Progress Report #214
Your weekly update on Alberta politics for April 28, 2020
If you’ve been wondering why teachers and other public sector workers are outraged that the UCP are handing control of their pensions to AIMCO, the Alberta Investment Management Corporation, there were plenty of explanations in the news last week.
Our report, Alberta’s Failed Oil And Gas Bailout, details how over the past few years AIMCO has interpreted a ‘growth mandate’ it was given by the government as instructions to pour pension and Alberta Heritage Trust Fund money into dodgy oil and gas ventures that other investors won’t touch.
Not only has AIMCO been losing piles of money as these companies go bankrupt--but it’s ending up tied up in the deadbeat companies’ huge environmental liabilities.
Duncan interviewed Greg Meeker of the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund on our podcast this week to learn more about it. But we were shocked when, the morning we planned to release our report, another AIMCO story broke--and it’s huge.
AIMCO just blew four billion dollars of public funds on a scheme straight out of the 2008 financial crash--investing big in ‘derivative’ products like ‘variance swaps’ that put a big, big bet on the world market being stable. And of course it wasn’t.
We can’t let any more of Albertan’s pensions and public funds get destroyed by incompetence at AIMCO. While we work on figuring out the best way to push back and get real reform at AIMCO, we’re running a letter campaign urging legislators to fix the agency as soon as possible. Send a letter to your MLA using our tool today.
Former MLA Erin Babcock has passed away following a battle with uterine cancer. Babcock, formerly a licensed practical nurse, represented Stony Plain from 2015 to 2019 in the Legislature as a member of the NDP caucus.
The provincial ethics commissioner has issued a slap on the wrist to UCP MLA Peter Singh for not recusing himself from the vote to fire Lorne Gibson, the elections commissioner who was investigating several UCP election scandals--but has declared that the rest of the UCP MLAs had no conflict of interest, despite how absurd that sounds to the rest of us.
Canada’s anti-coronavirus-lockdown protests are thoroughly salted with far-right hate groups, reports the Canadian Anti-Hate Network. The Northern Guard, the neo-Nazi Canadian Nationalist Party, and other ‘usual suspects’ have been prominent in the various nationwide demonstrations. An anti-lockdown protest is scheduled for Wednesday in Edmonton, and while it appears organized by more garden-variety foolish folks, I’m sure Edmonton’s Clann types will be in attendance, too.
Coronavirus cases are starting to erupt in Calgary’s temporary drop-in shelter. While the city had the opportunity to temporarily house its homeless population in unused hotels, that plan was nixed--we’ve heard at the behest of the provincial government. Perhaps they’re rethinking that now, as Minister of Community and Social Services Rajan Sawhney has expressed a desire to find rental suites in which to house people.
- Business is slow at Medicine Hat News thanks to the lockdown so we’ve managed to temporarily get our hands on one of their writers, Jeremy Appel, and Jeremy’s putting up some great content on the Progress Report website. This week he’s looked into the situation at Alberta’s coronavirus-plagued meat packing plants, with a detailed timeline of the Cargill fiasco and sobering news about similar conditions at the JBL plant. Also writing for the Report this week is the excellent Bashir Mohamed, who argues that blaming the ‘ethnic norms’ of the plant workers for their contagion risk is tantamount to racism--and it isn’t just Tyler Shandro who shares the blame. Let us know how you like the new content, because we’re planning to produce more like this.
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