We are in a period of time when strong political leadership is a necessity.
What we see now is weak leadership at both the federal and provincial level.
It has really showed up here in Alberta right after the new year. The government set rules for everyone to follow to try and decrease the amount of COVID-19 infection.
Our elected representatives have a responsibility to set a high standard example for everyone else to follow in making sure that the rules are followed.
What do we have happening? At least nine MLA’s and senior government officials from Alberta left the country for a winter holiday when we, the people were told to not leave the country, stay home, avoid groups of people, etc.
Not only that, we weren’t even supposed to have family members in for Christmas unless they were part of the everyday household.
It appears that we have a premier and a government that feel their elected position gives them entitlement to ignore the rules that the rest of us are expected to follow.
Initially Jason Kenney even felt that it was not necessary to reprimand any of those people for ignoring these rules.
He did state after the public became aware of what happened, that they were to return immediately and no one else was to leave the country unless it was urgent government business.
That action is akin to the old cliché about shutting the barn door after the horse got out.
After intense public pressure, he had his Municipal Affairs Minister who was in Hawaii resign her cabinet position, and the five other MLA’s were relieved of their committee positions, his chief of staff also resigned.
So why didn’t he do it when he first became aware of them being out of the country? I find that this Premier seems to have trouble making hard decisions.
I think this started as soon as he became the leader of the UCP.
The party went off the rails already at the founding convention in Red Deer.
When the first board was elected at that convention the old operatives of the previous PC party were successful in having themselves elected to the key positions in the party.
From then on, especially when getting nominations for the upcoming election, they did everything they could to diminish the influence of the previous Wildrose Party.
When we were setting up constituency associations after the members of both parties voted in favour of amalgamating the two parties into a united conservative party, it was a requirement that half of the board members for each constituency be from each of the previous parties.
Since it was now a united party, Kenney as leader should have made sure there was equal representation from each of the founding parties.
Getting back to Kenney’s lack of leadership, when he became premier after the last election, he stated that he was going to implement the old firewall principles due to the lack of respect that Alberta was getting from the federal government.
Alberta was contributing most of the money for the equalization payments while at the same time the Prime Minister seemed to be doing everything he could to curtail Alberta’s oil production which was the source of much of Alberta’s revenue.
So far, all Kenney has done is appoint a committee to study the issue instead of actually doing something.
I don’t think he is serious about implementing the firewall principles. Either he has a hidden agenda, or he is afraid of the federal government.
He seems to be working for himself instead of Alberta.
Since it looks like Kenney and the UCP are going to govern like the old PC Party we may have to look at another grassroots option similar to what we did when the Wildrose party was formed.
That may be my topic for the next column.
by Herman Schwenk