The Anti-Alberta Energy Inquiry (Thank God for Lawyers)

In his book On Tyranny historian Timothy Snyder sets out twenty lessons from the 20th century to help democracies resist the “the usurpation of power by a single individual or group, or the circumvention of law by rulers for their own benefit.” 

These lessons are as relevant for Alberta as they are for the rest of the world especially given Mr Kenney’s predilection for ginning up his base by creating up a $30M war room, commissioning a public inquiry into “the anti-Alberta energy campaigns” and setting up panels to hear Albertans vent about being short changed by Confederation. 

While all of these activities are concerning, the one that goes beyond the pale is the public inquiry into anti-Alberta energy campaigns.  Why?  Because the other two stunts simply foment anger and division, but the public inquiry may violate the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness. 

This is where Professor Snyder’s lessons on tyranny come in. 

Professional ethics  

Professor Snyder urges professionals to remember their ethical standards:  don’t sit on the sidelines when political leaders act badly; step up to stop politicians from subverting the rule of law. 

Thankfully Alberta’s lawyers and legal scholars have embraced this lesson.    

Doors outside Court of Queen’s Bench

ABlawg is the University of Calgary Faculty of Law blog.  It posts commentary on court and tribunal decisions and legislative and policy development in Alberta and beyond.  Its goal is to foster debate and discussion.  It does not purport to offer legal advice, but its posts are of such caliber that many have been cited by the courts including the Supreme Court of Canada. 

When ABlawg speaks, people listen.  That’s why we need to focus on two recent posts by Professors Martin Olszynski and Shaun Fluker on the “anti-Alberta” inquiry.  Rather that step through these posts in detail (I couldn’t do them justice) I’ve provided a summary of some of the concerns that were raised.*   

First a little background.  The Inquiry was commissioned in early June.  The first phase, the investigative phase, has been running for four months.   The commission will produce an interim report by Jan 31, 2020.  This process is shrouded in secrecy.  The second phase may include a public hearing.  A final report will be issued by July 2, 2020.  The Commissioner is Steve Allen, a forensic accountant. 

Right, let’s examine what Professors Olszynski and Fluker had to say:

  • The Inquiry was commissioned under the Public Inquiries Act.  It must be carried out in good faith and with the proper intent.  The law does not allow the PIA to be used to punish a person for exercising their rights, or arbitrarily and illegally trying to strip them of their rights.  Or to put it another way, the PIA cannot be used in an overtly political way.
  • The Inquiry’s mandate confirms its target is a specific group (Canadian environmental NGOs and others who’ve intervened in hearings or raised concerns) and suggests its findings may lead to adverse consequences for that group, but it’s unclear whether these groups have been afforded the legal right to know and meet the case against them.  This includes the right to counsel, the right to call witnesses, and perhaps to cross-examine other witnesses including Kenney’s favourite researcher Vivian Krause. 
  • The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference are ambiguous because “anti-Alberta energy campaign” is defined as an attempt to delay or frustrate “the timely, economic, efficient and responsible development” of Alberta’s oil and gas resources.  Who’s to say development has been timely, etc when the government has stacks of reports that conclude development has not been timely, etc.  If development has not be timely, etc, then how will the commissioner determine that the target groups have slowed it down?     
  • The Commissioner is directed to consider “misleading or false information”.  Who decides what information is false and misleading in this complex regulatory area?
  • Alberta politicians insist Alberta is a leader in environmental performance but independent expert reports dating back to 2006 raise serious concerns about emissions, land disturbance, reclamation (including tailings ponds and end-pit lakes), cumulative effects and monitoring regimes.

Ecojustice lawyers

The ABlawg posts include references to a letter submitted by Ecojustice lawyers to the commissioner.  They argue a public inquiry must be impartial, but Mr Kenney’s references to a “well-funded political propaganda campaign” to “defame our energy industry and landlock our resources” and his praise for “the valiant research of Vivian Krause” undermine the impartiality of the Inquiry. 

