United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney has begun to unveil his long-awaited election platform, and unsurprisingly, the political rhetoric against him is starting to ramp up.
Although the election has not yet been officially called, it’s obvious Alberta’s various political parties are now in full campaign mode.
In the past week alone, we saw the NDP mistake Kenney’s description of low-experience workers as people of “modest human capital” for a slight against persons with disabilities; we saw the NDP unveil an attack website titled The Truth About Jason Kenney, which, of course, cherry-picks truths that fit an anti-Kenney agenda; and we saw Education Minister David Eggen describe Kenney’s plan to press pause on the government’s curriculum revamp until more parents and experts are consulted as a “drive-by shooting on our curriculum and our kids’ education.”
As with any election, we can expect more of this low-level discourse as we inch closer to the vote, although it’s difficult to imagine it getting much lower than the NDP’s attack website.
The timing of that site’s release was impeccable, coming just before Kenney began rolling out some of his platform points.
The website itself is fairly ridiculous in nature, and its blatant partisanship doesn’t do the NDP any favours. The website contains content relying on unproven allegations, such as those claiming Kenney organized a “kamikaze” campaign against former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean when they were running against each other for the UCP leadership back in 2017.
Other points target hot-button social issues where Kenney has an established historical record as a staunch social conservative, such as abortion and LGBTQ rights: “Thanks to Jason Kenney,” the website states at one point, “a woman’s right to choose is in sudden and real peril in Alberta.” Never mind that Kenney has pledged that the UCP will not debate abortion access if it forms government.
As for the agenda Kenney rolled out this past week, there is plenty to debate and criticize without resorting to fearmongering about what the UCP might do if they gain power.
Take the curriculum revamp, for instance. This is a sorely needed bit of work that has arguably already undergone extensive consultation, but which Kenney has said he fears is an “ideological rewrite.” What he would count as ideological remains somewhat of a mystery, but ideology touches everything a government does. Whether the curriculum rewrite should be delayed so a possible UCP government can put its own ideological spin on it deserves a full, hearty debate.
As we move closer to an election, there is no doubt the rhetoric will be amplified by all political parties. It would be refreshing, however, if Albertans were treated to a campaign that was borne out of respect and constructive, intelligent debate. Imagine that – an election campaign without mud being slung. It doesn’t hurt to dream.