Bill 22: An Attack on Democracy

Someone once said, “The only thing worse than knowing where the bodies are buried, is watching your enemies dig them up.”  

In order to ensure the Elections Commissioner’s investigation into the UCP leadership race didn’t dig up any more bodies—heaven forbid, he’d find a trail of breadcrumbs leading directly to the premier’s office—the UCP government passed Bill 22.   

The UCP government says Bill 22 is an administrative bill which will result in significant savings by reducing duplication, eliminating needless spending and improving the efficiency and oversight of public agencies, boards and commissions (ABCs).   This will be accomplished by dissolving and merging a bunch of ABCs.     

Jason Kenney says “nothing to see here folks” or something similar

Buried in Bill 22 is the authority to eliminate the Elections Commission, effectively firing the Elections Commissioner, Mr Lorne Gibson.  Mr Gibson was investigating wrongdoing within the UCP, including claims that Jeff Callaway was a kamikaze candidate in the UCP leadership race on a mission to discredit Brian Jean (Mr Kenney’s only viable rival) and then drop out and endorse Mr Kenney.  Mr Gibson levied over $200,000 in fines. There were many complaints waiting to be investigated when he got the boot.

Nothing to see here folks, move along

Mr Kenney says Mr Gibson wasn’t “fired,” his role will continue under the Chief Electoral Officer at Elections Alberta; in fact the Chief Electoral Officer can hire Mr Gibson if he likes, and no matter what, the investigation will continue.    

Really?

If Mr Gibson wasn’t “fired” why is he getting six-months severance?  If the Chief Electoral Officer rehires him, then Bill 22’s objective of eliminating needless spending goes out the window because the government will be paying Mr Gibson remuneration plus six-months severance.   If the Chief Electoral Officer fills the role with someone else, this just shifts the Election Commissioner’s budget to the Elections Alberta budget.  No cost savings there.   

As to the UCP’s commitment to continue Mr Gibson’s investigations, UPC MLA Jason Nixon says the process is this:  the Chief Electoral Officer and the Election Commissioner (assuming one is hired anytime soon) will go ahead with the investigations if they deem it’s necessary.  In other words, if they don’t deem it’s necessary, the investigations are over.     

What’s really going on here

Bill 22 is about many things, but when it comes to Mr Gibson, it is not about saving the cost of his salary and benefits (estimated to be less than $200,000/year), eliminating needless spending and or improving efficiency. 

But that’s Mr Kenney’s story and his government is sticking to it.

As Ms Notley said in Question Period, “the Government House leader is misleading the House.”  The Premier is rewriting the rules to allow a cover-up.  “He’s firing the Election Commissioner, asking his cabinet to play along in this abuse of power, and then displaying a cowardly refusal to answer for his own actions.”  She wondered what he’s trying to hide.

The Speaker of the House asked Ms Notley to apologize and withdraw the sentence “the Government House Leader is misleading the House.” She refused. (Apparently, accusing the premier of being involved in a cover-up, abusing his power and displaying cowardliness is okay, but saying something is “misleading” is not). 

Ms Notley refused to back down because the convention that MLAs can’t call each other liars pales in comparison to the greater “existential threat to the integrity of our democratic system…we must be able to call it what it is.”    

Ms Notley is on record saying Bill 22 is a clear example of legislative interference with the administration of justice and legislative intimidation of someone tasked with job of keeping the premier and his associates aligned with the law. 

Ms Notley is not alone in her interpretation of Bill 22.  Political scientists agree.  Duane Bratt of Mount Royal University calls it a cover-up, plain and simple.  Melanee Thomas of U of C says it’s an abuse of power.*    

This appalling week in Alberta politics doesn’t end there. 

What’s ethics got to do with it?

In Question Period Ms Notley asked Mr Schweitzer, the Justice Minister and Attorney General how he could support Bill 22 which “goes against the very spirit of the Attorney General’s own profession and his sworn duty, as Attorney General, to prevent the Executive Council from breaking the law.”   

Mr Schweitzer did not reply.  He let Mr Nixon speak on his behalf. Mr Nixon responded with the usual complaint that the NDP were engaging in “fake outrage” and “fear and smear.”

At the end of the week, the Ethics Commissioner weighed in.  She said those being investigated by the Elections Commissioner or the RCMP would be in breach of s 2(1) of the Conflicts of Interest Act if they discussed the portions of Bill 22 pertaining to the Office of the Elections Commissioner or voted on it. 

The UCP MLAs paid no heed to this warning.  Every UCP MLA in the House voted in favour of Bill 22.  Admittedly not every UCP MLA is “under investigation” but some of them are and they should have abstained from the vote. 

Mr Kenney steered clear of the Legislature while Bill 22 was debated and voted upon.  He went to Texas to drum up investment in Alberta (rather like carrying coals to Newcastle).  By running away, he avoided a potential conflict of interest violation…and left his MLAs holding the bag. 

Mr Schweitzer on the other hand took to Twitter to attack anyone suggesting he may have been in a conflict of interest position, eventually reducing his tweets to a Trump-like NO CONFLICT.  All that was missing were three exclamation points and a typo. 

Fall out    

The UCP government passed Bill 22 under the guise of cost savings and efficiency, but the effect of Bill 22 is to undermine democracy in Alberta.

In his book The Road to Unfreedom, historian Timothy Snyder warns that democracies die when people cease to believe voting matters.  The question is not whether elections are held, but whether they are free and fair.  How can Alberta’s elections be free and fair when government shuts down an independent parliamentary watchdog’s investigation into illegal campaign contributions and a kamikaze campaign in a leadership race that ultimately led to the party’s leader becoming premier.

This matter is far from over. 

Bill 22 did two things.  It showed the UCP government will abuse its power to benefit the UCP party and it confirmed our worst fears:  the good old boys are back.   

It took Albertans decades to get rid of the last batch of good old boys; it won’t take them that long to do it again.  Because regardless of how deep the bodies are buried, they will float up to the surface sooner or later. 

You can bet on it.   

*See Markham Hislop’s interview with Dr Thomas https://youtu.be/ottP7XV6fMo

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78 Responses to Bill 22: An Attack on Democracy

  1. Public Servant says:

    Thank you Susan for shining a light on this shameful abuse of power.
    When I first heard that Kenney was firing the person investigating him, I thought: How is that even possible? But, apparently it is, and democracy suffers another insult from this government.
    Even worse, it seems there is nothing we can about this. Waiting for the next election is not an option as Kenney will have destroyed the electoral process by then.
    I despair for Alberta.

    • I agree Public Servant. Waiting for the next election is not an option. We have to become engaged now. Writing letters to our UCP MLAs, ccing Notley and whoever the NDP shadow critic is for the issue, ccing Kenney so he knows his policies aren’t going down well and turning up at rallies and protests whenever we can. This latter point is critical because ralliles are covered by social media which make them an issue with mainstream media, even the pathetic Calgary Herald.

