UCP AGM 2020: Awards Night

The UCP AGM is such a bizarre event.

Sure, there were the typical UCP policies to create an Alberta Pension Plan, collect Alberta taxes here in Alberta, replace the RCMP with a provincial police force, “so there” referendums to show the Feds Alberta is miffed about transfer payments, and policies to further privatize healthcare and undermine unions.

But they also passed a number of policies that fly in the face of their government’s stated objective of cutting spending and reducing debt and/or are just plain loony to boot.

In recognition of the off-the-wall policies we’d like to present the following awards:

The UCP Leader at the UCP AGM 2020

The Big Spender Award goes to …

The three policies are under consideration for the Big Spender award are:      

  • Policy #4: Facilitating pipelines, energy corridors and infrastructure developments “with a view to domestic security and global access.” The words in quotes are new, and one suspects may have been added to provide air cover for Kenney’s facilitation of Keystone XL by locking Albertans into a $1.5 Billion equity stake and $6 Billion in loan guarantees, as well as any additional gifts he intends to bestow on corporations here and abroad.   
  • Policy #21: Creating a strategic petroleum reserve and expanding existing storage capacity to provide Albertans with “domestic energy security and enhanced price stability” and prepare Alberta for the next “natural disaster, global crude oil price war, market disruption or pandemic.” Oh, and the US has a strategic reserve that’s 10 times bigger than ours.  Excuse me? The US created its strategic reserve after the 1973 OPEC oil embargo to alleviate oil shortages. When did “energy insecurity” become an issue for Alberta? Also price volatility is a marketplace risk that should be borne by the producers and their shareholders, not Alberta taxpayers.
  • Policy #26: Use natural gas to encourage the downstream development of the petrochemical industry. How? Kenney has already cut the corporate tax rate and is stripping away environmental regulations, what more do the natural gas and petrochemical companies want?   

The BS Award goes to …. (drum roll) …. Policy #21 for its audacious attempt to obscure the real reason for a multi-billion dollar gift to the energy sector and the cliff-hanger last sentence in its rationale which states “Given the magnitude of the investment required, its long term”  Its long term what…?

The Most Bizarre Rationale Award goes to …

The Most Bizarre Rationale Award goes to Policy #16 (replace the RCMP).

This rationale states the RCMP should be replaced because notwithstanding Alberta’s visceral attachment to the RCMP and their “freshly washed vehicles” its “federal mandate and allegiance with Ottawa are cause for concern. The RCMP can be viewed as a relic of Alberta’s colonial past when Upper Canada and Lower Canada decided what was best for Central Canada and how the resource-rich West could be mined.” Alberta had a provincial police force from 1917-1932 and eliminated it as a cost cutting measure, nevertheless the rationale’s focus on “visceral” attachments, “freshly washed vehicles,” and the conflating of a non-existent  “colonial past” with the mining of the resource-rich West pushed Policy #16 way over the top.    

The Most Reprehensible Policy Award goes to …

And here we get serious.

The Most Reprehensible Policy Award goes to Policy #11, (privatization of healthcare).

Policy #11 landed with a squishy 53% in favour notwithstanding the objections of the UCP minister of Service Alberta and others who said Policy #11 is contrary to the UCP’s founding policies and its 2019 election platform which expressly stated its commitment to publicly funded and universally accessible healthcare, and it violates the Canada Health Act which could result in a dollar for dollar reduction in federal health transfers.

What makes Policy #11 reprehensible is it provides a cover of legitimacy to actions Mr Kenney has already taken to move ahead with his privatization agenda. He’s tabled Bill 30, the Health Statutes Amendment Act which changes nine statutes to provide more private options for doctors, clinics and those who can afford to pay to get to the front of the line and he’s destabilizing public healthcare by driving physicians out of the province and announcing 11,000 in job cuts and layoffs in the middle of a pandemic.  

Why anyone bothered to debate a foregone conclusion in the first place is a mystery.

It’s a wrap

The virtual UCP AGM will wrap up next weekend. If these policies are anything to go by, the gong show known as Kenney’s government is going to get much worse.

Sources: https://www.ucpagm.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/2020-Policy-and-Governance-Booklet_sept2820.pdf

This entry was posted in Alberta Health Care, Politics and Government and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to UCP AGM 2020: Awards Night

  1. Jane Walker says:

    Thank you, Susan! Great blog … Scary circumstances … I am still amazed that these few people have taken serious retrograde steps in the services and programs that have educated our people and dealt with health and illness in a way that is both enviable and effective.
    Surely the true Conservatives in this province who pride themselves in being ‘progressive’ must be seeing the folly of their ways in electing this team!! Where are they? How can we encourage them to speak truth to power in their partisan community??

