Notley won’t spend ‘too much time worrying’ about Kenney’s rumoured entry into Alberta politics

Premier Rachel Notley is unfazed by Jason Kenney’s possible entry into Canada politics, even as his potential run for the Progressive Conservative leadership is already making waves.

The Calgary Midnapore MP is considering seeking the PC leadership in a bid to unite the province’s conservatives, currently split between the Tories and Wildrose.

Asked about Kenney’s possible run, Notley noted the strength displayed by the NDP at its recent convention in Calgary.

“I’m very pleased with the way things are going in our party,” she told reporters at the legislature. “I’m not going to spend too much time worrying about the other ones.”

Kenney has sounded the alarm about a second term for Notley’s government and called for conservatives to put aside their differences to take on the NDP in the 2019 election. Both the PCs and Wildrose have recently dismissed the idea of unification.

Sandra Jansen, the Tory MLA for Calgary-North West, raised the stakes this week when she said she will leave the party if Kenney wins the leadership in a vote to be held early next year.

In an interview Thursday, Jansen said she believes that if Kenney wins and follows through with his plans, it would essentially mean the dismantling of the Progressive Conservative party.

She said party members at the recent Tory annual general meeting affirmed the party’s progressive principles and its need to rebuild on its own, but Kenney shares neither sentiment.

“I will not sit in a blended caucus with Jason Kenney. Period,” said Jansen, who said she had no intention of crossing the floor to join another party.

“I will fight for the PC party until it is no longer a party.”

Kenney, who served in a number of major cabinet positions in Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, was first elected as a Reform MP in 1997 and is viewed as a staunch social and fiscal conservative.

Jansen said she has received significant support for her stance, but she also faced criticism Thursday.

Longtime conservative political operative Ken Boessenkool said Jansen is speaking out of turn by undermining the rules PC party members recently approved to pick a new leader.

He dismissed the notion that Kenney was a poor fit for the PC party, noting it currently accommodates both Jansen and the strongly conservative Ric McIver, the party’s interim leader.

“It’s a big party. It’s a big tent, and the party has done well in the past when it respects both ends of the tent,” said Boessenkool.

Another Tory MLA, Rick Fraser, said he was skeptical about the viability of uniting the right but praised Kenney’s work as an MP.

“We’re an open party and people have a right to come and express their points of views. So I fully support that from whatever spectrum as long as it’s not hateful or completely ridiculous,” he said in an interview.

“It’s up to the members to decide.”

Kenney’s entry into provincial politics would also have likely repercussions on the Wildrose Party.

Wildrose MLA Drew Barnes said Thursday he would welcome Kenney bringing his ideas to the Canada scene, but it wouldn’t make him leave his own party or drop his opposition to unifying the Wildrose and PCs.

He said the PCs were “too wasteful and entitled and too left on the fiscal conservative spectrum” and that Kenney would face internal opposition if he became leader.

“Look at the storming going on in the PC party when he’s just kicking tires. It shows the problem with the PC party is it’s such a big tent,” said the Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA.

But Boessenkool believes it is simplistic to view uniting the right as a matter of bringing together members of the Wildrose and PCs when there are two other camps involved as well. Besides the two parties, there are also federal Conservatives and non-aligned activists, who can be found in organizations such as Canada Can’t Wait and the Canada Prosperity Fund, he said.

“There are four groups in Canada,” said Boessenkool.

“If someone figures out how to bring any three of those four groups together in Canada, they can eventually form a conservative government.”

 With files from Emma Graney, Postmedia

Notley won't spend 'too much time worrying' about Kenney's rumoured entry into Alberta politics



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