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FILDEBRANDT: Collapse in support should be a wakeup call to the Tories

“Jason Kenney and the Tories are faced with the same political choice that Jim Prentice was: turn right and nip the Wildrose in the bud, or left and push the NDP back across the centre. Prentice decided to osculate between both, with disastrous consequences.”




“One and done!”

Jason Kenney repeated those words ad nauseam during and in the lead-up to the 2019 Alberta election. He was of course referring to making Rachel Notley Alberta’s first and only one-term government.

He was right about part one (first), but unless things change, he will be wrong about part two (only).

In a Mainstreet Research poll commissioned by the Western Standard, UCP support has cratered from 55 per cent on election day 2019, to just 26 per cent as of January 7, 2021.

That is less than half the votes they received less than two years ago. Put another way, that is fewer votes than Jim Prentice’s Progressive Conservatives received when they were routed to third place in 2015. If these numbers were to hold up, it would be a total collapse.

Among decided voters, the NDP are actually just where they were on Election Day 2019: 41 per cent.

What is really bleeding the Tories white is lost support to the upstart Wildrose Independence Party (WIPA), and the large pool of undecided voters.

The other parties (Alberta Party, Liberal, Green, and other) were all between 2-3 per cent each.

“This is horrific news for the governing UCP and for Premier Jason Kenney,” Mainstreet Research President and CEO Quito Maggi told the Western Standard’s Dave Naylor.

The NDP are ahead of the UCP by an eye-watering 50 per cent in Edmonton’s Fortress Orange. With numbers like this, the Tories stand to lose their lone seat in Edmonton-proper and all of the suburban ridings surrounding it.

In Fortress Blue – Calgary – the Tories face huge losses as they trail the NDP by 15 points.

The NDP are – for the first time ever – even leading amongst men.

But it’s not because the NDP has picked up all that much support amongst Edmontonians, Calgarians, or men. It is because the UCP has been slowly – and now rapidly – bleeding support to their sovereigntist/populist-right flank.

Readers familiar with me will know that I am not an entirely objective observer of that sovereigntist/populist-right flank, but I will do my best to give a fair analysis.

‘The Flank’ has been a growing threat since June 2020, when the Freedom Conservative Party merged with Wexit Alberta to form Wildrose 2.0 (WIPA). Since then, the party’s interim leader, Paul Hinman has been trying to repeat what he did as the original leader of Wildrose 1.0: slowly but surely do the gruelling work of building a party from the ground up.

Despite this, the party has had very little in the way of mainstream media attention. It’s no wonder that much of the media are wondering ‘who the hell are these people?’

The party ignored by the MSM polled a distant third in Calgary and Edmonton, but a respectable 13 per cent outside of those two big cities. Based on past performance of Social Credit, Reform, and Wildrose 1.0, it’s reasonable to assume Wildrose 2.0 support is strongly concentrated outside of the cities in the rural south and central parts of Alberta.

According to Maggi, these numbers are likely to lead to at least a few WIPA MLAs getting elected if they hold, but we have to wait for the advanced modelling to more accurately predict how that shakes out.

Undoubtedly, much of the collapse in UCP support is driven by the still fresh Great Snowbird Scandal, but it would be a mistake to lay the blame entirely at its feet. As polling later this week will show, the Tories are bitterly divided down the middle on questions of independence and lockdowns.

And as Maggi points out, the Wildrose brand is remarkably resilient in Alberta. It was assumed dead by the entirety of the media and political class after the mass floor crossings of December 2014, but bounced back from the dead months later to win a record number of seats and be in contention to win the May 2015 election.

While a majority of 2015 Wildrose voters are still a part of Kenney’s UCP coalition, actions of the government have led to a slow, but steady exodus. The recent scandal has likely accelerated this. Perhaps time will heal all, and these voters will drift back to the mothership. Perhaps not.

Kenney and the Tories are faced with the same political choice Prentice was: turn right and nip the Wildrose in the bud, or left and push the NDP back across the centre. Prentice decided to oscillate between both, with disastrous consequences.

It’s a war brewing on two fronts, for which Kenney needs his own Schleiffen Plan.

