Question: When is a birthday greeting not a birthday greeting?
Answer: When it comes from a hypocrite.
Canadians will be receiving Happy Canada Day greetings from politicians at all levels of government this Wednesday, but there’s one politician, Jason Kenney, who really shouldn’t bother.
Assuming his greeting is similar to last year’s message it will include references to the birth of the Dominion, our rights and freedoms under the British North America Act, First Nations, Indigenous Peoples, people not born here, WWI, WW2, and the Korean and Afghanistan wars.
There are a number of reasons why this message is objectionable, not the least of which is the fact we live in Canada, not the Dominion, and those rights and freedoms Mr Kenney is so proud of are the same rights and freedoms he’s trampling with Bill 1. (Oh, and not to be picky, but the BNA Act has been called the Constitution Act since 1982).
But what makes Mr Kenney’s greeting truly objectionable is it will land in my inbox a couple of weeks after he released the Fair Deal Panel report.
Fair Deal Panel Report
Like many Albertans I hesitate to give airtime to the FD Panel’s report which sets out recommendations to redress what Mr Kenney describes as the Federal government’s long-standing failure to make federalism work for Alberta. (Yes, I know, Stephen Harper was PM from 2006 to 2015, but “long-standing” in Mr Kenney’s parlance means “the Trudeau years”).
There are many problems with the FD report—law prof Nigel Bankes describes it as “poorly written and poorly reasoned”—but it’s biggest failing is it doesn’t deliver on Mr Kenney’s assertion that it would tamp down the flames of Western alienation.
In fact, it does the opposite.
Oh sure, the FD Panel threw a few bones to Albertans demanding greater autonomy from Canada by recommending Alberta replace the RCMP with a provincial police force, appoint a chief firearms officer and create an Alberta Pension Plan to replace the CPP.
The icing on the cake is a recommendation that Alberta hold a referendum on equalization. Unfortunately, the “clear question” the Panel proposed as the referendum question was so thoroughly botched that Prof Bankes said a “yes” response would support at least three different meanings.
Mr Kenney may be satisfied that the FD Panel’s report provides a “pressure valve” against separatism, but groups like Action Alberta would disagree.
In a recent newsletter Action Alberta presented two arguments to convince Albertans it’s time to leave: (1) fear of the deficiencies of confederation and (2) greed, or the desire to become as rich as Switzerland by ditching transfer payments, Alberta’s share of Canada’s debt, the GST, and jettisoning institutions like the Indian Act and bilingualism, etc.
All of this is premised on finding a new leader, preferably someone from the business community. (Perhaps they’ll consider UCP MLA Drew Barnes who was a member of the FD Panel but disagreed with the consensus report, arguing Albertans should be allowed to vote for independence if the federal government refused to accede to Alberta’s demands.)
So after spending Lord knows how much money on public hearings and town halls across the province, surveying 40,000 Albertans, telephone polling 1000 Albertans, and writing up the results in the report, the FD Panel failed to deliver the one thing Mr Kenney said it would deliver, it does nothing to address the sense of alienation and frustration some Albertans are experiencing.
This is not surprising given the way Panel’s mandate was structured and Mr Kenney’s apparent belief that he could walk Albertans, frustrated by the collapse of the energy sector, to the edge of the abyss, let them vent for a while and then walk them back into the fold where they would join him in railing against the federal government and the other provinces they blame for getting in their way.
The Fair Deal hearing process did not act as a “pressure valve” to ease separatist angst, but as a pressure cooker that solidified the separatist position.
And insipid Happy Canada Day greetings from the premier will not paper over the corrosive mess he’s created.
He must have something really big planned for tomorrow, like a Canada Day sale of all Alberta’s assets to friends and family of the UCP. Why else would he wedge a really big announcement in between a weekend and a stat holiday, when many Albertans are away?
CallmeHal, it turns out the announcement was a nothingburger; an acceleration of the previously announced corporate tax cut (which worked so well the last time) and a rehash of previously announced capital expenditures with a few promises re: tech and AI sprinkled on top. No imagination, no vision, certainly not the “bold and ambitious plan” he promised. I’ll have more to say about it in next Sunday’s post.
