Brian Jean Embarks on Post Truth Politics

“Fact-checking was a great development in accountability journalism…[but] one-off fact-checking is no match for the repeated lie.”    

Brian Jean, leader of the Wildrose opposition, published an article in the Calgary Herald last week. It was heavy on the repeated lie and light on everything else.

Jean’s premise is: pipelines create jobs, Rachel Notley’s NDP government doesn’t support pipelines therefore, by extension, the NDP government is killing jobs and the economy.

Really? Let’s fact check his argument:

Fact Checking

Jean says “Without question, the biggest Alberta-based job-creation program that can be conceived of by any level of government over the next decade is building pipelines to get our products to tidewater.” And there’s the fatal flaw in Jean’s logic—governments DON’T build pipelines, the private sector does.  

Brian Jean Wildrose Party Leader

Jean describes the benefits of an industry not “suffocating” from low oil prices, higher taxes and pending royalty changes. He fails to acknowledge that the biggest impact on profitability is low oil prices and that OPEC, not Notley, holds the hammer on prices.  

Jean blames Alberta’s lack of pipelines on Notley’s “failure to aggressively advocate for critical pipeline projects” thereby threatening “Alberta’s long-term economic prosperity.”

He sets out examples of Notley’s failure “to aggressively advocate”. I’ve set out facts to refute his argument:

  • Notley was “ideologically and irrationally” opposed to Keystone while in opposition and failed to advocate for it when she became premier.
    • To suggest that a provincial premier, let alone the leader of the third party in opposition can influence a US president is ridiculously naïve. Prime Minister Harper, ex-premiers Jim Prentice and Alison Redford, Canada’s ambassador to the US, Gary Doer, and Rob Merrifield, Prentice’s man in Washington, all had a go at it. They got absolutely nowhere.
  • Notley refused to support Northern Gateway.
    • So what? The National Energy Board approved Northern Gateway in June 2014. It will go ahead if Enbridge satisfies the NEB’s conditions, reaches an accord with the First Nations and persuades the Trudeau government to accept the NEB’s recommendation. Notley’s position on Northern Gateway is irrelevant.
  • Notley “muddied the approval process for Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion” by suggesting the terminal be moved to Delta, BC—this would delay the project and cost billions.
    • Notley is not a participant in the NEB process. She has zero impact on the NEB’s decision.
  • Notley’s support of Energy East is suspect because it “is facing hurdles from the NDP’s provincial cousins in Manitoba”.
    • That’s pathetic. Notley doesn’t control the Manitoba NDP anymore than they control the Alberta NDP.
  • Notley “opened the door to allowing Quebec…to dictate terms and conditions for Energy East’s approval.”
    • Notley said Quebec is more likely to support Energy East if Alberta shows it’s protecting the environment. She said she understands Quebec’s desire to see the pipeline create more jobs. She did not give Quebec a veto no matter how hard Jean spins it.
  • Notley needs to defend Alberta by telling the world Canada “has the absolute best environmental performance of the world’s top 10 oil reserve jurisdictions.”
    • If so the head of the Alberta Energy Regulator would not be implementing a 2 year plan to improve Alberta’s environmental regulations. AER CEO Jim Ellis recognizes that the energy sector operates in a global marketplace and “it’s critically important” that people have confidence that Alberta’s energy is “being produced in an environmentally sustainable manner.” 

Post truth politics in Alberta

The NDP government is on record as supporting the oilsands and the energy sector. They’re seeking the middle ground based on environmentally responsible energy production. However, it serves Brian Jean’s purpose to say the opposite. He is supported by the conservative media which has a monopoly on disseminating information to an undiscerning public that demands its news in tiny bite sized pieces.

So brace yourselves for more bombastic articles from Brian Jean exhorting Albertans “to encourage their leaders…to fight proudly and fiercely for market access in every direction.”

Just don’t ask Jean what fighting “proudly and fiercely” looks like because other than low taxes, low royalties and weak environmental regulations (how’s that working for you?) he doesn’t have a clue. All he needs to do is convince the public that Notley’s government is out to “get” the oilsands and the pipelines and he’s home free.

Welcome to post truth politics Wildrose-style.

Fact checkers need not apply.

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58 Responses to Brian Jean Embarks on Post Truth Politics

  1. Excellent piece amiga Susan – you have great eloquence on your commentaries; and, your contextual fact-checking is brilliant. Gracias for [always] bringing honesty/lucidity to our public conversations regarding politics in Alberta – much needed & appreciated. – LCA

    • Thank you LCA! The articles on post truth politics come from the US but the similarities between Canadian conservatives and American Republicans are striking. One article described the Republicans as having three core goals: reducing taxes on the wealthy, dismantling the social welfare system and freeing corporations from regulatory restraint. Replace “Republicans” with “Wildrose”, “Progressive Conservatives” or “Harper’s Conservatives” and the sentence is equally valid here in Canada.

  2. Roy Wright says:

    I find Mr. Jean starting to show his hand in other ways as well. He encouraged/demanded the NDP to break legally binding contracts with provincial government employees that were in place prior to the NDP taking over the reins of government. The following week he advocated the NDP should not break contracts with coal companies and should in fact offer monies to make up for any losses. My read of this is that he supports companies and not people. We had enough of this with the last 25 years of the PC rule.