Kenney has two years and change left in his term. He needs to decide which front he will attack.

Derek Fildebrandt is the Publisher of the Western Standard

Derek Fildebrandt is the Publisher, President & CEO of Western Standard New Media Corp. He served from 2015-2019 as a Member of the Alberta Legislative Assembly in the Wildrose and Freedom Conservative parties. From 2009-2014 he was the National Research Director and Alberta Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. dfildebrandt@westernstandardonline.com

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  1. Mars Hill

    January 9, 2021 at 11:55 pm

  2. Mars Hill

    January 9, 2021 at 11:51 pm

    UPC has been playing ‘politics’….people are of sick of that….the NDP stand for what they stand for, ccp cabal msm will be behind them, sneer at that thought at your peril.

  3. John Farren

    January 9, 2021 at 8:06 pm

    Wild rose our best bet by far ! Separation referendum ! The referendum on equalization he is pissing down your leg and saying its raining ! Too many other provinces need to agree to it

    • David Elson

      January 11, 2021 at 6:44 pm

      Not just the other provinces but also the Federal government needs to agree constitutional changes.

      Needless to say, the constitution will never change unless one province forces the issue by UDI, which may or may not shock the ROC into reform.

  4. David Elson

    January 10, 2021 at 12:24 am

    Kenney is in a cleft. His party will not create an Alberta CPP, or provincial police force, or make any demands for reform of the Feds.

    Yet Kenney needs to engage the political right to keep his party afloat.

    Now would be a good time for the Wildrose to start releasing concrete policy proposals.

    • burma1234

      January 11, 2021 at 6:04 pm

      Tough talking candidate for premier, Jason Kenney, conned us into believing he was about to put Ottawa and the Trudeau mob in their rightful places, if he was elected. He was going to be the John Wayne of Canadian politics and the days of taking anymore nonsense from the Trudeau mob were over. Interestingly, one of Kenney’s first proclamations was, “first and foremost I am a federalist”, and it quickly became apparent that he was also a Trudeau patsy., and he has made no effort to relinquish that position!

    • millerkv

      January 11, 2021 at 6:17 pm

      We’ll have to wait for the 23rd for Wildrose. The AGM isn’t until then. But I expect they’ll start communicating the policies once they are approved. They’ve been adding to their website, so they have some good information there.

  5. ninetyninepct

    January 9, 2021 at 9:04 am

    People wonder why there is increasing support for the Wexit / Maverick concept. The NDP simply want to shut down the entire resource industry and have everyone live off the Government. Horgan has the same attitude. They get this sense of godliness and entitlement from trudeau. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0e0d0e0a22601f55e45eb9182a3a3670a5c88a5e098214239ec2feacb53b137c.png

  6. John

    January 9, 2021 at 8:40 am

    The best Albertans can hope for is either a UCP or WIPA minority in the next election. What’s holding WIPA back the most is being completely ignored by the government controlled media.

    If Trudeau stays on and Notley is being re-elected Alberta will experience a mass migration out of Canada, unlike anything ever seen before. It will be brutal for those who stay behind.

  7. millerkv

    January 8, 2021 at 9:20 pm

    I’m hoping the Wildrose Independence Party wins. I’m done with Canada. But it’s way too early to count Kenney out. He’s a sharp politician, usually. He will twist and turn and do his best to get back to victory. He’s got a strong political machine, if he can hold on to it. WIPA is making a good effort and has had a tremendous few months, but we have a long way to go. Two years will go by very quickly.

  8. Ken Browne

    January 8, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    My support will remain with the REAL Independence Party of Alberta.

    • millerkv

      January 8, 2021 at 9:22 pm

      Wildrose Independence seems to have the momentum. While IPA is older, WIPA has a leader and appears to be doing much better at fundraising. Personally I like the WIPA approach, and think the IPA approach is too aggressive for most Albertans. But we’ll see what happens once IPA elects a new leader this spring. Either party would be better than the status quo, and infinitely better than the NDP.

  9. warrenzoell

    January 8, 2021 at 7:00 pm

    Albertans can be the dumbest Canadians that ever walked. I can understand not supporting the UCP. But going back to supporting the NDP? Really? Helloooo Mcfly!!

