The Country is Broken!

Just when Albertans thought things couldn’t get any worse, Jason Kenney declared the country was broken.

What? Did Trumpism seep across the border while we were sleeping?

Canada survived the FLQ Crisis and the War Measures Act, the bitter negotiations over the repatriation of the Canadian Constitution, and the Quebec referendum on national sovereignty where the “No” vote carried the day with a slim 50.6%; and now we’re being told Canada is broken because a jurisdictional dispute over a pipeline project may not be resolved before an arbitrary deadline set by the pipeline proponent.



“Canada is broken”

Canada is “broken” because…

If the breathless headlines are to be believed this is a relatively recent event.

We weren’t broken 11 weeks ago when Alberta announced a boycott of BC wines.  We weren’t broken six and a half weeks ago when BC said it would put a reference question to the BC courts asking whether it could stop the flow of bitumen and diluted bitumen from Alberta into BC.  And we weren’t broken on April 6 when Prime Minister Trudeau toured the oil sands and Suncor CEO Steve Williams said he was reassured by Trudeau’s commitment to the pipeline and the environment.

Those events were simply governments doing what governments do.

However, on April 8 Kinder Morgan announced it was suspending discretionary spending on the Trans Mountain expansion so it could consult with stakeholders and reach an agreement by May 31 that would allow the expansion to proceed.

And just like that Canada snapped like a twig! 

The Alberta and federal governments responded quickly.  Alberta whipped out Bill 12, legislation that would require companies exporting energy out of the province to get an export license (potentially reducing the flow to BC).  The Feds promised to enact legislation saying…well…no one is quite sure what it will be saying, presumably something to the effect that an interprovincial pipeline really is an interprovincial pipeline that falls under federal jurisdiction.

Look, we all understand that governments need to be seen to be doing something when the public is demanding that they do something even if there’s not much they can do under the circumstances.

However, there’s a difference between using all the tools in your toolbox (to quote an oft-repeated phrase) to resolve a situation and irresponsibly ratcheting up the rhetoric by telling everyone that the country going to hell in a handbasket.

Get a grip

The OMG (!!!) headlines focus on three things:  court decisions, pending legislation, and Kinder Morgan’s May 31 deadline.

The TM expansion has been the subject of numerous court challenges, all of which have failed.  The only court case that matters is the one brought by several First Nations who’ve appealed the NEB’s decision on the grounds of inadequate consultation and infringement of existing rights.  The Federal Court of Appeal has heard the case and a decision is expected shortly.

If the Federal Court of Appeal agrees with the First Nations or the decision is not out before May 31, Kinder Morgan may abandon the project and the legislation proposed by Alberta and the Feds won’t make any difference, however if Alberta and the Feds put enough money on the table to “de-risk” the project, Kinder Morgan may stick around.

The fact that the First Nations exercised their right to appeal the NEB’s decision and that the BC government wants a court to rule on the limits of its jurisdictional authority may be frustrating to Kinder Morgan and its stakeholders, but this is how things work in a democratic country that supports the rule of law.

The rule of law does not wither in the face of arbitrary deadlines and our democratic institutions are not props to be brushed aside by he who yells loudest.

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52 Responses to The Country is Broken!

  1. Brunswick says:

    Kinder Morgan, has twice, raised fullfunding for the Pipeline. Once, with a shares issue in the US by the Parent Company,

    A second time, with an IPO in Canada as they “spun off” their Canadian operations as a “Canadian Company”.

    As one would expect from a former Enron Division, both fundings were used to pay down Corporate debt and issue Executive Bonus’s.

    It would be quite humourous, were they not angling now, for a Taxpayer bailout.

