Gaslighting: abusive behavior where an abuser manipulates information to make his victim question their sanity by using denial, misdirection, contradiction and misinformation to destabilize the victim and delegitimize their beliefs. – Wikipedia
Last week, Prime Minister Trudeau announced $2.4 billion aid package for laid-off energy workers. It includes $1.7 billion to clean up orphaned oil and gas wells and $750 million to stop the leakage of methane gas.
Given that Premier Kenney has been pounding the table for months demanding $20 to $30 billion from the Feds to save the energy sector, his response to the $2.4 billion package was surprisingly bland. Why?
Because Mr Kenney discovered that he can’t bully Mr Trudeau or the rest of Canada, consequently instead of flying into a rage he issued a press release full of statements that were (a) contradicted by the facts, (b) contradicted by his own government’s policy, and (c) a masterful piece of gaslighting.
None of which goes far to engender trust in this government.
Mr Kenney’s response
Mr Kenney said Alberta was grateful for the Fed’s $2.4 billion package, but Alberta needs and deserves much more because:
- 800,000 Canadian jobs depend on Alberta’s energy sector making it Canada’s largest industry
- Alberta’s energy sector is the largest subsector of Canada’s economy
- Alberta’s energy sector is one of the biggest employers in Canada
- If the Feds don’t bail out Alberta’s energy sector it may not survive “the next couple of years”
Okay, let’s take it from the top.
Is Alberta’s energy sector (with 800,000 employees) Canada’s largest industry?
No. Economists define an industry as a sector that produces goods or services. There are at least 10 sectors that employ more Canadians than Alberta’s energy sector, including the wholesale and retail sector which employs 2.8 million, manufacturing which employs 1.7 million, and construction which employs 1.5 million.
Is Alberta’s energy sector the largest subsector of Canada’s economy?
No. The energy sector’s share of taxes paid by all industry sectors was 7.7% between 2013 and 2017. The sector’s contribution to Canada’s nominal GDP is just over 10%; the manufacturing and real estate/leasing sectors contribute more.
Is Alberta’s energy sector one of the biggest employers in Canada?
Nope. See above.
Bottom line: the first three reasons Mr Kenney relies on to support his argument that the Feds should contribute a whole lot more to prop up Alberta’s energy sector are contradicted by the facts.
Is there a chance Alberta’s energy sector may not survive the next couple of years?
Mr Kenney said these were unprecedented times and the energy sector was facing its biggest challenges ever with threats from both the COVID-19 pandemic and the Saudi-Russia price war. He said world energy markets will improve and there would be better times ahead “but only if the industry survives the next couple of years.”
Which raises the question: If there is a chance Alberta’s energy sector will not survive the next couple of years, then Mr Kenney’s decision to invest $7.5 billion in TC Energy and to allow AIMCo to invest billions more the Northern Courier and Coastal GasLink pipelines was utterly irresponsible.
Bottom line: Mr Kenny’s rationale that Alberta’s energy sector is in danger of collapse unless the Feds contribute significantly more is contradicted by his policy decision to invest Alberta taxpayers’ money in the energy sector.
What are we to make of this bizarre press release? Either Mr Kenney doesn’t care about the facts or he’s comfortable betting Alberta taxpayers’ money on a dicey future, either way he’s gaslighting us to get what he wants out of the Feds.
Which leads me to wonder, if you can’t trust your government in the middle of a pandemic, who can you trust?