    • millerkv

      January 8, 2021 at 9:25 pm

      I think the NDP has a loyal base. That base has neither shrunk nor grown. They are a serious player on the left, since they absorbed all those from central-left through to socialists. Notley is a better leader than the usual Liberals, and so has created a progressive movement. I think what we’re seeing is a repeat of 2015. Large numbers of Albertans who are disgusted with the current government but aren’t sure where to go so are “undecided” or just staying home. We need to get the Wildrose Independence message out to Albertans.

      • burma1234

        January 11, 2021 at 5:58 pm

        It won’t happen! The NDP exposed themselves as poor business people, pro unionists, social immoral and degenerate. I can assure you we will be voting for Santa Claus before that mob ever gets a chance at power again!

    • burma1234

      January 11, 2021 at 5:53 pm

      Re-electing the catastrophic NDP in Alberta will not happen. We may not be the smartest people, we believed Kenney’s con job, however, giving the degenerative NDP communists another chance is beyond comprehension. We have enough problems with the federal Liberal party who are of the same ilk!

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MORGAN: It’s time for Kenney to resign

“I say this regretfully, but it’s time for Jason Kenney to resign as premier of Alberta and as the leader of the United Conservative Party. I wish things had ended differently.”




Premier Jason Kenney gambled and lost.

His move to declare Alberta as being permanently open for business was a hail-Mary pass for a beleaguered government and it has failed in the worst possible way.

Alberta is in the midst of a health care crisis, deaths are on the rise and we are entering a new period of mandatory vaccine passports, lockdowns, and other restrictions.

I say this regretfully, but it’s time for Jason Kenney to resign as premier of Alberta and as the leader of the United Conservative Party.

I had the highest of hopes for Kenney. I was enthusiastic as he won multiple leadership races and merged the previously intransigent Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties. I was thrilled when Rachel Notley’s NDP government was trounced in the general election. I thought we’d be looking forward to some steady, competent, conservative governance for at least a couple of election cycles.

I was wrong. Boy, was I ever wrong.

Love him or hate him, Jason Kenney is undeniably one of the brightest and hardest working politicians in Canada. He worked his way from advocacy into elected office and then became a respected cabinet minister in a number of portfolios. It appears Kenney met his match when it comes to the party and provincial leadership. He has managed to alienate both the left and the right within the province and I don’t see how he can recover from this.

Kenney’s leadership woes were already appearing well before the COVID-19 pandemic appeared on the scene. The shotgun marriage of the Wildrose Party and the Progressive Conservatives was showing cracks as caucus infighting began to smolder. The pandemic crisis exacerbated the issue and Kenney is now heading up a deeply divided caucus with multiple members having been tossed out of the party or disciplined. This inability to manage his own caucus has shaken the confidence Albertans had in Kenney to manage the province.

The Kenney government has been noteworthy for setting high targets and then failing to move toward them. The Fair Deal panel appeared to be an act of deferral, rather than an exercise to build a stronger, more independent province.

Kenney refused to take strong actions against Ottawa despite the open hostility shown to Alberta by the Trudeau government. This has fed the theory Kenney is using Alberta as a stepping stone towards pursuing a federal run. We can safely say Kenney’s federal career is finished at this point.

It seems that everything Kenney has touches turns to scheiße. The energy “war room” has turned into a running joke and with long and constant delays on its launch. The Allen Report examining groups that attack Alberta’s energy sector has been a waste of time. Energy producers seeking a sense of confidence in Alberta have been left disappointed.

In picking a battle with Alberta’s doctors and nurses, Kenney has drawn fire from all sides of the political spectrum. While there certainly is room to reexamine the agreements with health care providers, it has to be done carefully and with strong leadership. The UCP has appeared ham-handed and virtually leaderless on the issue.

The Kenney government has become election fodder used to hammer the O’Toole Conservatives on the federal front. The UCP looks so inept and unpopular that Trudeau is using it to attack O’Toole, and O’Toole hides from any association with Kenney.