  2. Carlos Beca says:

    Welcome back Susan
    I am also in recovery mode from this disgusting, very Conservative and very Albertan horror political show.
    You have said it all but I have to say that it is astounding that we still make the point of calling ourselves a democracy. People feel offended when I question our system. Years back they would call me commy now they point to examples like Venezuela, Hong Kong…etc.
    The fact that nothing can stop a majority premier from implementing whatever they want is quite revealing of where we are. We prefer to endure this kind of abuse than fixing it
    What is the Ethics Commissioner for? What is the Lt. Governor for? why an investigation on the UCP can be stopped by a UCP premier?
    One looks at all these issues and what can anyone make of it? We have a democracy? The minister of Justice and Attorney General does even bother to say a word as if an absolutely stupid question had been asked of his ‘Eminence the Duke of idiots’.
    All very strange to me anyway

    • Carlos, indeed, we’ve descended to depths none of us imagined possible. It starts when a majority government violates a rule no one imagines they would violate, and the government’s supporters are okay with it because they’re loyal to their guy. That’s when we realize the checks and balances we thought were in place (various conventions and norms) fail us. Kenney tried to argue it wasn’t him but Notley who was violating the Constitution and the rule of law by asking the LT Governor not to give Royal Assent to Bill 22. He implied the LG has to rubber stamp what’s put in front of her. This is not true. There are countless examples of LGs across the country refusing to give royal assent or stalling to give the government time to amend the offending legislation.
      I wrote the the LG asking her not to give royal assent, citing LG Walsh’s response to Premier Aberhart’s bill to address creditors’ rights. The LG told Premier Aberhart that his bill to address creditors’ rights was flawed. He said Aberhart could delay the bill until the next session or send the bill to the Alberta courts for a decision on its constitutionality, failing which the LG would likely withhold Royal Assent. (Aberhart sent the bill to the courts where it was found to be unconstitutional).
      Clearly my letter had no effect, but the point here is we do have checks and balances and we have to remind our public officials to be courageous and exercise the powers they have to protect democracy.
      https://www.lieutenantgovernor.ab.ca/history/alberta-s-lieutenant-governors-and-royal-assent/
      The blogger Dave Cournoyer wrote about this as well. See http://daveberta.ca/2019/11/firing-the-election-commissioner-is-bad-for-democracy-and-bad-for-alberta/

      • GoinFawr says:

        If the majority of Albertans agreed with stopping it, there would have been absolutely nothing ‘undemocratic’ about the LG withholding royal assent on Bill 22.

        If only Albertans had been consulted as if teachers’ pensions and rule of law were as important issues to this Gov’t as ‘daylight savings time’ is the LG might have had the opportunity to find that out. Which begs another question: why did they shove it down everyone’s throats as quickly as possible?

        For those who would say the election was that consultation I would point out that not once during the UCP’s campaign did they inform us they were planning to steal pensions, fire those investigating their cheating, and with a straight face LIE in our legislative assembly, making a mockery of it.

        ie eviscerating democracy, and spitting in the face of the rule of law is NOT in their mandate, regardless of the 35%(?) of the eligible electorate that was stupid enough to vote for them.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Absolutely right GoinFawr but that is the strategy they always use to force their fundamentalism on everybody else. Harper did that with the omnibus bills and silencing scientists and public servants.
        The problem is not JK and his goons – the problem is the gullible Albertan that fall in the fishing net every single time the fascists tell them they will give them JOBS JOBS JOBS
        I do not believe for a moment that JK cares about it. He cares about JK and his future career and money. As far as his minister of Justice I wonder how such a insulting person gets that job. The whole circus is beyond me and I hope those who vote for this disgrace feel good about themselves.

  3. Jim Lees says:

    Just another routine week of government by the UCP…..great report Susan. Hope you are feeling better. Jim

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • Sadly Jim, you’re right. Kenney’s acts as if Bill 22 is just routine business when in fact Notley calls it “classic political interference, intimidation, and abuse of power…not…the classic behaviour of democratic leader.
      I make a point of reading Hansard to see if Kenney can come up even a flimsy excuse for Bill 22. When Notley asked why he rammed Bill 22 through “with the urgency of someone on the run from the law” he said “Bill 22 received more hours of debate than any other bill before the Legislature in this fall session.” More hours of debate? He’s got to be kidding, Bill 22 is an omnibus bill that not only terminated Lorne Gibson but also transferred control of the $16 billion teacher’s retirement fund to AIMCO with absolutely no consultation with the teachers.
      As GoinFawr said, the UCP is happy to consult with Albertans for weeks on daylight savings, but when it comes to the things that really count we’re out of luck.
      But I suppose that’s what the abuse of power is all about.

  4. Jim Goodchild says:

    I’m curious as to whether Doug Schweitzer’s vote on Bill 22 would put him in violation of any professional standards of the Law Society of Alberta?

    • Jim, I’ve wondered the same thing. Schweitzer is my MLA. I wrote to him reminding him of his duty under the Alberta Lawyers Code of Conduct which requires lawyers holding public office to adhere to the highest standards of conduct including acting honourably and with integrity. I asked him not to support Bill 22. HIs office responded with the party line…everything is fine, it’s just folding one department into another…nothing to see here…blah blah blah. I don’t know how many letters it will take to get through to this man. Of course we don’t know the extent of the Election Commissioner’s investigation or the RCMP’s investigation, but Schweitzer would. I find it hard to believe that not one of the UCP MLAs who voted in favour of Bill 22 were not in a conflict situation.

  5. david swann says:

    I wonder, given past support for Recall, if the UCP are relieved they did not bring legislate it!
    Perhaps we should petition for this…

    • Dwayne says:

      david swann: What good will recall legislation do now? The UCP and their loyal base will have none of it. They are defending the UCP to the maximum. When the NDP were in power, recall legislation was what the UCP and their base wanted. It’s going to be a rough time now, with the UCP at the helm.

    • David, I suspect Dwayne and RockyMountain are right, but if the UCP are stupid enough to bring in recall, I will personally lead the charge to get my MLA, Doug Schweitzer kicked out.

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: Recently, I wrote a letter to the Edmonton Sun condemning what Jason Kenney was doing. However, the Sun never printed it. It’s the same old game of Rachel Notley is to blame, Christina Freeland is bad, and so on. I’d like to know when those public forums will be held to talk about Alberta’s role in Confederation will be. I want to be there. In the words of the late Tom Petty, I won’t back down. I will speak my mind. Hope you are feeling better.

  6. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Glad you are back.Thanks for another great blog. The UCP are clearly thinking they are above the law, and that they can do anything they want to, without any consequences. We saw this for decades, with the Alberta PCs, starting when Peter Lougheed was not the premier. Bill 22 clearly shows that the UCP has a disdain for democracy. Alberta is back to being a one party state. We see what happens in other countries where dictatorships are in power. This is what we have in Alberta right now. Speaking the truth, as Rachel Notley did, gets you punished. This is not right at all. The UCP faithful still see nothing wrong with this, and think Rachel Notley is being childish, and the NDP are being sore losers. It will be interesting to see what else becomes of this. This is horrible to see what is going on. I don’t know if it will get any better.

