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The Kenney campaign con and the new meaning of narrative

By Lisa Van Dusen      

Political actors are now being cast, scripted, and rewarded to perform in engineered narratives as a means to an end. Really.

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney, pictured speaking to reporters in Ottawa on May 7, 2018, has been accused of recruiting former Wildrose Party president Jeff Callaway to do his dirty work against rival Brian Jean in the 2017 UCP leadership contest as a ‘kamikaze candidate.’ Both Mr. Callaway and Mr. Kenney, though, deny they planned a fake leadership bid. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

The word “narrative” as a political term of art is by no means new. The concept has been around since long before the days when Hollywood production values migrated to the White House with Ronald Reagan. From “the boy from Baie-Comeau” defining Brian Mulroney’s rise from son of an electrician in a Quebec mill town, to the impact of Bill Clinton’s Man from Hope video at the 1992 Democratic Convention, politicians have used storytelling to connect to the public.

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