An update from the Kenney-channelling-Trump department.
After weeks of flooding the airwaves with demands for an emergency debate on a motion condemning BC’s interference with the Trans Mountain pipeline Jason Kenney finally got a chance to demonstrate what he meant when he called for the government to speak with “one voice” and present a “united front”.
Not surprisingly, the debate turned into Kenney channelling Donald Trump and other bombastic populists.
On March 12 Premier Notley presented this motion to the Legislative Assembly:
Be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly support the government of Alberta’s fight on behalf of Albertans’ interests to ensure the lawfully approved Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is built and be it further resolved that the Legislative Assembly call for the federal government to continue to take all necessary legal steps in support of the pipeline’s construction and be it further resolved that the Legislative Assembly reaffirm its support for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion as a key component of Alberta’s energy future.
The UCP wanted three amendments: (1) strike out “the government of Alberta’s fight on behalf of Albertans’ interests” and substitute “the efforts by the government of Alberta to fight,” (2) strike out “continue to” and (3) add “including putting before Parliament a declaration that the pipeline is in the national interest pursuant to section 92(10)(c) of the Constitution Act, 1867” after “construction.”
Kenney ticked all the populist boxes as he laid out his rationale for these amendments (although “rationale” is a bit of a stretch when applied to Kenney’s rambling diatribe on everything from Pierre Eliot Trudeau’s approval ratings to a hocus pocus valuation of Alberta’s oil reserves).
Unlike Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe, Kenney just couldn’t bring himself throw his unconditional support behind the Alberta government’s fight with BC. So he proposed an amendment to signal the UCP’s “support” for the fight but not for the government.
The amendment was as clear as mud, but it gave Kenney an opportunity to deploy a number of Trump-like arguments to show Notley’s government hadn’t done enough.
Kenney said he “understood” (from whom?) that the NDP had staged a “fake dispute with Victoria” because they didn’t want to get into a serious fight with their BC NDP brethren. To demonstrate his “understanding” was accurate he said: Look! The mayor of Burnaby, the mayor of Vancouver and the BC premier are all NDP! Look! There’s the “NDP’s friend Tzeporah Berman” and “David Suzuki, who was recently paid up to $50,000 by the teachers’ union”. Look! Notley’s “ally” Justin Trudeau is counselled by Gerry Butt, formerly of the World Wildlife Fund and “described as the most powerful and influential person in Ottawa”.
All that was missing was Look! Aliens spotted at Roswell!
Lies and half-truths
Kenney praised the Harper government for building four, count ‘em four, pipelines but failed to acknowledge that not one of these pipelines went to tidewater.
He denounced the Liberal government’s pipeline record saying it vetoed Northern Gateway (wrong, the Federal Court of Appeal said the Harper government failed to properly consult and the project stalled). He said Ottawa didn’t protest Obama’s handling of Keystone (well, Harper was prime minister at the time and his “protest” consisted of saying Obama’s approval was “a complete no-brainer”, Obama was unmoved by the force of Harper’s logic), Kenney said the feds “indirectly” killed Energy East (did they, or did TCPL drop it after Trump approved Keystone XL). He said the feds are doing nothing for Trans Mountain (apparently the unequivocal support of Trudeau and Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr is nothing).
He said Notley did nothing to support Trans Mountain until Kenney was elected in Dec 2017. This ignores the fact that (1) the feds approved Trans Mountain because Notley implemented the Climate Leadership Plan a full year earlier, (2) Notley intervened in support of Trans Mountain’s regulatory applications to prevent the BC government and municipalities from further delaying the pipeline, (3) Notley cancelled power deals worth up to $500 million to BC, (4) Notley imposed a wine boycott which caused BC to withdraw its attempt to control the product flowing in the pipe, and (5) Notley is a strong advocate for pipelines, building support for pipelines in every speech she’s given at home and across the country.
Ignorance or intentional misdirection
Kenney invoked what he snidely referred to as “Constitutional Law 101” in support of the third amendment, arguing the federal government should invoke its power pursuant to Section 92(10)(c) to declare the pipeline to be in the national interest.
Apparently, Kenney is more knowledgeable about constitutional law than Peter Hogg, the government’s constitutional law expert, who literally wrote the book(s) on constitutional law, and other constitutional law experts who say Section 92(10)(c) is irrelevant because the pipeline is already under federal jurisdiction and thus in the national interest.
Rather than learn from Stephen Hawking’s example (Hawking changed his mind about the existence of the unified theory of everything) Kenney refuses to budge from his flawed position, rather like Trump telling Trudeau the US has a trade deficit with Canada when Trump had no idea what he was talking about.