Furthermore, Mr Kenney’s use of the term “anti-Alberta” (which also appears in the Terms of Reference) is pejorative.  Pejorative comments about witnesses or parties to an Inquiry, or the nature of the Inquiry, contribute to a reasonable apprehension of bias because they signal to the public that evidence of wrongdoing is forthcoming. 

Ecojustice says such comments transform the nature of the Inquiry from a fact finding mission to an exhibition of misconduct and are “reminiscent of the darkest days of the activities of the House Un-American Activities Committee.” 

Which brings us to another one of Timothy Snyder’s lessons On Tyranny.   This lesson applies to all citizens not just professionals.  Snyder urges citizens to listen for dangerous words and to “be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.” 

The state of Alberta

Is my concern that Alberta is on the slippery slope to something other than democracy overblown?    

Maybe, but when Mr Kenney responds to a question asking if he’s proceeding with litigation to repeal the federal carbon tax by saying “Our first effort was to get a democratic decision from Canadians—that didn’t happen on the carbon tax.”

 Two-thirds of Canadians voted against the federal Conservative party on Oct 21, 2019.  If that isn’t a democratic decision, I don’t know what is.

But then again Mr Kenney and his supporters appear to think Alberta’s right to elect federal representatives is the same as its right to determine who becomes prime minister. 

*I’ve simplified the legal language and urge readers to read the original posts.    

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39 Responses to The Anti-Alberta Energy Inquiry (Thank God for Lawyers)

  1. Bill Malcolm says:

    Yeah, amazing isn’t it? Kenney seems to think he’s some minor potentate running an independent duchy in the Middle Ages. Anti-Alberta, what a laugh! It’s just a godddam province where the political inhabitants for decades seem to have been mystified that the rest of the country doesn’t see things the same way they do. Rather than trying to understand the other point-of-view and place it in context of the country as a whole, the rest of us have been subjected to harangue, whining and complaining that never goes away, including sending ideologues to Ottawa to straighten us all out. Someone’s paying for this tripe, and one presumes it’s always been the international oil industry. They’re always keen to pump natural resources away as fast as possible for next to nothing by way of royalties, and stealing sovereign resources of the country quickly before anyone changes their mind. Judicious greasing of palms will always snag a pol or two or three, and before you know it the local population is braying the same nonsense as if it somehow makes sense.

    Getting a bit tired of it all. Heavy oil production has gone up 50% since 2010 (read your NEB production pages), so all this talk of crying societal poor just means royalties are too low. Sure, world prices are depressed, but does that mean royalties should be lowered? There’s a message there which is disregarded by Alberta, which is to save for a rainy day. But the response has been to increase production instead, give it away sans much of any royalty and blame everyone else for Alberta’s one-industry plight. And if you disagree, you’re a commie pinko progressive environment-hugging anti-industry Anti-Alberta hunk o’ junk leftie liberal. And CO2 climbs past 415 ppm and the glaciers are melting. Who cares in the land of Kenney? Alberta insists we need more jobs like this poisoning ourselves with 6% of world output already for no remuneration of any significance. Upside down logic but the Western foothills seem to breed this kind of whacked-out logic.

    • Bill, it’s good to get an outsiders view of this. I have three sisters in BC who’ve had it up to the eyeballs with Alberta’s constant griping. They (correctly) point out that if Alberta instituted a provincial sales tax of say 7%, our budget would balance overnight. Why won’t Albertans do that? Because they’re convinced all taxes are bad taxes so god forbid we introduce another one. Having killed the sensible solution they move into victim mode and blame the rest of Canada for a predicament of their own making.
      Roger Epp, a U of A poli sci prof wrote a brilliant article about Alberta separatism in the Globe and Mail. He was a newspaper journalist in 1980 covering a separatist rally. He watched cap-wearing young men shout obscenities and spitting at the lone Edmonton city councillor who stood vigil at the doors of the meeting hall holding a Canadian flag. Oh and they shouted Trump-style three syllable chants “free the West, free the West”. I can tell you this, my husband and I will be standing with our friends at the doors of the town hall meetings Kenney has arranged to allow Albertans to vent their frustration. We will hold our Canadian flags high.
      Here’s the link:

