What Did I Miss?

Ms Soapbox just returned from a week in British Columbia.  As you might expect, the residents of BC are more interested in their own issues than what ails the richest and whiniest province in the country. Consequently, the only Alberta news we received from the local news outlets was the horrific crash of Flight 752 and its devastating impact on the city of Edmonton.

The downing of Flight 752 puts everything into perspective. Having said that, we cannot ignore what’s happening to our province as a result of the UCP government. So while it feels disrespectful to mention Alberta politics in the same breath as this tragedy, I can’t help but wonder, what did I miss while I was away?

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42 Responses to What Did I Miss?

  1. Jim Lees says:

    Susan, I was in Mexico until yesterday, but even so I heard about the big hikes in auto insurance after the UCP removed the 5% cap on annual rate hikes. Apparently this was done with little or no consultation, and nearly all insurance companies raised their rates, one as much as by 30%. Nasty surprise for 2020.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • Bob Raynard says:

      Little or no consultation? Hardly. I bet the insurance companies were consulted plenty.

      • Paul Armstrong says:

        so now Kenney and his thugs bend the knee to the insurance companies? Knee pads for all of them I guess.

      • Fair comment Bob and Paul. I recall that Kenney made what looked like a “promise” to the car dealers before he was elected. Lord only knows how many other “promises” remain to be delivered upon. Do the words “quid pro quo” ring a bell?

    • Thanks Jim. it looks like you did a better job of keeping up with new developments than I did. I did see a tweet from Joe Ceci indicating that as a result of Kenney’s policies insurance rates will go up 30%, vehicle registration will go up 11%, income tax will go up across the board because Kenney is allowing bracket creep, school bus fees are going up, and tuition is going up…sadly that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Hard to believe Kenney convinced Albertans that he was going to make sure they had more money in their pockets.

  2. Linda Pushor says:

    Also, the UCP announced via media release with no MSM pick-up a flurry of pseudo-consultations on Friday.

    • Linda, I subscribe to the government’s news feed. Today I got notice of yet another “consultation.” This one invited people to provide feedback on the 2020 budget by participating in online surveys and telephone town hall meetings. What troubled me was this quote from the finance minister: “Leading up to Budget 2019, we heard from more than 4,000 people online and almost 35,000 people during our telephone town halls.” I would love to see back-up for the statement that the 35,000 who signed up for a telephone town hall meeting actually said something, how many of them just listened silently. I’d also like to see back-up for the suggestion that feedback provided by the 4,000 people who filled out the online survey and the 35,000 who signed up for the telephone town hall meetings was actually taken into consideration. A simple chart setting out what the budget looked like before the consultations occurred and what it looked like after they’d concluded would be sufficient.
      Here’s the link for anyone who wants to participate in the online survey https://www.alberta.ca/budget-consultation.aspx

      • Terry Korman says:

        I am thinking that after all of the charges of “Virtue Signalling” leveled at their “enemies” every time something actually compassionate or humane occurred, Kenney and Company clued in that if one cannot actually BE a compassionate and empathetic person, that charges of others faking it (more of that Psychological Projection at which they are SO outstanding) still perhaps held some political merit … and so we now see “Green-washing” with respect to the Environment, and this current version of “participatory Decision Based Evidence Making” that is not unlike an election held under an Authoritarian Regime – HUGE turn-out, and the only challenge is to make sure that one has not announced the winner before Election day.

        I mean, if they were actually SERIOUS about feedback, they would have structured this so as to have the results be quantifiable … this way – non structured and open-ended, there are no numbers to possibly be leaked and to come back and bite them on the ass (like the overwhelming number of Albertans who want them to keep their hands off our Canada Pension Plan – anecdotally evidenced at every Town Hall they have held to date) … ALL results, however, are now open to their OWN interpretation.

        They disgust me!

