Jason Kenney may have blown billions of dollars of Albertans’ public money betting on Donald Trump and Keystone XL, but it’s paying off for him personally.
He’s been doing the rounds in the media all week playing up a performance as the great pipeline defender, the champion of Alberta oil.
Never mind that the Keystone XL pipeline, even if it were built, wouldn’t be the economic miracle the industry lobbyists tell us it would be. With the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion locked in, there really isn’t much demand for more pipeline capacity. That’s all right for the Premier, though. He’s not after long-term economic benefits, he’s after donations and (eventual) votes, and shaking your fist about pipelines has always been a great way to get those in Alberta. We’ve all known for nearly a decade that our politicians have no real idea how to bring the boom back, but we let them pretend.
It’s very convenient for Mr. Kenney that he doesn’t actually need to get the pipeline built to reap the benefits of looking like he’s fighting for it, too, because it really doesn’t look like he’s going to get it done. Going on Fox News doesn’t seem like a great way to convince Democrat President Joe Biden of much of anything. And recent news from Alberta’s anti-environmentalist public inquiry isn’t going to help either. Last week the inquiry revealed that, while it hasn’t come up with much evidence of any foreign-funded conspiracy to destroy Alberta, they’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars commissioning reports from fossil fuel lobbyists and right-wing cranks.
One report, which the inquiry spent $28,000 of public funds on, rants at length about the ‘Great Reset’ conspiracy theory, alleging that climate change is a hoax that shadowy global elites are using to overthrow capitalism, depopulate the Earth and force humanity back to a pre-industrial society. Martin Olszynski of the University of Calgary Faculty of Law, summarizing the collection of bizarre and wildly expensive submissions, describes them as “textbook climate denialism.”
Kenney’s not going to convince anyone but his die-hard fans to take his side with material like this. But remember--his interest doesn’t lie in actually winning this fight. He just wants to look like he’s doing something. So he continues to get up there day after day, swinging his rhetorical fists, embarrassing each and every one of us--and burning up our money while he’s at it.
- We continue to lose more and more Albertans each day to COVID-19, and now two even-worse versions have made it into the province. B117, which was first detected in the United Kingdom, and 501.V2, first detected in South Africa, were found in Alberta for the first time last week. Both variants share one key feature--they seem to spread much faster than the original COVID-19--and that could mean our models predicting just how long the virus will take to beat, and how much we need to do to beat it, are way off. For more on B117, we spoke to Dr. Gosia Gasperowicz on a recent episode of the Progress Report podcast.
The former executive director of science for Alberta’s Environment ministry is blowing the whistle about unreported data--some of which the government has been sitting on for over ten years--that shows clear evidence of selenium poisoning downstream of coal mines in the province. The UCP government recently removed environmental protections that banned open-pit coal mining in the Rockies. Robin Campbell, former PC cabinet minister turned lobbyist for the coal industry, argued on the center-right Real Talk With Ryan Jespersen podcast just the other week that “selenium is just salt.”
Unexpectedly back in December the Edmonton Police Service made Chief Dale McFee available for end-of-year-interviews… even from us! Reakash Walters and Molly Swain joined Duncan on the Progress Report podcast this week to break down McFee’s frustrating responses.
- Monday was the 33rd anniversary of the great Alberta nurses’ strike. Back in 1988--just like today--the government was playing hardball on demands for nurses to eat serious cuts in benefits, pay and hours. The government of the day used the courts to try to force nurses back to work. But the United Nurses of Alberta held on and fought for weeks, even after the government tried to break them with nearly $500,000 in fines. In the end, the UNA won a new collective bargaining agreement on February 13, and secured a much better deal for nurses across the province in contract negotiations in 1990.
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