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: When will these town hall meetings be held? Thanks! I will go and speak out. I’m also going to the UCP’s budget meeting and will speak out. An interesting fact regarding the P.S.T. That idea was being looked at in Alberta around 12 years ago by the Alberta PCs. A friend of mine, (originally from Ontario), was talking to me about that matter of how we saw the P.S.T on receipts, when it was not there before. I remember many years ago talking to a talk show host on the radio and asking where the money went for the tax we pay for beverage containers in Alberta. I really could not get an answer. I also recall the Alberta PCs getting VLTs in Alberta, in the early 1990s. Where did that money get used? I also am aware of other long existing taxes in Alberta too, that the Alberta PCs put in. People who buy alcohol or use tobacco products (like cigarettes) pay a tax on those things. I also remember other Alberta PCs giving us other taxes. Where did all this money go? Ralph Klein admitted to (former NDP MLA, Raj Pannu), that health care premiums were a tax. No mention of how else this money was used, given Ralph Klein’s bad management of health care in Alberta, like laying off nurses, neglecting and getting hospitals blown up and closed. There are yet other taxes in Alberta, that the Alberta PCs put in. Where did all this money get used? As for the P.S.T issue, I think is was talked about, because the reality sunk in about the Alberta PCs failing to see what good old Peter Lougheed knew about oil being an unstable commodity, and the myth of Ralph Klein’s “paid in full” was glaringly evident.

      • Dwayne, I don’t know when these town hall meetings will be held, but I’ll post something when I find out. Good points re the PCs imposing taxes under the guise of something else eg. health premiums. Kenney’s just as bad. The Canadian Tax Federation, Kenney’s old organization, shredded him for introducing “a sneaky, backdoor income tax hike known as bracket creep”. The CTF says Kenney knows he’s introduced a tax hike because Kenney wrote an article in 1997 calling bracket creep “a hidden and regressive tax grab.” It was bad in 1997 but just fine in 2019. Kind of the reverse of his position on equalization which was just fine in when he was a federal MP but bad now. The man is a hypocrite.

  2. Jerrymacgp says:

    Firstly, this so-called “inquiry” is the first time of which I am aware, that a stable Western democracy has used public resources to support a whacky, paranoid conspiracy theory worthy of an extensive entry on RationalWiki.

    Secondly, the federal election was far more dismal for the federal Conservatives than most reporting has suggested. Their share of the popular vote outside of their Saskaberta redoubt was 9 only about 24%. The only reason their national popular vote was higher than that of the Liberals, was because of their overwhelming predominance in Alberta & Saskatchewan. In the Rest of Canada, they came in behind the Liberals in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, & Ontario; in Quebec, they could only muster roughly half the popular vote the Liberals got.

    • Dwayne says:

      Jerrymacgp: I think you are right. Notice how there were Albertans who were upset that Newfoundland and Labrador voted for the Liberals in the last federal election. They were griping about how Newfoundlanders come to work in our oil patch, and betray Alberta by voting for the Liberals. This is absurd. Many Albertans do have a very twisted idea of what democracy is. They supported a virtual one party state in Alberta for over 40 years, and have a premier who got into power by dubious means. Then, they complain about how others vote.

    • Jerrymacgp: I agree. I followed the 2013 public inquiry into queue jumping very closely. It was the first public inquiry we’d had in 30 years. The commissioner was a retired judge (John Vertes) who ensured the inquiry was run in accordance with the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness. The hearings were public and ran for 2 weeks. Top level MLAs were called to testify including Fred Horne (Health Minister), Ken Hughes (former AHS board chair, then Energy Minister) and Neil Wilkinson (former Capital Health board chair, then Ethics Commissioner), many came with their own lawyers (right to counsel). Transcripts of the testimony were available on line the next day. Total cost $10M. That public inquiry accomplished something meaningful.
      Kenney’s anti-Alberta energy public hearing is not public (and may never become public if the commissioner decides not to have public hearings in phase 2). Ecojustice is right, It’s more akin to the US House Un-American committee (1938 – 1975) investigating alleged disloyalty and subversive activities (pinko/Commies) than a real public hearing (eg the Queue Jumping Inquiry).
      The fact even one Albertan supports Kenney in launching this Inquiry is shameful.

