Jason Kenney making final push for Alberta UCP leadership

Click to play video: 'Jason Kenney: Why he should be leader of the United Conservative Party'
Jason Kenney: Why he should be leader of the United Conservative Party
WATCH ABOVE: Jason Kenney, one of the three candidates vying to be leader of the United Conservative Party, joined Shaye Ganam ahead of this week’s vote to talk about why he should be elected – Oct 24, 2017

United Conservative Party members will cast their votes this week to choose the leader of the new party and Jason Kenney has taken an “Alberta-first” approach during his campaign.

Kenney, Brian Jean and Doug Schweitzer are all vying for the position.

Kenney says his campaign is about standing up for the province. He’s suggested a national unity battle if elected premier, which could include cutting off oil to British Columbia.

“I want to begin by trying to build coalitions in the federation, persuading our fellow Canadians that this energy industry is to their advantage, as well, but if they still refuse to participate in this industry like through construction and pipelines, there has to be consequences,” Kenney said.

“If B.C. violates the free trade within the country and the rule of law by blocking that pipeline, there must be some consequences.”

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LISTEN: Jason Kenney talks to Danielle Smith ahead of the UCP leadership vote

READ MORE: Jason Kenney won’t release policy platform before UCP vote in Alberta

Mount Royal University political analyst Duane Bratt believes while the Alberta-first approach has been effective with the UCP members, he’s not sure how it’ll translate with the Alberta electorate.

“Would Kenney intervene into oil flowing through B.C., just as he threatened B.C. about intervening? Would Kenney damage a fragile Alberta economy out of spite with B.C.? Would Kenney intervene into the private sector? I would think that B.C., as a port, could bring in imports if Kenney succeeded with an Alberta embargo?” Bratt questioned.

“Would the Alberta government get tied up in court challenges from the private sector? It is red meat rhetoric to his UCP base, but would he or could he implement it?”

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WATCH: Jason Kenney appears on the Ryan Jespersen Show on 630 CHED

Kenney has also said he’ll balance the budget in three years if he becomes premier. One way to help make that happen is to reduce middle management within Alberta Health Services (AHS), Kenney said.

“What we need to do is get the economy growing again so that government revenues go up and then a period of restrained fiscal restraint,” Kenney said.

“Alberta spends about 20 per cent more per person than the average Canadian province to deliver the same services. We spend 20 per cent more per person than B.C. and they have better outcomes, like in healthcare, than we do.”

READ MORE: Health advocate says private health access would ease growing Alberta wait times

Bratt said it’s possible to balance the budget in that time span, but only through large spending cuts.

“Spending cuts that would have been even more rapid than the Klein revolution of 1993-95. Kenney can make inroads into the debt, but balancing within three years would be very difficult. And if he succeeded, it would have been at great pain and political cost.”

The former federal cabinet minister said he’ll balance the budget while immediately repealing the Alberta carbon tax and joining Saskatchewan in their constitutional challenge of the federal carbon tax.

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“The argument is that this is an intrusion into provincial jurisdiction,” Kenney said.

“It’s not a slam dunk but it’s a credible case to make. In any normal time in our history, Alberta would be leading that constitutional fight. Instead we’ll be joining Saskatchewan in it.”

READ MORE: Poll suggests whoever wins Alberta UCP leadership contest likely on ‘path to premier’s office’

Kenney’s vision is to have a “big tent” conservative party, but that comes with challenges, like managing different social perspectives.

“We focus on the issues that unite us, the economic growth and fiscal responsibility, avoid divisive issues as much as we can. When they come up, you settle them with re-votes and with mutual respect, democratically, and you move on,” Kenney said.

Bratt said Kenney has a history in building big tent government through his time in federal politics, but he’s been divisive in the provincial race.

“If elected UCP leader, it will not be a big tent party, and many of his supporters do not want a big tent. Hate of the NDP government has driven the merger of the PCs and WRP, but Kenney will have trouble keeping it unified,” Bratt said.

The former Alberta Progressive Conservative leader said if he doesn’t become UCP leader, he’ll support the person that does and would run for a seat in the legislature.

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Voting to select the first UCP leader will begin at 9 a.m. on Oct. 26, concluding at 5 p.m. on Oct. 28. The leader will be announced at a media event in Calgary soon after voting closes.

– Global News is scheduled to interview Brian Jean and Doug Schweitzer later this week

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