On Twitter, Jason Kenney is often confused with Alberta’s premier.
You see, the man from Richmond, Virginia has the same name as the prominent Alberta politician.
It’s led to numerous occasions where Albertans seeking out a conversation with the premier — instead end up getting a response from the American.
“It’s interesting,” Kenney said about receiving tweets meant for the premier.
“My friends sometimes text me and say ‘Hey, you have a press conference at 3 p.m. Get ready for your Twitter mentions to blow up.”
It’s a common mistake — even online Global News staff admit to confusing the two accounts.
Kenney’s first mix-up with the Albertan Kenney came in the early 2000s.
“He’s had a political career for a while now,” he said. “Back in the day when I had a Hotmail account, a sweet old lady emailed me to thank me for speaking at her church.”
The American had, understandably, done no such thing.
As the premier’s political career continued along and Twitter’s popularity grew, the American Kenney — who works at a non-profit — started to see more people interacting with him accidentally.
“I’ve had the Twitter account since March 2007. Since then I’ve got tagged every once in a while,” he said. “Lately, it’s been more fun. It’s certainly busier.”
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Most recently, the provincial government’s travel scandal caused the Virginian’s Twitter mentions to be filled with angry Albertans. Various hashtags related to Premier Kenney had trended on Twitter for multiple days.
“I did see that something was happening [in Alberta] but then I saw it snowball and I realized, ‘Oh wow. This is a big deal.’”
Kenney says he’s been having fun with the misdirected tweets. He created his own version of the Alberta government’s news conference room backdrop and also answered a few burning questions.
“People ask me ‘Where did my cabinet travel? What am I going to do with my cabinet?’ I do happen to be changing the hardware on the cabinets right now,” he laughed.
“It’s firmly secured to the wall. It’s not going on any vacations.”
He said he hopes the humour he provides from the misdirected tweets bring a little brevity during a stressful time.
“I kind of hope that me being a little glib and adding some humour can help simmer things down a bit,” he said. “It can get pretty angry on Twitter.”
Kenney said the premier himself has reached out in the past.
“It’s been a while. He’s always been a very good sport about it. He’s very busy, understandably so,” he said. “But he has asked, “Hey, you know…if you ever want to swap names…’”
Being unintentionally tapped in to Alberta politics has helped the American see parallels between what’s happening in Alberta and everywhere else.
“It’s interesting to see the similarities of the events and the conflicts,” Kenney said. “It’s enlightening.”
Kenney is also asking those who enjoy his Twitter account to consider donating to the non-profit organization he works for: World Pediatric Project, which provides medical aid to kids in developing countries.
“We’re all human beings and just trying to get through everything together,” he said.
“I think I will continue to enjoy the whole Twitter thing.”
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