  3. Edison says:

    While the alt-right keeps on braying their undying love for The #Wexit and the ostensibly unbiased media continues legitimizing it, the Twittersphere goes about it’s business

    • Wow, this is incredible, Edison! When I got back into town I saw a newspaper article in which Mr Downing, the de facto leader of Wexit, expressed dissatisfaction with Kenney’s lack of support for Wexit. Downing said Wexit Alberta will oppose Kenney in the 2023 election if Kenney lets them down.
      Kenney was happy to use the idea of western disillusionment to drive a wedge between Alberta and Canada and shore up his base, but he’s sadly mistaken if he thinks he can control the separatists. They’re way out ahead of him now and they’ll turn on him in 2023 when they realize once and for all that Kenney is a nationalist through and through.
      How wonderfully ironic.

      • Edison says:

        Spot on Susan, that’s exactly what is happening. Kenney’s sleazy manipulation of voters is not going unnoticed and will backfire on him

        I just want to mention how I’m impressed I am with The Medicine Hat News. It’s not at all shy about calling this stuff out and the UCP government is getting rattled, coming as it does from their political heartland

      • Edison, I’ve been following the Medicine Hat News. Great little newspaper. As you said, its mere existence should give the UCP government pause.
        Speaking of progressive action coming from the heartland, I note that Wood Buffalo council (Fort Mac) unanimously approved a ban on conversion therapy, something the UCP government refused to enact because they said, the existing law provided sufficient protection. As noted in the attached article, conversion therapy (it really shouldn’t be called “therapy) continues to this day, it’s simply gone underground. This ban imposes a $10,000 fine on violators, Maybe Alberta isn’t quite as red neck as the UCP would have us believe. https://www.fortmcmurraytoday.com/news/local-news/council-unanimously-approves-banning-conversion-therapy-in-wood-buffalo

  4. Susan Podlog says:

    Did we miss this? Jim Carr is coming to town. I have some questions and comments! Do regular folks get access. I will just type up a letter and if mailed via Canada post there is no cost. Any response? Who knows? A Fireside Chat with Jim Carr, Special Representative for the Prairies

    January 14, 2020
    11:30 am –
    1:30 pm
    Hotel Fairmont Palliser
    Hotel Fairmont Palliser, 9 Avenue Southwest, Calgary, AB, Canada

    Join us for a curated discussion with the Honourable Jim Carr, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative for the Prairies, on his first visit to Calgary since taking on his new role.

    Moderated by Sandip Lalli, President and CEO of the Calgary Chamber, Mr. Carr will discuss his new role as well as Alberta’s and Western Canada’s importance to the national and international economy.

    Following the discussion, Mr. Carr will participate in a Q and A session with the audience.

    Tickets:

    • Member ticket: $89.00
    • Member table: $712.00
    • Non-member ticket: $178.00
    • Non-member table: $1424.00

  5. Keith McClary says:

    You didn’t miss anything from the War Room, they are just repeating themselves in their January 10 effort:
    https://www.canadianenergycentre.ca/oil-sands-companies-doubling-down-on-sustainability/
    and it’s all paraphrased from corporate blurbs anyway.

    • Keith, isn’t it incredible that the War Room with its $30 MILLION budget is this inept. Even the Calgary Herald took a shot at the War Room this week. It’s political cartoon showed a soldier yelling “cease fire” after he’d shot himself in the foot a number of times. These guys are a laughing stock.
      You’ll notice we haven’t heard a peep about the $2.5 MILLION public inquiry into the anti-Alberta energy conspirators though. That is alarming because it is supposed to be a public inquiry and to date there’s been nothing public about it.

      • Keith McClary says:

        Today’s War Room is another puff piece with nothing to do with its mandate.

        “The Commissioner will submit to Alberta’s Minister of Energy:
        an interim report with advice, proposals, recommendations, analyses or policy options related to the Inquiry no later than January 31, 2020” It doesn’t say to the public.

      • You raise an excellent point Keith. What’s the public inquiry into anti-Alberta energy campaigns got to do with the War Room. I checked the public inquiry’s government web site. In addition to what you posted it said a final report on the inquiry’s findings and recommendations will be issued by July 2, 2020 and the minister will publish this report within 90 days of receiving it.
        All of which is interesting but as you said, why is the War Room publishing these puff pieces. Clearly the public inquiry can do its own PR using the government’s PR people, do the taxpayers need to pay for it twice?