    The second issue relates to media coverage. I find Postmedia (aka Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal etc.) is blatant in not only their editorial pieces but also in the news items where they enjoy NDP bashing. I always thought news people were supposed to cover the news, not make it and distort it.

    • Roy your point about Brian Jean demanding that the NDP break legally binding contracts with government employees while at the same time berating the NDP for “breaking” (and I don’t even know if that’s legally the case) contracts with the coal companies is a classic example of “post truth politics.” One article said the Republicans mastered “post truth politics” when they realized their rhetoric doesn’t have to bear any relation to their policy agenda so they talk about cutting the deficit while at the same time driving up the deficit by slashing taxes on the rich and launching unfunded wars. They talk about free markets while at the same time subsidizing fossil fuels. http://grist.org/politics/2011-04-28-policy-in-an-age-of-post-truth-politics/
      A bit of a handicap for political parties that strive to align their actions with their policies!

  3. ABCanuck says:

    I read the piece by Jean in the Herald and was appalled at the half-truths, misleading statements, and lies as Ms. Soapbox elucidates so well.

    Perhaps Jean now has some unemployed ex-PC Party of Alberta or Harper hacks writing for him.

    It’s also appalling how low the Herald has sunk in printing articles such as Jean’s. Are they now paid by PostMedia by the number of lines of trash they publish?

    • You may be right ABCanuck. Jean’s article was as extreme as anything I’ve seen come out of the Harper camp and he’s working hard to make the Wildrose attractive to disgruntled PCs because he knows he’ll never be premier if he can’t broaden his base. I was surprised to see that notwithstanding the success of the WR at the polls Jean only managed to get 78% support on his leadership review. Danielle Smith captured 90% at a time when she was battling the extreme right wing of her party. One would think Jean is more attractive to this group and yet he still didn’t do as well as Smith. Perhaps the rank and file party members know that he doesn’t have what it takes to take them to victory. His article in the Herald confirms that he can toss out misleading platitudes but doesn’t have any fresh ideas to offer.

  4. Danielle says:

    But he is right about the lie repeatedly told…

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Danielle it would be wonderful, for discussion purposes, if you could clarify why you believe Brian Jean is right.
      Thank you

    • Yes Danielle, Jean may be off base on his facts but he’s certainly grasped the principle that the repeatedly told lie will, over time, be accepted as the truth. The media has an obligation to correct this. For example in 2008 the media carried a story that Obama was a Muslim. The responsible media tried to correct this misrepresentation by repeatedly saying “Obama who is a Christian” or the false allegation that Obama is a Muslim when it reported on the story but when it was all over one-fifth of all Americans still believed that Obama is a Muslim, proving once again that the big lie is like a weed, it’s hard to eradicate. Here’s the link to the article: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/08/what-to-do-with-political-lies/261189/

      • Einar Davison says:

        Another thing I have found is that my “friends” who are right wingers and most of the time dislike “whiners” have, with the election of Rachel Notley in Alberta and Justin Trudeau federally have become the worst whiners ever. It is the end of the world because we finally have governments who care about everyday people and not just the few and entitled. I don’t recall at any time in my life how ill informed and naive people have become and react rather than think. I challenge the Wildrose and the opposition to show exactly how they would run the province and country any better than our current government in less than ideal times. Klein got away with what he did because of record resource revenue, but left us with other deficits that we now have to deal with at this time when we have less to work with. If they tried to do what he did back in the 90’s Alberta would crash worse than our current situation. We need less nut bar politics and more people with vision. We need opposition that is doing more useful proposing than taking up airtime and columns with an ocean of nothingness.

  5. Sylvia Krogh says:

    Susan I hope you are submitting this to the Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal?

    • carlosbeca says:

      I doubt that the Calgary Herald or the Edmonton Journal are interested in this post 🙂
      Susan would have better luck with Metro – maybe.
      This post is outrageous for the present editors of our two main newspapers.
      By the way I thought that their names had already changed to the Edmonton and Calgary National Post.

      • Carlos, I agree with you, the Herald and Journal do what they’re told to do by the National Post. They endorsed Prentice’s PCs and Harper’s Conservatives. If the PCs fade out in Alberta, they’ll endorse the Wildrose. It’s highly unlikely they’ll give airtime to anyone who wants to show that Brian Jean is a vacuous politician with only one strategy which is attack the NDP. I just wish Jean would stop saying “we’re here to help”, because he has not offered a single constructive comment since Notley took power in May.

    • Sylvia, I was thinking of doing a shorter letter. The Herald and the Journal have a policy of not taking longer pieces from people who aren’t on their approved commentator list. Apparently knuckle-headed politicians have free rein, the rest of us get to scrabble for time on the Letters to the Editor page. But even if the letter isn’t published it wouldn’t hurt for the papers to know that they seriously dropped the ball on this one.