A very accurate take on the narrative that Jason and his conglomerate of political spinsters have constructed. Well done.
Their choice of provoking a false sentiment was very effective political angling and fits the conservative brand of constant victimisation and of being constantly under siege from the left. Never-mind that the Liberals are just as bad as any neolibertarian political party.
I would submit to you a hypothesis that the UCP knew what the banks did in 2014, that junior to midrange oil and gas investments in the province had a terrible return on investment due to a litany of factors not the least of which is the drop in the price of oil or a reluctance to do anything substantial to mitigate climate change and the further stranding of oil and gas assets.
Along with CAPP and the UCP ( read Harper and Associates) a narrative was constructed to provide cover for the purpose of one thing and , we know this due to the fine reporting of Energi Media reporter Markham Hislop and his confrontations with CAPP over false energy market analysis that CAPP claimed to be true and lead to his ouster of certified media organisations that CAPP deals with. The point of that narrative being to replace private investment in the oil and gas industry with public money, by creating a cover story. Markham was right in his assessment that CAPP was promoting a co-ordinated narrative with the UCP based on a falsehood surrounding what really lead to the problems the province was having, to put it very broadly.
The “unholy alliance” of Notley and the federal Liberals was born. Once the UCP won on that sentiment and after riding the anger that everyone felt as the economy started to retract post 2014 oil price collapse, they started to run the program.
The corporate income tax reductions were the start of the replacement of those privately held assets. AIMCo, relaxing of environmental regulations, etc.
Thats why such opposition to the carbon tax. those producers couldn’t even get loan from greedy bank as it was soda na dded cost was out of the question.
The Narrative is wearing thin.
Richard, aka Chach: Interesting comments, particularly your observation that “The point of that narrative being to replace private investment in the oil and gas industry with public money, by creating a cover story.”
The same could be said for Kenney’s economic recovery plan per se. Kenney will divert billions of dollars into infrastructure that I’m convinced will ultimately find its way into the hands of the private sector. The process is: (1) public money builds the infrastructure, things like laboratories, radiology clinics, schools and hospitals; (2) the government sells it to the private sector because it needs the money and the private sector does it (whatever it is) so much better than the public sector and (3) the public pays more for “publicly funded, but privately delivered” services. Another example of privatize the profits, socialize the losses.
Susan: Thanks for another great blog. I knew it all along that this Fair Deal Panel from the UCP is nothing more than a costly joke. It had its own agenda before the panel was created. I have some comments about what it recommends, (wants to do is more like it). While the R.C.M.P aren’t perfect, (not all police officers are bad), putting in an Alberta police force will cost a lot of money, for training new police officers, and getting new police detachments built. Where would the existing R.C.M.P officers relocate to? An Alberta Pension Plan (APP) is as absurd of an idea as they come. The Alberta PCs, during the Don Getty reign, made people very irate, as their life savings were lost forever, in the Principal Trust debacle. Jason Kenney was in the CPC, when people’s life savings went away for good in the $35 billion income trust debacle. The UCP also just lost $4 billion in pension money. It was tied to AIMco, which has a shady history. CPP is the far better pension fund. Furthermore, Alberta’s Heritage Savings Trust Fund has never been topped up, since Peter Lougheed stopped being premier of Alberta. So, why would Albertans trust the UCP to handle their pensions? The equalization payment system is a nice scapegoat by misled Albertans who don’t understand how it works. They somehow think Alberta gave billions of dollars to Ottawa, Quebec, or to other provinces over the years, when that’s not the case at all, (if they’d look at Quebec’s provincial tax rates, they’d see how that province pays for the services it has). These misled Albertans think that that’s where Alberta’s money was lost. Alberta’s money was lost and squandered by the Alberta PCs doing the most costliest debacles, ever since Don Getty was premier. The UCP aren’t any better. So far, the UCP have left Alberta with $50 billion in the hole, from various mistakes. Albertans never seem to learn. Also, going back to the equalization payment issue, it was last redone by the CPC, where Jason Kenney was in. As oil booms, and record high oil prices are a thing of the past, because oil prices nosedived in 2014, the UCP will burden Alberta with more Don Getty and Ralph Klein style austerity, to compensate for their fiscal mismanagement. Wait till the fall budget comes. Ottawa will still get the blame by Albertans. Down south of us, in America, their oil industry has been suffering greatly. Can these Albertans blame Donald Trump for that? This separation issue (aka Wexit), is just emotional filled nonsense, not following logic. It was in Alberta before, and had as much traction as someone stepping on a pile of marbles. There are a plethora of federal entities that would need to replaced, and certain things that can’t go to Alberta, such as the national parks. Alberta is also landlocked, and given the fact that oil prices are very low, and our bitumen, or oilsands material is the least desirable, Alberta would be left destitute. To begin with, Alberta was the poorest province in Canada. It’s heading that way now, with the UCP. Jason Kenney is talking out of both sides of his mouth. He fuels separation one moment, then he is against separation, the next moment. If Peter Lougheed were still around, he’d be disgusted with the UCP. He’d give his son a good talking to, before his son joined the UCP’s Fair Deal Panel. I hope you and your family have a Happy Canada Day, and stay safe.