  6. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Welcome back from B.C. Here are other things you missed. They can be infuriating, positive, or sad.
    In the last week, Wexit, (or some connection to them) got billboards put up around Alberta that said the following. LOCK HIM UP! PROTEST
    ISIS integration.Tax theft. Economic Sabotage. Foreign interference. Ethics Violations. This was on a half white/half black image of Justin Trudeau.
    Wexit Party granted eligibility for the next federal election. Peter Downing is quite the character.
    Then, the two newest Canadian astronauts graduated, and are ready to fly. They are from Alberta. They can now go to the moon, or to Mars. One of them is my relative. That is good news, for sure. Sadly, Canada has lost a music giant. Neil Peart, the drummer for the world famous progressive rock band, Rush, passed away from brain cancer on January 7. He was only 67 years of age. Rush were an amazing Canadian group, admired by millions of people from all over the world, including me.

    • Thanks for this update Dwayne! Just to pick up on your Wexit point, the National Post reported that Mr Downing, the de facto leader of Wexit, is involved with “…other projects, including the third-party advertiser, Alberta Fights Back [which] was…behind the billboards asking “Is Trudeau leading us to civil war?” and claiming the Liberal government was “normalizing pedophilia.” This is beyond irresponsible. Here’s the link: https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/is-a-wexit-in-albertas-future

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: I’m aware of that. It’s at least nice to see something positive come out of Alberta, that is not UCP related, with the astronauts completing their training. So, my relative could likely be one of the first Canadians to set foot on the moon.

      • Dwayne, it’s so cool that you’re related to one of the astronauts. You must be very proud! I’ll bet you’ve heard some interesting stories about their training and experiences.

    • ronmac says:

      It’s a sad state of affairs that you have to become an astronaut and fly to Mars or to the moon to escape Alberta and UCP policies.

  7. CallmeHal2000 says:

    “Wexit rally dwarfed by last year’s UCP AGM Protest March”. Hate-filled billboards sponsored by the Wexit leader made the news. Follow the money.

    But the lives lost on PS752 rightfully occupied headlines this week.

    Although it seems disrespectful to mention this so soon after this tragic loss, the U.S. conflict with Iran has implications for the $US and oil prices. Canadian citizens have paid for this conflict with their lives. It will become increasingly difficult to hear war rhetoric language coming out of our own legislature, however much they want the price of oil to soar (some pundits already guessing US $200 to $300 a barrel if the conflict escalates). A new oil boom in the aftermath of the downing of PS752 in Iran would be tainted — “Blood Oil”. Profiteering from lost human lives. My opinion.

    • CallmeHall, this is an excellent comment which once again points out the fallacy in Kenney’s statement that low oil prices are the result of Notley’s and Trudeau’s (“failed”) policies and not the global market place which is impacted by events such as the downing of PS752.
      As an aside I welcomed the extensive coverage of the downing of PS752, however I cannot understand why the Canadian media is obsessed by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to step back from their royal duties. Today’s Globe blathered on about them needing to get a good immigration lawyer if they wanted to live part-time in Canada and the Globe editorial suggested Trudeau should tell them no, they can’t live in Canada, they can only be visitors. For god’s sake, there are more pressing issues facing the world; the Brits can sort this out without us chiming in from the side lines.

  8. Dave says:

    You probably didn’t miss too much, other than a not very well attended Wexit rally at the legislature and the “fair deal” roadshow, which continues on with mixed response. Same old, same old, except for the Federal Conservatives, no election any time soon, so not too much happening. Probably what Federal Conservatives the Premier is communicating with and what they are talking about would be interesting, but I doubt any of that information is public.

    Perhaps the Federal Conservatives and UCP have finally figured out there is not much, if anything, to actually be gained by them by stoking the fires of alienation and separatism. The UCP has also probably finally figured out it needs to tone down its cuts and related rhetoric somewhat, with unemployment in Alberta rising and their popularity not. I don’t think they will change course, but they will probably try to be more stealthy about it.