  6. Thanks Susan! You always bring the balance back to the debate.

  7. mgs09 says:

    Over and above the plethora of lies coming out of Jean, I think it is also important to recognize that the economic viability of Alberta’s “oil sands/tar sands/whatever you call them this week” has changed dramatically in the last two years.

    We currently are sitting on a product that costs more to extract than any of its competitor products, sells for less than half of the West Texas Intermediate benchmark, and is more expensive to ship and refine. With the US currently feeling more or less self-sufficient with the shale oil/gas boom of the last decade, the primary market for bitumen has dried up, and shipping it around the world is laughably uneconomical.

    Jean can talk about building all the pipelines he wants, the fact is that if nobody wants the product, the pipe will sit empty if it is built. No business is going to build a pipeline just to have it sit idle (except for TCPL, it seems).

    • Well said mgs09. Given this fact you’d think Jean would be supportive of Notley’s effort to diversify the economy but all he seems to be interested in is opposing her at every turn. Not exactly the trait of a visionary premier-in-waiting is it?

      • mgs09 says:

        Like his former master, Mr. Jean seems only able to criticize and tear things down. Building anything up seems to be well beyond the current lot who wear the cloak of “conservative”.

      • That’s right mgs09. Brian Jean runs on one piston “no taxes”, but it won’t get him very far.

  8. Einar Davison says:

    I remember seeing this statement about Hitler’s political strategy, “you tell an unbelievably big lie and then you keep repeating it until the uninformed believes it is the truth”. It doesn’t surprise me that the Wildrose and the right wing have adopted this strategy. Kind of like the Wildrose campaign signs promising Albertans world class education when Brian Jean said in a Western Producer article that the Wildrose wants to bring back the basics in education, also known as the 3R’s, reading, riting and rithmatic. I guess he meant the 3rd world where indeed that would be a world class education. So maybe if the Wildrose likes to adopt the despicable strategies of the Hitler, maybe we should start calling them what they are. I know what I think they are!

    • Einar, Jean is a very slick politician. Today’s Herald reported that he and his party had backtracked on their much ballyhooed promise not to allow floor-crossers to join or leave the party. He rationale for the reversal was bizarre. He said floor crossing would be fine if it’s the result of “principled reasons” but not okay if it’s done for “selfish reasons”. Good luck trying to figure out when a PC MLA is trying to join the WR for principled reasons and not because his party is fading off the face of the earth.

      • Susan I think principled means something different to the Wildrose than the rest of us. If it mean’t the same then Rick Strankman wouldn’t be choosy about which laws chooses to obey. Or Derek Fildebrandt saying the “NDP duped Albertans” and then wouldn’t talk to “unprofessional journalists. They are loathsome liars who will say or do anything to get elected. Which is why all their campaign promises disappeared from their website the day after the election. I may not agree with everything the ND’s are doing, but compared to what else we have to choose from. I think we should thank our lucky stars that we have Rachel Notley at the helm. At least people won’t die unnecessarily because we have no health care, or set our province back a 100 years with “Wildrose class education”. Or having to live with another 20 years of meanness and entitlement because the only reason the Wildrose complained about airplanes, and sky palaces is because they didn’t have any. Double standards one for the right and another for everyone who isn’t right wing which is pretty much everyone who didn’t vote Wildrose. Sorry for the rant…

      • Einar, I didn’t realize that the WR pulled their policies off their website, but that fits with the point you’re making about “principles” (such as transparency) meaning something different to the Wildrose than the rest of us. The Herald coverage of the WR AGM said Jean’s characterized the WR’s struggle with the NDP as a life or death battle for Alberta but put a different spin on the WR’s battle with the PCs–it was “a principled check on a wayward dynasty” and urged the WR to make the PCs feel welcome. When Trudeau said the Conservatives are our neighbours and friends people believed he was sincere. When Jean says the WR needs to welcome PCs into the fold, the Herald reports “there was little or no applause”. No wonder he got 78%, 22% of the party doesn’t trust him.

      • edavison says:

        Hi Susan, no their policies were still there but their campaign promises (the key messages) of no higher taxes and all campaign lies, the world class education, first class health care, and all the ones they would never be able to keep disappeared. Because you can’t promise those things and still cut taxes without going broke trying. It was a flat out lie and as soon as they managed to save themselves from oblivion, they quickly took them down so no one could call them on it. That was my intention. I had followed their web page through the election and the day after all the promises were gone.
        However if you read their policy and look at papers that their base follows where they had articles, you know exactly what they would have done if they would have formed government. If you know you’re not going to form government I guess you can say anything you want. “The Wildrose Two Step” and the “Fildebrandt Foxtrot” dancing around the truth. The WR is dangerous, but they also are their own worst enemy, we need to call them out whenever they lie or twist the facts. Yes the right seems to own the media, but it’s not the only way to get the message out. If we show them for the loathsome people they are and as long as the more progressive and balanced people continue to vote as we do. Then no matter what, they will never form a government in Alberta.

      • Edavison: thanks for the clarification. You’re right that we should call out the WR every time they lie or twise the facts. One of the articles on post truth politics said its naive for us to expect the media to “call foul” and penalize right wing parties for lying and rejecting all attempts at compromise, because the media won’t do it (as Jean’s op-ed in the Herald demonstrates), so we and the few progressive media outlets left in this country need to do it ourselves. It’s the best way to avoid the prospect of a WR government in our future.