    • Dwayne, you’re right about Kenney acting as if the conservatives are the natural ruling party, if he can continue to confuse Albertans with his allegation that all their troubles are someone else’s fault, we’ll fall back into being a one party state for the foreseeable future.

      Frankly I don’t know how long Kenney can keep this up. Sooner or later Albertans will figure out that he hasn’t brought back jobs, jobs, jobs, notwithstanding how many trade offices he opens in Houston and Washington and how many junkets he and his team take to London and Asia, and how loudly he yells at Ottawa. In fact, they’ll finally figure out that the mounting job losses in health, education and social services, as well as the tech sector and film industry etc are the direct result of Kenney’s austerity policies.

      Having said all that, it may not be enough. Timothy Snyder says citizens who accept this type of authoritarian government accept suffering as a mark of righteousness, they don’t care if their lives are a misery, they just want the lives of “the guilty others” to be more miserable than their own. Snyder says for them “life is nasty, brutish, and short; the pleasure of life is that it can be made nastier, more brutish and shorter for others.”

  7. I emailed this to MLA Roger Reid (Livingstone-Macleod – the MOST redneck, ignorant, anti-intellectual, BIg Oil teat-feeding group of voters in the province), and I’m asking for a twice-a-day phone call to your MLA re: Bill 22 . . .

    My message to “my” (choke) MLA . . .

    WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH YOU PEOPLE?
    1. KEEP YOUR EFFING HANDS OFF MY PENSIONS! All financial expertise
    suggests that you do just that.
    2. QUIT kissing Corporate Ass – Trickle-down doesn’t work – or haven’t you heard???
    3. As a crippled senior, I WILL suffer under this sham of a government.
    4. Your parents, your family – and maybe, if they’re importnt to you – your children – will suffer the HORRIBLE consequences of this Corporatist, Fascist- leaning asshat Kenny?
    5. A personal question – as an entrepreneur, is the ‘bottom line’ (SUCH an ephemeral thing, don’t you know) – ust money – that important to you?

    My God, Reid – don’t you understand that ALL traditional, decent-minded REAL Alberta Conservatives are DEAD?
    And that the anti-Kenney reaction is taking Alberta by storm? NONE of my Kenney supporting “friends” will even discuss this horror – they are too ashamed. And if you don’t respond to this rant, I’m guessing you are, too . . .
    And I resent that intelligent Albertans continue to support this Ford, Trump, Harper, Scheer wannabe – (is that what you are, Reid? A wannabe? Or do you not think that your politics is a bellwether of your personal character?)
    And I WILL speak out and try (that will be an effort) to convince my Kenney-voting “friends” that this goof must be eliminated ASAP! That’s the ONLY chance for a conservative – the old school conservative – for revival and SURVIVAL
    If you don’t answer this personally – and soon – I’ll call your office twice a day for the next three years . . . yes, that’s an innocent threat. And I’m posting this to all Alberta ln my social media platforms. My phone number is 403 563 XXXX. ( Note: phone # hidden to protect me from the rabid ALT-RIGHT crazies around here).
    Wanna chat?

    And yes – I did send my rel phone number to roger Reid . . . I await his call with bated breath . . .
    Call YOUR MLA and END Kenney the Clown Prince of Alberta’s grip on Albertans’ family and futures – all this greedy little opportunist is doing is feathering his nest via Big Oil . . .

    • Calling your MLA is an an excellent idea RockyMountain. Way more personal than an email. I heard a rumour that 6 backbench UCP MLAs think Kenney has gone too far; they’re considering crossing the floor to sit as independents. The pension grab could be the last straw for many UCP supporters. They don’t care if Kenney’s policies hurt school children, seniors and the vulnerable, but god help you if you go after their retirement funds. This one really hit a nerve, we need to capitalize on it. .

  8. CallmeHal2000 says:

    I wonder when the UCP MLAs will realize they have been played. Those who shouldn’t have voted on Bill 22 did; JK didn’t. Once again, he keeps his hands clean. Their knuckles could get rapped. They are true devotees. Anything for the cause.

    Meanwhile, it’s a new week, and JK is playing Prime Minister. He knows what is best for this country, because in his mind, he is already PM. Global News showed him telling folks what needs to be done, and telling the PM what to do about the CN strike, with red banners top and bottom running UCP propaganda. This is shocking. Never, ever, in a democracy should the free press promote propaganda on the evening news as if it IS the news. The press in Alberta are not guardians of democracy. They have crossed to the other side.

    On the surface, JK is trying to distract us from the scourge of Bill 22, but there is a bigger picture here. He’s seized control of public sector workers’ pensions, and he wants all Albertans’ Canada Pension Plan money, too. He’s following up with Bill 26 to remove Albertans’ Constitutional right to freedom of association, by making it illegal for farm workers to unionize. Now he is trying to bully the real PM, Justin Trudeau, into ignoring the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that Canadian workers have the right to meaningful collective bargaining. Meaningful is the key here. Ordering workers back on the job just after they have gone on strike is not meaningful collective bargaining. To order the workers back immediately disregards and disrespects the Supreme Court and the Constitution, as well as the people our Constitution is supposed to protect.

    JK’s going after workers, yes, but he’s going after the Constitution, too. Who suggested to those Quebec farmers that it might be a good idea to drop grain at the PM’s office in Quebec today? Is the Bloc Québecois in league with the UCP now? They do so at their own risk, if so. Divide and conquer is the game.

    • CallmeHal2000 says:

      The video with the red banners is here, presented on Global Calgary news at 6 p.m. as if it was a Global interview with him. This should be used as an example in journalism schools of how not to behave in the news industry.

      • CallmeHal2000, that was a classic garbled Kenney message. He’s urging CN and the unions to settle right away, he’s also telling the feds to “immediately” put back to work legislation in place (so CN and the unions don’t need to settle right away because the feds will put them back to work, right?), then he says the workers may have legitimate concerns but he’s not going to get into that because Alberta industries and farmers are suffering. In other words, Alberta’s economy takes precedence over CN workers’ safety across the country.
        That’s what drives this man, make the owners happy, screw the rest.
        You’re absolutely right, this is not journalism, it’s Kenney’s ongoing campaign for Andrew Scheer’s job and the media should be ashamed of itself for letting him use them this way.

  9. Bill Malcolm says:

    If Transport Canada were doing its job, then the main grievance the union would have with CN would not exist, in my opinion. The situation was explained by Dave Climenhaga’s Alberta Politics blog the other day. I look back at the uselessness of TC with the Magog oil disaster, where the track that CPR flogged off on the cheap was never inspected for deficiencies (10 km per hour speed limit gives an idea) and some Yankee outfit got special dispensation to run one-man trains over it with worn-out equipment that needed servicing in the worst possible way. Who paid for that schemozzle in the end? The TC people went back to warming their seats in Ottawa and 46 people perished needlessly. The public paid, unless I missed something. Then everyone got back to snoozing.