  3. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Thanks for another great blog. I think Jason Kenney is way off the mark in many ways. He is missing obvious facts. Sadly, he is not alone, as I will explain shortly. Oil and gas are global commodities. They fluctuate based on market conditions, based on what foreign governments are doing. The United States of America and Saudi Arabia have had an effect on oil prices for 5 years now. There is no way oil prices are going to go to the triple digit range anymore. Nothing will be able change that. In fact, there were predictions that oil prices could even hit the $40.00 range again, and I would not be surprised if they go lower. I remember around 4-5 years ago, a letter writer to the Edmonton Journal who thought it was amazing that Pierre Trudeau’s National Energy Program had such a long lasting effect. He was being light hearted. This person was not a Conservative supporter. We know that Brian Mulroney dissolved the National Energy Program. Justin Trudeau happens to be a convenient scapegoat, as to why Alberta’s energy industry is failing, despite him purchasing a pipeline, which Jason Kenney was in full support of. Gwyn Morgan, a former CEO, or bigwig of Encana, recently went on record saying that Alberta’s (and I believe she said Canada’s) energy industry is failing because of Justin Trudeau’s bad policies. Encana went to the United States recently and the current CEO, Doug Suttles, I believe it was, said there was no political motivation behind it. The name of the company has changed too. I suspect there are other reasons. The United States has shale oil, which is impossible for what Alberta has in Fort McMurray to compete with. Second, does Encana have any correlation to the massive oil industry related messes in Alberta, such as tailings ponds, orphaned oil wells, and the like? Are they trying to run away from that issue that started with the Alberta PCs, in the early 1990s? The cost that Albertans have to fork over for this is $260 billion.That is a lot of money. Jason Kenney and the UCP are silent on that. His so called war room is going after non existent boogeymen, and avoids thecreal issues. If I remember correctly, wasn’t Jason Kenney’s corporate tax cuts supposed to attract investment to Alberta and also create jobs? I have not seen that. All I have seen was a $4.5 billion net loss for Albertans. The UCP have already made mistakes, which are at least 3 times that amount, and likely more. Their nasty budget is compensating for this. To try and redeem themselves, the UCP is putting money into new schools. Surprisingly, in yesterday’s Edmonton Sun, there were letters to the editor attacking the UCP’s budget. I’m surprised they were even published. Another letter writer falsely claimed that Quebec gets its oil from Saudi Arabia, and that they should be buying cheaper Canadian oil. He claimed that it would create Canadian unity and help protect Quebec’s transfer payments. Quite misinformed to say the least. Then, on the previous page, there was a pretty lame political cartoon with Rachel Notley, Naheed Nenshi and Alison Redford on it sitting and waiting, with resumes in their hands, next to a door that said Federal Govt. Demolition Co. Help Wanted. Western Rep. Experience Required. It had the Liberal logo on the door. It was pretty stupid. Has the R.C.M.P investigation against Jason Kenney for his election related infractions concluded? Jason Kenney and his crowd love to talk about how the federal Liberals are acting undemocratic, (without any solid proof), yet Jason Kenney became Alberta’s premier, by very questionable means. How is Postmedia having ties to his war room and the UCP election democratic? Yet, so called columnists, like Brian Liley, think that unions propped up the Liberals. This is all crazy.

