Kenney resigns and what it means going forward

After narrowly winning leadership review with 51.4%, Kenney decided to step down, which was right choice. With a party that divided, there was no way he could lead it going forward. However, while dumping him may help party slightly, I still stand by my prediction that Notley will win next year. There is no question Kenney for a whole variety of reasons became super unpopular and despite a strong surplus and booming economy; I believe his personal approval rating was too low that there was no way party could recover with him as leader.

That being said I believe much like federal Tories, too many in UCP are misreading the electorate. Both parties are full of a bunch of angry types who are driven more by hatred of left than any actual policies and that is not what the majority in either Alberta or Canada want. Canadians have seen this rage type politics south of the border and even if unhappy with centre-left parties; we know full well alternative is worse if party goes down this path. Much of the UCP who dumped Kenney were from right wing of party who felt he wasn’t right wing enough and wanted him to have no covid restrictions, want more fights with Ottawa if not outright separation. This may be popular in rural Alberta, but is toxic in Calgary where elections are won and lost (Edmonton is already solidly NDP). If the UCP surprises us and chooses a moderate, then maybe they have a decent chance at re-election, but knowing the make up of membership I see that as highly unlikely.

The two likely successors are Brian Jean and Danielle Smith. Of the two I believe Brian Jean would be the better choice. Smith may not be a social conservative but she is a staunch libertarian and contrary to what some think, libertarianism is not popular anywhere in Canada including Alberta. She wanted to follow Florida and leave things wide open. No one likes restrictions, but most of us hate unnecessary deaths even more and thus accepted restrictions were necessary and feel such disregard is reckless and questions her judgement. The worst of covid may or may not be over, but her position says a lot about her judgement. As such I believe Notley would have little trouble beating her in a general election.

Brian Jean is unlike Kenney fairly likeable on a personal level so I suspect if he becomes premier, he gets a bounce in polls and does poll ahead. And unlike Smith I think he might be able to beat Notley, but I still give Notley better odds. His main problem is still too rural and right wing for modern Alberta which is fairly centrist and urban. Also unlike Kenney, he is a lousy debater and I could easily see case where he is leading first half of election, but falls behind after debate. Still if UCP wants to win, he is their best choice of those declared so far. But I do believe UCP brand is damaged enough along with fact many Albertans like Notley that NDP is favoured no matter what.

Things like coal mining on eastern slopes, fight with doctors, curriculum are all things that have angered Albertans. Many claim Notley was a mistake and Albertans won’t repeat it again. But many are ignoring Alberta is a very different place than it was 25 years ago and Notley represents the new Alberta while UCP represents the old Alberta. She is centre-left not hard left and most Albertans even if not centre-left themselves don’t mind centre-left policies. In fact on most issues, Albertans aren’t a whole lot different than people in British Columbia or Ontario. Reason they vote so heavily Conservative federally is more they feel its the only party that looks out for their province, not because of ideology. Some will say her disastrous economic policies will scare people away, but most will argue economy is largely based on price of oil which no premier controls. Never mind I get a sense Albertans today are more about quality of life for average person and idea of Alberta advantage and being most pro-business province has some appeal, but not near to extent it did in past. On issues like taxes, I think most want to be competitive with rest of Canada, but I don’t think many care if competitive with US as many look at lower quality of life there and feel best not to join in race to bottom. Likewise some she is super woke, but I believe most Albertans are quite progressive on minority rights and just fine with that. Sure she will drive the hard right crazy, but most Albertans are sick and tired of them and feel they give their province a bad image unfairly. Likewise some say her being too cozy with Trudeau is a problem, but that is more a right wing talking point. Never mind Trudeau is strongly disliked in Alberta, but not hated to degree some on right think he is. While I certainly wouldn’t vote for Notley as a fiscal conservative, I think those saying she cannot win are letting their own personal bias or stereotype of province get in way and not looking at what is really happening on the ground.

