One of the usual highlights of most election campaigns are the big televised leaders’ debates. It’s usually one of the few chances to get the major party leaders in a room together, to face tough questions and make a big impact on a wide swath of voters, for better or worse. With all the attention on the SNC/PMO Scandal here in Ottawa, it’s understandable that our attention has been drawn away from the big provincial election in Alberta, one that promises to have a big effect on the national scene one way or another.

At the start of this campaign, it looked like a lock for the new United Conservatives lead by former Harper cabinet minister Jason Kenney. This has been the presumption of many for a year now, including Mr. Kenney himself, as he’s behaved a lot like someone who believes that he’s destined to be the Premier of Alberta. Of course, the current Premier Rachel Notley and her New Democrats have something to say about that. The Alberta NDP entered the campaign with what they new would be a tough fight, but as we go into tonight’s debate in Edmonton, things are getting interesting for a few reasons. First let’s start with the polls:

The Alberta NDP has made this a race folks, but still have work to do. The polls are as close as they have been since the Conservative merger in the province, and Rachel Notley herself is becoming more and more popular than Jason Kenney. Maybe that sense of inevitability has gone straight to his and the heads of the UCP, but it’s been breath taking to watch the kinds of things that have been coming out about their candidates since the start of the campaign:

Bozo eruptions galore, all over the place. See all this I have to wondering what kind of candidate vetting the UCP did, but something tells me they just don’t care. While some candidates have been removed or stepped away, others are staying put with the full defence of Jason Kenney himself. That lead to a remarkable radio interview last night on Charles Adler’s national radio show. Adler is known for his Conservative bent but is a thorough professional and is someone whose opinion is widely respected. My late grandfather used to listen to him on CJOB-Winnipeg for years on his front porch in Rainy River, so his is a voice that’s been around most of my politically-aware life. Last night was no exception regarding his professionalism, and I doubt that Jason Kenney was expecting what came his way:

Wow, what an interview. This morning I woke up to all kinds of comments on this interview, how much of a bloodbath it was and how Kenney just fell apart in it. So, I had to check it out for myself, and it didn’t disappoint. Adler laid bare the hypocrisy that Kenney has displayed not just in this campaign but really over his whole political life, which is a long one. You could tell that Kenney had simply gone too far, and it could not be countenanced anymore. Going into tonight’s debate with that blood in the water is not a good thing for Kenney and gives Notley more ammunition to go after the UCP leader with.

But in the background of this election has been another amazing story, one which I wrote about last month in detail. The Case of the Kamikaze UCP Leadership campaign, allegedly created to be a stalking horse campaign to support Jason Kenney, is now under investigation by the RCMP. That’s quite the thing to be facing as an election campaign starts, and quite the dark cloud rightfully hanging over the UCP. So, it was quite the thing to see the subjects of this case try to get the courts to freeze the investigation until after the campaign was done. Yes, you read that right; they wanted to have the courts stop investigating an alleged crime because it might look bad on a certain party. Well we heard about that late yesterday and it’s not good news for Mr. Kenney:

Yep, the courts said to stuff it. So as this campaign continues and the debate happens tonight, we’ll have the subject of an RCMP investigation into the alleged actions of the UCP on the table to discuss. It’s been a long time since we’ve had so many big issues and stories floating around a campaign to be part of a debate, so this should make for an interesting show. The debate will start at 7:30 EST/5:30 MST on various outlets, so do check it out. I know I’ll be watching, curious to see how this pivotal moment in this important campaign turns out.