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 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.