Dwayne, your analogy of “stepping on a pile of marbles” beautifully illustrates what life is like under Kenney’s leadership. As you point out, the FD panel was a joke that failed to satisfy the separatists while at the same time created a litany of expensive, duplicative and futile activities which serve no purpose other than to distract Albertans from the real issue which is IF Alberta is going to emerge from the oil price crash and covid effect with its economy and social programs intact it needs a leader with vision, creativity and ingenuity. Kenney had the conservative brain trust, Jack Mintz and Stephen Harper, leading the economic recovery committee and the best he could come up with was accelerating the corporate tax cut, cutting more “red tape” and telling corporations they would be “irresponsible” not to move here. A few weeks ago he said the US is the lynch pin of Alberta’s economic recovery. The man has no fresh ideas, no vision.
The next few years are going to be very hard on Albertans as we fight to secure a future for ourselves and our families because this government is more of a hindrance than a help.
I wish you and your family a Happy Canada Day, Dwayne. Stay safe!
.. ‘insipid’ .. Its a sadly effective summary description of a fake ‘patriot’ who’s talent is seeking the nearest microphone & camera. Glib rhetoric camouflages what I assume is a truly hollow life. Whatever attracts ‘followers’ and enablers to such a posturer is as much a mystery as what attracted the same to Stephen Harper. Banal, droning.. ‘smartest guy in the room’ seems to attract flawed wannabes. I know there is a correct or medical term for being attracted to such sad political animals. The Trump phenomena is similar. The UCP are / were in their glory falling into line behind such sad fakes and the Alberta Great Again.. Canada as petro superpower fantasy of the ReformaTories.
There are wonderful exemplars in Alberta, in all fields of endeavor.. just as there are throughout Canada. I find it astonishing how many instead choose to embrace pedantic, holier than thou ‘insipids’ with inflated self image and ‘situational ethics’ .. Really admire your posts.. and credit to your commenters aussi !
Thanks Diamondwalker! What I enjoy about writing these posts is seeing what readers like you think about the issues. I’m always impressed by the quality of the responses. The point you make here is a case in point. You focused on an important question which is why do so many people vote for the Kenneys, Harpers, Trumps of the world when it’s clearly against their interests. The rich know exactly what they’re getting, ie a government that gives them tax breaks and makes it easier and cheaper to run their businesses through deregulation, but what do the middle class and poor get? Not much.
Like you, I don’t know what attracts them, but the focus on me, me, me vs the greater common good seems to be part of it.
There is nothing inherently wrong with the notion of replacing the RCMP with a provincial police force; after all, three of the other provinces have them: Ontario (the OPP), Quebec (le Sûreté du Québec), and Newfoundland & Labrador (the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary). In fact, some critics of the RCMP have recommended that the force get out of contract policing — which is what their relationship with the seven provinces where they provide day-to-day policing is called — and stick to federal-only policing roles: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2020/05/24/rcmp-facing-systemic-sustainability-challenges-due-to-provincial-policing-role.html
The real issues are: (1) what would such a transition cost, and would it be the investment, and (2) would the new provincial police force function at arms’-length from provincial politicians, as it should, or would it become the Premier’s private plaything, as Doug Ford appeared to view the OPP when he tried to appoint his buddy Ron Taverner as OPP Commissioner?
