Saturday, November 4, 2017

Letter: Tory Blunder Bus rolls again

Phil Burpee - Look, I warned the Wildrose – I hate to say I told you so because it sounds snippy, but I told them this would happen. Climbing into bed with the Tories is about tantamount to having conjugal relations with a half-demented old Hereford bull – cranky, mean, stupid, smelly and just as likely to grind you into the dirt as look at you – after he has had his way with you, of course. And now it’s happened – they actually bought the bill of goods lock, stock and pork barrel. The poor, hapless Wildrose is to be seen now trying to straighten its torn clothes and comb its badly-tousled hair after the unceremonious encounter, and the old bull is through the gate and headed on down the road bellering and swaggering all the while. Goodness gracious golly-molly-blue, as my dear old Dad used to say. What were they thinking? And the rumpled bride is left standing at the altar - bleak, bewildered, and clutching miserably at the tattered remains of the wedding bonds. Oh dear.

It need not have come to this. The warning was clear enough to see. No skull and crossbones fluttering atop the mast of this lumbering pirate ship – no mere Jolly Roger up there - oh, no. “Feast your eyes! Look on in dread! The end is surely nigh! Sinners repent! Beware! Beware! Aaaaarrrgh.......there flies the Jolly Jason!! All hands on deck!!”
Ah, too late, of course. The well-fed Mr. Kenney has duped the rubes in masterful fashion, and now has his steely sites set on the high tower of Queen Rachel – she who would rule in the accursed names of reason, compassion, foresight, equality, justice, probity, cost/benefit ratios, integrity, modernity, warmth, humour, and a wide-ranging intelligence. Clearly this will not do. We must return asap to the salad days of Tory moral flaccidity, ineptness, graft, meanness, corporate pandering, fiscal mismanagement, Peter to Paul economics, nepotism, vulgarity, political philandering, doltishness, arrogance and greed – aka business as usual - which had been pretty much the norm from about 1986 up until the decidedly spectacular self-immolation of the twitching corpse of the PCs under the otherwise admirable Jim Prentice – the last hope of decency for this ugly cadre of hacks, used car salesmen, and slime-ball connivers.

And let us turn a thought then to Brian Jean. I have to say I feel a bit bad for the fellow – there doesn’t seem to be a mean bone in his body. He took over a party that had been pin-balling all over the map from one implosion/explosion to the next, infested with doddering old racists and sexists and barely-literate bumpkins of one type or another, and turned it into a surprisingly lean electoral machine that took full and capable advantage of the syphilitic and gibbering PCs. Good job, Brian – that’s what I say. And not only that, he manfully fulfilled the essential role of Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in the legislature and let the NDP know that their mandate was by no means absolute. I would go so far as to say, in fact, that he and Premier Notley would find a great deal of common ground in a candid chat over a couple cups of coffee away from ideological pronouncements. For when you get away from the early bimbo eruptions, there is an essential concern in the DNA of the Wildrose that seeks to favour the working person and the honest broker and the little guy – alien ideas for the purring fat-cats of the Tory tradition. Mr. Jean even demonstrated an admirable statesmanship in attending the Gay Pride parade, despite some lingering ‘gender-bender’ swipes still emanating from the half-wit fringes of his party, recognizing and acknowledging as he did so that any manifestation of persecuting marginalized members of society is fundamentally wrong, and that vilifying people for nothing other than their essential nature is both reprehensible and unbecoming of any modern politician who would seek public office. Not so the bilious Mr. Kenney, of course, who studiously chose to avoid the event, and further now is heard to plump for extremist religious viewpoints which would enshrine homophobia and conspire to tattle on questing young people. What a slug. Altogether a creepily unpleasant Trump-lite toady.

Let us likewise turn a thought to macro social and economic issues. In doing so it needs be recognized that, far from the United Conservative Party (UCP) being an actual unification of the broad range of agents and agencies on the right of the political spectrum, it is rather a capitulation wherein the Wildrose has been de-clawed and absorbed willy-nilly into the bubbling belly of the Tory beast. It was clear from the start that once the Jolly Jason had got his hands on the Big Toy in his little sandbox, he was not going to play nice and share - “It’s mine! Go get your own!” (This is why they invented spanking, incidentally.) But now we will see the momentum of the UCP lurch over towards the traditional and customary ‘roll-over and wag’ format before the corporate sector, the political equivalent of assuming the inguinal position, as the three-piece suit brigade re-secures its grip on the dangling orbs of the new party. This truly is zombie politics writ large – the stinking, undead shills for the 1% risen horribly from their dank and fetid graves. Who ya gonna call? Yikes.