      • carlosbeca says:

        Gosh this guy sounds like the kids in school whose dog ate their homework.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Just to clarify that when I say ‘this guy…’ I am not referring to Einar. I was talking about Brian Jean except that somehow my reply got right after Einar’s post and it sounds like I am talking about him.
      Next guy I will have to mention the name so that this does not happen.

      • Carlos, I figured out which “guy” you were talking about from the context of your comment. I learned a while ago that the wordpress program dumps comments anywhere it wants to (lord knows why), that’s why I mention the commentator’s name in my replies. It looks weird sometimes but c’est la vie. 🙂

  9. carlosbeca says:

    All I can say is that I wonder if Brian Jean has any idea of what is talking about. He reminds me of some colleagues I had in my school years that memorized some sentences to impress the girls. Brian seems to be clueless. I agree with Einar Davison and his story of the three Rs. Yes Einar they are fascists and the problem with these neo-fascists is that they seem to have very developed ‘riting’ and ‘rithamitc’ skills. By the way I am not being sarcastic, I truly believe these people are in great need of being embedded in the real world. One of the best I have heard from him was deep cuts on Health and send the patients down to the states when in need. 🙂 – this is truly genius. I am sorry Einstein did not have a chance to meet this guy. That he had a 72% support on the weekend just tells us how prepared the Wildrose is to run this province or be the opposition for that matter.

  10. GoinFawr says:

    From the article linked,
    “What type of message does it send to international decision-makers and international capital markets when Alberta’s own government won’t support the building of critical new pipelines in their own country? On the two pipeline proposals the NDP have offered their support for, their own actions have thrown confusion and instability into the process.” -BJ

    So which is it, in Mr.Jean’s opinion do the Alberta NDP support pipelines, or not? I find myself somewhat confused and destabilized by how quickly Brian Jean can come full about in his duckspeak.

    • carlosbeca says:

      🙂 🙂 🙂

      That is Brian Jean right there. Someone gave him that sentence and he does not know which one he stands for.

      Good one – I love it. What better opposition could we ask for? Are we not so lucky?

      • Carlos, I shake my head when I listen to Brian Jean. He’s pretty inarticulate for a lawyer and if his piece in the Herald is any indication his powers of reasoning could be improved as well.

      • carlosbeca says:

        Oh my goodness I did not know he was a lawyer. That is hard to believe but then again it could have been a diploma with the 3Rs like Einar suggested. That is hard to believe – a lawyer?

    • “Duckspeak”. What a good way of putting it GoinFawr. Today’s question period featured more WR MLAs bashing the government for not supporting pipelines. They admitted that the government doesn’t build pipelines but said it must influence other governments to accept pipelines (but once again failed to suggest how this could be accomplished). It reminded me of a comment made by Brenda Kenny, the head of the pipeline lobby group CEPA. She talked about the need for the industry to work collaboratively on policy objectives that are important to Canadians (as opposed to telling them “it’s the economy, stupid” I presume). She also said “unabashed cheerleading isn’t necessary or necessarily helpful.” It would be a good idea for Mr Duckspeak to touch base with Ms Kenny before he goes too much farther down this rah rah path.

  11. Carlos Beca says:

    Well I could not ignore this bit of information
    ‘On Monday at the G20 meeting in Turkey, Russian President Vladimir Putin said intelligence data from his country shows IS has received financing from individuals in 40 countries, INCLUDING MEMBERS OF THE G20 LARGEST ECONOMIES, which he didn’t publicly identify.’

    If you want to read the whole article here it is

    http://albertapolitics.ca/2015/11/brad-walls-call-to-block-refugees-from-syria-is-just-more-of-the-same-old-conservative-wedge-politics/

    Now I like the comment David has at the end of his post
    ‘ One would think this claim would be a major news story, but so far not a single mainstream media outlet in the entire West appears to have reported it’

    I wonder why?

    Have a nice day !

    • Very good article Carlos, thank you. The deceitfulness of governments never ceases to amaze me. I’m reading a book called Secret Wars about MI5 and MI6. It covers 100 years of spycraft in the UK, Europe, Israel, the US and Canada. It says in the early stages of the Iran/Iraq conflict, Donald Rumsfeld, acting as Ronald Reagan’s special envoy, gave Saddam NSA satellite images of Iran’s battlefield deployment and licenses that allowed Iraq unfettered access to America’s arsenal of germ and chemical warfare. Saddam was only supposed to use this stuff for defense but he used it to attack the Kurds. No wonder the US was convinced Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. They gave it to him.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Susan I hate to tell you but Americans have their hands as dirty as they can be. They did as they pleased around the world. All the time pointing their fingers to their best competitors, the Russians. The consequences of it all are to me the biggest crime against humanity and still they walk as if they are the personification of morality.
        We are now shaken up by the fact that 130 Parisians were murdered by terrorists. In Iraq alone 130 thousand is the low estimate of people that died. 3 million displaced from their homes. A country is probably lost forever and we get Tony Blair and George Bush walking around as if nothing has happened. We are indeed different classes of citizens in this planet. I do not remember any moment of grief or respect for the 130 thousand that died in a war that was a ‘mistake’.