Let’s also not forget that out here in Alberta, unlike those Eastern provinces that have hired the RCMP to police their rural areas and small towns, very few cities have their own municipal police services. Calgary, Edmonton, & Lethbridge are the only ones I’m sure of; virtually all of Alberta’s other small- and medium-sized cities — Red Deer, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, St Albert — use Mounties. So, under such a transition, would those cities now use the new Alberta Provincial Police? Or be required to form their own?
Thank you … I was wondering, but I wasn’t sure & didn’t take the time to look it up.
Oops … typo: I meant to ask “would it be worth the investment” …
Great questions Jerrymacgp. As you point out many governmental institutions are being asked to seriously consider the issue of systemic racism and the RCMP commissioner, Brenda Lucki, didn’t exactly cover herself in glory as she responded to the takedown of Chief Allan Adam.
I was trying to figure out whether I find the idea repellent because it was raised by Kenney (who I don’t trust); but when I think about it, I’d probably question the wisdom of such a move if it had been proposed by Notley as well for the reasons you set out: what’s the transition cost, is it worth the investment, and would that investment be better spent elsewhere.
What really annoys me is how Albertans vote against their own self interest and elect nut right wing parties. Then they complain they have no voice in Ottawa. Who wants to deal with crazies, not sane rational accomplished human beings?
Brent, no kidding. What I don’t understand is Alberta’s constant whining that the Liberal governments shafted the West since time immemorial, but when you look at history, Canada has had 13 Conservative PMs and 10 Liberal ones, including the most recent heavy weight from Alberta, Stephen Harper. How is it that the so-called shafting was at the hands of the Liberals and not the Conservatives who were in power for significant stretches of time and could have reversed the “evil” done to the West if they chose to do so?
Susan, I thought Kenney and UCP were against big govt. seems to me that all these measures they are proposing will significantly grow the govt, and expand the influence the UCP govt has over our day to day lives. That makes me very uncomfortable…. Jim
Sent from my iPad
Jim, I agree with you, Kenney’s hypocrisy knows no bounds.
Now, I wouldn’t quite call Mr. Kenney a hypocrite here. In his defense, I suspect over his long career in politics, he has developed an ability at times to play both sides of an issue for political advantage. While some politicians can resist this better, unfortunately Mr. Kenney’s moral compass is not quite strong enough in this case, or perhaps after all these years it is broken. He does sometimes tend to bob and weave on issues, like a boxer, at times.
In any event, at this point it is hard to discern whether Mr. Kenney is a reluctant Canadian or a closet separatist and that is probably exactly how he wants it right now. Recently, I was convinced the latest bozo eruption from his quasi separatist MLA, Mr. Barners, would finally lead Mr. Kenney to boot him and finally resolutely come down on the side of Canada. Well, so far that hasn’t happened.
I am not sure sure there is much, if anything to be gained by Mr. Kenney by continuing to play political games here, but I think he has painted himself into a political corner and is not sure how to get out of it, so he continues to equivocate for now. He has whipped up sentiment against the Federal government and Canada and accordingly a number of people in his own party are flirting with separatism and having led them in that direction, it will be hard for Kenney to reverse that.
Of course, all of Mr. Kenney’s angry talk has accomplished exactly nothing. No pipeline is being built any faster, the economy is in worse shape than before and the Federal government is not very enthusiastic to help him out given they have often been the target of his invective. It will even get worse, when he finds holding a referendum on equalization will budge the rest of Canada about as holding Senate elections for the last three decades did. Now that doesn’t mean dealing with the rest of Canada is necessarily doomed to failure, but that Mr. Kenney’s angry and aggressive strategy is failing. I can understand why he is continuing to try sit on the fence as long as possible, as uncomfortable as that might be, as the climb down and admitting his strategy is not working could be a bit embarrassing.
