Stephen Harper creates a clear path for Jason Kenney to emerge as next Conservative leader

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      Yesterday, I was interviewing NDP leadership candidate Nathan Cullen over coffee in Vancouver.

      We ended up discussing the expense-account scandal swirling around Defence Minister Peter MacKay

      The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has revealed that MacKay spent $1,452 a night for a two-night stay in a Munich hotel, and another $770 per night for three nights in a luxurious hotel in Istanbul.

      In the past, MacKay has come under fire for the use of a military helicopter to retrieve him from a fishing trip. And the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has also hammered MacKay for the cost of his flight to the recent Grey Cup game in Vancouver.

      The founder of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is Jason Kenney, who is probably the cabinet minister closest to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

      As Harper's parliamentary secretary, Kenney criss-crossed the country to forge deep ties with groups representing new Canadians. Later, Kenney was promoted to oversee the immigration ministry.

      Cullen and I both surmised that these revelations about MacKay are designed to put Kenney at the front of the line as Harper's successor as Conservative leader. As the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Kenney is well-positioned to make the types of connections that will help him in a future leadership race.

      Meanwhile, another potential successor to Harper, Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore, has been put in the awkward position of cutting the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation after promising that funding would be preserved. It makes him look like a liar.

      Cullen noted that Moore's earlier defence of the CBC put him in a bad light in the eyes of Conservative party members who want the Crown corporation killed.

      "James has been handed a poison pill," Cullen commented. "It's too bad, because James is a very talented guy. He might even be a Red Tory."

      Kenney is clearly one of the most right-wing members of cabinet. As a Calgary MP, he's not likely to reverse Harper's head-in-the-sand approach to climate change.

      In addition, Kenney has been an opponent of abortion and same-sex marriage, and supported the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Kenney also has the support of Charles McVety, the head of the Canada Family Action Coalition and Canada's homegrown version of Jerry Falwell.

      Unbeknownst to many Canadians, this country is already in the grip of a culture war similar to what we've seen south of the border. And Kenney is one of the generals leading the fight on behalf of the reactionary forces.



      M Anderson

      Dec 18, 2011 at 3:01pm

      You can already see what kind of integrity someone has that supported the Iraq war......a real loser if there ever was one


      Dec 18, 2011 at 3:04pm

      In Loss of Faith: How The Air India Bombers Got Away With Murder, Kim Bolan wrote "We've already got several politicians in our pockets. We sneak cash donations to them when they show up for our festivals and parades."

      Kenney is in a first-rate position to siphon money from the ethnic groups
      to which Kim refers. Surrey and Toronto are hosts to the biggest lobby groups in Canada. His anti-abortion, anti-gays (and anti-gay marriages)
      opinions mirror the thoughts of his boss.

      Perhaps we need a Canada-wide Occupy Untruths.

      Mike Puttonen

      Dec 18, 2011 at 4:17pm

      What makes you think Harper is going to quit...ever?

      Nick Istvan

      Dec 18, 2011 at 10:42pm

      Kenney as leader would be a gift to the opposition and the Conservatives would be back in the wild for another 20 years. Bring him on (towards the end of this term though, so he can't do too much damage).


      Dec 19, 2011 at 6:31am

      "Kenney also has the support of Charles McVety,"

      That is reason enough not to support Kenney.


      Dec 19, 2011 at 8:08am

      Perhaps the writer of this articles' heading is different than the articles' actual author - but can we say "incompetent" ?!? A NDPer suggesting that Kenney is being groomed - and the caption stating it as a fact ?

      Charlie Smith - either learn some journalism, or track down whomever converts your comments for publications and throttle them!

      Charlie Smith

      Dec 19, 2011 at 10:55am

      If you look up top, it says "commentary". It's my commentary. If you don't think the prime minister is grooming Kenney as his successor, then please explain why. I'm interested in hearing why you might think this isn't the case.

      Charlie Smith

      0 0Rating: 0


      Dec 19, 2011 at 12:25pm

      For those of you who have read Charlie's piece on Jason Kenny, guess what ? He will probably be proved correct in close to fours years.
      The only other contender is John Baird, but as the rumour mill has him playing for the other team, chances are he will be "outed" by someone in Kenny's camp soon.
      Kenny has skeletal baggage in his closet, but his people do a good job of running a tight ship.
      Is there a Canadian version of Ron Paul?

      James Stuart

      Dec 19, 2011 at 10:15pm

      Neither Mckay, Kenney or Cullen are fit leaders. Or Rae etc etc.
      I think Harper will get another term. He is an amazing manipulater. McKay bad. Kenney bad. Good God the world is 7000 years old. Steve may be with us untill the end.

      James G

      Dec 20, 2011 at 1:04pm

      If the above comments of Mr. Stuart are tongue in cheek, they do contain a grain of truth. The Prime Minister has made a practice of grooming no obvious successor and putting those with whom large segments of the population would find unacceptable in place just below him. That is a political master stroke for those who intend on maintaining their leadership for a long time.

      As for Mr. Cullen, although I am not denying his basic decency, I still question his political judgement. He has only been an M.P. since 2004. He has never seen a Liberal majority and seems way too easily convinced that that party is in any way progressive. The Grits only blink left whenever and only when in a minority position with the NDP holding the threat of a confidence vote to it's throat. It is no wonder, then, that the Liberal Party gains at the expense of the NDP in the polls if Mr. Cullen and Mr. Martin keep talking up an electoral alliance of a (non-existent) 'progressive' bloc including the Liberals.

      Those of us in the rank and file who have helped build the NDP and have suffered from Liberal policies that handed corporations tax breaks, broke up unions, fought gay marriage in court and then became it's disingenuous champions for electoral gain don't want to hear this lie.

      The last federal election gave the NDP a chance to offer up to Canadians a real alternative to the Conservative agenda. Giving the Liberals unearned credit as part of that alternative is self-defeating. The public sees this. What portion of advertising in the next election will feature Liberal ads quoting Cullen and Martin about this? How much will the NDP have to spend to reverse the damage?

      In Cullen's case, I'd rather he crossed the floor to the Liberals than won the NDP leadership. It might prove less damaging.