    • Dwayne, You’ve covered a lot of ground in your comment. Let me pick up on a few points.
      Re: the Encana move. As their CEO said, this had nothing to do with the federal election. I worked for Nova Chemicals when it moved its head office to the US. It took over a year to make the decision because you need to work it through your board of directors (why are you moving? where are you moving? why is the new location better than another location? what will it cost? which employees are going with you? how with the government react? etc etc etc). For Jason Kenney or Gwyn Morgan to imply anything else is disingenous.
      Re: Quebec oil. 82% comes from North America, 44% of it comes from Western Canada and none of it comes from Saudi Arabia. Why don’t these guys just google it? Anyone who says the East should buy oil from the West doesn’t understand where the pipelines run, where the refineries are and the fundamental fact that the decisions on infrastructure (existing and new) are made by the oil companies, not the government of Alberta or Canada.
      Re: NEP. I don’t know what it is about Albertans. The same people who say Indigenous peoples should pipe down about residential schools because that’s history are the first to say they’re hard done by because of the Crow rates and the NEP. Hypocritical much?

  4. J.E. Molnar says:

    With Jason Kenney and the UCP leading the charge, the first fragments of a dystopian Alberta are creeping in and creeping us out!

    Kenney’s Orwellian Ministry of Truth (AKA “The War Room”) is so repulsive and odious that Albertans who voted for this moribund party of underachievers should be ashamed. And, no marks to Postmedia scribes either, for continuing to foment outrage and lending credence to UCP’s tyrannical dystopian maneuvers. Shame.

    • J.E. I’m beginning to think that even the people running the War Room think it’s a joke. This was one of Kenney’s major campaign promises. He was elected in mid April and rushed the House into session because he had so much he wanted to accomplish before the summer break (when he wandered off to drum up votes for the CPC in the 905 and failed). It is now Nov 4. So far all the War Room has accomplished is hiring Claudia Cattaneo, a retired NP journalist, to staff the war room and develop a plan of attack, she or someone hired Tom Olson, failed UCP candidate and former Postmedia journalist, to run it and she or someone changed its name twice; first from the War Room to the Alberta Energy Information Centre (Oct 1), and then from the AEIC to the Canadian Energy Centre (Oct 9). As Mark Hislop points out, heaven forbid if someone confuses it with the real Canadian Centre for Energy Information run by Statistics Canada. The last I heard the Energy Minister is still working on initial steps for this $30M boondoggle for Kenney and his friends.

      • CallmeHal2000 says:

        Shall I mention that Claudia Cattaneo is from Montreal, which is kind of ironic, don’t you think?

      • CallmeHal2000 says:

        Shall I mention that in addition to living in Montreal, where her family was based, Cattaneo moved to Alberta in the mid-1980s to work as a business reporter at the Calgary Herald? For reasons I can’t comprehend, this was not mentioned in her self-written retirement article, unless you can reason that out of working for “Postmedia and its predecessor companies”.

        This is 2019. Transparency is important, and never more important than when one is a key player in the Ministry of Truth, er. “War Room”, er “Whatever”.

        Digging up the truth and exposing lies, even lies of omission, is very important work. I hope the readers of this blog will continue doing this very important work.

  5. Paul Pearlman says:

    The first 100 days of the UCP party do not seem to have been as sunny as promised.Tax cuts did not lead to more jobs voodoo accounting has lead to panic and more cuts for education and residents who might need assistance. The War Room just blows 30 million on something when the money could be put to I’m sure a much better use.Our illustrious Premier campaigning in Ontario for a flailing Federal Conservative party interesting observation by Jerry where the total of popular vote would be without Alberta and Sask. And above all talk of separation please!!! Yes a sales tax and maybe going back to paying something on our Health care boy what a concept Stelmach. Yes better days are ahead as we can see how things have gone so far, yes Jason 4 more years of Hocus Pocus lead the way!!

    • I agree Paul. In addition to your list of failures in the first 100 days let me add this. Kenney’s effort to whip up Wexit will backfire. My husband must be on a UCP list somewhere because he got a note saying: “I say this is with all due respect to Premier Kenney and his team, who I think are doing an adequate job and in some areas even a good job. However, he seems to be backing down on his conditions for a referendum even before confronting Trudeau et al, other than through the media. Any poker player, especially the cunning Gerald Butts (our de facto PM) sees Kenney’s wavering by changing timelines and conditions, as a show of weakness at best and at least not as confident as he was. It shows Kenney doesn’t feel strong in his position and they don’t miss a thing! It’s a bad strategy to back down even before you’re at the table.” They go on to say equalization and TMX are vital but first and foremost they want FULL EQUALITY and A REWRITE OF THE CONSTITUTION! (their CAPS not mine). Add this to the fact some of the attendees at the recent Wexit meeting in Edmonton said if Kenney wouldn’t lead them to the promised land they’d find someone who will and you might come to the conclusion that Kenney is playing with fire and he’s going to get burned.