  12. Chris says:

    “…other than low taxes, low royalties and weak environmental regulations (how’s that working for you?) he doesn’t have a clue.”

    Weak environmental regulations? As compared to what? If you are going to make this statement, back it up. I hear this on occasion and quite frankly, its bull. If you look at any credible source, Alberta’s regulations are some of the most stringent in the world. Now if you wanted to make the point that enforcement is below par, that argument may be valid. And the government could and should buckle down on the AER if that is the case. While other producers operate with very little regulation, Alberta has been in the spotlight for a number of years for its “Dirty” oil. Which has been proven to not be the dirtiest oil in the world. The AER CEO wants to strengthen regulation not because they are weak, but because it is in the best interests of Alberta remain a leader. And not only does the AER take important steps to continuously improve its operation, but so do the companies in the province. Spending hundreds of millions every year on everything the reclamation, improving efficiency, environmental research and development, safety etc, on their own.

    If you want to someone to compare Alberta to, look at Texas. NO income tax, and NO corporate tax, yet Texas boasts a flourishing DIVERSE economy. Much of that diversity moved over from California, a very democratic state go figure.

    There are some facts for you.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Chris if you agree that it is valid that enforcement is a joke then what are the regulations good for? It is probably true that our regulations are cosmetically pretty but if nothing is done about it, the reality is…….. we do not have any regulations to speak about.
      Yes Texas is great and it is warm so I wonder why people with your mind set does not move there? I mean no income tax, no corporate tax, no ……… what else? Just wondering.

      • Carlos, I think we both agree that Alberta’s regulations are not the best in the world. The Environmental Performance Index for 2014 ranked Canada 24 out of 178 countries. While Canada ranked ahead of the USA (33) it was well behind Australia (3) and Norway (10). Here’s the link: http://epi.yale.edu./epi

    • Einar Davison says:

      I believe Susan was making a statement about the Wildrose party that they seem to say that pretty much the government should get out of the way of the oil companies and let them do whatever they want and we should be grateful when they do something nice for Alberta. Please Susan correct me if I’m wrong.

      Texas does collect taxes, I just looked at the State Comptrollers Office where it says they collect 60 different taxes including a goods and use tax. You can call it whatever you want whether it is a toll road, a user fee, a private insurance premium but stuff still costs money, roads cost money, schools cost money, hospitals cost money. Canadians have just decided that health care is better provided by the public purse. I have American cousins who would kill for our health care, because even with “Obamacare” they still pay a lot for healthcare because private profit takes precedence over providing affordable healthcare.

      Your opinion about California wasn’t backed by any fact, in fact many of the worlds most advanced producers of technology are still based in California and many of the Texas technology companies have been swallowed up by those California companies. The Wildrose party has said that Alberta’s attempt to diversify in the past was a failure and that Alberta should focus on Oil and Gas and Agriculture. That is a narrow minded view and does little to serve Alberta in the future.

      The problem with the last time was the government had some very highly publicized failures such as Swan Hills, Novatel (which by the way is still operating) and that Magnesium processing plant by High River. Swan Hills wasn’t mobile and other provinces weren’t too crazy about the risk of shipping toxic waste. Novatel which produced the first real cellphone technology failed because the government and Nova had no will to continue to fund R & D to keep their technology competitive. However Novatel still makes hi tech products for the military market. The only real failure was the Magnesium processor and that is because Alberta has no magnesium. Wrong choices were made as to “implementation” and not necessarily the business case. Also anyone who actually has some business experience knows that businesses and start-ups fail frequently and Venture Capitalist traditionally invest in 10 opportunities knowing that 1 will succeed. I think this government has stated they will let the lenders and experts do the investing and the government will just oversee but not interfere.

      Also lets look at some of the other “diversification” strategies that worked well. We have a province that has the highest number of people that have completed post secondary education and trades training mainly because of an investment in higher education. We also have some of the best transportation infrastructure in the world (a little worn because Klein decided it was more important to pay off the debt at the expense of our infrastructure) That occurred during the Lougheed years where we had a Premier with a long term vision. All those investments have paid our Alberta economy dividends.

      The problems began when the PC’s fell in love with being government and started building a machine to ensure they remained in power. They forgot that as government they need to serve the best interest of Albertans and sometimes that means making hard choices. They used resource revenue to subsidize taxes, to keep the “little people” happy. They gave the resource industry a super deal where they didn’t have to pay royalties until their capital investment had been recovered. In the real world, people take chances and make capital investments up front and recover that while they earn revenue from the beginning. Maybe if the resource industry had to make logical investments, our cost of production would be a lot cheaper right now. It wasn’t too long ago when that cost was $30 per barrel. However when the government gives you a break it doesn’t matter how much it costs, you just keep spending more to make money faster.