Politicians are by nature self-interested beings. Caucus members within the UCP are surely weighing their options as the Kenney government continues to crash and burn in public opinion. With less than two years to go before the next provincial election comes, they know the window for getting rid of Kenney is closing quickly. The only hope the UCP has of winning the next election is to get a new leader and show some sign of new direction, and soon.

Rumblings from caucus are soon going to become a roar.

There are two options for the UCP right now. They can keep Kenney into the next election and most likely hand Rachel Notley a second NDP term, or they can get on with finding a new leader and reconnecting with Albertans. The UCP now is simply too wildly unpopular to regain the trust of the electorate under Kenney’s leadership.

I still respect Jason Kenney and appreciate what he did on the federal front, along with his efforts to unite conservatives in Alberta. I would like to see Kenney retain what dignity he can by resigning for the sake of Alberta and his party. It would hurt his pride, but it still would be a better end to a political career than being kicked out by his own caucus, or by the electorate in a general election. His “best summer ever” strategy failed and it’s time to face the music.

I wish things had ended differently.

Cory Morgan is the Alberta Political Columnist for the Western Standard and Host of the Cory Morgan Show

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FILDEBRANDT: In the face of tyranny, freedom demands our defiance

“Our silence is compliance. Our compliance is surrender.”




Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has crossed a line.

When and where he crossed it is not easily discerned, but he has most certainly crossed it.

The premier announced at an early evening press conference Wednesday he was putting Alberta back under lockdown, the fourth so far. It didn’t work the first three times, but government is nothing if not a mandatory recurring set of bad ideas.

Yet he went much further than another routine lockdown this time. This time, he imposed a vaccine passport, a policy he and his party had been fundraising in opposition to just days earlier. Will the hapless UCP members who handed over their cash be refunded for these donations?

It is a nakedly authoritarian policy, designed to deprive men and women of free choice over what to do with their own bodies. Kenney’s vaccine passport will create a two-tiered, legalized segregation of society.

As the Hindu caste system did in times of old, society will be divided between the “clean” and the “unclean.” Alberta’s government will create a legally required class of untouchable people lowered to the status of second-class citizen. These Albertans will have vastly fewer rights and freedoms than do their betters.

Political disagreement too often leads to overheated rhetoric, with unjustified labels thrown around too casually. Every conservative is a ‘fascist’, and every liberal is a ‘communist,’ in Twitter political parlance.

Bad government does not always equal tyrannical government, but tyrannical governments do exist.

At what point does a government cease being merely “bad”, and become tyrannical?

Most dictionaries define a tyrant as “a cruel and oppressive ruler.”

It’s a broad definition that can admittedly be applied haphazardly. Not every ruler we strongly disagree with is a tyrant, but we know tyrants do rule.

A single act does not a tyrant make, but at some point, Alberta’s government has become tyrannical.

Was it when they sent police to beat up kids for playing hockey?

Was it when they jailed Christian pastors?

Was it when they raided and barricaded churches?

Was it when they seized small businesses that were going under for staying closed?

Was it when they outlawed rodeos and protests against the government?

Or was it when the rulers were caught on camera enjoying a nice dinner on the rooftop of the Sky Palace—in contravention of their own laws—while the ruled were locked down in the confines of their homes?

If it was not at any of those moments, it certainly must have been when Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced the legalized segregation of Albertans into a new stratified class system.

A keystone marker of an authoritarian government is ‘otherism’, or scapegoating a minority.

It’s true the overwhelming majority of currently infected COVID-19 cases are among the unvaccinated, and the government is not wrong to point this out; but it’s language used to demonize the unvaccinated as a selfish, dirty, untouchable ‘other’ is dark and divisive.

The vaccine passport will have one set of rules for one class of people, and another set of rules for the other.

This is a difficult position for those of us in the minority of the majority – who support and encourage COVID-19 vaccinations – but oppose the authoritarian imposition of mandatory vaccines or vaccine discrimination. Until now, I have always encouraged my friends, family, and colleagues to get vaccinated as a generally safe and largely effective defence against COVID-19. But I only ever encouraged them to do so as a free choice.