    Single CN operators have to run trains up to 27 km with a remote control from outside the cockpit/cabin in all weather, and don’t want to do it anymore. It’s unsafe. That’s a federal responsibility to adjudicate via regulation and nothing has been done. Of course, Kenney with his vulpine hate of unions of any description stirs the pot to any effect he can, but the reality is that CN is not respecting their workers, and Transport Canada turns a blind eye to the corporate world’s deficiencies. Garneau is so out of it that he proclaimed Canada’s new compensation rules for poor airline service were “the best in the world”. Any dope could compare Garneau’s second -rate rules with the EU’s in ten minutes, and conclude he was insane. This is the guy running Transport Canada today, a less than competent administrator in my view, a man of limited industry experience and lacking imagination at grassroots level. Kenney was a member of harper’s crap government back in Magog days, the Liberals have been in since 2015. Neither party likes unions, they’re the public front of two aspects of global neoliberalism where workers have to work harder for less and quit complaining, so the CN union situation festers along, with all hands who could sort this out being carefully sat on. No wonder there’s a strike.

    I expect nobody in power either federally or provincially really have the slightest respect for worker’s safety rights, so in the end the workers will be legislated back to work, and nothing will happen to increase safety. Nobody seems to care, and the NDP is notably silent on the matter to their discredit. Kenney will be emboldened to carry on like the tinpot goofball dictator of Alberta he is, and provincial public service unions/locals will be ground up in the ensuing melee. The ultra rich will see things are developing as they should from their POV, and people who just want a half-decent safe living that this country can easily provide if all the wealth weren’t being transferred to the whining elite who complain at paying any income tax at all themselves, will be squashed into further irrelevance. It would help if a lot of these common folk were able to recognize that they’re being had, but they so often convincingly shoot themselves in their own feet by voting Conservative or Liberal, or not voting at all, that they embolden their “betters” to carry on with pilfering their pockets in the best neoliberal fashion. Cue Morneau and his gig economy remarks.

    Mark my words, CN workers will ultimately be shat upon from a great height, and the masses will learn nothing about how to protect themselves from the ravages of corporate greed. They’re just not engaged enough in reality and prefer to believe fairy stories from politicians. Sometimes you get what you deserve when you do not pay attention.

    • Bill you raise a very important point, namely that this strike is about worker safety and it’s been a long time coming. I’ve learned more about the horrible conditions CN workers have to endure–everything from sleep deprivation to unsafe working conditions like the ones you describe–from social media than I’ve learned in the mainstream media. I suspect this is because the MSM falls on the same side of the line as CN’s owners (unions:bad; profit:good).
      Your comments that this belief in the free market at the expense of the “common folk” is bang on. So what can we do to help the “common folk” who are first in line to vote for the Kenneys of the world to see what these politicians are doing to them?

    • DHT says:

      Hi Bill,
      I appreciated your comment, and pass along the following in case you haven’t already had a chance to review this essay. Here is a C/P from the article:

      “Another obstacle for left-wing upper-middle-class radicals is their own debilitating false consciousness, which easily exceeds the confu­sion frequently ascribed to the working class. Instead of frankly acknowledging their own professional class interests, they project their concerns onto the working class and present themselves as altru­istic saviours—only to complain about a lack of working-class enthusiasm later. This blindness often prevents them from recognizing where their interests diverge from the purported beneficiaries of their projects and impedes their ability to effect any larger political realignment. It also exacerbates the temptation to double down on parts of the current paradigm—such as enlarging the NGO racket—which only strengthens the billionaires in the long term.”

      I’ve largely stopped reading this blog (and most of the posted comments) due to the fact that many opinions here fail to recognize the culpability aspect of the finger pointers, especially as that pertains to the fact that politicians of the “two electable parties” along with many of their supporters, are bought and paid for by the oil and gas industry in this province.
      I think our greatest threat is ourselves…we have a tendency to pick the corruption that suits our purposes…and run with it. Hope you find the link helpful (and not too depressing).

      https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2019/11/the-real-class-war/

      • Interesting article DHT. What was missing for me was the recognition that the Democrats (starting with Bill Clinton) lost the working class, and the middle class to some extent, when they stopped fighting for unions, choosing instead to remake themselves in order to be attractive to corporate donors. Jim Stanford and Robert Kuttner have written extensively about the damage this caused. I’ve heard a lot from US presidential campaigns about income inequality but not much about strengthening unions.

  10. Norlaine Thomas says:

    The worry I have is that when “the bodies float up to the surface”, will anyone care? Or will a majority of Albertans just shrug and move on? After all, Kenney’s leadership campaign was already being investigated before the election. I would have thought that would be a huge red flag for voters. But no. They elected him and his UCP anyway. Boggles the mind.

    • Norlaine, you raise a legitimate concern. Most of Kenney’s supporters appear to be willing to accept Kenney’s undemocratic behavior because they believe him when he says he’ll deliver jobs and make them rich. It won’t be Kenney’s abuse of power that brings him down, it will be a combination of the pain he inflicts and his failure to get the economy humming. Many Kenney supporters have told me they’re distressed by his cuts to education. They say this because their kids are coming home in tears because their teachers are being fired. As one fellow said to me “Why did he have to go after the teachers?” What I can’t figure out is why they believed he wouldn’t go after the teachers (and the doctors and the nurses). You can’t reduce the deficit without cutting spending.

  11. Susan,
    I just read your piece on bill 22. Absolutely scathing rebuke to the cost savings approach. Magnificent.
    I have been suspended from twitter for using foul language regarding my true feelings for Danielle Smith, otherwise I would herald your praise on Twitter instead of this forum.
    I will be mentioning you in a future podcast along with your your argument regarding the cost benefit of eliminating the office.
    Great job! I appreciate your work, keep it up.

    • Thanks Richard. I’m not surprised you lost your cool with Danielle Smith. I watched a clip on Twitter where she defended Kenney’s suggestion that Alberta should take over CPP and convert it into APP. Her argument was that Alberta sent more money to Ottawa than it got back and the ideology-driven Trudeau government wouldn’t invest “our” CPP money in the energy sector, therefore we must take the money back and invest ourselves in the industry that creates our prosperity.
      The flaws with her argument are (1) Trudeau doesn’t manage CPP, it’s independently managed, (2) prudent investors are getting out of the energy sector, and (3) investing in Alberta’s energy sector increases the risk for Alberta pensioners.
      My question is this: if investing in the energy sector is such a good idea how come the oil companies aren’t investing the windfall they got from Kenney’s tax breaks into their own oil companies? They’ve chose to pay down debt, buy back shares and issue dividends. They are NOT investing in more exploration and extraction. They know the energy sector better than anyone, if they won’t invest in it, why should we?

