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Alberta’s Kenney urges Poilievre not to focus on ‘fringe issues’

Click to play video: 'Outgoing Alberta Premier Jason Kenney reflects on his political career and sounds alarm on political extremism'
Outgoing Alberta Premier Jason Kenney reflects on his political career and sounds alarm on political extremism
WATCH ABOVE: Outgoing Alberta Premier Jason Kenney reflects on his political career and sounds alarm on political extremism. – Oct 9, 2022

Outgoing Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says federal Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre needs to steer away from “fringe issues” if he aims to lead not only the party but the country.

And he thinks “[Poilievre] is doing that.” Speaking to The West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson, Kenney said, “I think he’s really in his wheelhouse, focusing on the cost of living, inflation.”

“He understands that to become prime minister, he needs to speak to the aspirations of regular Canadians, not to fringe issues.”

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Kenney also believes that Poilievre is “wise beyond his years.”

“He’s a brilliant young man,” he said.

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According to a recent poll from the end of last month, Poilievre overtook Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as the best leader for the country.

“Since the moment he was elected leader, he’s demonstrated great discipline in focusing on the kitchen-table issues that matter to ordinary Canadian families,” said Kenney.

However, Poilievre has had a number of interactions with fringe movements in Canada.

Most recently, a Global News analysis of 50 of Polievre’s official YouTube videos showed that they included a hidden tag appealing to a misogynistic online movement that Canada’s intelligence agencies view as a danger.

The tag, #mgtow, is an acronym for “Men Going Their Own Way” — a mostly-online movement consisting of anti-feminists who cut women completely out of their lives.

Click to play video: 'Gould demands answers from Poilievre over misogynist YouTube tag: ‘An apology is not enough’'
Gould demands answers from Poilievre over misogynist YouTube tag: ‘An apology is not enough’

The Conservative leader has also drawn criticism for his support of the convoy protest that paralyzed downtown Ottawa and blockaded border crossings in February.

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Poilievre chose to walk with James Topp, an activist with connections to convoy figures who have marched across the nation to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

After posing for a photograph with Jeremy Mackenzie — the de-facto leader of a far-right group called Diagalon who was arrested on a Canada-wide warrant for alleged weapons offences — Poilievre also came under fire at the end of August.

“Pierre does not have those views,” said Kenney, stating he’s known Poilievre since he was a teenager. “Pierre is stating his views and those of the Conservative party.”

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After 25 years in federal and provincial conservative politics, Kenney also said he’s concerned about certain elements that appear to be taking over from the right of the political spectrum.

“Some of what I see now, what I call ‘populism with a snarl,’ is not conservatism. It’s about tearing things down and blowing things up,” he said, noting that social media is a factor.

In May, Kenney announced he was stepping down as the United Conservative Party leader in Alberta after getting 51.4 per cent support in a leadership review.

Alberta’s new premier-designate, Danielle Smith, won the UCP leadership race on the sixth ballot on Oct. 6 after campaigning on a promise to push for greater provincial autonomy and speaking out against public pandemic measures.

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According to Kenney, a mainstream Conservative party concentrated on the “ordinary concerns of regular people” will prosper.

“I think a Conservative party that is focused on a campaign of recrimination over COVID, politicizing science, entertaining conspiracy theories and campaigning with QAnon is a party that can’t form a government and shouldn’t,” he said.

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Speaking to Stephenson, Kenney said he approached his career in politics “as a form of service.”

“It’s a tougher grind now than ever, perhaps because of social media and all of the coarseness in our public discourse,” he said.

“But it still needs people to step up to the plate.”

— With files from Global News’ Alex Boutilier & Adam Toy

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