      Your final assertion about AER is great and yes we have some tough regulations. However we also have higher levels of pollution in Alberta than in many places. Not too long ago there was the report that said Red Deer had higher levels of airborne pollution than what they should have. I also know a sculptor who stated that in Alberta outdoor sculptures need to be coated as there is so much sulphur particulate in the air that it will corrode sculptures. We still generate more carbon and granted the oil patch has gotten better. We are doing better, but we should always try to be better. The Wildrose would happily have us do nothing.

      Most of the oil companies in Alberta are global or multi-national companies. When the last barrel of oil or the last gigajoule of gas is not worth extracting they will move to the next greener pasture and we Albertans will be left with what a province that may be an environmental mess. A good example is that many oil companies don’t abandon wells drilled in the 50’s 60’s and 70’s because they know some nasty stuff including radioactive isotopes have been tossed into mud pits and sumps and that it will cost them a small fortune to clean up. So some of us want to be able to live here after that happens and that means we always need to be trying to get better. I think most of us would be okay if that is even just a little better every year. Remember that the oil patch shut Alberta down during the Stelmach administration not only for royalties but because of the carbon program.

      My final thought is this. Maybe we need to be looking at every barrel of oil and every gigajoule of gas we extract as being potentially the last. It is a non-renewable resource, which means when it is gone, it’s gone. The resources of the province belong to Albertans and we need to get the most we can for them. The resource industries have had an easy ride for a long time, now it’s time for reality to balance it back in Albertans favour. There is always the spectre too, that somewhere in the laboratories of the world the next energy source is being developed which will displace oil and gas as the primary energy as surely as O & G displaced coal. The Wildrose is only interested in today, when we all need to be thinking further into the future. My apologies for a long reply but I felt I needed to reply to Chris.

      • Excellent response Einar, let me add one more comment to the discussion about abandoned wells and reclamation. The Orphan Wells Association is funded by industry to deal with abandoned wells. Unfortunately the number of abandoned wells jumped from 164 in 2014 to 704 this year. If the OWA’s reclamation fund runs dry like it did in 2009, the Alberta government will have to top it up (in 2009 the government paid the OWA $30 million). The issue of reclamation is even more serious with the oilsands. Oil companies have to put up financial security for reclamation before they get the permits they need to operate. Alberta is holding $1 billion in security today. Estimates put the cost of reclamation closer to $10 to $15 billion. If oil prices stay low and multi-national companies decide to focus on more profitable fields elsewhere, one scenario they’ll have to consider is whether they’ll let their Canadian subsidiaries default on their obligations which will shift the burden of reclamation on to the Alberta tax payers.

  13. anonymous says:

    We’ve got to have some music on the new frontier.

  14. Very nice anonymous, very nice.

  15. Sam Gunsch says:

    re: politicians, post-truth, political journalism, Brian Jean, Donald Trump, Rob Ford

    Given the issues you raise in the post, I think Jay Rosen’s thoughts on the media response to Trump might be of interest to you and your readers at this blog.

    Links below to his most recent post on Trump and the media and ‘facts’, and a couple of links to previous treatments.

    He’s the best I’ve found so far at explaining what’s going on, how it’s getting worse, and some of the USA journalism attempts to respond.

    http://pressthink.org/2015/11/i-will-try-to-explain-why-the-trump-candidacy-has-been-so-confounding-to-our-political-press/

    http://pressthink.org/2012/08/youre-not-entitled-to-your-own-facts-vs-thats-your-opinion-kiss-my-ad/

    http://pressthink.org/2010/06/fixing-the-ideology-problem-in-our-political-press-a-reply-to-the-atlantics-marc-ambinder/#p10

  16. Sam Gunsch says:

    RW post-truth politics in USA. Maybe just change the names for AB?

    Excerpt below.

    http://grist.org/politics/2011-04-28-policy-in-an-age-of-post-truth-politics/

    David Roberts
    excerpt:

    ‘In short, Republicans have mastered post-truth politics. They’ve realized that their rhetoric doesn’t have to bear any connection to their policy agenda. They can go through different slogans, different rationales, different fights, depending on the political landscape of the moment. They need not feel bound by previous slogans, rationales, or fights. They’ve realized that policy is policy and politics is politics and they can push for the former while waging the latter battle on its own terms. The two have become entirely unmoored.

    So it’s not that they “moved right” on some policy spectrum when Obama took office. They just adopted a new political strategy, namely total, unremitting, hysterical oppositionalism. Mitch McConnell accurately foresaw that it was the only thing that could revive the battered party after 2008, and it has paid off richly. Conservatives are becoming less reticent about voicing their real agenda, but the agenda itself never changed.’

  17. Thanks for these links Sam. Very interesting…and unnerving. What bothered me the most was the comment that fact checking wasn’t enough, politicians continue to use the lie even after it’s been exposed as a lie because it gets votes. One would think that a voter would pull his support from a candidate who tells whopping big lies, but Donald Trump’s continuing success in the Republican race indicates this isn’t the case.