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: I was on Twitter until June 14, 2018. My account got knackered and I have not been able to get back on it since. I was following you on Twitter too. I can only imagine the disgust people have with this. (Many of my 5300 + followers are probably not happy with this.)

      • Dwayne this business with your Twitter account is strange. I don’t know anything about how it works but for some reason I’m having more difficulty finding some people I regularly follow. I wonder whether we’ll ever truly understand the impact the manipulation of social media has on our understanding of reality.

  12. J.E. Molnar says:

    What Albertans are witnessing in real time, in their newly elected government, is a not-so-subtle nosedive into far right-wing authoritarianism — with democracy becoming collateral damage.

    Jason Kenney now feels totally emboldened, based on the recent election results where a mere 35 per cent of the voter pool crossed their fingers and decided to foolishly gamble on a return to conservative cronyism, nepotism and rascalism.

    If you doubt for even a minute that this new iteration of conservatism doesn’t ooze and drip with entitlement — just take a peek at your TV during “Oral” Question Period (1:30pm) on any given day the legislature is sitting. Mr. Kennedy’s daily self-aggrandizing performances are priceless, embarrassing and extremely disconcerting.

    • J.E. Kenney’s performance in Question Period is exactly what you’ve described. Ms Notley really went after him on his abuse of power and breach of the rule of law. She listed articles from the Star, the Globe & Mail, and the Edmonton Journal which said firing the elections commissioner was an attack on democracy. She named media people like Ryan Jesperson, Graham Thompson and Charles Adler who condemned Kenney’s actions. She listed political scientists like Duane Bratt, Lisa Young and Melanee Thomas who said the Premier is using the power of the state to silence an independent body, and this is corrupt.
      Kenney chose to respond to just one of these accusations. He said It’s sad the NDP are resorting to quoting NDP candidates like Ms Thomas as objective sources. Basically he impugned her character and integrity (ironic, huh).
      Melanee Thomas has a Ph.D in political science. She’s written countless peer reviewed papers on political behavior. When Dr Thomas says Kenney is corrupt people listen. And for Kenney to imply she’s an NDP hack is very disrespectful. It also illustrates that he had no comeback whatsoever to the criticisms Ms Notley put before him.
      Incidentally when news of Kenney’s attack on Dr Thomas became known many many university profs came out and publicly supported her intelligence and impartiality.

  13. Magda says:

    Word just came that the Teamsters and CN have reached a tentative agreement and that service will re-start immediately. So all that corn dumped on a Montreal sidewalk was just so much organic waste; I hope it got composted. And no, I don’t think anyone in Alberta had a hand in making that tantrum happen; farmers in any province tend to be feisty on their own without any outside influences. It’s not a good idea to impute right-wing involvement to every dumb thing that happens in the country; people are giving them an undeserved reputation for omniscience.

    • Magda, I agree that right-wing politicians aren’t omniscient, but they do a damn good job of grabbing on to a crisis and making their supporters think it’s up to Trudeau to fix it. Kenney went to great lengths in the clip CallmeHall2000 provided to say the strike was a national emergency, Trudeau had call Parliament early and pass the back-to-work legislation immediately. There’s a process in labour negotiations, instead of letting it play out Kenney used the strike as a political opportunity to score points. I suspect Kenney would not have used the same tactic if the Conservatives won the election on Oct 21.

      • Magda says:

        Do they really do “a damn good job” of doing that? Not the impression I’m getting this past few weeks. Trudeau has refused to take the bait and respond to all the attacks from Kenney and Co. which would just have set up himself up for more attacks. JK looks remarkably foolish unleashing demands for immediate government action the day the strike is settled and the union praises the feds for their calm and patience in the matter. Bill 207 didn’t get out of committee and while it’s still possible it might reach the floor of the Legislature, four UCP committee members voted against it. Christopher Hayward, head of some pro-life organization or other, immediately tweeted that those four UCP members would lose their nominations (which proves that pro-lifers feel they own this government and that Mr. Hayward is dumber than cement). Ryan Jespersen and Charles Adler, radio-talk show hosts with right-leaning proclivities, say their usual horde of mindless JK groupies has been mysteriously quiet lately because they’re embarrassed by the government’s Bill 22.

        As for western secession fever, Palliser said forget it, Horgan is ignoring it, Scott Moe gave an interview to The Leader-Post and rejected it (after a lot of squirming) and our own Bloc Redneckoisers are deeply suspicious of JK’s bona fides. And although it didn’t get much play in Alberta, Doug Ford had a meeting with PMJT and gushed effusively afterwards about how much he’s looking forward to working closely with the federal government.

        Have I missed anything? My personal view is that JK is getting very isolated, even in his own caucus which probably doesn’t appreciate being threatened by pro-life organization heads and why didn’t the Premier defend his caucus members when they were doing their jobs as committee members, hmmm? They’re prepared to be attacked from the left, they’re doing their best to shove the centre to the right, but being attacked from the right was not in the script.

        2020 is going to be very interesting.

      • Magda, I think JK has done a damn good job on convincing Albertans that they’re being victimized by Ottawa but you’re absolutely right that he’s pushed the western alienation thing so far that it’s come back to bite him. What I’m hearing lately sounds like fracturing on the far right—as you point out the pro-life bunch are not happy, the Wexit bunch are not happy and the “keep your hands off my pension” bunch are not happy.
        I’m not sure how many of these groups he has to lose before he gets into serious trouble.

  14. Bob Raynard says:

    When Jason Kenney fires the person investigating him for violating election laws, can he still claim that Alberta oil is ethically produced? This kind of thing definitely narrows the gap between Alberta and Saudi Arabia.

    If this trend continues, I expect there will be some event that forces Mr. Kenney to declare an emergency that necessitates the cancellation of the next election.

    • Bob, that’s an excellent point. Dr Melanee Thomas said in her interview with Markham Hislop that Bill 22 can be legitimately interpreted as the government changing the law to suit their partisan ends that involve avoiding accountability; this is fully anti-democratic in any other country. If we say its undemocratic elsewhere we have to apply the same standard at home.
      So the short answer, yes, Saudi’s oil creates significantly less GHGs but is produced in a country that by our standards is undemocratic. Alberta’s oil creates significantly more GHGs and is produced in a province that is equally undemocratic. How can anyone say Alberta’s oil is more ethical?
      Your comment about Kenney declaring an emergency necessitating the cancellation of the next election is a classic autocratic move.

  15. Mare says:

    Thanks for another informative post, Susan — as always, you do a perfect job of breaking it down and pointing out the lies, hypocrisy and dangerous policy moves this corrupt government makes (not to mention the time restraint they put on debate for Bill 22). I hope you’re feeling much better & back to 100% by now!

    I hope your followers will be able to attend the rally this Saturday at the UCP AGM. It’s from 11-2 at the Airport Westin: 671 Aero Drive NE, Calgary. So many community organizations, labour groups etc. coming together in solidarity!

