United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney speaks in Edmonton on Jan. 29, 2018.
JASON FRANSON / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta’s provincial election hasn’t even been called and already much can be said about it. Firstly, it’s going to get nastier and, secondly, the chances of it being earlier than May is getting slimmer by the day as more NDP MLAs are jumping the NDP government’s sinking ship — two on Monday alone.
First, we’ll deal with the nasty stuff. Bizarrely, Kyle Morrow, an Ottawa lawyer and failed federal Liberal candidate, posted the address of Jason Kenney’s frail, widowed mother online for the world to see and even sent out a tweet with the floor plan of the 80-year-old woman’s former bungalow, which he has since deleted.
It appears that Morrow, 27, has been digging for a long time into Kenney’s living arrangements, saying that because Kenney spent more time in Ottawa than he did in Calgary while he was a senior cabinet minister in Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, it was wrong for him to claim the parliamentary housing allowance for his apartment in Ottawa.
It’s an absurd statement, one that would unfairly penalize cabinet ministers who by necessity need to spend more time in Ottawa and travelling the country and/or world than they can spend in their home riding. It’s something constituents and most reasonable Canadians accept of an MP who gets a senior portfolio, as Kenney had.
Morrow questioned why Kenney’s address at one point was at his mother’s standalone bungalow at a senior’s village. The answer? She had been widowed so he moved in with her to provide support and companionship when he was in Calgary.
The documents posted by Morrow show Kenney collected secondary residence subsidies for his accommodations in Ottawa between 2012 and 2015 of about $10,000 per year, while his mother’s standalone home in Calgary was listed as his address with Elections Canada.
The online sniping seems to indicate that some twisted folk think an adult son helping his elderly mother is worthy of derision. It’s sick.
“While some might mock,” said Kenney of the cesspool that is Twitter commentary by anonymous trolls, “I make no apologies for helping my parents. I am not embarrassed to say that my home was in the same dwelling, even if in a separate suite. I owe everything to them.”
Kenney’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Matt Wolf, pointed out in a telephone interview Monday that as an MP, “Jason was afforded the same living allowance that all MPs get for accommodation in Ottawa.
“At no point did any public money go towards Jason Kenney’s Calgary accommodations — whether owned or rented,” added Wolf.
Morrow — who said on Twitter that he has received death threats since tweeting out details about Kenney’s mother’s residence, floor plans and name of the retirement village where she still lives — did not return Postmedia’s emails or calls to his law firm. In his profile, Morrow says that besides working on various political campaigns in several provinces he “also previously volunteered in the Office of the Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada,” Justin Trudeau.
Kenney was the Member of Parliament for Calgary Southeast (now called Calgary Midnapore) from 1997 until 2016, when he took on the task of uniting the right in Alberta, first by winning the Progressive Conservative Party’s leadership, then helping to win a vote by both parties to unite the Wildrose and the PCs and then by winning the leadership of the UCP party, all in about one year.
In a rather lengthy three decades. During that time, I have always owned, co-owned, or rented my principal residence in Alberta, first in Edmonton in the early 1990s, then Calgary. I paid my taxes in Alberta. My driver’s license and health card were from Alberta. My doctor and dentist were in Alberta. My parish and volunteer activities were and are in Calgary. This of course all remains true to this day.”
Meanwhile, on Thursday embattled Environment Minister Shannon Phillips — who represents the riding of Lethbridge-West — said when it comes to the UCP, “white supremacists make great campaigners, and racists make good candidates.”
It’s just more shameful behaviour from this minister who claimed that the RCMP recommended that she cancel public consultation meetings with residents in the Bighorn area of Alberta because of safety concerns. The RCMP, however, deny that any such advice or consultations on the issue took place.
As for when the Alberta election is going to be called, it will undoubtedly be later rather than earlier, as some were predicting.
Also, on Monday, Strathcona-Sherwood Park NDP MLA and government whip Estefania Cortes-Vargas announced she would not seek re-election to “pursue further professional development opportunities.” That means that the NDP only has 42.5 per cent or 37 of the province’s 87 ridings filled with candidates for the election that — under Alberta’s set election date law that Premier Rachel Notley says she will adhere to — must be called between March 1 and May 31.
By contrast, the UCP has 79 nominees chosen and the Alberta Party has 54.
Mount Royal University political science professor Duane Bratt says Jansen’s announcement comes as no surprise considering the tough odds against her to win back the riding she initially won as a Progressive Conservative, before defecting to the NDP after she says she was bullied in her bid to win the PC leadership.
Politics is rarely pretty but expect it to reach even lower lows in the weeks ahead, as the desperation of the NDP and its supporters grows ever more profound.