Now, getting vaccinated is no longer a free choice, but an act of compliance with an authoritarian government. The ‘decision’ to get vaccinated has ceased to be a matter of making a good choice.

When government legislates personal morality, the act of compliance with the law ceases to be an act of morality.

Giving to the poor through charity is a moral act. Giving to the poor through mandated taxes is an empty fiscal transaction.

Getting vaccinated under threat to one’s liberties from the government ceases to be a selfless act for the good of others when compelled to do so by force.

It’s questionable that a vaccine passport will see more than a moderate increase in vaccination rates, as the vaccine-indifferent give in to forced compliance.

The refuseniks—those who range from anti-vaccination and vaccine-hesitant—now see reason to dig in. The hardcore anti-vaccination crowd will be unchanged regardless, only more entrenched in their beliefs as they are discriminated against by their own government.

The vaccine-hesitant, however, may well see a hardening of their views into a kind of conscientious objectionism.

The wife of a friend—an acclaimed biochemist—has not been vaccinated, but had every intention of doing so once she had enough time to observe the results in the general population. Since Kenney and Shandro’s announcement of a mandated vaccine passport Wednesday, she has made a decision not to be vaccinated. For her, it is no longer a matter of making a good choice, but a matter of refusing compliance with an unjust government order.

As much as I may think she would be better off getting the jab, I have a hard time blaming her.

The “my body, my choice” pro-choices are nowhere to been seen. Most of them have scurried under the rocks of paternalistic authoritarianism with nary a word to say about the sanctity of personal sovereignty.

Free men and free women–vaxxed and unvaxxed alike–have a duty to resist.

An unfree society is not one worth protecting and is deserving of resistance. A free society is worth everything we have to give and sometimes demands it by choice.

Churches should refuse to turn away worshipers. Restaurants should refuse to require discriminatory vaccine passports. Bars should refuse to stop serving beer after 10 pm. Employers should refuse to shut down their offices. Kids should refuse to stop playing hockey. Ordinary men and women should demonstrate openly in the face of oppression.

Our silence is compliance. Our compliance is surrender.

Derek Fildebrandt is Publisher of the Western Standard

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FILDEBRANDT: Two years to flatten the curve

“The result of the premier’s weak & indecisive leadership is that Alberta is going to enter its second year to flatten the curve, with no end in sight.”




“Criminal incompetence” was the term used by one senior UCP member today.

“If these guys were running a business, the whole lot of them would be fired for it,” said conservative continued.

It’s been more than a year and-a-half since COVID-19 started to lap Canada’s shores.

Governments overreacted at the time with draconian lockdowns and other mandatory restrictions. That initial overreaction could arguably have been forgiven. Little was known about the virus, and the Chinese Communist Party was jailing doctors and journalists that tried to speak out. For all we knew, it was the doomsday virus of our worst Hollywood nightmares.

As it turned out, it wasn’t. It was serious, but not the Spanish flu that was feared. It may have been an overabundance of caution, but not entirely unwarranted under the circumstances.

But the actions of the Alberta government since are beyond excusable.

“Two weeks to flatten the curve” was the mantra.

It’s now more than probable that we’ll soon be entering “two years to flatten the curve.”

Premier Jason Kenney admirably recognized some of the errors of the first lockdown, like shutting down most independent retailers while allowing big box stores to continue on with only mild interruption. As summer 2020 approached and cases declined, he ended the lockdown and loosened restrictions to more-or-less tolerable levels.

And then fall 2020 approached. As the regular flu season set it, so too did a surge in COVID-19 cases. NDP Leader Rachel Notley called for a return to lockdowns and a few weeks later, Kenney did just that.

It was Lockdown Number 2.

A majority of Albertans supported it at the time, but some resisted, including one teenager who was attacked by incompetent police officers for the offence of playing hockey.

“I’ll f**king take you!” was heard as the outlaw attempted to skate away from the scene of the crime.

It lasted all the way through Christmas, with the government prohibiting most family members from visiting loved ones over the holidays. That is, unless you travelled to warm sun destinations without restrictions, as did a sizeable number of UCP MLAs, staffers, and a cabinet minister.

