Jason Kenney and the New Alliance on Canada’s Right
Unlike many other governments in Canada, including the federal Liberals under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the United Conservative Party under Jason Kenney is about to take power in Alberta with the backing of a clear majority of voters, just over 55 percent.
And, as I learned while traveling around the province before Tuesday’s vote, it was clear that even though Mr. Kenney’s opponent was Premier Rachel Notley, the New Democrat who broke a decades-long tradition of Conservative governments four years ago, he was also running against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
With a lengthy victory speech that was almost more of a battle cry than celebration, Mr. Kenny made it clear that his fight against Mr. Trudeau and other politicians outside of Alberta was just beginning.
Generalizing about Albertans’ political views can be fraught. But in places like Sundre, a logging and farm town with extraordinary views of the Rockies, it was easy to find people who share Mr. Kenney’s view that the rest of Canada has blocked or failed to act quickly on new pipelines, making the oil and gas industry’s current slump even worse. His supporters chanted “Build That Pipe” at campaign rallies and their victory party.
Much of Mr. Kenney’s plan for an oil and gas revival is based around confrontation rather than negotiation. He will cancel Alberta’s carbon tax, upsetting Mr. Trudeau’s pan-Canadian climate accord. Mr. Trudeau will immediately respond by imposing a federal carbon tax on Alberta with rebates to consumers.
To protest British Columbia’s opposition to the expansion of a pipeline from the oil sands to that province’s coast, Mr. Kenney is threatening to cut off its oil and gas — a move most experts view as unconstitutional.
And his response to Quebec’s opposition to a currently moribund eastbound pipeline proposal consists of threats to pull out of a federal, constitutionally guaranteed economic balancing program that moves tax money from wealthy provinces like Alberta to less prosperous ones including Quebec.
He’s also targeted environmentalists with promises to investigate their funding and to set up a government operation to challenge their criticisms of Alberta’s oil sands, which are a major source of Canada’s carbon emissions.
But the shift in power and Mr. Kenney’s positions might actually benefit Mr. Trudeau. In parts of the country where carbon taxes and other climate measures are popular, the prime minister will be able to campaign against Mr. Kenney and his fellow premiers who are opposed to them.
During the campaign Mr. Kenney, a social conservative, didn’t remove a candidate who once equated gay men with pedophiles and who claimed that love in same-sex couples wasn’t real. That earned him a widely publicized rebuke from the popular conservative radio show host Charles Adler, a friend of Mr. Kenney’s for 20 years.
And Mr. Kenney vowed to inform parents when their children joined gay-straight alliances at schools. It seems likely that the Liberals will cite Mr. Kenney’s record on gender issues and remind voters that the federal Conservative leader, Andrew Scheer, is also socially conservative.
Mr. Kenney, 50, entered federal Parliament at the age of 29. Since then he’s developed a record for being tenacious, partisan, combative and hard-working.
Inside former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s highly centralized Conservative government, Mr. Kenney was one of the few cabinet members who developed a high, independent profile. Several people I spoke with this week in Alberta expect that Mr. Kenney, rather than Mr. Scheer, could emerge as the Conservatives’ most powerful voice, and Mr. Trudeau’s greatest rival, in October’s campaign.
Shortly after returning from Alberta, I was off to Montreal where my colleague Dan Bilefsky was celebrating the publication of his new book, “The Last Job.” It’s based on reporting Dan did in London for The Times about the “Bad Grandpas,” who committed the biggest burglary in Britain’s history.
These thieves jumped down elevator shafts with both diamond tipped drills and insulin to steal more than $20 million in jewelry and gems from a huge safety deposit vault.
Dan’s not the only Canada correspondent who has a new book. Catherine Porter, our Toronto bureau chief, recently released “A Girl Named Lovely,” based on her time in Haiti after the island nation’s devastating earthquake.
For the book, Catherine spent five years chronicling the life of a 2-year-old girl who had survived six days under the rubble and emerged virtually unscathed. Part of Catherine’s story is about her own struggle maintaining her independence as a journalist while also wanting to help people in a desperate environment.
—Sarah Lyall, a Times correspondent, went to Ottawa to examine what it means for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to be the leader of a feminist government.
—The obituary of Joan Jones, who died this month in Halifax, explains how she was a driving force against racism and injustice in that city.
—Our latest Overlooked obituary tells the story of Winnipeg-born Aloha Wanderwell, who became famous during the 1920s as she traveled the world in a Model T and filmed her experiences.
—Is there a future for Deciem, the cosmetics brand, after the death of Brandon Truaxe, its volatile, if inspired, founder, in a fall from a Toronto condo this year?
—President Trump has called his approach to deal-making an “art form.” But his bullying approach to trade talks with Canada and other nations may be undermining the United States several analysts say.
—In Opinion, the Vancouver author and journalist Geoff Dembicki argued against Conservative politicians’ attacks on carbon taxes.
Around The Times
Henry Fountain, a climate reporter at The Times, looked at the changes that melting glaciers, including ones in British Columbia, will bring to the natural world. His less-than-reassuring findings appeared as a multimedia presentation featuring dramatic photos by Max Whittaker.