going to be able to fight the carbon tax and pipeline fight alone. That he has those others (and I would add, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs) show a groundswell of support in a fight that, until recently, Saskatchewan was largely fighting by itself.
And Kenney’s not one person, like Scott Moe was for a while. He’s part of a team. For a brief period in times, we seem to have nearly contiguous support for pipelines, and against the carbon tax, from the Rockies to New Brunswick (skipping over Quebec, of course).
It should not be lost on you these were the topics that 700-plus trucks rolled through Regina on April 4, loudly proclaiming their support. In Saskatchewan, at least, this team has support.
It is clear that there will be high expectations of Kenney to swing a big stick. Will he turn off the taps to British Columbia, and let the earth muffins experience life in a decarbonized world? Perhaps he’ll ban B.C. wine, for real, this time. Will he make equalization (funded by oil, essentially) a national issue? Will his planned war room (essentially a propaganda arm to fight the negative propaganda) have clout? Will it have any effect in putting the essentially anti-Alberta, anti-Canadian energy lobby on the back foot?
For a relatively short man (I’ve interviewed him once in Lloydminster), Jason Kenney is striding back onto the national scene as a colossus.
Now he just has to make good on those expectations.
Brian Zinchuk is editor of Pipeline News. He can be reached at email@example.com