    • Brunswick, I like Nikiforuk, but I think he overplayed his hand in this article and this impacts his credibility, for example, Richard Kinder is indeed rich, but he left Enron in 1996, well before it collapsed in 2007. Kinder said he left because Enron wanted to make money trading in energy while Kinder wanted to make money the old fashioned way, by putting steel in the ground. Also from a corporate law perspective it makes sense for the US company to set up a Canadian company to build the Trans Mountain expansion. Securities laws require an issuer to set out the use of funds, the IPO prospectus indicates the $1.7B raised will be used to buy an interest in the Canadian Limited Partnership which in turns holds an interest in business operations which are indebted to the US company so when the deal closed the Cdn company was legally responsible for their debt.
      The big issue for me is safety. KM’s track record is quite good. Since 1961 it’s had 82 spills, 70% of these at pump stations and 30% along the pipeline. It’s been transporting product from the Westridge Marine Terminal since 1956 without any spills. Here’s the link to its spill history
      Here’s the link to the IPO prospectus—amended-restated-preliminary-prospectus-(eng).pdf?sfvrsn=0
      Nikiforuk has addressed many important energy issues in the past, but this article doesn’t convey his message very well.

  2. Ken Durham says:

    This country isn’t broken.
    It’s infested.
    Infested with selfish, greedy, misanthropic far right conservatives and the lazy, indifferent, comfortable people who swallow their lies and allow them to get away with stealing the profits from our labours because they’ve never missed a meal in their lives.

    I think Kenney and his base should try living below the poverty level for a year so they can see what “broken” really is.

    • Ken, I’m taking a course on anti-semitism right now. It said anti-semitism has been around since the dawn of Christianity and it wasn’t until the rise of the Nazis and the horror of the Holocaust that societies, at least in the West, reached a point where it became taboo to engage in anti-semetic behavior. However, with the election of Trump and other dog-whistling politicians who shout “the world is falling apart, I’ll make [insert name here] great again”, it’s becoming “okay” to engage in anti-semetic, racist, sexist and homophobic behaviors under the guise of “free speech”.
      I can’t understand how Kenney can say the country is broken when it’s him and his hardline conservative supporters who are breaking it.

      • Brent McFadyen says:

        You are 100% correct Susan. We must call them out all the time when they start this nonsense . I am sick of Right Wingers trying to turn back the clock and impose their will on the majority of the population. We must frame the question.

  3. Brian says:

    The country is broken thanks to extreme left wing governments like BC’s who don’t respect the constitution. Only Jason Kenney has the true conservative leadership to fix it!

    • Brunswick says:


      So, basically, you want to give $300 million of taxpayers money to Kinder Morgan, for nothing.


    • Brian, I am not aware of one thing Kenney said he’d do to “fix” BC, other than say if you can’t make a deal with Notley “just wait until you’re sitting across the table from me”. What’s he going to do, invoke martial law?
      Harce, actually Kenney did say he would use public dollars to support Trans Mountain. The Apr 10 edition of the Calgary Herald says Kenney “doubled down” on his support for using public dollars to get TMX built and quotes him as saying “I don’t like the idea of putting taxpayer dollars at risk in any kind of private sector venture, but I think these are truly unique circumstances…”
      Brunswick, the U of C economist Trevor Toombe has had a lot to say about putting public dollars behind TMX. He says: “There is no risk to taxpayers if the pipeline is built”.
      My take is if the federal government views TMX as in the national interest and the Alberta government views it as critical to our economic health then why would the taxpayers (federal and provincial who are the same person at the end of the day) balk at supporting it?
      Having said all that I don’t think our economy will fall apart if it’s not built, there are other projects out there like Eagle Spirit that could get bitumen to tidewater.

  4. Small men need big lies to get headlines.

  5. J.E. Molnar says:

    Jason Kenney’s dystopian views notwithstanding, Canada is nowhere near broken.

    The OECD’s Best Life Index for 2016 ranked Canada #5, well ahead of the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, France and the United States. It pains me to watch and read Kenney’s daily diet of misdirection, misinformation and hyperbole. Parroting Donald Trump at every opportunity likely won’t end well for Kenney. In fact, four UCP MLAs recently decided to resign and not seek re-election in 2019. What does that signal to voters about Jason Kenney’s leadership style?

    • Ken Durham says:

      Jason Kenney says “With their departure, I am encouraged by the calibre of candidates our party is attracting, which I believe will reflect the diversity of today’s Alberta.”

      “The 25-member United Conservative caucus currently includes 23 men and two women.”
      So by Kenney’s logic the definition of the word “diversity” has been revised to mean ‘a conglomeration of like minded bootlicks who rally under the dogwhistle of hatred towards women, “the gays”, and those with an excess of melanin’?