If we’re going to mark a moment in which the government lost its moral authority, we can draw a straight line to this event. It is at this moment that Kenney and his government began to lose the plot.

Several refusing congregations declined to shut down their churches or follow other government orders. Their pastors were arrested and jailed, while police raided the churches and took control. Real Free World stuff.

In May, a rebel farmer near Bowden, Alta. held a ‘No More Lockdowns Rodeo’ in defiance of the government.

Soon after, Kenney told his caucus, “If they are our base, I want a new base,” according to several MLAs present.

More than a dozen UCP constituency associations passed a special resolution demanding a leadership review before Kenney headed them off at the pass by having his review scheduled for soon before the 2023 election.

Then, 17 UCP MLAs signed an open letter criticizing Kenney’s handling of COVID-19 and demanded an end to lockdowns and restrictions. MLAs in the caucus told the Western Standard at the time the premier threatened the rebels with an early election if they didn’t fall in line.

It was a clear sign that Kenney was losing his iron grip on caucus.

Then on May 31, MLA Todd Loewen called for Kenney’s resignation, and was joined in his call by fellow MLA Dave Hanson. Kenney responded by having Loewen fired, alongside trouble-maker Drew Barnes. MLAs inside the caucus told us they believed the vote to be razor close, but the actual tally was never revealed. At least to them.

It was a political bloodbath, with a serious revolt against Kenney’s leadership on the move.

The revolt gained steam days later, when photos emerged of Kenney, Environment Minister Jason Nixon, Health Minister Tyler Shandro, and Finance Minister Travis Toews — along with an assortment of staffers — have an illegal dinner on the rooftop patio of the Sky Palace in clear violation of their own rules.

The revolt threatened to spin out of control, until Kenney’s announcement on May 26 that all restrictions will be lifted in stages. By July 1, Alberta would be “Open for Summer™.”

In fact, it would be the “Best Summer Ever™.”

The Tories were so confident in this that they sold merchandise with the jovial slogan plastered across hats.

The rebels in caucus weren’t quite happy campers, but it more-or-less shut them up. The caucus revolt was dead.

At some point in August, a man approached the premier at what appears to be a Stampede gathering, surreptitiously taping their conversation.

“It’s open for good. Open for good,” Kenney tells the man.

“I swear to God,” Kenney said, making the sign of the Cross.

On September 2, Notley called for Kenney to reinstitute forced-masking and impose a mandatory vaccine passport. In short order, Kenney followed the NDP leader’s demand for masking, but not on vaccine passports.

For good measure, the government made it illegal to serve beer or booze after 10 p.m. because well, you’ve got me stumped there.

COVID-19 case counts are on the up this fall, just as they were last fall. They will probably go down again when the weather gets warmer in 2022.

Hospital and ICU capacity are severely strained.

But how is that possible? How is it after one and-a-half-years of COVID-19 as the overwhelming priority of the government and massive sums of money borrowed to pay for increased spending, and 70% of the population now vaccinated, that our healthcare system does not have the capacity to handle a relatively predictable surge in cases?

How is it possible that after the suffering, sacrifice and toil endured by Albertans since March 2020, that Alberta is back under another lockdown, as of Friday.

Oh yeah, that would be Lockdown Number 3.

“Criminal incompetence.”

The UCP Caucus is bitterly divided over whether to return to lockdowns or impose mandatory vaccine passports.

Sources in the caucus tell the Western Standard that three MLAs openly said that they had “no confidence” in Kenney’s continued premiership and leadership during their emergency Tuesday meeting.

Much of the caucus is on the warpath over Kenney breaking his word that Alberta was “Open for Good™.”

Others in the caucus, like Leela Aheer, are openly blasting the premier for botching the whole thing by reopening too early, in their minds.

Kenney has tried to straddle both sides of the fence since the beginning, with predictably inconsistent results.

The mandatory-vaxers and lockdowners are furious at what they perceive as Kenney’s inaction and weak leadership. The refuseniks and anti-lockdowners are equally furious at the premier’s overreaction and weak leadership.

The result is Alberta is going to enter its second year to flatten the curve, with no end in sight.

Derek Fildebrandt is Publisher of the Western Standard

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