The Hot Topic this Week is: Jason Kenny & the UCP Leadership Team – Do their actions match their words?

Last week Chestermere-Strathmore MLA Leela Aheer called for premier Jason Kenney to resign after the termination of Ariella Kimmel at the Alberta legislature. If you missed reading MLA Aheer’s article, you can find it here:

Basically, Ariella Kimmel, a legislative staffer of 10 years, reported alleged sexual harassment and drinking by ministers and seniors’ staff inside the legislature. She was fired from her job and has since launched a lawsuit against the office of the premier of Alberta.   

Premier Jason Kenney’s chief of staff, Pam Livingston, issued a statement saying that “sexual harassment is abhorrent and has no place in our workplaces or society.” Adding, “Any Government employee who believes they have witnessed or been personally subjected to harassment is strongly encouraged to come forward so that appropriate action can be taken.”

These words sound good – but do they match the actions taken? Remember, Ms. Kimmel was the one who was fired – not the ministers and senior staffers. Does this make sense?  We don’t know the reason why Ms. Kimmel was fired.  Apparently when you are a legislative staffer you can be fired from your position at any time and without any reason stated.  Perhaps there is more to this issue than meets the public’s eye but Ms. Livingston giving a “pat answer” to the media regarding this issue when the words spoken don’t match the actions taken, is not a good plan. Much as Jason Kenny likely hopes this story will fade away, it’s not likely to. Nothing offends the public more than seeing entitled politicians living very well off the public purse writing government policy on issues that they themselves do not follow. The old “do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t hold well with the informed public in 2021. Wes Fesler, an American sports athlete wrote “Hypocrisy is the audacity to preach integrity from the den of corruption.” 

Jason Kenney was elected to office on April 30, 2019, and many of us had high hopes he would be the leader that Alberta desperately needed. We are just past the 2-year mark in his term and there have been several speculations on his poor leadership to date. Sure, Alberta’s economy is improving, but is this because of him or despite him? Even if he can claim the credit for this upswing, do we turn a blind eye on the alleged unsavoury behaviour, just because we have jobs again? Seems like a high price to pay just so we can pay our bills. 

This past weekend marked the UCP’s AGM and speculations abound once again of Kenny “stacking the deck” to create a team of loyal followers who won’t criticize or question him. A very dangerous situation. We need only to look around the world at such regimes to see the danger this kind of manipulative behaviour leads to. Our government is supposed to set the standards of high moral and ethical practices. Writing laws to govern others and not following them yourself is the height of hypocrisy. Writer & editor Jess C. Scott states that “Hypocrites get offended by the truth.” Dare we offend our Premier? Dare we send the message to him that we expect the honesty, integrity and transparency that Kenny campaigned on? Along with a growing number of people, I’ve been losing faith in Kenny for a while now. 

Two years ago, I voted for Leela Aheer; with no questions at all in my mind about her integrity. In my opinion very few politicians measure up to the high standard that MLA Aheer sets for herself.  I joined the UCP Party. I had high hopes that Jason Kenny would be the leader he was campaigning as, but I also had some reservations in my mind about his integrity. Maybe you did too. Two years into his term and we’re seeing a different side of Kenny. One that does not inspire hope in me but very real concern. On June 30, 2021, Todd Loewen wrote an article for the National Post where he stated “When you’re a hammer, everything and everyone looks like a nail. That, ladies and gentlemen, is my best description of Jason Kenney’s leadership style.” 

So here we are with the latest issue the UCP leadership is facing, Ariella Kimmel. This issue is not going to fade quietly away. Jason Kenny and the UCP leadership team have a lot of explaining to do. Not just about Ariella Kimmel, but for so many other issues steeped in hypocrisy. Go ahead Mr. Kenny, please explain yourself to us – if you can. 

MLA Aheer has put a spotlight on all things not right within the UCP leadership. In taking this action, she has put her own career on the line. In my opinion, MLA Aheer’s personal concern for her future in politics has never stopped her from doing that which is right and just for others. She stands for truth, fairness and decency for everyone – not just the select few who serve in government. She takes the title of “public servant” very seriously! I feel that she did all she could to try to work within the UCP system to try to create fair, inclusive, transparent, accountable and positive change. But in the end, the level of hypocrisy within the UCP leadership was just too much for her. She’s not alone in her criticism, there are many others who have taken a similar stand and spoken out against Kenny’s questionable leadership; MLA’s Peter Guthrie, Angela Pitt, Richard Gotfried and Todd Loewen to name a few. Now MLA Aheer and the other brave MLA’s who have put their own jobs on the line to stand up for us need to know if we will stand up for them? Or do we remain passive and let them take all the heat? Whenever we complain about government corruption, we must remember that they can only get away with what we tolerate and accommodate. 

With two more years to go in their term, Jason Kenny & his leadership team might be wise to ask themselves, “do our actions match our words”?   

This is my opinion. What’s yours?

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Comment below to join the Hot Talk in the City online conversation!

“Hypocrites get offended by the truth.”

Jess C Scott

About the author

Karen McKee

Karen McKee

Karen McKee moved to Chestermere from Thunder Bay, Ontario in 2012. She and her husband of 42 years live a very active life with a family of 4 children and 1 grandson. Her earlier work career was in sales & marketing. In 2014 she became a Certified Coach Practitioner and in 2015 she formed her company PathwaysCoaching.
Karen volunteers in our community for multiple activities and events.
She is passionate about excellence in leadership and good governance and hopes to share that passion with others through her writing.

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