‘Now, I wouldn’t quite call Mr. Kenney a hypocrite here. In his defense, I suspect over his long career in politics, he has developed an ability at times to play both sides of an issue for political advantage. While some politicians can resist this better, unfortunately Mr. Kenney’s moral compass is not quite strong enough in this case, or perhaps after all these years it is broken. He does sometimes tend to bob and weave on issues, like a boxer, at times.’
I am not sure I understand your logic Dave.
Jason Kenney is an hypocrite in everything he does because he always takes advantage of both sides of any issue and you explain it as a case of lack of moral compass. Well that is exactly why he is an hypocrite. Not sure I understand what you mean that after all these years it is broken.
Jason Kenney not only does not have a moral compass he does not have any compass at all. He does not have character of any kind and plays the fiddler that suits his personal interests. He is a spin master and we can see that in his plan that he just announced.
First he lays off teachers and now he builds schools. Then he announces 10 billion but 7.5 were already announced previously. Just lies and innuendos. His finance minister was on CBC this morning and said nothing other than the same usual spin used before.
You know there is no grey areas when it comes to what one chooses to implement. I am not really sure what is that Jason Kenney pretends to do other than reducing taxes to his overlords.
If anything is clear is that he intends to reduce taxes even below 8 % very soon and the only way he can do that is either borrowing more money or reduce programs and I am sure that cutting programs is where he is heading. More privatizations and more cuts. That kind of economics is failing everywhere and it is outdated except that UCP is living in 1200 BC and so it is not surprising. Oil and Oil investment is their objective.
If he is not an hypocrite I am not sure what he is other than an idiot and I would wish he would just resign because I cannot see that he is competent enough to run this province.
He can take his blind political ideology to the Federal level where he will please his prophet Harper, who is trying to destroy the Conservative Party for good.
Carlos, I’d agree with your comment that Kenney does not appear to have a moral compass. I base this on the video he made in his 30s in which he bragged about his efforts when he was a young man in San Francisco to stop gay men dying of AIDS from being with their loved ones. Kenney has never apologised for these actions.
Health specialists talking about covid remind us that the AIDS epidemic was as devastating as covid, albeit to a smaller community. Instead of helping to alieviate the suffering, Kenney made it worse. That is morally reprehensible.
PS Apparently the McKay/O’Toole CPC leadership race has become so bitter that conservatives are afraid it will tear the CPC apart. How’s that for karma.
Dave, your comment made me look up the definition of hypocrite to make sure I was using the term correctly, I found this: (1) a person who puts on a false appearance of religion or virtue and (2) acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings (Merriam Webster).
I think Kenney would fall within the first part of this definition given his utter disregard for the sick and the vulnerable notwithstanding his strong Catholic faith, however he may not fall within the second part of the definition because he may be aligned to his “stated beliefs” namely an extreme conservative ideology.
You’re right that he’s running into trouble because he’s bobbing and weaving so much on so many issues that he’s alienating parts of his base. The Freedom Conservative Party and the Wexiteers are talking about merging into the Wildrose Independence Party. This will peel off some of his far right support leaving behind the former PCs, many of whom were not that impressed with Kenney in the first place.
Weird times in Alberta politics.
“Affirmative Dave, I read you… I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do…” HAL
@ Carlos: indeed.
I don’t think Kenney is a closet separatist or really wants to destroy Canada. If anything, I think his unrealized ambition is to be PM of Canada. I think he is currently using western alienation for his own political purposes and believes he can control it – turn the anger on and off to support his political agenda. However, I am not sure it will work out that way.
On the issues of his of religion and his politics, I agree the conflicts are obvious and I do see hypocrisy there.
I agree Dave, Kenney’s ambition is such that he won’t be satisfied being a big fish in a small pond, but given how the rest of Canada views Kenney’s Alberta, I don’t see how he will make the leap back to federal politics. It’s beginning to look like the CPC won’t win the next election with either O’Toole and MacKay as their leader, why would Kenney sliding in from the West improve their odds?
For the love of Confederation, he called it “Dominion” again. The Twitterverse reveals that “God’s Dominion” in terms of evangelical Christianity is what this means. So anyone who follows another religion or believes in the separation of church and state is not welcome at this party.