    • Jane, there are quite a few progressive conservatives who are very concerned about what Kenney is doing to Alberta, however with very few exceptions (Thomas Lukaszuk is one, his Twitter feed is enlightening) they’re unwilling to make their concerns public. They’re afraid of the repercussions, getting fired for example. This is unfortunate because these people, many of whom are former PC and WR MLAs, are influential and could help Albertans see Kenney for what he really is, an ideologue enthralled by big corporations.

      • GoinFawr says:

        “…enthralled by big corporations.”

        Wow, that must really hit the nail on the head, mustn’t it?
        Who will be paying for ‘Albertans’ Strategic Reserve’, exactly? From my perspective it looks like Mr.Kenney is rationalizing a way for Albertans to buy the oil co.’s product, and/or pay to store it for them too!

        “I dunno if you are into the Stock Market baby, but if you are, well, you can appreciate this: I bought CardBOard when it was only 14 cents/tonne. And it’s up to 16 cents now, so uh and I bought three tonnes of it… so that’s, uh…er you figure out. Oh, and I got this special deal where I only have to keep two tonnes of it at my house…” – Steve Martin

      • GoinFawr: Perfect!
        Steve Martin cornering the cardboard market makes as much sense as the UCP’s argument in favour of creating the Alberta Strategic Reserve. There is no evidence to support the rationale that the ASR is necessary to protect Alberta from energy insecurity (we’re oversupplied, not undersupplied) nor that the ASR would be a buffer against low prices (that’s driven by the global marketplace and putting more crude into storage will push prices lower) so all we’re left with are the rationales that ASR will help Alberta weather natural disasters and pandemic (gee, if only we had more oil in storage to deal with the Fort Mac fire and covid-19) and ASR will “ensure more stable tax and royalty revenue for Albertans.” I’d like to see someone explain why Albertans should spend their tax dollars to buy storage caverns, to buy cheap oil to fill them up, and then take the market risk waiting for prices to rise so Alberta can sell this oil at some point down the road (and incidentally compete with the oil companies who are scrambling to take advantage of the price uptick, assuming there is one). I agree with your take that it’s nothing more than Kenney turning this province inside out to save energy companies from their failure to cope in the free market.

  2. aratureis says:

    Susan, is there a way I can share this on my FB page? I often want to lead my Page followers to your work but I can never get the columns to “Share”.

    Thank you, always, for your excellent work.

    Yvonne Spies Calgary

    On Sun, Oct 18, 2020, 7:55 PM Susan on the Soapbox, wrote:

    > susanonthesoapbox posted: ” The UCP AGM is such a bizarre event. Sure, > there were the typical UCP policies to create an Alberta Pension Plan, > collect Alberta taxes here in Alberta, replace the RCMP with a provincial > police force, “so there” referendums to show the Feds Alberta i” >

    • aratureis, I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. You should be able to share this post on your FB page by clicking on the blue FB share button at the bottom of the post. You’ll see that 182 people have shared it to date. Thanks for helping us get the word out!

  3. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Thanks for another great blog. The UCP have really gone off the deep end. The privatization of healthcare in Alberta, is what Ralph Klein wanted. All these proposals by the UCP are going to go down like a lead balloon. The UCP are behaving like dictators (much like Ralph Klein was). They have their own agenda, and they are intent on ramming it through, no matter how much harm it does to Alberta. The UCP are also building up a large debt for Alberta, which is going to be $100 billion, and beyond. When will this madness end? The UCP also will have public forums, and online forums, which supposedly will seek input about Alberta’s finances, before the spring budget. It is all an act, given that the UCP already has their mind made up. Do you have a link to these forums? I just hope the UCP get booted out in 2023. This is too much for any sensible person to take.

    • Dwayne, I absolutely agree when you say the UCP are acting like dictators. Tyler Shandro’s edict to the College of Phsycians and Surgeons (CPSA) is a classic example. Shandro tore up the government’s agreement with the doctors, the doctors objected and Shandro (and Kenney) told Albertans don’t worry, the doctors won’t leave, they make too much money here. Then the doctors started shutting down their practices and moving out of province so Shandro told the CPSA to revise its standards to make it very hard for them to leave without risking disciplinary action.
      In effect the state (Alberta) is telling a self-regulating body (CPSA) to implement standards that will punish Albertans (doctors) if these Albertans don’t do what the state tells them to do. And the state is doing this because these Albertans refused to lie down when the state told them to lie down.
      It’s an egregious abuse of power.

