“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:
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.
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.