My Canada separates church and state. Happy Canada Day, Canada and Canadians! I celebrate Canada, unequivocally.
If my memory is correct the phrase Dominion in relation to political authority originated at the time of Canadian Confederation. The word “Dominion” in the phrase Dominion of Canada was meant to indicate Canada had more jurisdiction to govern its affairs than a colony but less than a sovereign nation. The politicians knew the term from the bible and felt it appropriately described Confederation.
One reference (there are a number) to get the biblical sense of the word Dominion.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
Even the Bible knew about creeps. Seems about right.
Cal and Shel: David Climenhaga did a great post about the “Dominion Day” brohaha. He noted that Kenney’s first Canada Day message was a nice little message which was “updated” a few hours later to take on a darker tone.
The “updated” statement started with “Happy Canada Day”, but that was the first and last we heard about “Canada Day”. The rest of the statement focused on “our great Northern Dominion”, “the colonies and territories of British North America”, “ordered liberty,” and safeguarding our institutions “within a constitutional Monarchy”. Perhaps the bit that was most offensive is where Kenney inserted a sentence (“we must repair inequities within the federation so all provinces are unleashed to flourish and prosper”) into the paragraph calling for reconciliation with Indigenous people and equality of opportunity for them and Canadians of all backgrounds. By doing so he elevated Alberta’s imagined grievances to the level of systemic discrimination and racism that we’re trying to address with our BIPOC community. Very callous and misguided.
Here’s the link to David Climenhaga’s post: https://albertapolitics.ca/2020/07/canada-day-mystery-what-happened-between-9-a-m-and-1-p-m-to-jason-kenneys-holiday-message/
From the linked article:
“Or perhaps it was just that Mr. Kenney, the secretly regretful college dropout with his own well-thumbed thesaurus, got up grumpy, opened Alberta.ca, and decided he could do better.”
Better than the now-infamous and from where I sit very highly paid Paul Bunner? Say it isn’t so!
Seems to me anyone could do better than the highly paid Paul Bunner.
On the topic of the Kenney government taking action to address racism, Tyler Shandro (health minister) has opened a third party investigation to an incident that occurred in 2016 where “a piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital.” Apparently this was reported to AHS at the time but the medical bylaws (?) prevented the AHS from investigating properly.
So this is a good step, but Kenney firing Paul Bunner would be even better.
David Climenhaga always says as it is but this time he avoided it, leaving a double mystery.
I am not sure why the change of the message is a mystery.
It has Jason Kenney’s trade mark all over it. He cannot tolerate peaceful and conciliatory messages ever. So the first one was for the papers and radio and the second for his separatist voters and truly redneck Albertans. This double language is always present in everything he does so that one can be wrong and the other right as soon as convenience and controversy calls. He knows that his supporters approve this double talk because that is their way of looking at life in general – take selfish advantage any possible time, play the deceiving game.
So if David reads this blog I suggest a little more pounding, this hypocrite deserves everything we can manage to lay on him and his goons. Mafias only understand bullying and that is what they deserve.
Carlos, it does appear that way–as if Kenney saw the first version of the Canada Day announcement and scrapped it because it didn’t go back into history far enough to pick up Kenney’s reverence for our glory days as a British colony after France ceded the colony of Canada to England in 1763, (England united the colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick into the Dominion of Canada in 1867).
On a different note, I read an interesting publication by the School of Public Policy which looked at the rise in populism and divided voters into two groups, those who preferred an “ordered” society and those who preferred an “open” society. Guess where Kenney would fit in. Here’s the link: https://www.policyschool.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Northern-Populism-Graves-Smith.pdf?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiT0dWaE1URmtOamt5WVdNNCIsInQiOiJ4TlZoVXZzcEt1SFJCTml5SDdPWHJnZGZEdTRoeTdnUVBmRDZoaXBVY2ZkeXZsdWtkUzRtXC9GdUsybVB2UENxT1JyakhXQ3JqWDR3aHBGaklkSzVpWmg1SDl5VVwva3ZoN0FxZWMrZ3htSGZrbkZSSUorXC9xMzRwS3ZESkxNK29iUiJ9