      • Jane Walker says:

        Don’t lose sight of the influence of the IDU … International Democrat Union. 1983 Chaired by Stephen Harper. Their international presence is noted on a map found on Google. They are trolling for international influence and control.

        Here follows an excerpt from their principles:
        “……. Having regard to their common views that political democracy and private property are inseparable components of individual liberty and that the socially-oriented market economy provides the best means of creating the wealth and material prosperity to meet the legitimate aspirations of individuals, and of tackling social evils such as unemployment and inflation;

        Believing that this is the most effective and beneficial way of providing individual initiative and enterprise, responsible economic development, employment opportunities, low taxation and consumer choice;

        Having regard to the threats posed by the extreme Left and the extreme Right; ……”

      • Thanks for this Jane. I was listening to an interview with Robert Reich the other day. Reich was asked about his view on the shift to the right. He said unbridled capitalism has created such misery that there will be a resurgence of progressive thinking. If that’s the case the IDU and Kenney will have a meltdown. Wouldn’t that be delightful.

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: There was also a doctor in Alberta who called out the UCP’s lies that doctors were not leaving Alberta. He cited CPSA data as his source. The UCP has a vice grip on power, and they don’t care what they do, and who they affect with their bad decisions.

  4. Carlos says:

    So far only 3 comments – I think we are all so tired of Conservative lunacy that, like me, have no words to describe the sadness of this situation.
    I no longer follow any decency rules to comment on this team of morally and ethically challenged people. Some are outright incompetent and should not be managing a bottle depot never mind our province.
    We certainly have to include minimum standards of competence when we reform the political system of this province. We cannot have people like Shandro running an Health Care System.
    I would like to know who thinks that Jason Kenney is a very bright individual? Maybe the brightness comes from his socks like David Climenhaga commented in his last blog.
    This is not just bad government, it is human failure. Nothing makes any sense.
    11 000 layoffs in the middle of a pandemic – this is definitely brilliant.

    • Dwayne says:

      Carlos: It is mindboggling and also sad that there are people who still defend the UCP. There were only over 700 people partaking in the UCP’s AGM. Look at the outcome of their proposals, and look at the percentage of those who supported the proposals. This is very bad for our democracy, and for Alberta’s future. Only two and a half gruelling years more of the UCP. I’m afraid the UCP will do more damage, and give Alberta more debt. The media will continue to get behind the UCP and endorse them.

      • Dwayne, the policy calling for a privately funded, privately managed healthcare system passed with 53% in favour. And that’s in a room full of UCP supporters. I’m convinced it would fail if Kenney put it to a referendum. He won’t because the people who stand to make money through privatization (specialist doctors, private health insurance providers, etc,) are licking their lips in the background just waiting for Kenney to deliver Alberta to them on a silver platter.
        This move on top of all the other stupid things Kenney has done (corporate tax cuts, attacks on doctors, nurses, teachers, the elderly, the disabled, etc) will catch up to him in the next election. He’s going after rural municipalities now with his tax holiday for energy companies. Once again Kenney has chosen to take care of energy companies at the expense of people. Here’s the link: https://calgary.ctvnews.ca/alberta-offers-property-tax-exemption-to-energy-companies-drilling-wells-or-building-pipelines-1.5151302?cache=%3FautoPlay%3Dtrue?autoPlay=true
        The funniest thing about that article was the comment by energy industry. The head of CAPP said “We don’t view this as tax breaks.” Really? What else would you call it?

    • Carlos, I think you’re right, Albertans are getting worn down by the Conservatives. My biggest concern is that we’ll disengage allowing these idiots to run amok. It takes time and energy to follow the news and get the facts so we can really understand the consequences of Kenney’s regressive policies. But we slog on.
      I was pleased to see Rachel Notley’s new website in which she’s outlined fresh ideas for going forward and is asking ALL Albertans for their input. Here’s the link: https://www.albertasfuture.ca/ This is a far cry from the drivel we’re seeing from the UCP policy convention and Kenney’s so-called strategies which are nothing more than giving big corporations what they want.
      Hang in there Carlos,

  5. Brendon says:

    Hi Susan, another great post. Unfortunately, the next provincial election cannot come soon enough.