      Also, 2 women? It never ceases to amaze me how some femmes will betray their own gender for personal gain. Or is it that Leela Aheer and Angela Pitt are beyond stunningly ignorant and are simply not intelligent enough to realize their are token members of the UCP caucus and may also be highly masochistic?

      I can’t wait to see how many of the new MLA’s will be sporting swastika tattoos.

      • Ken, I agree with you that these departures are a wake up call to all Albertans. For example Wayne Drysdale backed Richard Starke for the PC leadership. Starke refused to join the UCP when he lost, but Drysdale said he was going to take a wait and see attitude, hoping to get greater clarity on the UCP when their policies came out in February. He also said he was “worried it doesn’t go extreme right”. He defined “extreme right” as not accepting people’s personal choices “whether it’s sexual or religious or education.” Well, now it’s April, there are still no UCP policies but lots and lots of examples of the UCP being hostile to “people’s personal choices” which I suspect is why Drysdale is leaving.
        Bottom line: I agree with your prediction that the new MLAs will be more hard right than their predecessors.
        Here’s the link to the Drysdale story:

    • J.E. You nailed it when you said Kenney is parroting Donald Trump at every turn…misinformation and lies worked for Trump and apparently are working for Doug Ford as well. One can only hope the majority of Albertans will realize they don’t want to be represented by a single white male who thinks the only issue of concern to anyone, men, women, LBGTQ, racial minorities, is the economy. As a federal MP Kenney had to focus on one portfolio at a time, as a premier he’d have to see the big picture, the economy, the environment, public health, education, social issues, plus Alberta’s relationship with the other provinces and the feds. He’s not capable of making the leap.

  6. david says:

    I couldn’t agree more Susan! We have ignored First Nations rights for many decades and, once again, the Supreme Court is needed to settle whether the process was faulty. That’s why it’s there and the hype from the UCP is very consistent with their political aspirations.

  7. Shelley J says:

    Thank you for another clear, nuanced exposition of a complex issue.

  8. Ken Durham says:

    As an NDP supporter, a man who believes in science and therefore global warming, and the need to transition to renewable energy in a logical and financially viable manner I apologize for being forced to use the Sun as a source, but I am tired of seeing my fellow lefty’s constantly spewing half-truths that actually cause harm to their view.

    The trans-mountain pipeline is a necessity. We have been selling our mineral wealth to the US for much less than market value and have made the Koch brothers the wealthy monsters they are today because of it.
    While we still rely on bitumen and the oilfield in Alberta, we need to end our reliance on corrupt trade with the US and reach the growing markets in Asia.

    By protesting this pipeline but not the Keystone, you are supporting US global terrorism and their war based economy.
    We are better than that.
    You are better than that.
    Stop parroting simplistic environmental propaganda, because it actually comes from the people you see as the enemy.
    That’s right, many of the environmental groups protesting in Canada are funded by US interests in order to devalue our bitumen and to ensure it doesn’t reach the coast, but continues flowing south.

    • Brent McFadyen says:

      Thank you for this Ken. It is refreshing to see a logical response on this issue. We should always strive to reduce emissions but realistically it will take decades.It will require a complete overhaul of how we operate in ways to energy usage.

    • Well said Ken. The Globe published an interview with James Hansen, a former NASA scientist and one of the first scientists to point out the dangers of man made climate change. He’s critical of governments that drag their feet, the fossil fuel industry for spreading disinformation about the reality of climate change, scientists who don’t communicate about the issue (they say it’s not their job to connect the dots between science and policy) and environmentalists who are stubborn and unrealistic. We are all responsible for this situation and we all need to play a part in solving it, but slamming the door shut on TMX without putting in place a realistic transition plan is foolhardy.
      Here’s the link to the Hansen interview

  9. Brent McFadyen says:

    Never let lies , half truths go unchecked thank you so much Susan for holding holding politicians to account. We cannot let the progressive agenda be derailed.