The moral/existential/something-or-other imperative
Kenney topped off his argument for amendments by preaching to the Assembly about Alberta’s moral imperative (if Alberta leaves the oil in the ground, it will be sold to us by bad countries) and the “existential question for Alberta’s prosperity” (based on Kenney’s flawed calculations the oil reserves are worth $11 trillion, Alberta could use this money to pay off its debt and the debt of every province and the federal government–wouldn’t that be a heck of an equalization payment–and provide all the social services we need).
The moral imperative and existential question arguments are based on the assumption Notley wants to leave the oil in the ground. She doesn’t. So Kenney’s allusions to a morally correct existentially prosperous Alberta were irrelevant and misleading.
The final motion
The Legislative Assembly unanimously passed the motion as amended by the second amendment (striking out the words “continue to”). The first and third amendments failed because the first amendment was nothing more than partisan grandstanding and the third amendment was simply wrong at law.
Kenney’s performance in the debate demonstrates his contempt for the legislative process. An emergency debate is not an excuse for a populist pep rally…unless of course you’re a politician like Donald Trump, in which case the words of Bob Barker and all the other carnie hucksters, apply: “Come on down!”
Source: Alberta Hansard, March 12, 2018 starting at page 24
Ms Soapbox your comments comparing Jason Kenney and Donald Trump are so spot on!
Lately, Kenney has morphed into Donald Trump on more than one occasion in the Alberta Legislature, by shamelessly patting himself on the back with his never-ending fits of self-aggrandizement, his flighty bouts of bombast and his unabashed bluster. On occasion the narcism is so thick you can cut it with a knife. It would be funny, were it not so sad.
What has also provided considerable jaw-dropping jocularity is Jason Kenney continually evoking the name of Peter Lougheed ad nauseam — a man whose policies he compared to Joseph Stalin. Have Albertans finally begun to shake their heads in bemusement? Let’s hope so — for the sake of our province.
I am definitely not going to add anything else to what I have already said about Jason Kenney but I think the problem is way more complex than just him.
The state of our democratic process, thanks to years of abuse from politicians, the media and big money is dismal. Jason Kenney knows that very well and that is why he came to Alberta. I remind you that according to latest pools (and they can be manipulated) if we had an election today he would win. This to me is the real problem. We have a tremendous challenge in front of us if we care for our democracy. When the only progressive party in Alberta does not even acknowledge any issues with the system then it becomes almost impossible to think of having the best representing us.
Jason Kenney just like Trump saw the opportunity. Not only there is a total lack of respect for political process but the levels of political/social education and interest in the democratic process is almost non-existent.
Carlos, you make an excellent point about the erosion of the democratic process due to abuse from politicians, the media and big money which allows politicians like Kenney and Trump to flourish. When Kenney spoke in the Legislature he said he hoped that “while we will disagree, we can do it without being disagreeable”. It would have been preferable had he said while they will disagree they would do it without being liars. The abuse you refer to makes lying so easy and when the liar is caught all he has to do is shout “fake news” (eg: Kenney calling Notley’s fight with Horgan the “fake dispute with Victoria”) and his supporters believe him.
I agree J.E. Not only is Kenney as arrogant as Trump, he’s equally clueless. He blasted Notley for “letting” BC draft the reference question; he said she should have helped draft it. Why would she give BC’s position any credibility by participating in the drafting of the question, furthermore why would Horgan let her get anywhere near the question when she’s already made her position crystal clear–any attempt by BC to control what goes into a federally regulated pipeline is unconstitutional. It’s a stupid comment, but Kenney, like Trump, knows much less about the law or province-to-province governing than he lets on.
Perhaps the more ignorant and arrogant parties are the leaders of the Alberta NDP and the leaders of the BC NDP.
Ed, could you elaborate? I see Horgan as truly believing he’s representing the people of BC (although he may not be representing the majority) or trying to hold on to power by appeasing the 3 Green MLAs, or maybe both. I see Notley as trying her hardest to provide services through the oil price crash while at the same time setting the stage for a transition to renewables. What do you see?
Susan..I think most of us are seeing exactly what these two hope we will see. I regard Ms Notley as a leader of a political party who, up until the last Alberta provincial election when she was unexpectedly elected, opposed pipelines that could damage the environment. Now reality has hit and she has set aside, or says she has, that belief.
Mr Horgan had essentially the same belief and opposed anything that could damage the environment and so was opposed to Site C. He got elected and changed his mind and now supports Site C.
My belief is that they support whatever it takes to stay in power and that they both sympathize with each other and will do whatever it takes to stay elected. There’s a lot of trash talk done by both.
You may say that Albertan’s were fully aware of Ms Notleys position before the Alberta election but voted her in anyway so there must be a lot of opposition to pipelines in Alberta. I believe the NDP was the beneficiary of anger directed at the former PC politicians who were in Government and I do believe that anger was greater than than anyone realized.
I think there is a similar situation in BC. The previous Liberal politicians had allowed themselves to become arrogant, particularly the former Premier, so there was a backlash.