  6. Jane Hutchinson says:

    I have a huge urge, when I read about the UCP‘s total disregard for the people of this province, our environment, and our long term responsibilities – to behave like Rumpelstiltskin and pull a giant stomping and screaming TANTRUM.

    Jane

    >

    • Info about police error. The Alberta Highway Patrol existed in the 1970’s and 80’s. RCMP duties did not include much of the Alberta Highway Traffic Act enforcement. Under Solicitor General, Highway Patrol enforced infractions and prosecuted in court before crown prosecutors came into the role. Recently the Alberta Sheriffs Dept. is issuing tickets for moving violations and assisting RCMP with traffic stops.
      I think the current idea of axing RCMP requires some educated input into the police duties and responsibilities as well as in depth training of recruits and ongoing training in multiple roles of policing. Where and how will that be obtained. The proposal is flawed as simplistic and once the effort required is known and the cost of policing is established there may not be any tangible savings.

      • Excellent point crowsnest1000: I couldn’t bring myself to sign up for the UCP Policy convention so I didn’t hear the oral arguments in favour of this policy, but I haven’t seen much beyond what appeared in the policy rationale which was nothing more than Ottawa bashing. I actually think this is Kenney trying to appease the Wexiteers (smoke and mirrors with his promise to create an Alberta Pension Plan and collect Alberta taxes here in Alberta) but it’s too late, they won’t settle for anything less that separation from Canada.

    • Jane, I’ll be right next to you, stomping and screaming!! It’s incredible that people still support this party. But hey, tax cuts, eh?

  7. Paul Pearlman says:

    I recommend that all of Susan’s readers go to http://www.alberta .ca/budget-2021-consultation.aspx tell Jason and his inept cabinet what you think !!!
    We have till 2023 until the election but the complaining should start today let them know how we feel !!

    • Dwayne says:

      Paul Pearlman: Maybe we should go to the public forums, and ask why the Alberta PCs were never good fiscal managers, save their government that was led by Peter Lougheed, and also ask why the UCP keeps wasting money on the largest boondoggles.

    • Paul, this is an excellent suggestion. Thank you for posting the link.

  8. Mike in Edmonton says:

    Well, it’s not like we didn’t see it coming. Now the UCP have shown their true colours–Republican red. Tyler Shandro declared a War on Doctors. Travis Toews expanded the target selection to include nurses and support staff. 11,000 front-line employees’ jobs are on the chopping block.

    Still…this is the one thing even Albertans will fight. I’ve seen comments on CBC’s web site from conservative Albertans who say, “This is too much.” Kenney might push a 2-tier system through, but it would cost him the 2023 election. There’s still hope, friends. Only SOME Albertans are genuinely stupid.

    Then there’s proposal #3. “Right-to-work” legislation is known in Republican states as “right to starve.” Albertans have been brainwashed into believing “union = communist = evil incarnate.” I recently spoke with a young technologist, a welder with 12 years’ experience in private sector. She told me the difference between union shops (including ours, InnoTech Alberta) and private, non-union shops was a huge relief. Not just better benefits and pay (“I can save a little now!”) but also attitude. She said nobody in private service would help her learn on the job. They seemed to fear somebody younger would take over and get them fired. Union shop: “Everybody’s really helpful. People want to teach! It’s great. Nobody’s scared of being replaced.” (NOTE: quotes are paraphrased.)

    Kiss all that goodbye if Kenney manages to roll back labour laws. I doubt he can–I hope he can’t–do too much damage (he hasn’t yet repealed the Charter of Rights and Freedoms), but it’s gonna get ugly if Kenney & the Klowns go forward to the past. (Hey–there’s Kenney’s next election slogan!)

    By the way, Susan, I loved your line: “The BS Award goes to …. (drum roll) …. Policy #21.” Oh, in so many ways….

    • Excellent points Mike in Edmonton. Kenney has been all over the airwaves telling Albertans the “socialists” are saying he’s pushing for American style healthcare and that’s a lie. What he hasn’t explained is the inevitable consequence of a two-tier system is it guts public healthcare (less money, fewer doctors and healthcare professionals) and increases public wait times which pushes even more people into buying private healthcare insurance so they can afford private healthcare, and the public healthcare system crumbles.
      In essence his public healthcare guarantee translates to: “I promise to give you crappier public healthcare.” Gee thanks.

