For a long time Ms Soapbox has been trying figure out what Mr Kenney and the UCP mean when they talk about a “hand up” and a “handout”. She knew from the context that a “hand up” was good and a “handout” was bad, but she was never quite sure why.
But thanks to Jason Nixon’s statement on the UCP government’s position on the Teck Frontier oilsands project, specifically why the Trudeau Liberals must approve the project, the distinction became clear.
Nixon started by saying, “I want to be crystal clear. Albertans are proud people. We have never viewed our relationship with the federal government as one based on charity, and we’re not about to start now. Albertans want jobs, not an ‘aid package’ from Ottawa.”
Mr Nixon was referring to unconfirmed reports that the Feds are working on an aid package to ease Alberta’s pain if they reject the Teck project. The Feds deny the two are connected; they say they’ve been working on ways to send funding to Alberta, including an infusion of cash to clean up thousands of abandoned wells. One would think this would be a good thing because it will create much needed jobs.
In fact, this was exactly what the UCP finance minister and the UCP energy minister said when they asked for such funding in November 2019.
The only difference between the Feds providing funding to clean up abandoned wells in November 2019 and the Feds providing funding to clean up abandoned wells in February 2020 is that in February the UCP connected the offer of assistance with the Feds’ go/no go decision on the Teck project.
Or to put it into UCP-speak: If the federal government had provided such funding in Nov 2019 it would have been a “hand up” and acceptable, but if the federal government provides such funding in February 2020 after it’s rejected the Teck Frontier application, it’s a “handout” and must be rejected because it amounts to “charity.”
So, in the UCP world a “hand up” can be distinguished from a “handout” by an intervening event, in this case the rejection of an oilsands project. Presumably if the Feds were to approve the Teck project, the funding would revert back to “hand up” status.
In the meantime, Albertans should take comfort in the fact that according to Mr Nixon, Albertans are too proud to accept charity; we’d rather be unemployed.
PS This lack of reason (let alone compassion) is hardly comforting given the cuts to healthcare and social services we’ll be experiencing over the coming months.