But it’s even worse. Mr. Kenney, you see, has no actual ethos – other than a lust for power and the continuance of a life handsomely lived out of the public purse. Apart from a stint as head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, he has pretty much managed to live off the beneficence of the aforementioned taxpayer and/or donations to party-political organizations. Hey – sure beats work. To be fair, though, he has shown some consistencies. He has doggedly pursued policies aimed at suppressing women’s reproductive rights, as well as seeking to deny the affordances of marriage to same-sex couples, citing spurious claims to marriage being ‘universally’ recognized as being heterosexual in nature. Good Jesuit training there. Mr. Jean, on the other hand, has a long and active career as an entrepreneur and business man, enlivening his communities with small and medium business ventures. He is of the ‘bootstraps’ tradition of enterprise, and recognizes and acclaims the actual value of working and striving for a living. Tories don’t go for this kind of thing. Their dream world consists of a select family of bosses and lots and lots of employees – especially ones you can fire at a whim without recourse to the protections of labour law. For the Tories, an entrepreneurial spirit is akin to an aristocratic title – okay for the Big Boys, but otherwise to be discouraged amongst the great unwashed. Their much-vaunted so-called ‘free market’ is more like the sinister proclamation by the government of Animal Farm: - “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Indeed.

Well, I think it’s all a shame – a waste of opportunity. Here we were well on the way towards a viable, moderating and evolving ‘small-c’ conservative party of the centre-right, an essential partner in governance in a liberal democracy, and suddenly it is gone – poof. Plus, come on - the Wildrose had the best name going. I tell you, if I were a Wildroser right now, I would bolt immediately and see about re-igniting the whole thing. For it will not have been worth it, abandoning a whole range of principled beliefs and positions, not to mention self-respect, just for the sake of dumping the NDP, patently anyway a party now of the centre-left despite various noisy caterwauling about it being ‘radical’. This is truly cutting off the nose to spite the face.

So now clearly the only hope for our beloved province is to see that Premier Notley gets another term in office beyond the next electoral cycle to continue to repair the mind-boggling, tectonic damage done to the social contract between government and the governed by decades of Tory malfeasance, and set about steering the ship of state back on a course towards some stabilized future where short-sightedness, avarice and stupidity are not the default operating principles of those in power.

And poor Brian. If he wants to stay in the game he will have to pretend that he likes it, even as the Jolly Jason flutters diabolically atop the exhaust-spewing Tory Blunder Bus as it lurches and heaves through the pylons and barricades warning of approaching chaos and the edge of the Great Abyss.....crash...smash...screeeeeeech. Meanwhile the demon driver, pedal to the metal, cranks the wheel, leans on the horn, and cackles maniacally - “Onward, onward! – to Glory and beyond!”

I told you so.

Phil Burpee
October 31, 2017


  1. Short reply...
    While I must say I would rather have had the Alberta Conservative Party repent in sackcloth and ashes, their members finding forgiveness by humbly joining the Wildrose Party, I cannot agree that the NDP has ever in its short reign had the best interests or the trust of any but a fringe of Albertans. They are a party that totally misread the reasons they were elected.
    While the electorate wanted to punish the arrogance of the Conservatives they could not vote for the obvious alternative, the Wildrose which was at that point in utter disarray. By default the NDP came to power and never has a party shown such misunderstanding and contempt for the electorate. Well...that is until Turdeau's Liberal Party took the reins in Ottawa.
    Under normal circumstances, Brian Jean would have been an ideal Premier for this province. Unfortunately Albertans are at war with their own government in Edmonton as well as the one in Ottawa. Alberta might need someone a little more bellicose at this point. It remains to be seen if Jason Kenny will be for the good of Alberta or merely for the good of the old guard in the new United "Conservative" Party.

  2. Thoughtful comments, Jack, but I cannot agree. The reasons for the election of the NDP were more complex than you imply. And you would have to articulate your definition of 'fringe' to make your pronouncements in any way credible. The demographic makeup of Alberta had shifted quite dramatically in recent years - almost by stealth really. Prentice did not reckon with this sufficiently, and suffered the punishment accordingly. Brian Jean might have been an okay Premier for Alberta - 'ideal' is just hyperbole. But Notley is better. Her perspectives and general understanding reflect an awareness of just exactly where she and we are in the year 2017. She is a realist. I live in a Wildrose constituency and operate a farm, but the rhetoric from the right has consistently left me cold. Conservatism has lost its way. And Kenney does not represent forward motion - nobody on the right does right now. Check it out, Jack. Kenney is an opportunist hack with reactionary impulses willing to throw modernity under the bus. Plus he is a dog-whistler willing to go to the vulgar side just to snare a few antediluvian votes. Don't be fooled - he is old guard down to his gaunchies. And yes, they might have indeed gone for sackcloth and ashes, if only to avoid the tar and feathers. - Phil Burpee


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