Blast from past: Jason Kenney trumpets endorsement from 50 former MLAs
'Those were the individuals that caused Ralph Klein, and Ed Stelmach, and Alison Redford a lot of grey hair'
In his bid to lead Alberta's Progressive Conservative party into an uncharted future, leadership candidate Jason Kenney appears to have a solid grip on the party's storied past.
The Kenney campaign published an alphabetical list on Wednesday of 50 former Tory MLAs said to be backing their candidate.
Under PC party rules, the statement said, all former PC MLAs who are Alberta residents have automatic delegate status, which will allow them to vote at the leadership convention in March.
Among the names are former cabinet ministers Steve West, Stockwell Day, Ty Lund, Ron Liepert and Ted Morton. There are six women on the list.
Response from political observers was swift and, in some cases, scathing.
"I'm finding it very surprising that Jason Kenney would be using those individuals as his main backers and flaunting them," said former Progressive Conservative MLA Thomas Lukaszuk. "Those are the kind of individuals that, in 2016, you should be hiding as your backers and not being proud of.
"I don't think your radio program is long enough for the quotes from Steve West that offended Albertans over the years," Lukaszuk said.
West, a controversial cabinet minister under former premiers Don Getty and Ralph Klein, imposed major cutbacks in several departments he ran in the late-1980s and 1990s.
Lukaszuk said the bulk of the politicians who are backing Kenney represent the most conservative voices from past PC governments.
"Those were the individuals that caused Ralph Klein, and Ed Stelmach, and Alison Redford, and others a lot of grey hair, because you could never be conservative enough for those individuals. Later on they became the first supporters of the Wildrose."
Kenney and Lukaszuk have feuded in the past. In 2012, when he was federal immigration minister, Kenney sent an email to a fellow Conservative MP calling Lukaszuk "a complete and utter asshole," a comment he later apologized for.
Asked for comment on the Kenney backers, fellow PC leadership candidate Stephen Khan said he has respect for everyone on the list.
"We have a lot of support from past MLAs," Khan said. "We're not going to advertise who that is (but) there may be a time when we do. Like in every election, particularly when you've got a long way to go, support comes in waves, there's an ebb and there's a flow.
"Looking at this list, I'm confident there are some like-minded people to my campaign, to Richard (Starke)'s campaign, and to Byron (Nelson)'s campaign that may change when it comes to March 18."
Others listed among the Kenney supporters were:
- Art Johnson, Calgary-Hays
- Moe Amery, Calgary-East
- Naresh Bhardwaj, Edmonton-Ellerslie (Associate Minister of Persons with Disabilities)
- Bob Bogle, Taber-Warner (Minister for Native Affairs, Social Services & Community Health, Utilities and Telecommunications, Caucus Chair & Whip)
- Neil Brown, Calgary-Nose Hill
- Wayne Cao, Calgary-Fort
- Christine Cusanelli, Calgary-Currie (Minister for Tourism, Parks, & Recreation)
- Jonathan Denis, Calgary-Egmont & Calgary Acadia (Minister for Housing & Urban Affairs, Solicitor General & Public Security, Justice, Attorney General & Solicitor General)
- Gordon Dirks, Calgary-Elbow (Minister for Education)
- David Dorward, Edmonton-Gold Bar (Associate Minister of Aboriginal Relations)
- Brian Evans, Banff-Cochrane (Minister of Justice and Attorney General)
- Kyle Fawcett, Calgary-North Hill (Minister for Jobs, Skills, Training & Labour, Environment & Sustainable Resource Development)
- Butch Fisher, Wainright (Minister for Public Works, Supply & Services, Transportation & Utilities)
- Heather Forsyth, Calgary-Fish Creek (Solicitor General, Minister for Children's Services)
- Jim Foster, Red Deer (Minister of Advanced Education, Attorney General)
- Gary Friedel, Peace River
- George Groeneveld, Highwood
- Denis Herard, Calgary-Egemont (Minister for Advanced Education)
- Ron Hierath, Taber-Warner & Cardston-Taber-Warner
- Mark Hlady, Calgary-Mountain View
- Mary Anne Jablonski, Red Deer-North (Minister for Seniors & Community Supports)
- Matt Jeneroux, Edmonton-South West
- Karen Kryczka, Calgary-West
- Ken Lemke, Stony Plain
- Fred Lindsay, Stony Plain (Solicitor General, Minister for Public Security)
- Jason Luan, Calgary-Hawkwood
- Ian McClelland, Edmonton-Rutherford
- Everett McDonald, Grande Prairie-Smoky (Minister for Agriculture)
- Greg Melchin, Calgary-North West (Minister for Revenue, Energy, Seniors & Community Supports)
- Ted Morton, Foothills-Rocky View (Minister for Sustainable Resource Development, Finance, Energy)
- Dianne Nelson-Mirosh, Calgary-Glenmore (Member of the Alberta Alcohol & Drug Abuse Commission, Community Development, Human Rights Commission)
- John Oldring, Red Deer South (Minister for Family & Social Services)
- Rick Orman, Calgary-Montrose (Minister for Career Development & Employment, Labour, Energy)
- Luke Ouellette, Innisfail-Sylvan Lake (Minister for Restructuring & Government Efficiency, Infrastructure & Transportation)
- Walter Paszkowski, Smoky River
- Ray Prins, Lacombe-Ponoka
- Sohail Quadri, Edmonton-Mill Woods
- Peter Sandhu, Edmonton-Manning
- Janice Sarich, Edmonton-Decore
- Stan Schumacher, Drumheller (Speaker)
- Shiraz Shariff, Calgary-McCall
- Gordon Shrake, Calgary-Millican
- Lloyd Snelgrove, Vermilion-Lloydminster (Minister for Service Alberta, Finance & President of the Treasury Board)
- Ray Speaker, Little Bow
- Don Tannas, Highwood
- George Vanderburg, Whitecourt-Ste. Anne (Minister for Service Alberta, Seniors & Community Supports)
- Julius Yankowsky, Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview & Edmonton-Beverly-Belmont
- Steve Zarusky, Redwater-Andrew (Minister for Multiculturalism)
Kenney said in a statement he was honoured to receive the support of dozens of former MLAs and ministers.
"The breadth of these endorsements shows huge support for the creation of a contemporary version of the Lougheed and Klein coalitions to replace the NDP and get Alberta back on track," the statement said.