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REX MURPHY: Kenney's resoluteness won Alberta. Trudeau's hypocrisy helped Notley lose

A big reason for Kenney's success was his promise that 'Alberta will no longer be passive' in the face of calumnies such as the ones from ever-useless Bill Nye

Anyone who’s surprised Jason Kenney won a majority government Tuesday night has either been asleep for a long while, or working in the Prime Minister’s Office. The indefatigable, persevering, and super-industrious Kenney is a miracle of political endurance. No ordinary politician could out-work Kenney even if supplied with a few spare clones. There are many reasons why he won but let us establish right at the top that the first reason, and the one that fired all the rest of them, is that he works like the sun never sets, and that sunrise is just something that happens only long after he gets up.

Rex Murphy
Rex Murphy

Secondly, he knows what a job is. To be exactingly precise he knows what not having one means to normal everyday people. It is always annoying to listen to the bigheads who rabbit on about “transitioning to a non-carbon economy” of how glibly and disinterestedly they reference the tens and hundreds of thousands who will be displaced from their employment in oil, gas and coal industries. There’s always some fatuous nod to their plight that takes the form of a super-vague assurance that there will be heaps of “new green jobs” — as if jobs have colours, and as if going from present day real work to a fanciful job in some dreamed-up “green future” will float down from the sky at the twitch of a climate-change minister’s thumb.

Such fantasies are an insult to people out of work and those threatened with being out of work. Kenney knows this in a way that a certain leader in Ottawa simply can’t fathom, and in a way that those who jet off to Paris and Copenhagen for the annual jawfest about saving the planet don’t even care to understand. His message was as clear as glass: jobs first, and only then whatever else has to be considered.

Thirdly, he had some generous outside help. He may well have won the majority on his own efforts, but he was glued to victory, hoisted on to an unstoppable juggernaut of a campaign, with the heavy co-operation of Justin Trudeau.

Now I wish to speak no ill of Rachel Notley. She ran a valorous campaign. In the work department she is no slouch herself. In the delightful phrase of an old comrade of mine “if there are any flies on her, they’re paying rent.” The lady has stamina, presence and fortitude. But she was hobbled from the very start. From far-away Ottawa.

Trudeau damned Notley. He was Kenney’s strongest argument against her. If the PM had worked with the same zeal he exerts on “global warming” for Alberta jobs and a pipeline she would have had more than a chance.

Early on in her tenure she entered a “grand bargain” with Trudeau. She worked with him. She gave the illusory “social licence” deal — backed the dread carbon tax, tightened environmental oversight — on the promise of vigorous leadership on a pipeline to the coast and real attention to Alberta’s hard times in the downturn. The deal was pure vapour; call it a downstream emission. Alberta oil is still landlocked, and “social licence’ is now a phrase you have to look up in the newspaper files.

And then, with Alberta’s election just about to begin, there was the political fury over the prime minister’s attempted interference on behalf of SNC-Lavalin. He, in effect, was risking his government to protect “9,000 jobs in Quebec” (an incorrect number as it turned out). The furious irony of this claim — that he was endangering his own government over Quebec jobs, in contrast to virtual somnambulism over Alberta’s massive losses for the full three years of his government — was a whole lot of salt in a very big wound.

A fourth reason for Kenney’s success, and this one threads the other three, was the “fire in the hole” of his campaign — that “Alberta will no longer be passive” in the face of the calumnies remorselessly hurled at the province’s industry by the Green machine’s propaganda arm, professional activists, California-Canadians (Neil Young), drive-by supermodel-addicts (Leonardo DiCaprio) and the ever-useless and cloying Bill Nye.

In my experience nothing more has depressed the general morale of many in Alberta than every holier-than-everybody-else Green peddler’s bleating to the world about Fort McMurray’s sins against the planet, and the daily slanders from the pulpits of the grand imperial church of global warming. Kenney swore that was going to change. He will fight the carbon tax, holler back at the big donors of big environment and, in effect, reverse the ludicrous “social licence” equation. “Get us pipelines, release the oil and gas industry from its manacle and then we might engage with that other stuff.” Albertans have been waiting for the message for a long while.

These were the four elements of his campaign, and each was direct, plain and had no real need of argument. Now the hard part begins. That’s obvious. And it is more than worth noting that Alberta also showed very good sense in providing him with a substantial and more-than-competent opposition. If Notley stays, and there is no indication she will not, Kenney will be facing an adult across the way, and that is always a good thing for any legislature.

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