  16. CallmeHal2000 says:

    When government can do whatever it wants, including giving Alberta an enema, this is what happens: sole-source contracts to fully clear out the coffers, making them sparkly fresh for clean new money from public workers’ pension funds.

    https://calgaryherald.com/news/politics/ndp-questions-contract-given-to-calgary-videography-firm-with-ties-to-ucp

    • Thanks for sharing this CallmeHall2000. As I said in the blog, the old boys are back and cronyism is alive and well under the UCP. Shannon Phillips questioned the UCP about the $73,000 sole-source contract to Vek Labs, a small company owned by the son of a generous UCP donor, which had produced several campaign videos for the UCP party. Mr Toews replied the UCP was elected to bring fiscal responsibility to Alberta and “careful procurement” was part of its plan. Toews also said “We will look into the member’s question.” This set off the UCPs guard dogs. Mr Schweitzer responded to Phillips’ second question saying the NDP were hypocrites because they appointed NDP donors to certain boards. Mr Nixon responded to Phillips’ third question saying Tzeporah Berman was appointed to an oil sands panel and she was dedicated to stopping the energy sector, the UCP would not be lectured to by the NDP when it came to appointments, the UCP will not tolerate the fear and smear from the NDP and that’s why Albertans fired them.
      Clearly Schweitzer and Nixon were not happy with Toews’ promise to look into it and unloaded every argument they had to throw people off the stench of cronyism which is becoming more pervasive every day.

  17. gregorymh says:

    SOTSB, I admire and respect what you do. A government and a leader with this level of arrogance and disrespect for Democracy must be exposed to the light of day at every opportunity. Keep up the great work, the truth will prevail.

    Jason Kenney has always amorally slid along the edge of Democracy, either bending or bastardizing the rules and in all likelihood, breaking the law. How convenient that he left the country and left his MLAs holding the bag. He did exactly the same thing in the UCP leadership race.

    It’s only a matter of time before his minions will refuse to fall on their swords for someone who only has his own interests at heart.

    • Thanks gregorymh! Isn’t it strange that Kenney is either out of town or has conveniently not read an offensive bill before it’s proposed by a back bencher. This is not a leader. I’ve worked for a number of people over my legal career. Some were great leaders, others were not. If a great leader asked us to walk through a minefield we’d do it. If a crappy leader asked us to walk through a minefield we’d say “after you.” Kenney’s time will come.

    • gregorymh says:

      Hi again Susan,
      Shortly after I sent my comment to you I received a phone call from my financial planner wondering where the money transfer was for additional investment monies I promised him. He was quite taken aback when I said that I was so upset about the UCP teachers pension grab that I was considering moving to BC, which means my investment funds would go with me. I had had a conversation with him earlier this fall about wanting to “green” my investments more, that I was talking the talk but not walking the walk on the Climate Crisis. I told him that now that Kenney has the option to invest my money in the fossil fuel industry, I needed to green my investments even more so.

      I wonder how many Albertans are considering these options, moving, and/or pulling personal investments, other than pension funds, from fossil fuel investments. I certainly am.

      • CallmeHal2000 says:

        Moving has become a topic of conversation in these parts. Many people in Alberta were not born here, and they still have family ties elsewhere. Moving back home to protect their CPP retirement funds would be a viable option. Also a viable option if they are of the boomer age and nearing retirement age anyways.

        The fact that this has begun to creep into conversations is enlightening. I’m pretty sure that housing prices would drop more than they already have in Alberta. B.C. property prices would rise more than they already have, since that’s where many retired Albertans move.

        It’s not idle chatter.

      • Gregory and CallmeHal: I agree, many of us are giving this serious consideration. It’s a tough decision because: our kids are here, our friends are here and as Cal says the resale value of our house will take a beating. Nevertheless, we’re considering it. Doesn’t say much for the JK government that we’re having these sorts of conversations, does it?

  18. Pingback: Smash and Grab – Snowbird of Paradise

    • GoinFawr says:

      Interesting story. Likely too.

      Reminds me of Berkeley Breathed’s ol’ Senator Bedfellow visiting a Bloom County elementary classroom way back in 1981:

      S.Bedfellow: And as your senator…I’m tickled to be here today, chatting with all of you… um… future voters…. yessir. Now, can any of you little nits tell me which great principle our political system is based upon?

      Milo Bloom: “Money Talks”

      S.Bedfellow: Hmph…yes….well, the other great principle…

      Milo Bloom: “Money Talks”

      S.Bedfellow: Watch your tongue, boy, or somebody might CUT IT OFF.

      Milo Bloom: MONEY TALKS

      Teach: Milo…

      Mr. Breathed can punch a nerve still.

    • Magda says:

      With apologies to Aristotle, one lawyer does not a summer make. I would be very interested to hear other lawyers weighing in on this one guy’s rather sweeping statement.

  19. Carlos Beca says:

    One after the other but he is building his paradise and the supporters should be proud of him. Reminds me of Backer and his wife crying on TV to get the funds to build their palaces. His wife would have the mascara running down looking like she had just come out of the cotton fields.

  20. Dave says:

    I think it is a tactical mistake to think firing the Election Commissioner will stop the bodies from floating up. It will probably delay it somewhat, but hey the next provincial election is not for three more years. It also took a few years for everything around Watergate to come to light.

    If Kenney and crew are confident they did nothing wrong (well nothing more than everything that has already been revealed) the best move politically would have been to leave the Election Commissioner in place to complete his investigation and then reorganize things some time after that, rather than do it in the middle of an active investigation. They are taking some big political hits for this now, so their calculation must be the cover up looks quite bad, but what is being covered up is potentially worse. If anything, this appears a bit desperate so it may encourage those most interested to continue to dig deeper.

    Of course, cutting off funding essentially shuts down the investigation at the provincial government level, so this then becomes an investigation that has to now continue through other public channels – the RCMP, the opposition, investigative reporters (not a lot in Alberta, but there are some) and last but not least, people in the UCP who have concerns about this. Actually, except perhaps for the RCMP, all of these were the same who did the initial digging and a lot was uncovered.

    • Dave I agree 100%. Apparently Kenney intends to introduce legislation in the spring to stop the publication of the names of those who violate election finance laws. One really has to wonder what he has to hide.

  21. Magda says:

    And Jason’s good bro-buddy Doug Ford is on CTV calling for unemployed Albertans to move to Ontario because there are lots of jobs there: https://twitter.com/gtlem/status/1199117061672390658 Commenters on this twitter post don’t seem to agree with that but for me the point is that this is not Ford’s veracity (always an effervescent thing) but that it’s kind of a slap at Jason.

    So much for finishing each other’s sentences.

