Welcome back to Alberta, Jason Kenney. A lot has changed here since you left for Ottawa in 1997. Here are the Coles Notes.
Almost 980,000 people have moved here since you were first elected as a 29-year old Reform Party MP. That's a city bigger than Edmonton that's moved to Alberta in the past 19 years and it's all thanks to massive amounts of international and inter-provincial migration. Alberta is now one of the youngest, most educated and most urban provinces in all of Canada.
And this new mass of Albertans does not have a deep connection to traditional conservative Alberta politics. When you compare Alberta to the rest of Canada we are a demographic anomaly. In Alberta there are more millenials and generation Xers than baby boomers.
Alberta's population has also become more educated over the past 20 years. In 2014 almost 26 per cent of Alberta had a university degree, double the amount in 1991. And in a December 2015 poll done by Abacus Data and commissioned by Progress Alberta, you will find that two out of three people with a university degree view themselves as progressive.
David Coletto of Abacus Data analyzed the data and found that "those living in either Edmonton or Calgary were more likely to self-identify as progressive than those living in other regions of the province. Progressive identifiers were also more likely to have higher levels of education, and more likely to live in urban communities."
Values have also shifted. The proof is in long-term polling data from Faron Ellis at Lethbridge College. He has asked the same six questions since 2009 and you see a genuine movement towards progressive values.
- Support for gay marriage having the same legal status as traditional marriage has increased from 65.7 per cent in 2009 to 81.7 per cent in 2015
- Support for legalized doctor-assisted suicide went from 64.3 per cent in 2009 to 80.6 per cent in 2015.
- Support for decriminalization of marijuana has gone from 36.5 per cent in 2009 to 51.1 per cent in 2015.
Where do you think Jason Kenney stands on these issues?
Perhaps most importantly, more Albertans identify as progressive than conservative. When we asked Albertans to rank themselves on an ideological scale, 38 per cent identified as progressive, 31 per cent identified as centrist and 30 per cent identified as conservative.
When we asked respondents to rank "Albertans in general" on the same scale the conservative number came out at 53 per cent. Alberta is more progressive as you think. And it's not like you need to dig through the polling and demographic data to find this out -- look to the latest election results.
The same centrist/progressive/urban voting coalition that voted in Redford in 2012 voted
for Notley in 2015 and they're not going away. And while the Kenney hype train is currently at full speed, there are a few downsides to his candidacy that you should keep in mind.
He's never had to face a real opponent. He's spent the majority of his career in the back room. His social conservative politics play terribly in Alberta. And a Jason Kenney led government would be directly responsible for service delivery of both education and health care. Think of abortion, GSAs, trans rights and the like.
He's also a tremendously divisive figure within the PC party. This is a man who openly campaigned against the PCs for the last two provincial elections. Kenney despises red Tories and progressives more than any politician around.
Kenney fancies himself as the one man who can unite the right. And he may very well be the great uniter -- it's just far more likely that the left and the centre unite to defeat him than the other way around.
While conservatives in Alberta are certainly very well funded, well connected and very vocal, they're not the majority. The progressive and centrist vote in Alberta is the new quiet majority. A lot can change in 19 years. Welcome back, Jason.
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Jason Kenney's credibility has been called into question by the Opposition because of a number of incidents since he took over as defence minister in February, 2015.
On March 8 – International Women’s Day – Kenney took to Twitter to thank the Canadian Forces for fighting ISIL’s “campaign to enslave women and girls.” He shared striking images of women in burkas chained together. However, The Ottawa Citizen reported that the women in one image were actually performing a ceremonial re-enactment in honour of the prophet Mohammad's grandson, Hussein, and his family. The National Post later reported that another photo was from an anti-ISIL protest in the United Kingdom and a third image, supposedly showing an ISIL militant and a child bride, has also be called into question. When Liberals asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper in question period if he would reprimand his minister for the misleading tweet, the prime minister responded that Kenney was “new to his portfolio.” Though the National Council of Canadian Muslims derided the tweet as “corrosive” and opposition parties called for Kenney to remove it from his account, the tweet still exists.
Kenney also claimed in March that a Russian fighter jet “buzzed” the HMCS Fredericton at a low altitude in the Black Sea and stood by a claim from his parliamentary secretary that the frigate was confronted by Russia warships. However, NATO officials told Postmedia that Russian aircraft actually flew over the NATO maritime task force to which the Fredericton was assigned at a high altitude and denied any confrontation with Russian warships took place. The confusion over the incident spurred a blistering rant from CBC host Rick Mercer. “Someone’s lying,” Mercer said. “The Minister of Defence, NATO. They both have completely different stories.”
According to The Ottawa Citizen, while Kenney was on a conference call with reporters discussing Canada’s expanded mission against ISIL, he said he did not take NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair seriously because “the NDP has opposed every single overseas military deployment in Canadian history.” Not true. The NDP supported Canada’s 2011 military mission in Libya, but did not vote for extension.
According to that same Citizen story, Kenney also claimed that defence spending under the previous Liberal governments fell to a record low of 0.7 per cent of GDP. Not true. From the story: “NATO, the World Bank and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a respected think-tank on global defence expenditures, say Canadian defence spending never fell below 1.1 per cent of GDP between 1990 and 2012. However, last year – under the Conservatives – it slipped to one per cent.” A spokesperson told the paper that Kenney meant to say defence spending dropped by 0.7 per cent under the Grits.
Kenney also told reporters in late March that Canada needed to join the bombing campaign against ISIL in Syria because only this country and the United States have the kind of precision-guided smart bombs needed for the airstrikes. Not true. As reported by The Ottawa Citizen, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, both part of the five nation, U.S.-led coalition bombing targets in Syria, have used such bombs against ISIL. Gen. Tom Lawson, the chief of the defence staff, originally backed up Kenney’s claim that only Canada and America had the weapons. However, Lawson changed his tune on April 1, saying Canada’s allies did indeed have the weapons. Kenney apologized for the gaffe in the House of Commons, placing the blame on a briefing error.
UP NEXT: Mosul After ISIS
In this undated handout photo provided by the Library of Congress taken during the autumn of 1932, men pause on a lorry on the road to Mosul, northern Iraq.
Fighters from the Islamic State group parade in a commandeered Iraqi security forces armored vehicle down a main road in Mosul on Monday, June 23, 2014.
A 1932 image of Lady Surrma of the Assyrian community posing for a portrait in Mosul, northern Iraq.
An Iraqi woman looking at a shop display in central Mosul after the Islamic State group ordered clothes shop owners to cover the faces of the mannequins on Monday, July 21, 2014.
In this undated handout photo provided by the Library of Congress taken during the autumn of 1932, the Tigris River stretches out in the distance as seen from Mosul, northern Iraq.
File photo of smoke rising during airstrikes targeting Islamic State militants at the Mosul Dam on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014.
A 1932 image taken during the autumn of Nebi Yunis, the tomb of the prophet Jonah, in Mosul, northern Iraq,
Iraqis walk in the rubble of the revered Muslim shrine after it was was destroyed on Thursday, July 24, 2014 by militants who overran the city in June and imposed their harsh interpretation of Islamic law.
In this undated handout photo provided by the Library of Congress taken during the autumn of 1932, Iraqis pause in the market in Mosul, northern Iraq.
Demonstrators chanting pro-Islamic State group slogans as they carry the group's flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul on Monday, June 16, 2014.
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