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Kenney desperately clings to relevancy with ad blitz
Torontonians and Vancouverites are asked to move to Alberta while UCP leadership hopefuls embrace separatism
Soon-to-be former premier Jason Kenney held a press conference Monday to announce a new campaign to attract talent to Alberta, but spent the bulk of his time answering questions that reveal why people from outside the province may want to think twice before moving here.
Kenney delivered the presser flanked by slogans that will presumably be used in an upcoming ad blitz he announced targeting Toronto and Vancouver — “Alberta is calling,” “A shorter commute to a bigger house” and “Bigger paycheques. Smaller rent cheques.”
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This campaign to attract skilled workers from other provinces kicked off Monday morning with a bizarre video featuring a truck driving towards the mountains, with a voiceover from Kenney making a personal phone call that sounds like a telemarketing pitch.
“Hey, how’s it going? It’s Jason. Do you have a couple of minutes to chat? I think you’re really going to love it out here.”
This video was roundly mocked, including by yours truly.
At the presser, Kenney boasted that Alberta’s economy is booming thanks to his government’s “laser beam focus” on economic diversification and growth, as opposed to a war in eastern Europe that has constricted the world’s energy supply, increasing the price of oil Alberta is so dependent on.
He also expressed pride in Alberta’s “Job Creation Tax Cut,” which gave the province the lowest corporate tax rate in the country. I’m not sure how this is meant to attract working people from elsewhere in the country.
Kenney said he chose Toronto and Vancouver as targets for the ad campaign due to the incredibly high housing prices there, providing a contrast to the cost of living in Calgary or Edmonton.
As CTV News’s Kevin Nimmock observed, this campaign’s messaging is strictly economical, with no emphasis on community or social programs.
In other words, it’s a neoliberal fantasy.
Kenney’s fantasy clashed with the province’s political reality during the presser’s Q&A portion, which constituted the majority of the news conference.
He was asked about UCP leadership frontrunner Danielle Smith’s proposed Alberta Sovereignty Act, which would allow Alberta a veto over any federal law the provincial government dislikes, with public health restrictions and environmental policies in its crosshairs.
Kenney called it a “de facto plan for separatism,” which would provide a “massive blow” to the “jobs, economy, pipelines” trifecta he was elected on. However, Kenney claimed he’s not following the race to be his successor “in great detail every day.”
Calgary Herald columnist Chris Varcoe picked up on this thread, asking explicitly how the proposed Sovereignty Act might impact Kenney’s efforts to recruit talent to Alberta. “Instead of being able to attract people, we would start haemorrhaging people,” Kenney admitted, pointing to the example of Quebec after it elected its first separatist government in 1976.
In case you were starting to sympathize with Kenney and regard him as a voice of reason, Carrie Tait from the Globe and Mail asked him for more details on how an essay touting white replacement talking points was selected as the third-place finisher in a government-sponsored essay contest. After a week, it’s still unclear why or how that essay was selected.
Kenney’s response: Don’t ask me, I’m just the premier.
Kenney was similarly clueless about whether there will be a byelection to replace Calgary-Elbow MLA Doug Schweitzer, who announced his immediate resignation from cabinet, and impending resignation as MLA, on Aug. 5. "This may be an issue my successor addresses,” he said in response to a query from the Calgary Herald’s Jason Herring.
All this is to say Monday’s presser — Kenney’s first in a month — revealed a lame duck premier who’s completely out to lunch and desperately clinging to relevancy while his potential successors campaign to see who gets to burn it all down.