    • Brent, I liked your comment about not letting lies and half truths go unchecked. The idea that it’s OK to say nasty things about women, minorities, LBGTQ people, etc under the guise of free speech creates a toxic society.
      The other day my daughter was on a sidewalk at an intersection when a cabbie honked at the car ahead of it. Three burly men, a woman and a baby in a stroller were on the sidewalk close to the cab. They started screaming racial slurs at the cabbie and one guy yelled “That’s why I’m a f*cking racist!”
      This is nuts. We may not be able to call everyone on racist behavior all the time (personal safety is a factor), but we can’t let politicians create an environment where people think they are justified in exhibiting racist behavior.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Brent I agree with you but if the progressive agenda is the one we have had for the last 30 years, it means very little if anything will be done. We as a country have been a fiasco in emission reduction since Jean Chretien who by the way did absolutely nothing.
      Furthermore you are assuming that we have decades to fix this problem.
      I hope you are right.

  10. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Canada is not broken. Jason Kenney and his ilk are using fearmongering and misinformation to rile people up. What would he do if he were in a position to do something? Oh wait…., he was in that position before, while in the federal government, and what did he do? Nothing. Is he in the federal government or in the provincial government? It’s hard to tell.

  11. Dwayne says:

    Susan: What is broken is the UCP party itself. They have no tangible policies, have MLAs who breached ethics rules, they have a party debt, have lost MLAs, and we still have no donors list from Jason Kenney. Alberta is still paying for the major mistakes from the AB PCs, since the Don Getty years. Alberta does not need to go down that road again.

    • Jean Bota says:

      Amen !

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Unfortunately you will see that none of that matters when elections come around. The blame will be all on the NDP and they will move on with or without debt, with or without breached ethics. None of that matters. Just wait and see. Alberta will not change that fast. The Oil influence is too great to push aside.. Just look at Rachel Notley. In a matter of months she is already a pipeline saleswoman. Now I question – does she have a choice?
      I personally think so but you need to also have courage and long term vision which means Jason Kenney will be all over you and make sure you lose the elections to his brilliant vision of a coal / oil / climate change Armageddon which is right up his alley. He will have salvation in the second coming of his God.

      • Carlos: that’s an interesting question, does she have a choice. I think she’s going as fast as she can given that she’s trying to govern in Alberta. I hope she gets a second term to show us what she can really do. By then the pipeline fight will be behind us (one way or another) and she can focus on fixing our fiscal structure which is overly reliant on revenue from fossil fuels. Oddly enough, Kenney is still castigating her for not doing enough to save the oil sands, can you imagine what would happen if she suggested it might be time for Albertans to pay a sales tax. Kenney would go through the roof.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Susan I agree that Jason Kenney would go through the roof but you know what — there are times that are crucial to change and a good politician has to be able to understand those moments. This is where I think Rachel Notley fails horribly. She missed changing the voting system and the renewal of our democratic system (she has a minister for that – what is she doing?) – she missed doing something about the deficit and she is too involved in the pipeline business instead of looking for alternatives that are out there both in the oil industry and in the renewable resources. Let him go through the roof maybe he will brake his head for good.
        Changing Light bulbs is nothing really – she is willing to spend 7.5 billion to buy the pipeline so invest the same amount in other opportunities.

        I do not blame her of course, I can imagine the work load but she definitely has no political astuteness. I thought she did when she had the debate with Prentice but so far that was the only score. She is looking like the Oilers of the last 9 years – she scores when no one is looking.

        Working hard is never the only answer especially when she is facing a person like Jason Kenney that has only one objective – to destroy her. Let him explode in rage and calmly move forward. She has the majority. Let him implode in rage and disagreement. Do what is right.

      • Carlos, I think Notley is looking for the balance between pushing too hard and not hard enough. She’s made a lot of headway on the social side of her agenda with $25/day daycare, GSAs, new hospitals, etc, I’m not too fussed about the deficit because Alberta’s debt to GDP ratio is still the best in the country, I will be watching closely to see how she handles the Trans Mountain pipeline. If Alberta acquires an equity position (it doesn’t need to buy 100%) it could end up with a nice regulated rate of return for many years to come. Whatever happens I’m firmly in the “Anyone but Kenney” camp.

