Ted Byfield: Since Jean would oust me from the party, how can I vote for him?

Ted Byfield: Since Jean would oust me from the party, how can I vote for him?

The State

Whenever I try to be “clever,” I get into trouble. So I won’t try; I’ll come right out and confess. I have two biases in favour of Jason Kenney becoming leader of the new United Conservative Party. For one. he is the godfather of our granddaughter, Elise Byfield, fourth child of our son Link who died two and a half years ago. How can I vote against him?

And why would I want to? He’s a very good politician. I spoke at his nomination meeting in 1997 in Calgary when he first ran for Parliament. He won that election and six more. In fact he’s never lost one. In Ottawa, under the Harper government, he handled three top cabinet posts, all risky — employment, defence and immigration– and succeeded eminently in all three.

However it was in an adjunct to the third one — labelled “multiculturalism” — a burden at best to most incumbents, where Kenney’s success was simply remarkable. He turned the office into an election gold mine for the Tories, addressing every possible New Canadian group across the land with the same message — “Vote Your Conscience.” He knew that New Canadians were probably the most natural social conservatives in Canada. They logically had little in common with the social agenda of the Liberals and even less with that of the NDP. In the 2011 election, he is credited with adding more than a dozen Tory seats in the Toronto area, helping mightily to achieve a Conservative majority government.

His skills are much needed right now in Alberta. Throughout this calendar year, we have begun to suffer the dire consequences of what seems, to inexpert people like me, an agenda of flawed environmental policies. On top of this, we must sustain the effects of new technologies that vastly expand the reserve of fossil fuels– meaning there’s a crippling oversupply of what we sell. Construction, I’m told, has come near a dead halt in Calgary, empty office space is everywhere evident, and Edmonton can expect to be hit just as hard next year. The outlook, in other words, is grim. Not since the ‘Eighties. or perhaps even the ‘Thirties, of the last century have our prospects looked so bleak.

So what we urgently need at the helm of the provincial government is sound, proven competence. And in Kenney, that is precisely what is being offered to us. In terms of experience, aptitude, and governmental background, nobody in the province comes anywhere near him. “Folksiness” just won’t cut it. We’ve already got our fill of that in Ottawa. So that’s one reason I urge people to make Kenney leader of the UCP, of which he himself is the central architect. After that, the job will be to make him premier. And make no mistake about it: it’s Kenney that the NDP really fear, and well they should.

Then there’s the other reason I’m backing Kenney. I really like the way this new conservative movement is taking hold, and I honestly do not want to be expelled from it. But nevertheless that’s what the other leading candidate for the leadership, Brian Jean, promises he’s going to do to me if he gets elected leader. Why? Because I’m one of those awful “crazies,” as he calls us, whom Mr. Jean so bitterly denounces. I’m a social conservative.

He gets quite nasty about us. When the Calgary Sun reporter asked him to explain the “homophobia” in the old Wildrose Party, he had a ready answer: “There are nuts in every party. Everybody has these people in their party who others would classify as nutbars. What do we do with them? Well, at first, we can try to manage them and then we get rid of them. That’s the truth of it. Our reaction will be quick. It will be ruthless.”

This article continues at [Ted Byfield Blog] Since Jean would oust me from the party, how can I vote for him?

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