Jason Kenney might have missed it, however Lyndon Johnson’s famous comment about how certain individuals weren’t as much as walking and chewing gum at the same time was an observation about their lack of intelligence, not their ability to get away with stating contradictory things at the very same time.

Alberta’s premier is stated to be a pretty brilliant person, so presumably he comprehends what the Democrat from Texas had in mind when he pithily observed that Republican Politician Congressman Gerald Ford was “so dumb he can’t fart and chew gum at the exact same time.”

It was a different time, so journalism kindly laundered Johnson’s observation to make it appropriate for family papers. Both Johnson and Ford later acted as president of the United States, and the kinder gentler variation of LBJ’s fracture was the one that went down in history.

However Kenney, the present United Conservative Party premier of Alberta and a guy very much cut from the climate-change fabric of the modern U.S. Republican politician celebration, seemed to have something rather various in mind when he utilized the expression

In an online question-and-answer session during the UCP’s virtual annual basic meeting Saturday, Kenney admitted, rather startlingly, that federal governments like his are going to have to be seen to be taking action on the environment if they expect lenders to lend any money to the oil and gas market to construct new jobs. Needless to state, this was a big change from the days when he utilized to rail versus NDP premier Rachel Notley for saying the same kind of thing.

So, Kenney continued, “we have actually got to have the ability to walk and chew gum at the same time when it concerns the energy and environment dynamic.”

Offered the backstory of the concern– about whether Kenney must have supported Erin O’Toole when the brand-new federal Conservative leader said that he would commit to conference Canada’s target for greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris environment agreement– it appears Kenney wanted the concept both he and O’Toole might say that and not actually suggest it.

” I don’t think Erin is wrong to state that we need to find a method forward for our market where we do not stick our head in the ground and pretend that the aspirations behind the Paris thing are not hugely influential in how capital is designated and how market access decisions are made,” Kenney stated. (Focus added.)

Additional evidence was presented when Kenney addressed another concern about the so-called energy “war space,” the taxpayer-supported private business run by 3 cabinet ministers and understood officially as the Canadian Energy Centre, saying it will soon be completely back in service after a short COVID-19 lockdown hiatus, increase its pro-oilsands advertising effort again.

” I do anticipate that in the weeks and months to come, the CEC will return to Strategy A, which was to release a number of big advertising campaigns,” the premier said.

AGM delegates, voting from their personal computer, passed a range of controversial resolutions, including the hardy perennial call to adopt an unconstitutional ” right-to-work” law in Alberta.

Likely to frighten the bejeepers out of bigger numbers of voters, however, was the approval by the delegates of a resolution contacting the government to create a parallel, private, for-profit health care system

This is a long way from Kenney’s signed pre-election pledge in February 2019 that he would preserve healthcare financing and “an universally available, publicly financed health-care system.”

In the Westminster parliamentary system, of course, a governing party has no commitment to enact nutty policies just because rank and file members have actually voted in favour of them– “I’m the leader and I get to translate the resolution and its significance to party policy,” Kenney stated greatly back in 2018 when convention delegates passed an ill-timed resolution demanding that schoolkids who join gay-straight alliances be outed to their moms and dads.

But as the Calgary Herald‘s Don Braid explained last night, the premier’s response to the AGM healthcare resolution was as clear as mud, sounding a lot like the musings of a guy who had not quite found out how to say 2 totally contradictory things at the exact same time in a way that would deceive all of the people all of the time.

What President Johnson, who died in 1973, would have stated about Kenney’s use of his witticism and the premier’s habit of promising various strokes for various chaps is difficult to say, but I can guarantee you it would have deserved quoting.

Kenney was joined by O’Toole for part of the Q&A session. The 2 Conservative leaders sat close together, dealing with one another, not wearing masks.

Well, having recently been afflicted by COVID-19, O’Toole most likely has some antibodies to the illness, whatever one may think of the example the gruesome twosome was setting for the rest of us.

For his part, Kenney used brightly striped socks, which appeared they might have been borrowed from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s sock drawer.

The PM’s socks frequently seem to provoke near apoplexy among Kenney’s advocates and their media echo chamber. For some factor, however, the premier’s comparable choice of hosiery seems to have actually passed without comment.

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Journal blog site, is a reporter, author, journalism instructor, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions at The Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald

Image: United Conservative Party/Twitter

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