    • Dwayne: perhaps the UCP is like the Republican party, unaware it’s broken (kind of like being a zombie). They believe their leaders are infallible. Remember when Kenney promised to disclose his donors list after he won the PC leadership race. He took in $1.5 million and then refused to disclose the entire list because some of the donors said they wanted to remain anonymous. Nothing inspires confidence in a leader who ran without a platform or policies than a bunch of people in the backroom who don’t want their names revealed. (Yes, that was sarcasm).

      • Ken Durham says:

        Although I agree the NDP have done a fine job walking the thin line between too much and not enough, as someone with a lifelong disability forced to retire from my career and live on CPP and AISH, I can say the NDP and specifically Minister Irfan Sabir have completely dropped the ball in support of us, the weakest members of society.
        We are living below the poverty level and the AISH benefit hasn’t seen a cost of living increase in 6 years now.
        CPP has a yearly increase, but AISH claws back every dime. I found out that private employer pension plans are not clawed back by AISH, so it infuriates me that the misanthropic conservative policies like the one to basically steal the CPP benefits I paid into and earned are still in effect.
        I really don’t understand why Mrs. Notley has placed such an incompetent person in the position of Minister of Human Services.
        With all the conservative attention and outrage on the pipeline strawman the NDP could have increased the benefits to a livable level and what conservative, even the most hateful and ignorant, would criticize giving aid to the disabled?

        The main problem I see is Kenney and his bunch of economic morons keep spouting the big scary numbers of the provincial ‘debt’ while ignoring the figure that is the only one of import, and that is the ‘deficit’, which you pointed out is the lowest in Canada and therefore we could be spending one hell of a lot more on social services and infrastructure.

        While I’m ranting I would also like to express how pissed off I am that we don’t have ANY high speed rail infrastructure built anywhere in Canada. Having driven highway 63 to Ft. Mac too many times to count I can’t for the life of me understand why the oilsands companies didn’t build their own high speed rail line to safely transport workers and material there.
        Well, actually I can. Shareholders short term dividends will always take priority over human life and longer term infrastructure investments that would massively increase profits but over a longer period of time.

        I can see an Alberta and a Canada that is a wonderful, advanced society for everyone to live comfortable lives, not just the corrupt elites, but the majority of our countrymen are simply too lazy, passive, and ignorant to think for themselves and stand up to the fear and lies those bastards like Kenney spew.

      • Roy Tinis says:

        Ken Durham, on Aish, I agree 100%. I was hoping at least that they would get rid of the clawback and let us keep the CPP increase every year for their tenure, plus increasing AISH immediately to $1650, but they failed those of us who were already on it. She better come up with some news soon or she gets no support anymore from me.

      • Roy I’m afraid I don’t know much about this issue. Could you bring us up to speed. Who is eligible for AISH? How much do they receive? What’s changed or not changed? Much appreciated.

  12. Danielle L Klooster says:


  13. Graham McFarlane says:

    Spot on! When we start to bypass our constitution and Charter of Rights, then the rule of law has been undermined and the country is truly broken!

    • Precisely Graham! Jason Kenney was a federal MP and cabinet minister since 1997. If he doesn’t understand the connection between the rule of law, the Constitution and the Charter of Rights by now or worse yet, is prepared to ignore it, we’re doomed.

  14. David says:

    Maybe the only thing that really is broken here is the UCP outrage meter. I am sure it has now gone beyond any maximum reasonable capacity.

    Yes, it is frustrating this pipeline stuff drags on, but anyone who was expecting a quick resolution was either not paying close attention to things or a bit delusional, or maybe both. In case anyone was really not paying attention, let me explain in 30 words or less. Basically, the BC minority government is kept in power by 3 Green MLA’s who are opposed to the pipeline and they are not changing their minds, EVER!!. Whether we like it or not, that is the situation. I would say it’s an intractable political situation.

    That being said, there is only so much the BC government can do to frustrate things and it will probably be decided by the courts as politicians in different jurisdictions have different interests and can not seem to come to any agreement. I suppose that is exactly why we have courts, to deal with frustrating and intractable situations and ensure the rule of law.

