Don Martin: Kenney is a dangerous political animal unleashed against all things Liberal
It's been 26 years since Jason Kenney stepped into the national spotlight just outside the Alberta legislature cafeteria.
That's where the 24-year-old tax-fighter calmly eviscerated the MLA platinum pension plan in verbal sparring with a cranky then-premier Ralph Klein as a gaggle of us watched with jaws dropped and cameras recording every word.
The very next day Klein realized the public relations battle to defend the indefensible was lost. He killed the pension plan outright and often credited that dramatic move for his Miracle on the Prairie election victory later that year.
This exemplifies the danger Jason Kenney poses to any and all things Liberal which challenge his blueprint for an Alberta resurgence under United Conservative Party rule.
He rarely loses a coherent argument in either official language. He usually keeps his cool. His brain is a Canadian political encyclopedia; his memory almost photographic. And he doesn't share his life with traditional family obligations. He is married to politics with a single-minded orientation to preserving Conservative rule.
Watching Kenney in the hours after his swearing-in Tuesday was to watch a political animal unleashed on his dream job. A true blue cabinet was sworn in, a tanker ban attacked, a carbon tax repeal bill announced and a dash to Ottawa booked. Most controversially of all, a legislative tap-turn-down revenge on pipeline opponent B.C. was proclaimed.
Of course, his threat to throttle back gasoline exports to B.C. is never intended to be deployed. It's just Kenney's way of going over the heads of an obstructionist B.C. premier to remind fillup-shocked motorists that Alberta gasoline doesn't just fly into their tanks. It needs plenty of pipeline to get there.
In the longer run, Kenney will lower his fists against Ottawa and B.C.. He has far bigger problems in his own backyard, specifically a $7-billion downward deficit spiral that needs to be reversed.
Much as Klein did, Kenney inherits an extremely messy set of books which will not be easily balanced without considerable fiscal bloodshed.
Of course, there’s one ironic difference in seeing Jason Kenney in control of the legislature.
Later in this mandate, when he turns 55, Jason Kenney will be eligible to start collecting a platinum MP pension.
That whirling sound you hear is Ralph Klein spinning in his grave.
That's the Last Word.