I would not be surprised if Horgan and Notley get together now and again very privately to try to figure out a way to get out of this pickle they find themselves in.
I don’t think Notley can pull out. I think the Alberta NDP will be out by May 2019. Horgan has a few years but he also has Weaver weighing him down.
Just my thinking and not really wishful thinking. Our Provinces both need strong leaders and we do not have them. We have greedy little desperate people.
Ed I agree with you that the NDP will be out in the next election and to be honest I am not a big fan of her government, but much less of the scandalous PC governments we have had in the past. When you talk about anger, have you asked why that anger?
Furthermore I do agree with you that both Notley and Horgan are changing their minds to win the next election but name one – I just need one – Alberta premier since Peter Lougheed or for that matter in all of Canada that has not done the same. Accusing Rachel Notley of doing that is to me meaningless because the very reason behind the anger with political parties and even the political process is exactly the dishonesty, arrogance towards citizens.
Do you really believe that a person like Jason Kenney is going to change that?
He is dishonest, a liar and an egocentric even before taking power. You just have to read what he says about others. One of his best ones to me is to call Peter Lougheed a Stalinist
Let us be a bit different and take a look at the issue with a full brain.
Susan: It is typical Jason Kenney grandstanding. Nothing more and nothing less.
That is true and I use Norman Doidge definition I found extremely interesting, I quote
‘Ideologies are substitutes for true knowledge, and ideologues are always dangerous when they come to power, because a simple-minded I-know-it-all approach is no match for the complexity of existence. Furthermore, when their social contraptions fail to fly, ideologues blame not themselves but all who see through the simplifications.’
Pretty much puts in perspective a lot of what is going on lately in the world with people like Trump. Jason Kenney and others.
Carlos, that’s a very helpful definition. Kenney is the master of simplification and today’s social media is an excellent way to deliver overly simplistic messages. I’m waiting for Kenney’s $11 trillion in oil reserves number to be blasted all over the internet. My friends in the industry say this is a ludicrous oversimplification for a number of reasons including (1) Kenney’s valuation is based on what he called the “current global market value” ($60/barrel) which doesn’t apply to bitumen, (2) he hasn’t included the cost of extraction or the fact producers would never dump that much oil onto the market at once and (3) Albertans only get royalties, not the entire amount. So yes, Alberta has significant oil reserves, which just happen to be among the most expensive to produce and transport to global markets, but never mind, the $11 trillion number rolls nicely off the tongue and that’s all an ideological simplistic politician needs to satisfy his supporters.
Dwayne, Kenney’s grandstanding reached the height of silliness when he was talking about the boycott on BC wine. He said he enjoys a good British Columbia Chardonnay “although I’m more of a beer man myself.” Reminded me of Harper dishing out doughnuts at Timmies. A real man of the people.
I am not certain whether Kenney really believes his own bs, although I think he is too clever a politician for that. I suspect he hopes enough voters are gullible and can’t be bothered to fact check and enough reporters are either too lazy or too afraid of him to point out out the untruths. Being in politics for over 20 years, he is a part of the political establishment, unlike Trump who can’t be blamed for anything that happened before him. Kenney was part of a government for years that has a record (for instance, of failing to get pipelines built) and he has made many comments on political issues that are on the record (for instance, a long standing opposition to gay marriage).
However, Kenney seems to be taking the Trump approach to disregard or ignore the truth as much as possible, if it puts him in a better light politically. I think the only defense against such an unprincipled politician who will say or do anything to get power, is to point out as loudly and publicly as possible the many untruths and contradictions he is trying to pull over on the Alberta public.
It is not for the Alberta government to pass motions on what is in the national interest, at best it is grandstanding, at worst it is disingenuous. The Federal government he was a part of seemed to have a slanted interpretation of the constitution that was often not supported by the courts, so his credibility as a constitutional expert is very weak. He is descending to the level of Trump imaginary conspiracy level talk when he goes on about “fake disputes”, without presenting any evidence. Next thing, perhaps he might claim his “wires are being tapped” too or that that the BC governments actions are illegitimate because it is run by a two headed alien. Where will the silliness end? I would prefer a reality based debate.
Gosh David this is perfect. I do not think anything else needs to be said about it.
I fully agree on all points and I know for a fact that that you are right.
The only point I disagree 🙂 is that I do not believe Jason Kenney is clever at all. One does not have to be clever to be devious and that is what I think he is.
Now your suggestion of ‘…is to point out as loudly and publicly as possible the many untruths and contradictions he is trying to pull over on the Alberta public’ is what we need to do before next election – In a website it would be preferable and in the newspapers.
Jason Kenney isn’t clever? I agree. He’s a political genius who will follow in the footsteps of Ralph Klein – cutting unions and socialist spending by 20%+ and paving the way for unbridled prosperity in Alberta once again. Go Premier Jason!