  6. Political Ranger says:

    “Is my concern that Alberta is on the slippery slope to something other than democracy overblown?”
    The short answer, Susan, is No you are not.

    Thank you for taking the time to write this. I for one have very much the same fears.

    It’s become my opinion that conservatism, as we understand it, is gone. Used to be that Conservatives and Liberals were 2 sides of the same ideology, namely democracy. Not so anymore, I fear.
    Today, we have so-called conservatives rallying around an individual, rallying around individual rights to believe whatever they want and have whatever they want. I don’t know exactly what kind of ideology these nutjobs espouse but it’s not democratic. Perhaps nationalism, perhaps white supremacy, maybe just individualism, most likely just belligerence. Whatever it is, it’s about the person speaking out about it and not about the greater community. They are not conservatives as we understand conservatism.

    There are no conservatives in Canada today despite what they might call themselves.

    History tells us where these self-involved political movements end up. So, for those who are proudly out and speaking up about their fascist beliefs we know what to expect. For the rest, until they are intelligent enough to recognize reality and draw out cause and effect and make the case for the greater community, it’s safe to say they are proto-fascist. They are not on the side of democracy. It does not appear that they even know what they stand for but they are easy marks for a charismatic despot.
    Perhaps we’ll have a totalitarian fascist uprising circa 1930’s but we won’t know until after it’s a fact.

    I for one am not willing to wait to see what these nutbars are going to do. It’s time to recognize what is in front of us and call it by its rightful name.

    • Political Ranger: given that the de facto leader of the CPC and the UCP is Stephen Harper and Mr Harper is now the chairman of the IDU which is described as an international alliance of centrist to centre-right political parties, but is home to parties like Fidesz which is led by Victor Orban I agree with you.
      Your point about those who “are easy marks for a charismatic despot” is well taken. Historian Timothy Snyder quotes Leszek Kolakowski who said “In politics, being deceived is no excuse.” So we will continue to protest and make waves, calling it like we see it. The “easy marks” will either wake up or they won’t, but we won’t let their political masters steal democracy away from us without putting up one hell of a fight.
      PS. I must admit the fact that two-thirds of Canadians rejected the CPC gives me hope.

      • Edison says:

        Political Ranger, you are spot on when you say today there are no conservatives in Canada . That Party of countless decades of our country’s (and Alberta’s for that matter) history was ruthlessly decimated and replaced by the puppetmaster himself, who Susan just identified. Both federally and through his proxy, within Alberta, Harper created a entirely new political vehicle to implement his fractious and disturbing vision; and that which in all truthfullness can only be called ‘The Alt-Right Party’

        Charles Adler’s piece from yesterday descibes this reality much better than I can

      • Edison thank you for providing the Charles Adler link. Adler, who describes himself as a centrist conservative summed up his disaffection with the Conservatives well: he said the Conservatives moved far right and left him in the dust. Adler has been ripped to shreds in social media for daring to say that (no one can criticize our dear leader). Kudos to Adler for using his public voice to do so.

  7. Brenda Hogg says:

    Susan I have shared your post with my Ontario FB friends. I’m afraid Professor Snyder’s forewarnings need a broader audience.

    • Brenda, you’re absolutely right. Professor Snyder’s book On Tyranny started as a Facebook post right after Trump was elected. He’s done much work in the area of authoritarianism and totalitarianism. He was so concerned about where Trump was leading the US he just had to get his warning out ASAP. As you point out, we’re seeing the same thing in Canada.