    • I think you’re right Dave, I haven’t missed much.
      With respect to your point about Kenney communicating with the federal conservatives, I wonder whether it’s beginning to dawn on the federal cons that Kenney is more of a liability than an asset and they should take whatever advice he proffers with a large grain of salt. Kenney’s approval rating plummeted in Nov after he released the 2019 budget, it’s going to tank after he releases the 2020 budget. And notwithstanding the finance minister’s statement that “Albertans demonstrated that they have incredible insight into the choices we must make together to create jobs, get out of debt and grow our economy” when those same Albertans have to cope with the impact of even more Kenney cuts they’re going to think twice about who they put into the premier’s office.

  9. CallmeHal2000 says:

    You got back just in time for this:

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/blackrock-investment-climate-change-1.5426465?cmp=rss

    The War Room will have to jump all over Laurence Fink now. I don’t think it will work.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      What to me is most amazing about this article is that it took Lawrence Fink 30 years to get to this conclusion. Does not show much more intelligence then Jason Kenney and it just demonstrates that the change has 100% to do with making money and very little to do with the environment.

      The good news is that we are finally at the tipping point and those that moved us to this point are now basically forgotten after having been insulted, put in jail and some even murdered. In the end the Mrs Finks of this world will be the ones getting the Nobel prizes. The usual and extremely sad. Laurence Fink benefited tremendously from the old economy and will benefit even more from the new one.

      • CallmeHal2000 says:

        He seems to have changed his views since last year. And his opinion does hold weight. Responding to the market is something governments cannot ignore.

        The War Room’s $30M annual allowance is no match for BlackRock’s $7.4 trillion. So the war room minions can continue stomping their feet, having a tantrum, petty bickering and stealing logos, but what will it accomplish? Maybe they’ll ask for an increase to the measly little stipend. Maybe it’s just a front for a money diversion project/slush fund. A pillar of the War Room was establishing clear lack of accountability, so I bet on the latter. I challenge anyone to prove that this War Room is not a UCP War Chest. The words mean something, and JKenney let that slip.

      • CallmeHal2000 says:

        A few things are clear to me today in light of BlackRock’s announcement:

        1. BlackRock and AIMco are at odds in their investment strategies. Which one would you bank on? Pity the public service pension contibutors.

        2. What would happen to our Canada Pension if the UCP got its hands on it? How can investment strategies include ignoring the realities of the market?

        3. Contrary to what the UCP and its supporters believe to this day, neither Rachel Notley nor Justin Trudeau control the market or world commodity prices. I can’t believe gullible people still believe such fairy tales. These are international issues, things like supply and demand, and geopolitics. For example, an escalating conflict in the Middle East might have some effect.

        4. Game over, War Room. They can’t denounce BlackRock. How about a nice fluff piece about the miracles of petroleum-based hair dye or something? Still won’t cut it as a distraction. Maybe take another jab at their favorite punching bag, the Medicine Hat News?

      • Hal, I agree with your points, particularly #4. The War Room’s credibility was shot from the get go when they published the piece on the benefits of cooking with natural gas. The ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen has been publishing similar pieces since 1930. I guess this is to be expected. Everything the UCP does is a throwback from the last century. Sad, really.

      • Carlos, this may well be the case, but what matters the most to me is that Lawrence Fink actually got to this position and is broadcasting it far and wide. At the end of the day I don’t care whether we finally take action to address climate change because politicians are starting to listen to the scientists and the protesters or because the banks and insurance companies that underwrite business activity pull the plug on fossil fuel industries. Either way the planet benefits.

  10. This is huge, Hal, thanks! The article said BlackRock’s decision to make climate change central to its investment decisions is a substantial shift in its investment strategy and will have far reaching implications given that it is “often called the world’s largest shadow bank.”
    I’m eagerly awaiting the War Room’s response to Mr Fink. I suppose it will be forthcoming after it responses to Mark Carney. 😉

  11. CallmeHal2000 says:

    One more new development, an email to nurses:

    https://mobile.twitter.com/StuffNickoDoes/status/1217664887368732673

    Should be interesting when they put the security guards in charge of patient care on the wards overnight, doncha think?

