Gee whiz! Computerized voter suppression games in the United Conservative Party leadership race? Say it ain't so!
Don't take my word for it. This is what Brian Jean, former leader of the Opposition Wildrose Party and now a contender to lead the UCP, says: "Our party committee has chosen a leadership election system where, if things don't change, over 40,000 party members may not be able to vote."
Now, can you guess whose supporters most of those UCPers will likely turn out to have been?
And why do you think the party's top insiders might have done something like that? I mean, other than to ensure they get their way and have Jason Kenney as their leader after the party's leadership election on October 28?
Jean is presumably concerned that the system -- which he called "complicated" and "cumbersome" -- will ensure that it's much easier for Kenney's supporters to register than those of other candidates. With the registration timelines barely publicized and the final deadline to register to vote at 5 p.m. this afternoon, that's a reasonable assumption.
What's more, last night at a leadership debate in Jean's Fort McMurray hometown, the former Conservative MP accused Kenney, also a former MP and cabinet member in the Harper Government, of spreading lies about him.
Albertans are sick and tired of lying politicians, Jean told the forum, the CBC reported. "Right now there is a politician on this stage that his team is lying about me, lying about my Christian values, lying about my position on Bill 6… even lying about other things."
The statements complained of by Jean include claims in a social conservative publication he supports LGBTQ Pride too enthusiastically and elsewhere that he has failed to support the right of Canadians to own assault rifles enthusiastically enough. The anti-abortion publication in question also accused Jean, who has divorced and remarried, of being a "libertine."
Jean, by the sound of it, denies it all. He is self-described "churchgoing, God-fearing Baptist," the CBC reported, and presumably properly gunned up as well. Kenney, naturally, denied knowing anything about it at all.
One has to feel a certain sympathy with Jean. Confronting Kenney has been a bit like standing in front of the proverbial juggernaut. So far, the only way conservative politicians have been able to survive has been by getting the heck out of the way, one way or another.
For his part, Kenney appears determined to combine the worst features of the old Progressive Conservative Party with those of the Wildrose. That is to say, under the former Ottawa insider's leadership -- which is all but a certainty now -- the UCP will inherit the entitlement and arrogance of the old PCs and the social conservative extremism of the once-somewhat-grassrooty Wildrose.
Get used to it, Mr. Jean. Resistance is futile.
This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.
Image: Brian Jean/flickr
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