Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is spending the weekend campaigning for Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer in Ontario, including a stop in Premier Doug Ford’s political stronghold in western Toronto.
Mr. Kenney is attending 16 events in Ottawa and the Toronto area, which includes a $300-a-ticket fundraiser on Saturday in Etobicoke Centre, the area where Mr. Ford lives, with Conservative candidate Ted Opitz. The event was posted on Mr. Opitz’s website.
Mr. Ford, who represents the provincial riding of Etobicoke North, will not participate in any events with Mr. Kenney, the Ontario Premier’s office said. Mr. Scheer, who was also in Etobicoke this week without Mr. Ford, will not be alongside Mr. Kenney this weekend either.
At a stop at the office of Ottawa-area Conservative candidate Brian St. Louis on Friday, Mr. Kenney spoke about the Alberta energy sector and his support for Mr. Scheer’s proposed national energy corridor. He described his personal friendship with Mr. Scheer, whom he’s known for 20 years. Mr. Kenney is also the godfather to one of Mr. Scheer’s five children.
“I’ve always known [Mr. Scheer] to be underestimated and always to exceed expectations every single step of the way. But most importantly, I know Andrew to be a man of profound dignity, of decency,” said Mr. Kenney, the former federal immigration minister.
Conservative spokesman Simon Jefferies said Mr. Scheer will be elsewhere campaigning while Mr. Kenney is in the Toronto area this weekend. “As the Premier of Alberta, Premier Kenney is able to share a compelling message about the consequences of Justin Trudeau’s policies,” Mr. Jefferies said.
Mr. Kenney’s office said the Alberta Premier has not spoken to Mr. Ford about his visit and the federal Conservative campaign organized the itinerary. Mr. Ford’s spokesman said the Ontario Premier will not be attending any events with Mr. Kenney.
“As the Premier has said previously, he wishes all candidates well in the upcoming federal election, but he is focused on governing and improving life for the people of Ontario,” Mr. Ford’s director of media relations Kayla Iafelice said.
Other planned stops for Mr. Kenney include visits to north Toronto and Woodbridge.
Speaking outside of Mr. St. Louis’s Ottawa-area campaign office, Liberal Steve MacKinnon said “it’s ironic” that Mr. Kenney is in Mr. Ford’s province while the Ontario Premier is nowhere to be found.
“This must be quite an embarrassment for Doug Ford. Where is Doug Ford?” said Mr. MacKinnon, a Liberal candidate in Gatineau, Que.
“Mr. Ford if you’re out there, we want to see you. There are lots of questions about the Conservative agenda you put into place.”
During the 2015 election, former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne campaigned for Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in the province, but the appearance of an out-of-province premier is viewed as highly unusual.
During his years in federal politics, Mr. Kenney was the Harper government’s lead person responsible for making inroads with ethnic communities.
Pollster Nik Nanos said that history means the Alberta Premier and his connections with those communities remains an important asset for the party, particularly in the Greater Toronto Area.
“Jason Kenney and his draw in the 905 and among ethnic communities was part of the winning franchise under Stephen Harper,” Mr. Nanos said. “He has a lot of credibility in those communities. He has a personal track record reaching out to them and he’s a significant asset in the 905, which the Conservatives have to win in order to try to win the election. Right now, he would be more of an asset in those ridings than the sitting Premier of Ontario.”
In contrast, Mr. Ford’s controversial decisions in government have led the federal Conservatives to keep their distance from him.
Mr. Nanos said that might be made even more difficult should there be labour disruptions starting next week at Ontario schools that would be a form of protest directed at the Ontario government. Several Ontario school boards plan to shut down Monday in anticipation of a strike by a union representing 55,000 support workers.