“The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.”—Winston Churchill.
When he’s not on the front line fighting covid, Dr Joe Vipond is busy analyzing the data and providing information to help Albertans understand what’s happening to them and their province.
Dr Vipond’s most recent analysis (posted on Twitter on Saturday Apr 17) states that Kenny’s restrictions are slightly bending the curve, but we are still experiencing exponential growth. Our positivity rate is much too high, we’re missing many community cases, and variants now make up 64.2% of the cases.
Dr Vipond concludes Alberta is heading towards an Ontario-style health care disaster—Premier Ford is so concerned Ontario’s healthcare system will be overwhelmed that he’s asked Alberta and other provinces to send healthcare professionals to help.
Leaving aside the question of whether the government has the power to ship healthcare workers to another province, let alone whether they would be willing to go, Kenney responded that Alberta’s healthcare workers were not going anywhere, they were needed here.
We are staring into the abyss and Ontario is staring back at us.
Kenney refuses to implement tougher restrictions. He believes half-measures will protect lives.
At first Ms Soapbox thought this was because Kenney’s real priority is protecting livelihoods. It turns out that’s not entirely the case.
On Apr 6 when Kenney announced the province was returning to Step 1 restrictions (no indoor dining, restrictions on indoor gyms and retail outlets), he promised additional help for small and medium business owners. These businesses make up more than 99% of all businesses in the province and account for nearly 55% of all employment.
All in all, the government will provide $751 million in aid.
This sounds like a lot of money but it pales in comparison to the almost $2 billion Kenney gave to just two companies—$1.5 billion to TC Energy for a pipeline that will never be built and $408 million to Inter Pipeline Ltd for…well, who knows.
As we all know, when President Biden revoked TC Energy’s permit for KXL, the pipeline went belly up.
In its Annual Report TC Energy says it was “disappointed” the permit had been revoked but its growth platform “remains very strong” and its core businesses and prospects have never been stronger. TC Energy outperformed in 2020 with record earnings and bumped its quarterly dividend up by 7.4%. Its CEO, Russ Girling, received more than $13 million for a job well done.
Alberta’s $1.5 billion is gone…and TC Energy has moved on.
Inter Pipeline Ltd
The Inter Pipeline story is even more unsettling.
The day before Kenney promised additional financial aid to small and medium businesses, he announced a $408 million grant to Inter Pipeline to support the Heartland Petrochemical Project under a government program designed to attract investment in petrochemical projects. The grant is twice as big as the one the NDP were prepared to provide.
What’s odd about the $408 million grant is Inter Pipeline’s project is very attractive to investors and is not in financial distress. The company’s CEO describes business as “fantastic” and “extremely profitable.”
Inter Pipeline is, however, fighting off a hostile takeover bid from Brookfield Infrastructure. The only issue Inter Pipeline has with Brookfield’s bid is it’s not high enough. Brookfield says it would consider raising its bid, meanwhile Inter Pipeline expects better bids to come along.
Unlike many of Alberta’s small and medium businesses, neither TC Energy nor Inter Pipeline are suffering as a result of covid or the economic downturn and neither is on the verge of collapse.
A time for consequences
The question Albertans should be asking themselves is this: why is Kenney throwing billions of dollars at two multi-billion dollar companies when that money would be better spent creating a safety net for small and medium businesses or better yet, protecting the health of Albertans struggling to stay alive in the covid crisis.
The era of half-measures and baffling expedients is over. The era of consequences has arrived.