  9. Dave says:

    Well, it is official, it’s not just the leadership of the UCP who are rigid ideologues, it’s also the true believers who come to events like this.

    One might have thought or at least hoped, that being in government might have moderated them a bit, but I guess not. It sort of reminds me of what I heard of the old Social Credit membership gatherings. A heck of a lot of crazy ideas and conspiracy theories in one room.

    I suppose one benefit for Kenney, as awkward as this all is, it gives him a chance to try seem moderate, well for a moment at least. However, his equivocation about private health care, when he is already expanding private facilities may not be so reasuring to the public at large.

    Alberta got rid of it’s provincial police force in the early 1930’s because we could not afford it. It sure doesn’t seem we are so flush with cash now either. It might not be the best time for us to have the financial luxury to make whatever point the Alberta first crowd thinks they can make. I don’t think it is a big deal in Ottawa whether we keep the RCMP or not, but the Federal government would probably not be as willing to contribute as much to a police force here that is not Federal, so there would be a financial cost.

    Oh well, between the 7 billion or so already for the Keystone XL and the 4 billion for tax cuts to large companies (not small ones – their Alberta tax rate is exactly the same as under the previous government), the UCP has already lost any semblance of fiscal conservatism. I suspect they hope to make this up by laying off a bunch of nurses, cutting doctors pay and perhaps even cutting AIH However, that is a heck of a lot of money to try make up for, which partly explains why Alberta is in such a big financial hole now. The current UCP deficit is about about double that of the NDP’s largest deficit.

    Well, as the saying goes math is hard. It is even harder when the UCP gets carried away with a number of half baked but expensive ideas.

  10. Well said Dave. Kenney’s response to legitimate criticism of his policies and his bone-headed decisions (propping up KXL for example) is to call people “socialists”. What he doesn’t understand is we don’t care what he calls us. We’re too focused on the damage he’s doing to our province.
    The AFL produced an extensive list of Kenney;s cuts. Well worth a look: https://www.kenneyscuts.ca/kenneys_cuts_tracker
    Kenney will be in power until 2023…I shudder to think what will be left of Alberta by the time he’s finished with it. So like Paul said, we need to push back hard. We may not stop him but we might be able to slow him down until he’s thrown out of office.

  11. carlosbeca says:

    It takes a lot to get me disengaged so that is not a concern to me.
    There is a lot of unemployment in the province and a lot of grief caused by both the provincial economy and covid-19 and Jason Kenney is pushing for more layoffs and more controversial policies exactly because he knows this is the best time to catch people distracted and off guard. That is what I am concerned about. All big neo-liberal changes have been done in the same circumstances even in very organized countries like Germany during the time of reunification where the people of East Germany were left with 6% of the total that they owned has an ex-communist state. The big sharks in West Germany got public property for peanuts. The UCP is doing that here in a different way that looks less obvious. The municipal tax cut announced yesterday is just an example. The municipalities will be paying for the bankrupt oil companies lack of responsibilities during the fall of oil prices and the government transfers that to the public. It is a legalized robbery in my view

  12. carlosbeca says:

    It is almost impossible to post as a REPLY so I had to just post as a separate post

  13. GoinFawr says:

    “I’d like to see someone explain why Albertans should spend their tax dollars to buy storage caverns, to buy cheap oil to fill them up, and then take the market risk waiting for prices to rise so Alberta can sell this oil at some point down the road (and incidentally compete with the oil companies who are scrambling to take advantage of the price uptick, assuming there is one”

    Your statement raises a number of interesting questions to be directed at the M.Priaro types, who regularly like to refer to the bitumen, already stored quite handily in the ground, as Albertans’ resource:

    If “Albertans” own the resource, why do they have to buy it again? Shouldn’t Albertans just demand that the oil co’.s fill tank farms on command?

    Otherwise, this ‘tank farm landscape’ is a surprisingly socialist idea, really, and it is cheaper and ostensibly much cleaner than a refinery. If the oil co’.s were compelled to fill the “caverns” at cost, it could even be worthwhile, or not; State Owned Enterprises are subject to market forces too.

    That said, at a time when there is hardly any revenue anyway it is an obviously self serving ploy to find a way for the backs of Albertans to further prop up international oil companies operating in the province, meanwhile simultaneously undermining all actual Albertans’ access to quality healthcare, education, consumer protections, civil liberties, labour rights, ethical politicians, etc. etc.

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