    • Einar Davison says:

      I’m finding that people especially those who are too ideologically fixed, it doesn’t matter about facts, they believe in what they believe in and can’t see any other point. I find it laughable that the Wildrose keep saying they want to “help” the government and that they want to work together, but the help they want to give is “do what we want then everything will be fine”. Though should the Alberta government foolishly do what they want somehow the Wildrose will say, that wasn’t what they wanted, or it didn’t go as far as they would have wanted. I believe our current government would be open to finding a balance where a compromise makes for better laws. However the Wildrose is only interested in power and not compromise. So if they are not willing on moving their position to finding common ground how can we ever deal with them. I guess the same thing will happen to them as what has happened in the US with the Republicans, they will have nailed down their base but have nothing in common with the center who they need to win. Right wing politics is failing in Alberta and the last hold out is rural Alberta, but how long will it be before most rural people would like to have a seat at government as opposed of making a lot of noise that gets very little attention.

      Totally off topic, but doesn’t Brian Jean kind of remind you of Dennis the Menace? I have this vision of him with a slingshot tucked in his bib overalls, going around driving people crazy.

  18. Einar, you’ve summed up the situation here in Alberta very nicely. One can only hope the hardcore WR base doesn’t get any bigger. I haven’t followed the furor over Bill 6 (OH&S, WCB, for farm workers) closely but it seems to have gone off the rails. One farm woman was quoted in the paper saying the government can’t tell how to keep her kids safe. For some reason the governments in every other province can implement such laws but a vocal group of Alberta farmers reject it. I understand the consultation process may have been flawed though so that could have fanned the flames even more. In any event the WR are having a field day.
    And yes, now that you mention it Brian Jean does look a little like Dennis the Menace. Perfect description!

    • Einar Davison says:

      I think the roll out of the bill was maybe not done well and the WR jumped on that with both feet and others unfortunately joined in. If anything I believe the NDP is probably way more supportive of the family farm than farmers really know. However the question is…what is a farm? A feedlot I believe is considered a farm, a Hutterite Colony is a farm, a farm over 10,000 acres is a farm. Each of these has different labour requirements. When I farmed I was a one man operation and I did everything myself. Someone with over 10,000 acres needs workers because they can’t farm that much land alone.

      When I was a kid I did my farm chores and got an allowance from my dad for helping and depending on the year it might have been pretty small. There aren’t that many of those farms left and really with how the industry is, those farms are pretty much a lifestyle farm where people work off farm to keep them going. From what I read in the information on Bill 6, the government isn’t going to tell you your kids can’t help on the farm, it is more concerned with large operations that are “farms” in name only but still treats their employees as the old style farm help. Those are the ones who may drive a tractor 16 hours a day for two weeks straight, or do other things that normal workers wouldn’t have to do under the labour code. I feel for the small farmer because I was one, but I’m sorry the big operations need to be responsible and admit they are businesses and not “farms” in the traditional sense and step up and play by the rules.

      However the Wildrose gets everyone fired up thinking “that damn Rachel Notley wants to destroy the family farm” and rather than try to find the facts out people just believe what comes out of the WR as the god given truth. Ignorance is really hard to fight!

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Einar thank you for the clarification. I did not know these details. Personally I think this jumping quickly to destroy is not a surprise at all. Being the NDP they have to be more careful that ever because the right has all the tools to just go at them so that they can make people distrust anything they do. Rachel Notley as far as I am concerned has shown more class and quality then all of the last 5 PC premiers together but she will be a target from the time she wakes up to when she goes to bed at night. People like Bryan Jean want nothing but destroy her reputation no matter what.

      • Einar Davison says:

        Carlos,you are right the meanness is just outrageous and so unlike what I grew up with. That meanness isn’t the Albertan that I grew up with. Some of the stuff people are saying is just so rudeness. That woman who was singing “Ol MacDonald” well that just shows that because you have the capability of being a jerk globally doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

        Again I ask though what is a farm, even though now that the NDP has clarified they are not going after small farmers, well that doesn’t seem to be good enough because now it’s “Kill Bill 6” even though many of the protesters feel that there should be some protection for farm workers. Still my “old buddy” Derek Fildebrandt gets up in the Leg and says “it’s unanimous farmers want to Kill Bill 6”. So maybe the Wildrose and Derek Fildebrandt doesn’t really care as much about the “family farm” as they do for the larger commercial agriculture operation that employs workers but still wants to be labelled a “family farm”. The ones who filled the Wildrose coffers during the last election.

        As we know Mr. Fildebrandt is quite the showman, always loving to make a spectacle. I can only wonder when he’s going to jump out with his samurai sword to “Kill Bill”. I’m not a NDP supporter but as far as a party that is trying to be more fair to all Albertans something we haven’t had for 20 years the NDP have shown their willingness and ability to be fair. Whereas the Wildrose just wants to return us to where things back to the glory days of Ralph Klein. The days where it was all about paying debt off, but completely ignoring the management of the province. I’ll take Rachel Notley any day…I don’t miss Ralph Klein!!!

        Sorry for the rant.

