October 28, 2017 11:56 am
Updated: October 28, 2017 12:07 pm

With an in-place leader Alberta’s UCP assumes national significance

Jason Kenney (left) Doug Schweitzer (centre) and Brian Jean (right) are competing to become the first-ever leader of the UCP.

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Later on Saturday Alberta’s United Conservative Party members will have decided on who of three candidates best represents emotions swirling around Wild Rose country.

Will it be Brian Jean who lifted Wild Rose on his shoulders after defections to the governing Progressive Conservatives left the party struggling for relevance?

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Will Jason Kenney parlay years of senior federal cabinet roles, as well as his performance as final leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party into heading Alberta’s conservatives?

Doug Schweitzer joins Jean and Kenney concerning solid financial and economic planning, but refers to Millennials and their impact on the 2019 provincial vote. Keep your eye on social issues of import to the younger voter warns Schweitzer.

READ MORE: Alberta United Conservative leadership contenders vow to band together post vote

What I have heard from Albertans is a rising tide of emotion.  A swell of public opinion declaring “we’ve been here before,” as in during the time of Pierre Trudeau’s National Energy Program which many Alberta families with at least two generations of history in the province will decry as Central Canada’s arrogantly indifferent crippling of the West (Alberta).

“Now his kid” barked a caller, “is following dad’s footsteps by not fool-proofing our natural resource base from the likes of Coderre and U.S.-funded enviro groups.”

Instant agreement.  And not just from Albertans.

“Either Quebec leaves, or we do” was the sentiment of a woman with sons working in the “patch.”

“Never mind Quebec.  Let’s just get out.  We can’t trust Ottawa” shouted another caller.

There was plenty of reference to neighbouring Saskatchewan’s Premier Brad Wall’s open letter following the demise of the Energy East pipeline.  Mr. Wall wrote in part “something needs to change. For the West to continue on like this in our federal system is the equivalent of having Stockholme Syndrome.”

READ MORE: Voting in Alberta UCP leadership race to continue despite PIN security concerns

Saving particular ire for Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and his gloating that the cancellation of Energy East is a positive for Quebec’s environment, Mr. Wall pointed to Coderre being hypocritical, given the Mayor’s stewarding the dumping of billions of litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence Seaway.

At present, separation from Canada sentiment in both Alberta and Quebec experiences brief moments of  emotional surging, followed by much longer periods of calm.

However, the independence decision by residents of the Catalan region of Spain has given a boost to the “let’s leave” sentiment from Alberta listeners communicating by email during the week.  I’m almost sure that if I were broadcasting in Quebec there would be a similar surge in numbers reaching for the Parti Quebecois. In fact, polling seems to underscore this.

READ MORE: 3-horse race enters homestretch in United Conservative Party leadership vote

If it forms the next government, the UCP will be facing expectations from its base and it was Brian Jean who has said if elected Premier he would move vigorously to end money from the province making its way to Quebec City.

However, before the UCP can pursue any of its key objectives, there’s the matter of winning an election expected for 2019.

 

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