“In schools we call that bullying!”

Jason Kenney, leader of the United Progressive Conservatives (UPC), is a study in contradictions.
I was very impressed with Kenny’s decision to oust MLA Derek Fildebrandt from the UPC Party. The former Wildrose finance critic double-dipped on his expense account, sublet his taxpayer-subsidized condo on Airbnb, was convicted of hit and run, found guilty for illegally hunting deer, and lied to his party leader.
I was also impressed when Kenney stood up to the 57 per cent of delegates at the recent UPC Convention in Red Deer who voted to have parents told when their child is involved in an after-school gay-straight alliances club (GSA).
Kenney said policy has to work for the party but also for a province of four million people if the UPC becomes government in the 2019 election.
“Ultimately the leader is responsible for producing a balanced, winning platform. That’s my intention,” said Kenney.
Long-time Progressive Conservative, Ric McIver tried his best to get delegates to defeat this motion. “… you may disagree with some people in the room with people being gay, but they are gay”, he said. “They need to be safe. We cannot out kids that are in a club (designed) to protect themselves.”
I do ask myself, what did Kenney and McIver expect when they merged their PC Party with the Wildrose? Surely it would have made more sense for the Progressive Conservatives to join with the Alberta Party and build a party that was balanced.
In my church they’ve been preaching from the pulpit for over a year about the evils of GSA’s. Dah, it’s not a social issue; it’s become a religious imperative for many. And for the newly formed UPC, this imperative obviously represented the majority of convention attenders.
Ironically, many ardent opponents to GSA’s either home school or send their children to private schools and aren’t impacted by this legislation at all!
Just when Kenney seems to be looking like a potential Premier, his other character turns up as it did last week with his unprovoked personal attack on Prime Minister Trudeau.
Once again, his pledge to return civil discourse to politics seems unattainable for him.
If you missed Kenney’s uncontrolled rant he said, “I know Justin. He doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing. This guy is an empty trust-fund millionaire who has the political depth of a finger bowl,” he is quoted as saying. “He can’t read a briefing note longer than a cocktail napkin, OK.”
I understand the angst and jealousy that Conservatives have towards Justin Trudeau because they never dreamt he would crush them in the last general election, but unprovoked bullying has no place in civil society. Breaking News: this is not the United States!
If you’re an educator, in a publically-funded school, students are taught about the inappropriateness of bullying and the harm brought on your victim, yourself and society.
It’s ironic, that Kenney, who supports GSA social clubs which are intended to help LGBTQ children feel welcome and lessen chances of bullying, won’t apologize for his personal attacks on Trudeau.
I know, politicians do get a free ride to bully their opponents because their followers validate and cheer this inappropriate behaviour. But that doesn’t make it right nor is it a good example for our youth.
Kenney’s verbal attack on Trudeau was visceral and very personal. You would never hear Premier Rachel Notley or Stephen Mandel, leader of the Alberta Party, go so low. It’s not in either of their souls.
Perhaps it’s a learned behaviour but there is never an excuse for any leader to engage in personal attacks.
In schools, we call that bullying!

B.P. Schimke

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