Jason Kenney's us-versus-them plan for Alberta - 2019-04-09
More than two decades before Jason Kenney ran to become Alberta's premier, he entered electoral politics as a Calgary MP for the Reform Party. The Reformers' rallying cry was "The West wants in"—a demand for sway in a Confederation long dominated by populous Ontario and temperamental, demanding Quebec. But a subset of their number actually preferred the West wresting its way out, especially from areas under Ottawa's control.
That subset would ?nd its manifesto in the 2001 "?rewall letter" by six conservative Calgary thinkers, including a younger Stephen Harper. It urged Alberta to, among other things, wield its constitutional powers to their utmost by starting its own police force and pension plan, while unyoking provincial health care from the strictures of the Canada Health Act. Kenney, like most politicians at the time, kept a respectful distance from the ?rewall agenda—as did Harper once he became leader of a federal united Conservative Party, and later prime minister, whereupon he brought Kenney into cabinet.
Today, Kenney sits atop provincial politics while Albertans seethe over a ceaseless onslaught of bad news and frustration: a prolonged economic slump, stalled pipeline projects, outsiders seeking to stymie the oil industry and—most of all—Justin Trudeau, the most passionately despised leader here since Trudeau's father brought forth the hated National Energy Program (NEP). Though not in name, the ?rewall's "back off" mindset is back, this time championed by someone on the verge of becoming premier.