  22. Sharon Hundert says:

    Susan,

    Thank you for your soapbox pieces, they help me survive this chaos!!!! I am sending you a piece that was written by a regular contributor to the Change Alberta Facebook page:

    TURD IN THE SANDBOX: REFLECTIONS ON JASON KENNEY

    by PHIL BURPEE

    Phil is a rancher in the Pincher Creek area and occasional columnist on Change Alberta.

    I just can’t shake the image – every time I hear or see our Premier hold forth with some lofty rhetoric rife with righteous indignation and high moral outrage concerning Alberta’s impoverishment at the hands of perfidious Easterners and liberal-elite, enviro-conspiratorial agents of global socialist subterfuge, there it pops again into my mind’s eye – and I cannot be the only one to see it. There stands the little boy in the sandbox proclaiming for all to hear that this is the finest, cleanest, bestest, corporate-friendliest, open-for-business, blessed-by-Fortune’s-hand, can-do, oil-soaked, shining-city-on-the-hill, pull-itself-up-by-its-own-gaunchies, done-wrong-by, taken-advantage-of, innocent-of-all-charges sandbox in the whole, wide goldarn playground – “….and you better give me a chocolate bar right now….OR ELSE!” I look around in some amusement to any passers-by, eyebrows raised in query – “Uh – this your kid?” But then I realize that we have indeed actually given this little fellow a mandate to squawk and squawl and complain and brandish vague threats of further hollering and vaunted ‘dire consequences’ to all and sundry for ignoring Alberta’s sovereign right to grinch and bellow and stomp around in the dirt a whole bunch. This is what’s known as statecraft within the informed circles of the United Conservative Party of Alberta. To any otherwise objective viewer, it is called a tantrum – a fit of pique. Breaking news – ‘Alberta Throws Another Tanty! – Rest of Country Yawns’. Ah yes, so Premier Kenney has now sat down with the new federal Minister of Inter-Governmental Affairs, the estimable Chrystia Freeland – late of Foreign Affairs – and read her the riot act with an air of impressive pomposity. The ultimatum is twofold – Ottawa will now herewith kowtow to any and all demands from the oil and gas sector, and likewise prepare to receive the dictates of Edmonton as to recalibration of federal transfer payments such that Alberta is no longer bilked at the hands of lounging masses of indolent Ontarians and Nova Scotians and Quebeckers (Newfies, of course, are already honourary ‘People of the Patch’ – yet who nonetheless understand very well where their pogey cheques come from – spoiler alert……..not Edmonton). Okay – let’s be clear – this is party-till-you-puke mentality. Alberta’s bargaining position in a country and on a planet mired in a rapidly-worsening climate crisis brought on by increasingly profligate burning of fossil fuels, and where our children are walking out of school and taking governments to court with litigation procedures aimed at assuring them some sort of future beyond misery and mounting chaos, and when further attempts to rationalize business-as-usual approaches to environment and the economy are now seen to be both morally bankrupt and deeply regressive, is rather weak to say the least. Perhaps the most galling aspect of the whole spectacle is that Mr. Kenney is such a cynical and conniving operator that he really has no intention of spoiling his future chances of a return to federal politics, and will abandon his erstwhile base to the proverbial wolves at the drop of a hard hat. He understands working people in much the same way as the old-fashioned crooked union boss, of whom it is said (poached from an old Doonesbury cartoon) – “Oh, he understands the plight of the working classes.” To which the respondent replies – “Sure he does – that’s how he avoids becoming a part of them.” Jason Kenny is plenty smart enough to know that he is on the wrong side of history – yet he forges ahead regardless, intent on solidifying power and all the while positioning himself for future benefit. It’s a sad spectacle really, but then he’s never had a real wage job and he plans to keep it that way. He prefers lunching out on the taxpayer’s dollar. And it’s not like us Albertans actually invented our oil economy, by the way. Figuring out how to squeeze oil out of the tar sands came about courtesy of experimental processes undertaken by the National Research Council – a federal body. And leveraging this stuff into the national marketplace was only made possible by Dief the Chief’s National Oil Policy which mandated the supply of Alberta crude west of the Quebec border at artificially set prices – at that time higher than imported. Good old-fashioned Tory market manipulation – the command economy at work. Our main contribution as a jurisdiction since that time has been to give the resource away at fire-sale prices to trans-national extraction companies who have all made out like bandits and left us with a crumpled heap of non-redeemable IOUs in the bottom of the piggy bank. Yeah – thanks a lot. You know why this was done? Because up till that time Alberta had a ‘normal’ sustainable economy – agriculture and forestry and hard-rock mining, along with retail and manufacturing and a public sector and the service trades. But a lot of people wanted to get a lot richer a lot faster, so the deal with the Oil Devil was made – and let him take the hindmost. And now we are cursed with the Petro State and all that that entails – boom and bust economic cycles, and now a dire environmental and economic situation accursed in the very eyes of our children. It makes all our whining on the national stage seem an ugly mockery of reason and decency – gets stuck in the craw. Greta was astonishingly gracious during her visit here – much more so than our provincial government legislators who behaved in a predictably churlish fashion. She cut us a lot of slack as a people. Given the results of this last election, perhaps more than we might deserve. Back to the lad in the playground then. What a cute little feller. Hair parted so nice and everything. Sure is squawky, though. And he goes on so with all that hollering – must be hard work. It’s a wonder he doesn’t get a hernia, all red in the face and all. But look – oh dear – I was afraid of that. It was bound to happen. There’s a little turd in the sandbox there, fired out like a tar-ball in the heat of the moment. Somebody should really call his mother. Now who’ll want to play in there?

    Phil Burpee Pincher Creek November, 2019

    On Mon, Nov 25, 2019 at 5:30 PM Susan on the Soapbox wrote:

    > susanonthesoapbox posted: ” Someone once said, “The only thing worse than > knowing where the bodies are buried, is watching your enemies dig them > up.” In order to ensure the Elections Commissioner’s investigation into > the UCP leadership race didn’t dig up any more bo” >

    • DHT says:

      Hi Sharon,
      Thanks for passing along Phil’s take on our current state of affairs. Excellent metaphor! As I am one to vigorously avoid social media (Facebook, Twitter et. al.) I hoped you might share the link below with Phil. Based on his “sense of sandboxes and the inhabitants within”, I thought he might find this researcher’s essay interesting. Here is a C/P from Holly’s essay (she being an author who I find has some interesting things to say about why thinkers who write what they think for public consumption, inevitably have vested interests in maintaining their place in the world). For me, and those who might think like me, the question is whether one can retain some freedom from corruptible forces. I think Phil might be on the same page when it comes to answering that question.