    And all those people who have to drive as part of the job — maybe they’ll start using public transit to save money when their vehicle allowances are taken away. Should improve service and efficiency.

    All those nurses who are parents and who have child care arrangements for their regular part-time work schedule? Ha, they’ll have to quit when they’re forced to work up to full-time hours on night shift. That’ll teach ’em for wanting to help useless eaters, er, sick people in need. That’ll teach ’em for not being oil workers.

    Making things so bad, personal injury law firms will set up shop across the street from every hospital, if not kiosks in hospital cafeterias.

    • Hal I was just reading that email to nurses. It’s shocking. The impact on patient care caused by the arbitrary changes to nurses’ working conditions is exacerbated by the elimination of the requirement to have an RN or RPN in charge.
      Who in their right mind thinks this is an appropriate trade off to save a few bucks.

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: There are nurses and teachers in my family too. What the UCP is doing to them is appalling. It harkens back to the Ralph Klein days. An elder sibling had to work in Texas in the early 1990s, because of what Ralph Klein did to nurses. There is also a building in downtown Edmonton that will be upgraded. Part of the owners of this business/office tower are none other than AimCo. That is the risky pension fund that Jason Kenney put the teacher’s pension money into – without their consent! It just gets worse every day that the UCP are in power in Alberta. If their fall budget was bad, their spring budget might be even worse. It would make a Wes Craven horror movie look like an episode of The Friendly Giant. I recall reading recently, that Edmonton has the highest rate of unemployment in Canada now. How are Jason Kenney’s corporate tax cuts working out so far? Where are all these jobs he said would come? Just like Ralph Klein, I think more layoffs of nurses and teachers are on the way. There is no way that oil booms are coming back again. I can’t see this. I am aware that times have changed and low oil prices that are less than $80.00 to $100 per barrel will not cut it anymore for Alberta’s finances. It’s been that way for over a decade, regarding what price for a barrel of oil will be needed to keep Alberta’s finances afloat. Combine this with decades of fiscal incompetence, and failure to properly maintain essential services in Alberta, by the Alberta PCs, starting when Don Getty was our premier, and the very costly misdeeds of the UCP, and the outcome of this does not seem very good.

    • jerrymacgp says:

      To be clear — speaking as an active, engaged & informed UNA member — this e-mail is merely a summary of the Employers’ ingoing negotiations proposal package for the just-begun round of provincial bargaining for our next Collective Agreement. The Union’s Negotiating Committee plans to push back hard at the bargaining table, and it remains to be seen how firmly the Employers — Alberta Health Services, Covenant Health, Lamont Health Care & Bethany Group (Camrose) — dig in their heels on these rollbacks and takeaways. It could be several months before we see what the parties’ bottom lines are.

      Our current contract expires March 31st, 2020. We just had a decision by the interest arbitration panel on our wage reopener for year three of the current agreement, in which we were asking for a 2% increase — after two years of zeroes — and the Employers were, as directed by Government, asking for a 3% wage rollback. The panel came down with another year of zero increase, but did not impose the rollback the Government wanted.

      While some negotiations matters are of course strictly confidential to UNA members, the Union is active & fairly transparent on social media. Follow United Nurses of Alberta on Facebook, or @UnitedNurses on Twitter, to see what the Union is saying publicly firsthand.

      • CallmeHal2000 says:

        It galls me that the government would even try to remove charge nurses, showing how little they care for the safety of Albertans. Yes, it’s early days, and I’m sure the legal liabilty of that one will have everyone digging in their heels. The intent behind this is clearly to undermine the quality of care in this province, to the point that privatization of health becomes palatable and inevitable. This not what ordinary Albertans want, but somehow there was magical thinking in voting for exactly what they didn’t want. Yes, there were major lies and lies of omission, but once a liar, always a liar. Will people ever learn that old saying about “fool me twice”? Connect the dots, Alberta.

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