  8. Carlos Beca says:

    Thank you for your article in the ‘Alberta Views’ magazine
    Very concise and clear and very moderate. The usual timid left face of Canadian politics.
    The fact of the matter is that Jason Kenney and his government took clear sides with corporations and the rich and they should be called out for what it is. Jason Kenney is anti democratic and freely insulting as are some of his cabinet ministers. He couldn’t careless for the citizens of Alberta and has clearly demonstrated a total lack of respect with his war room, his insults and obvious leaning to the extreme right with clear anti unions attitude.
    This is the main reason this people have been in power for 43 years and have educated most of the population to bully even the Supreme Court if necessary.
    I am not sure why we still believe in being tolerant to these people. They have shown year after year that the only concern they have is their wallets. Everything else is fluff.
    Anyway my personal opinion – we will never win anything against people that play without any rules. The reason why Greta Thunberg has gained world wide support is because she fights back – not insulting but she brings up the non facts – we should not miss an opportunity to do the same. Once and for all Jason Kenney does not deserve our respect in any way. He did not even blink to donate more than a billion dollars of our own money and take it away from the schools, seniors and health, under the excuse we cannot afford it – yes we can, you just have to stop giving our money away to businesses that are actually living the province and not doing any of the cleanup they should do. In 10 years this same government will announce the bill these oil companies will leave behind. Of course it is our fault – we allowed it to happen.
    I know many people do not agree with me but time will tell.
    It is time for me to shut up anyway. We are just so controlled mind wise we cannot see the door open right in front of us.

    • Dwayne says:

      Carlos Beca: I agree with you. Great comments.

    • Carlos and Dwayne, You may have found the Alberta Views piece to be “timid” however I’d point out it’s not every day you see the $30M war room characterized as a tool to “dispense partisan propaganda.” Anyway, there are two things to bear in mind. First, the assignment was to restricted to Kenney’s first 100 days so we couldn’t get into the austerity budget and the other horrible things Kenney has done since then. Second, AV’s goal is to get Albertans to think about what’s going on without going so far as to characterized a left-wing propaganda mouthpiece. That’s difficult in this environment given that someone just told told me ABlawg is a left-wing rag created by law profs who’ve never worked a day in their lives. Neither of which is true.
      I do agree with your other comments, however.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        ‘Timid’ is my personal opinion and not a negative criticism.
        We all have different human/social experiences which evolve us where we are as individuals. I am no longer capable of digesting well designed lies into self-interest politics. The war room is using taxpayers dollars to destroy political opponents. – Graham Thompson defines it extremely well in is article ‘Perpetual War’ in the same Alberta Views magazine your article was published. He said ‘Kenney is using public dollars to investigate and attack his political opponents. This allows him to play the victim while being the bully’.
        He also says in the same article that Jason Kenney is not targeting ‘just environmentalists but “Opinion Leaders”, including politicians and the media’.
        Amazing, the defender of tax dollars turned into a KGB officer. Our employee determines how to use our own money. Democracy turned on its own head and we the slaves are intimidated on how to stop this attack on our already sick democracy.
        It is time for a Council of Albertans to determine when a leader has crossed the line. Police has an oversight and it is time to have one for top Government Leaders with full authority to package them out when absolutely necessary.
        This idea that these people are untouchable is wrong and it is a copy of the same god rights monarchs use to have. Jason Kenney is our employee and should have clear borders on what he can and cannot do as premier.
        The RCMP will never come to conclusion on the investigation because of course he is also intimidating them.
        Jason Kenney can include me as an “opinion citizen” in his war room.
        Graham Thompson can include me as an ally. By this time he is already an “opinion leader” in Jason’s books.
        Finally, I am not surprised with what you were told about ABLawg – people that never worked in a real job all their lives tend to think every one does the same.

  9. david swann says:

    Very helpful to put this ‘un-Albertan’ investigation in the context of democratic rights since there is incontrovertible evidence that this government (and past governments) are ‘captured’ by industry. How else does one explain the systematic defaulting on reclamation costs by the oil and gas industry except by the Regulator turning a blind eye to the law?