    Our Prime Minister is not a King or an Emperor that can waive a wand and make all problems magically go away and neither is Kenney for all his huffing and puffing or manufactured outrage. I suspect Kenney may have inadvertently handled Trudeau the best line for his re-election campaign – “Canada is not broken!”. Kenney may have overdone himself this time and that “Canada is broken line” while appealing to some of Alberta’s frustration of the moment, may not age so well in the long run.

    • Excellent summary David. I chuckled at your last point, perhaps Trudeau can use “Canada is not broken” together with “Don’t let Scheer break it” to draw the distinction between the Liberals (party of hope) and the Conservatives (doomsayers). Kenney can augment the conservative message by running around the province telling us we’re broken and only he can “Make Alberta Great Again”. There’s something pathetic, and dangerous, about politicians who try to convince the electorate they’re living a life of misery in order to get elected.

  15. Harce says:

    When Jason Kenney becomes Premier and eventually Prime Minister – we will once and for all be able to fix this country’s leadership deficit.

    • GoinFawr says:

      You mad bro?

      The following is off-topic susan, but I’ve been hearing about (and been witness to) a large increase in the number of ‘road-rage’ incidents on Alberta roadways, and I think I have come up with a explanation that, at first glance, ought to appeal to our dear Harce:

      The blame lies with the NDP gov’t.

      How so? Well, prior to the NDP’s election win the right wing loopies could always deride the strawmen that the former conservatives/wildrose would conjecture about actions an NDP gov’t would take if, god forbid, they were ever elected to office, but since elected the NDP have:
      – provided relief for all those, even oilfield workers, who suffered from the Ft.Mac wildfire
      – managed to get a pipeline approved federally, where the provincial con’s have tried and failed for decades, despite an Alberta con from Calgary being Prime Minister.
      – stood firm beside small businesses in confronting BC’s (also NDP) gov’t on pipelines, and not just in word either, but through concrete actions like boycott’s/legal action

      the above has left Alberta’s always angry, hateful right wing loopies confused as to where to direct their innate sense of always somehow being ‘hard done by’ by ‘socialism’, and so without the old scapegoat on which to vent their political furor their hate builds up to a disgusting head as they cruise the roadways in their land yachts, with the only relief being to violently curse pedestrians, cyclists, or any one running around in something with less than 8 cylinders…otherwise, heaven forbid, they might have to take a look in the mirror for an answer as to where their troubles might be coming from.

      • GoinFawr: funny you should mention an increase in road rage. I’ve noticed it as well. Yesterday my husband and I were going somewhere and the guy behind us got into a lather because we didn’t turn right on the red light…obviously he didn’t see the sign hanging overhead that specifically prohibited right turns on red lights. And today I had lunch with a friend at a restaurant with a patio. We witnessed 3 separate road rage incidents involving some nut leaning on the horn to vent his frustration at a real or imagined slight. I’ve often wondered where this rage comes from. Your hypothesis is as good as any–the rage comes from within. Running around all day in a state of high dudgeon must be extremely tiring. Aren’t you glad we’re not conservatives? 🙂

  16. Jim Lees says:

    It is so much easier to be in the opposition, you can pretty much say anything and not have to follow through and do something.

    Sent from my iPad


    • I agree Jim. I suspect this is one reason why Rachel Notley has adopted a more practical position with respect to the energy industry. It’s one thing to criticize from the sidelines, it’s quite another to do what’s best when you’re in government and have a full picture of everything that’s at stake.

  17. Roy Tinis says:


    AISH has been capped at $1588 for about 6+ years now. Contrary to most Albertan’s popular belief, you cannot waltz down to an AISH office, fill out a form, and the next weekend, you’re on it. It takes months, sometimes even years to get on it. You must have a very good medical reason, illness that prevents you from working, doctor’s reports, sometimes psych reports, specialists reports, etc. The last increase was when Redford hiked it. Politicians get an automatic increase every year, but for us, rents, utils, groceries, etc go up all the time, and nothing. And now there are reports that if Jason Kenney gets in, he wants to rid of AISH completly, throwing 40000-90000 people onto the street. Something needs to get through to politicians and Albertans that we didn’t ask for our disabilities are tirsdag of constantly being blamed for them (right-winger’s favourite term for people on AISH is ‘DIPPER’.
    That’s all for now.

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