Say the name Jason Kenney. Ask about Jason Kenney. Unless the vote scrounger happens to be a small-c conservative you will feel the temperature rise and see and hear the animation in their face and voice. To them, Kenney is like the guy in the dunk tank, where you hope to hit the target and see him fall — all washed up.
After all, Kenney’s quest is to unite conservatives in one party after winning the provincial PC leadership.
Kenney is an unapologetic self-styled conviction conservative who has spared no time in slamming both Premier Notley and the prime minister.
Attacks from certain quarters are no doubt seen as a badge of honour in his camp.
The Stampede journey finds us Saturday morning in the west of downtown where Calgary Liberal MP Kent Hehr hosts a pancake breakfast and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the special guest.
The lines are very long, the crowd is very pumped, and yes, at least one woman is giddy, claiming she scored a selfie with the PM.
With Trudeau gone, a newshound asks Hehr about fellow Calgary MP Kenney.
He doesn’t hesitate to take to the warpath.
Kenney is divisive, says Hehr.
He says the previous Conservative government spending on building projects in Calgary was “Slim to None and Slim just left town.”
Kenney says federal spending was three times bigger under the Conservatives than the previous Liberal government.
Just before the call of the last federal battle, the Harper Conservatives green-lighted loads of cash for the Green Line LRT and the southwest ring road.
On Friday, Trudeau confirmed the ring road dollars were a go.
Hehr says Kenney was going all over the country when he was in the Harper government, playing a big part in the Conservative machine trying to win elections.
“Let’s face it. Jason Kenney did not spend that much time in Calgary in the last 20 years,” says Hehr, one of only two Liberal MPs elected here since 1968.
“You can pile up the Air Miles and where he’s spent time. Heck, I don’t know where he’s been. I saw him a couple of times in my time here.”
“But I know I’ve seen a lot of politicians in a lot of places. Jason Kenney was not one of them.”
Earlier, in these days of Stampede, a bunch of PCs hang out at The Blind Monk pub, Hehr’s hangout.
Lo and behold, Hehr is there.
So is Sandra Jansen, a PC member of the legislature thinking about running to lead that party.
Jansen makes the following observation about Kenney’s leadership run while spitting distance from the man and his crew schmoozing on the patio.
“People are so repulsed by the idea he would lead the PC party to dismantle it I am getting calls from NDP supporters, Liberal supporters, Alberta Party supporters, Wildrose supporters,” says Jansen.
“There are lots of people in this province who do not like the idea of Jason Kenney coming in and they’re calling me to offer me their help.”
Does it involve buying PC memberships to defeat Kenney?
“I’m not sure what the help involves. We’ll see what that means.”
Jansen repeats she will not be on a team led by Kenney who, she says, “doesn’t represent my value system.”
She doesn’t like “the social conservative piece.”
The MLA also doubts folks in the middle of the political spectrum will come to Kenney.
“He can start a new party. He can’t end our party. I will still be a Progressive Conservative.”
But what if Kenney becomes PC leader and gets the PC grassroots vote to pursue a united conservative party?
“Let’s see how that works,” she says.
Back at the pancake breakfast, Hehr says federal Liberal plans are helping Albertans and adds the Trudeau government is giving pipelines “a fighting chance.”
The MP goes further and tells us people have given out nothing but positive vibes to the Trudeau government except for the “odd naysayer.” One of those naysayers, of course, is Jason Kenney.