    • Carlos Beca says:

      I fully agree with you David and I am tired of being quiet while these bullies (that is what they are – this is not an insult) take care of themselves under the pretext of the ‘PEOPLE’ and ad nauseum we spend more than everybody else…blah blah – well we spend more because we make more but even if that is true why not just talk about it and try to find ways to correct the situation within our own processes, instead of just blaming government and glorifying private enterprise constantly – well the government of this province has gotten worse since we introduced the silly ‘the government is not in the business of doing business and the invisible hand of whatever and on and on which are just neoliberal propaganda. We only are in the business when it comes to donate money to private enterprise. It is a disgrace and we have now a province where only profit is of interest – anything else is a waste of time. We will never build anything without a strong and very stable commons- without it we will continue to be mercenaries and destroy everything so beautiful and valuable in this province.

    • Very true David. Kevin Taft’s book Oil’s Deep State: How the petroleum industry undermines democracy and stops action on global warming is a good guide to how this happened here. Seems to me the free market will take of that problem soon as oil prices fail to recover to boom times and Alberta starts to recognize it has to transition to survive. Sadly we’ll be stuck with horrendously expensive clean up and reclamation costs as company after company goes belly up.

  10. david swann says:

    The irony of course is that Alberta is getting a bad reputation around the world due to government negligence related to industry’s mounting (currently $260B) unfunded liability for all cleanup in the province.

    • Dwayne says:

      david swann: You are correct. I also noticed once, that this cost was downplayed. Was someone trying to cover their assets? I do know the cost of this is what you said, and likely will be more.

    • David, everything Kenney says he’s doing to “help” Alberta’s economy and its citizens has exactly the opposite effect. Kenney’s been in power for less than a year and we’re so far off course already it will be a huge challenge to fix it.

  11. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Fairly recently, Calgary based Houston Oil & Gas closed up shop. It left around $80 million in costs to cleanup its remaining wells and other property relating to the company. Did you hear about this? If you did, what are your thoughts on why this has happened?

    • Dwayne, I did hear about it, but I haven’t got any facts on why it happened. I always ignore what a bankrupt company says is the reason for its failure, because they never blame themselves for making poor decisions, it’s always someone else’s fault. I’ll get back to you on this when I know more.

  12. Carlos Beca says:

    While you and me get less services and experience austerity – corporations and the premier have fun

    • Carlos, this is another example of Kenney’s hypocrisy. Didn’t take long for Kenney to show his true colours, did it.
      I’m still waiting for the results of the RCMP investigation into the leadership race. Elections Alberta is slowing picking off the people who were involved which is good, but Kenney’s supporters put it down to “just politics”. I’m not sure what evidence the RCMP have, but I worry it’s not enough to meet the high threshold necessary to bring criminal charges. So it could be unethical and wrong but not criminal. Naturally Kenney and his supporters will say he’s been exonerated which is not the case but it’s the way Trump plays these things.

  13. Carlos Beca says:

    He is not a separatist but he is already addressing their concerns – wow this man is dangerous opportunistic – unbelievable

  14. CallmeHal2000 says:

    Snyder advises not falling victim to using the language of tyrants, yet that is exactly what our local media do every day. It’s “Justin Trudeau’s Liberals” and “Rachel Notley’s NDP”. These are Kenney’s phrases coming out of Global-TV newsreaders’ mouths and on the.local CTV website, etc. From that point on, I stop listening , because they come across as peddlars of propaganda, not purveyors of fact.

    It should not have surprised me when a government spokesperson for education made the claim that the UCP had won an “overwhelming majority” in the provincial election, therefore Albertans support the cutbacks (to education, specifically in this article). The statement went unchallenged. I do not consider 55 percent of the popular vote an “overwhelming majority”. These cutbacks were not disclosed until well after the election, catching school boards so off-guard that teachers will be laid off mid-year.

    Voting in blind faith is never a good idea. This is the result. And don’t expect media in this province to challenge the falsehoods.

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