Jason Kenney speaks to a group at Fireside Lounge in Sylvan Lake on Tuesday afternoon.

Jason Kenney makes stop in Sylvan Lake

Conservative Member of Parliament Jason Kenney made a stop in Sylvan Lake on Tuesday afternoon during his Unity Tour.

Conservative Member of Parliament Jason Kenney made a stop in Sylvan Lake on Tuesday afternoon during his Unity Tour.

According to Kenney, who has announced his intention to seek the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, the tour’s purpose is to ‘listen to Albertans’ and provide‘grassroots conservatives a voice on unity’.

Kenney, who represents the riding of Calgary Midnapore, has visited over 30 constituencies in the last 15 days prior to his stop at Fireside Lounge on Lakeshore Drive.

Kenney was first elected to House of Commons in 1997 and spent nine years as a member of the Official Opposition and 10 years as member of governing party. During his time serving in government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Kenney acted as Minister of National Defence, Minister of Employment and Social Development, Minister for Multiculturalism andMinister of Citizenship and Immigration.

He explained during an interview with the Sylvan Lake News prior to his stop at the Fireside Lounge that his priorities have changed since the Federal Election in October when his party became the Official Opposition and even more so since the Alberta general election in May of 2015.

“Since then I’ve been spending a lot more time back here at home hearing people really struggling with the economy, hearing people losing their jobs, losing their houses and in some cases losing a sense of hope which made me realize just how high the stakes are and made me decide to put forward my plan to unite free enterprise Albertans in order to defeat the NDPin the next election,” explained Kenney during the interview.

He added the last thing on his mind after the last election was getting into provincial politics. Following the Federal Election, Kenney’s name had been circulating as a potential candidate for the federal Conservative leadership, however Kenney commented ‘other capable people are presenting for the federal conservative leadership’ adding he felt if he didn’t try to unite the right, ‘probably no one would and we would likely find ourselves back in a vote split situation three years from now.’

“But having spent a lot more time here since October, I’ve firstly become quite aware of how dire the economic situation is and the human cost of that I’ve had grown men in my office break down crying talking about losing their job,” he said. “There are small business people in my constituency going out of business after 25 years, losing their life savings working 100hour weeks. A lot of very sad stories I’ve encountered that are the human face of the recession.”

He added, “[There are] 100,000 jobs lost in the last year, a 4 per cent decline in average weekly earnings, almost record high levels of insolvencies and bankruptcies. That really got my attention. Then I came to the conclusion, looking more closely at Alberta provincial politics, that I think we have a broken political system here because of the division of the two free enterprise parties.”

Kenney is currently proposing the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative Parties come together in a negotiated merger to create what he calls a ‘new broad, tolerant, free enterprise party’. This would require the members of both parties to pass judgment on that at a referendum in order to set up a new party and elect a new leader.

editor@sylvanlakenews.com