      “When explaining the horror of homogenization, Right and Left both see capitalism and liberalism – driven by invisible forces with insidious intent – in the causal brew. They nonetheless have different takes on what or who these forces are. For the Right, ‘international Jewry’ has been a favoured culprit, a stand-in for what they see as the materialism of both capitalism and communism. For the Left, the figure of the bourgeois capitalist loomed large historically, with the (neo)liberal as that figure’s latest incarnation, although it often seems that the Left has a more disembodied perspective on the insidiousness of ‘the system’. In the words of the late (East) German playwright and poet Heiner Müller, ‘When it comes to the emancipation of humanity, the enemy is the enemy of humanity, which is to say not a person.’
      A more telling parallel between the two is the attitude or mood of their homogenisation anxiety; mournfulness paired with apprehension about loss of stature and preeminence. Arguably, Wolf was concerned about the merging of the two Germanys because her life and relevance were bound to their division, which she repeatedly thematised in her work and which enabled her international fame. Arguably, Horkheimer and Marcuse were concerned about one-dimensionality and the ‘eclipse of reason’ because they needed high culture in order that they as intellectuals could remain relevant. Arguably, Lenin feared calls for ‘unity’ because it served ‘wretched amateurs’, sidestepping the necessity for a revolutionary leadership (ie, himself). Arguably, Valéry feared diffusion and imagined Western ‘genius’ effecting its reversal because he needed to believe that – as the anticolonial poet and statesman from Martinique Aimé Césaire wrote in Discourse on Colonialism (1950) – ‘the West alone knows how to think’. And, arguably, Renaud Camus and János Lázár fear replacement because it calls into question their sense of themselves as racially and culturally superior. Homogenisation is a problem for these thinkers, so they make every effort to turn it into a problem for everyone. In this way, they seek to give their particular anxiety a universal character. In short, they seek to homogenise the world.
      What might set the Right and the Left apart more than anything now is that many – though by no means all – on the Left seem to have reached the conclusion that there can be no escape from this dreaded homogenisation. Here is Marcuse in 1964: ‘Dialectical theory is not refuted, but it cannot offer the remedy.’ And the Italian communist Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi in 2011: ‘[E]veryday life is ready to be subjected to the unlimited rule of the commodity. From this standpoint, there is no difference between fascism, communism and democracy …’ Consult Marx, Antonio Gramsci, Michel Foucault or Pierre-Félix Guattari, and you will learn much more about the power and cunning of the homogenising system to check you at every turn than about how to confront or escape it. The Italian historian Enzo Traverso calls this ‘Left-wing melancholia’.
      Meanwhile, the Right is feeling a rush of victory. Fukuyama wrote in 1989: ‘Perhaps this very prospect of centuries of boredom at the end of history will serve to get history started once again.’ In fact, this is just what the new Right has recently trumpeted. In 2009, the Russian far-Right philosopher Alexander Dugin declared that, in the fight against liberalism, ‘the future is in our hands, and it is open rather than predetermined’. And in 2017, Orbán delivered a speech in which he declared that: ‘The year 2016 was not the slightest bit boring.’ Instead, the anticipated monotony had yielded to ‘excitement, surprise, head scratching, knitting of eyebrows and rubbing of eyes’.
      If we assume that the dominant subtext of Leftist thought is correct, that there has not been and can be no escape from homogenising capitalism, indeed that it’s unthinkable, then the Left has limited itself to confirming the Right’s anxiety, offering only an alternative explanation for what – rather than who – is to blame. Yet when Left and Right collapse in this way, both emerge strangely victorious; the Left because it accurately predicted the course of events and seems to view being right as a kind of victory in itself, and the Right because it views a fatalistic Left that feels paralysed as a sign that it has won. So it’s all the same.”

      https://aeon.co/essays/left-and-right-are-both-gripped-by-an-identical-fear-homogeneity?utm_source=Aeon+Newsletter&utm_campaign=e64f867864-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_11_25_04_37&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_411a82e59d-e64f867864-70348081

    • Sharon you made my day! I’ve read some of Phil’s pieces. Thanks for reminding me and other readers about the Change Alberta FB site.

    • CallmeHal2000 says:

      This is what happens when an academically average but particularly petulant and vindictive high school graduate takes charge of a corporation the size of Alberta.

      There is quickly becoming too much water under the bridge for the rest of Canada to fall for the antics of the raging gesticulator as PM — noisy, rushing water, people speaking up against the disasters now being inflicted on Alberta. It will take some serious electoral finagling to foist off our problem as a replacement for his American placeholder. Alberta’s problem is Alberta’s problem.

      Maybe the end game has a different goal. The Angry Bird may serve a different master with a different agenda. The most un-Canadian of tactics are being used to undermine the most Canadian of values. We hear the un-Canadian term “patriot” bandied about. Joe Canadian says simply, “I am Canadian”.

      This is not my beautiful Canada. This is not my Alberta.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Interesting comment sometimes difficult to fully understand
        The only problem is that apparently, just like Ralph Klein before him, there is great support witnessing public servants being tossed around like gladiators in the Roman Coliseum. Despite all the garbage going on, people support him. That is why he is here. Jason Kenney is the supreme opportunist and he knows how to play the bells at exactly the right moment. There is only one possible door for the rest of us to get out of this mess – he is counting on a recovery similar to what happened for Ralph Klein. The likelihood of that happening is minimal and once the money does not happen he will be toast. As soon as the dust comes down from this explosion of hate against everything public he has to show results or MAYBE NOT – I am not sure anymore.
        During the Klein era the comments about public servants was ‘check grabbers’ – it was very damaging and we are still paying the price. Now Klein was a right wing Conservative, this guy is a fascist so the damage is going to be interesting to say the least.
        One thing is for sure – it is very likely that many people are now seriously considering leaving the province and that, whether Jason Kenney understands or not could be a disaster shock to Alberta because dropouts will not carry this province in an era when education is more important than ever before. He thinks so because he strongly believes that mafias like the ones he is creating can have the same results. It may for a few but not civilized ones.

  23. CallmeHal2000 says:

    A nagging question: will the Kenney government start changing laws retroactively, so that acts that triggered the investigations started by Lorne Gibson (and other transgressions) will become redundant? As in, it never happened because whatever laws may have been broken in the past have been erased or altered in the present? I’m beginning to think so. This is why:

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/jason-kenney-election-finances-act-1.5373943

  24. CallmeHal2000 says:

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-health-services-plans-to-lay-off-750-front-line-nurses-union-says-1.5378566

    How The Grinch Stole Christmas 2019: by taking away more than 750 nursing jobs. Thinking that the Grinch responsible for funding cuts will care is like the Grinch getting a bigger heart — not impossible, but highly unlikely in these dystopian times. No remorse, regrets, no empathy. Max the dog fared better than #Albertanurses.

  25. CallmeHal2000 says:

    Sooo, another 6000 jobs to go, and word that support staff jobs in the hospitals are also in jeopardy.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-public-service-cuts-1.5379582

    Where is it going to end? Would the last person to leave Alberta please shut off the lights?

  26. carlosbeca says:

    I tried to send the URL for a petition to get rid of Jason Kenney but it did not work I believe because the URL was too long
    For those of you interested it is on Change.org under popular petitions – it is at 23 thousand today
    Although I have a bit of a problem with the industrialization of petitions, it is better than nothing

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