  19. Carlos Beca says:

    Einar I agree with you. The real issue is that politics is no longer about us and citizenship and making our home better. Politics is now a showmanship and like you I agree that of all of them Rachel Notley is in a class apart.
    The issue is not the farm workers. The issue is who is going to win whether the bill is approved or not and who is going to be the toughest. Unfortunately I also know that the government does not seem to have done a good job in having more real input from the family farm people. This is not surprising because even the NDP, in my opinion is a little about ‘we at the top know it all’ then the real consultation of those who do the work and those who are real farmers and not all the experts sitting at their offices somewhere even outside of Alberta. I have great respect for intellectuals and even the self acclaimed experts but they are not the only voices.
    Like you I would choose Rachel Notley and the NDP anytime over the PCs and Wildrose.
    Brian Jean does not think in my opinion, he just wants the right wing to be in and MacIver does not seem to be able to think anyway.
    Ralph Klein is a myth. All he did was to cut and destroy the civil service and even at that the cuts were very badly done. He publicly insulted teachers and nurses and the public service because he had the power to. He even insulted homeless people and handicapped people. Somehow the voices of ‘this is alright to do’ prevailed at the time. He was lucky to have the greatest advance of oil prices ever and so after his first year it was just paying bills with lots of money.

  20. Einar and Carlos you make excellent points about a number of important issues: what does Bill 6 really say, what is a “farm”, what happened with the “consultation process” and why did it backfire so badly. No one should be surprised that the WR jumped on NDP’s missteps and inflamed the farmers, but the issue now is how should the NDP respond. As Carlos says this has turned into a political football about which party “won”, the NDP for getting the Bill through the Legislature or the WR for stopping it or slowing it down. I need to look at this issue more carefully but at this point I’m thinking the NDP may need to pause to ensure that the consultation process really is consultative going forward. Just my initial thoughts.

    • carlosbeca says:

      Your initial thoughts are, in my opinion, absolutely right. The NDP should know by now that just creating laws without being as full proof as possible is a big mistake.
      The Wildrose is not interested at all in doing anything but finding a political football and if possible one that will destroy the government incrementally. I fully understand that they do not have a lot of time and Rachel Notley is not one to be micromanaging people, but they have to create a process that will insure that whatever comes out is as close as possible to what they represent as a government. This farm bill seems to have missed the main point of it which is ‘FARM’. So you put a bill together about agriculture and the farm in its different forms is missed!!!! Hmmm sorry that does not sound very smart to me.
      I can imagine the pressure and I am not just simply criticizing. I want the government to do well and I know that their ideas will take us to a position better than where we were heading. I also know that it is easy to criticize but I do it because I believe that we have to change and despite the fact that I would certainly not do any better, I want to make sure that people as smart as Rachel Notley get our push to move forward. The world needs a sustainable, caring and cooperative attitude to move to the next level and these people like Rachel Notley are the leaders that are creating that wave that is now forming all around the world.

      • Einar Davison says:

        I think the problem was how it was communicated. I think it was just first year government lack of experience and I think the NDP should do what they say they are going to do, ignore the rhetoric and learn from the mistake. Next time their Bill roll out will be much better. The NDP are not wrong on the legislation and it’s about time that the larger operations that have employees are treated like any other employer. Being government makes you a target. We have a saying about Fire Chief’s If people aren’t mad at you, your not doing enough. Alberta “Farmers” will vote for the NDP when they get tired of not having a say in government, until then they will be bitter and unhappy. It didn’t take oil companies long to realize this and I’ll bet there were a few O & G CEO’s at Rachel Notley’s Leaders Dinner. I guess what I am saying is that they don’t like the NDP anyway so there is not much you can do about that but do the right thing and take your lumps.

        As I’ve said previously I bet the Notley government cares more about the family farm than the Wildrose does. The WR’s idea of what a family farm is, is what their largest agriculture donors believe a farm is. The fact there are smaller farmers involved in the protest just gives the Wildroses intentions an air of legitimacy, but believe me the Wildrose doesn’t care about small farmers. The CWB ensured the playing ground was fair for all farmers and the Wildrose glories in its demise. There are tons of other examples.

        In the end the legislation should be about saving lives and reducing unnecessary injuries and deaths and farming deaths can be really horrible. A kid who is still in elementary school shouldn’t be driving a four wheel drive tractor. My dad let me run the garden tractor mowing grass before I was allowed to drive tractors and I wasn’t allowed to drive the real tractors until I turned 14 even though I begged him. He felt that farm parents letting their elementary age kids drive heavy equipment were being just irresponsible parents and I dare anyone to say he was wrong. However really it isn’t about that, it is about really large commercial operations who want to be called farmers so they can take advantage of farmers “special status” because they are too cheap to pay WCB premiums. That won’t win me any friends, but it is those people who are ruinning it for the small farmer, because we all know that regulations aren’t written for the majority of the people who do the right thing, they are written for those who take advantage of the system so they can make a few extra dollars. Maybe the people who are protesting the most are for the first time being told they have to be responsible and no one has ever told them that before. Anyway that is just my thoughts. People would say I’m not a farmer any more and I should keep my mouth shut, but really they know I speak the truth.

  21. carlosbeca says:

    Einar I fully understand what you mean and I absolutely agree with you. I know little about farming but I know enough to understand your point.
    I have no doubts that the NDP cares more about our farmers than the Wildrose party.

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