Some may ask why nothing on Ontario election and that is because so far its been largely a snoozer. On June 1st I will give my final thoughts and also who I hope will win and what I think will happen. If I lived in Ontario, I would be voting for the PCs led by Doug Ford which I will give more details on then. I think a PC majority is most likely outcome but things are tight enough that a PC plurality in seats is a very real possibility. Whether Ford remains premier or NDP-Liberals form a coalition is hard to say but my guess is latter happens in that case. I think Liberals or NDP coming first in seats is very unlikely at this point as neither has gained any momentum and we are already half way through the campaign.

4 thoughts on “Kenney resigns and what it means going forward

  1. Like Blaise Boehmer said on twitter there is a path for successful conservatism in Alberta but their probably won’t be enough time between now and the next election to define it. The UCP will still be dealing with an unlikeable leader for a few more months and maybe more than that. By the time the UCP gets a new leader their will only be like 7 or so months left until the next election. That new leader will have to deal with daily internal government business while at the same time preparing for the next election and building their vision for the province. A new leader will be handicapped by the short timeline between them getting sworn in as premier and the next election and it’s unlikely the UCP will be in a strong position before the next election as a result. The ABNDP on the other hand has 4-6 month head start on preparing for the next election which will benefit them next year. All of this is not accounting for the scenario were Kenney figures out a way to run for the upcoming leadership race. I don’t think he will try to stage a comeback at this point but I am not ruling out he attempts one at this point. My point is the UCP is probably screwed no matter what they do in the next year and kenney staying on as their leader won’t help them at all.

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    1. Agreed. I think bigger problem is UCP membership is not representative of modern Alberta. They are too much the anger machine representing an angry rural minority thus why I think NDP will win since even if median Alberta voter is not quite as left wing as Notley. She is more in touch with modern Alberta than any of the UCP candidates. Still NDP shouldn’t take next election for granted but definitely favoured. I think their odds are better against Smith than Jean however, but still advantage NDP in both cases. 80% chance if against Smith, 60% if against Jean.

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  2. I think there are 3 scenarios possible. None of them result in another UCP majority.

    1) If they elect a moderate leader, someone in the Stelmach or Dinning mold, they would likely have a good shot at getting Calgary back and maybe a few seats in the Edmonton suburbs (the core areas are gone for them). However, that would completely alienate rural Alberta even more and result in big gains for WIPA. In the last decade, rural Alberta has moved even farther right to the point of separation and Trump-style populism. That is completely out of line with urban core Alberta – Calgary is best described as centre to centre-right, while Edmonton more centre-left. Most likely result would be an ungovernable UCP minority that would not get help from either WIPA or the NDP.

    2) Staying the course with Jean or Smith would be the worst of both worlds. It is clear that the current UCP is too far right for Calgary (let alone Edmonton), but not far enough for rural Alberta. It would be a decision from Calgarians whether to go further right or left since they would not be comfortable with either option, yet at the same time you still make rural mad. It would be an NDP government – either minority or majority, depending on how Calgary breaks. In a worst case, the UCP could finish third.

    3) If they found someone even farther right in line with rural residents (the median voter there is about where the PPC is federally), it would keep WIPA at bay but would guarantee a majority for the NDP.

    The urban-rural split everywhere keeps getting bigger. Alberta is a tough nut to crack either way these days. Could we be getting to the point where Alberta becomes frequent minority governments if the three components (Edmonton, Calgary and rural) go in different directions?

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    1. That is true, although I think desire to keep NDP out does unite somewhat but certainly that is a big problem as Calgary is centre-right while Rural Alberta quite far to the right. I think Notley wins split or no split but a UCP win not impossible if economy keeps going well and they avoid any major screw ups, latter unlikely. Long term solution might be like Australia to split and instead strike a deal where wildrose only runs in rural parts and PCs only in urban and if two combined have majority form a coalition.

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