The Auditor General’s Report: $1.6 Billion is NOT a Rounding Error

By a miraculous coincidence the Auditor General’s report on the Kenney government’s first year in office landed smack in the middle of the American election.

Well, the election is over. Mr Biden won. Agriculture minister Devin Dreeshen can put away his MAGA hat and we can turn our attention back to where it belongs, on the Auditor General’s report which itemized over $1.6 billion (that’s billion) of accounting errors and highlighted Cabinet’s slack oversight of those responsible for implementing the government’s policies.  

It’s bad   

The purpose of an independent financial audit is to ensure the government is presenting a true and fair picture of its financial performance. Consequently, it is chilling to read this audit report which is peppered with the words “material misstatement” and “material error.”

That means it’s bad.

And it’s really, really bad in the Department of Energy (specifically its subsidiary the Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission (APMC)) which is responsible for $1.5 billion of the material errors.  

Here’s a taste of what went horribly wrong.          

Crude-by-rail

Before Mr Kenney was elected he swore he’d rip up the crude-by-rail contracts entered into by the Notley government. On Feb 11, 2020 he delivered on that promise with the triumphant announcement that his government had unloaded all 19 crude-by-rail contracts. One small problem: this was not true.

APMC unloaded (or “divested” to use the AG’s term) only eight contracts. Nevertheless, APMC booked the remaining 11 contracts as if they too had been divested. APMC’s rationale was the government “intended” to divest them, so it was ok. The AG said this is bad accounting practice because it didn’t reflect “economic reality.” Fair point, we thought the government’s bean counters were supposed to reflect reality, even if it’s not aligned with what the premier said.     

Sonya Savage, Minister of Energy and Jason Kenney, Premier

In the business world, Mr Kenney’s announcement could be interpreted as a material misstatement and the APMC accounting entry reflecting Mr Kenney’s statement could be interpreted as a material misrepresentation, both of which could land the government, were it a corporation, in front of the securities regulators.

Keystone XL pipeline

On Mar 31, 2020 Mr Kenney proudly announced that like Justin Trudeau, he was buying a pipeline; okay, he didn’t mention Justin by name and he’s only buying part of a pipeline, temporarily, but you get my drift.

Mr Kenney said he’d finalized an agreement with TCPL (now TC Energy) for a $1.5B equity interest in the Keystone XL pipeline and $6B in loan guarantees. He didn’t mention that $100M of the equity investment was due that day.  

For some reason APMC (and the Dept of Energy) saw no reason to disclose the $100M even though they were required and ultimately forced to do so by the AG.     

Mr Kenney also said the $6.5B deal was a great investment because he’d sell our equity interest at a profit and the net return for this investment would be over $30B through royalties and higher prices for Alberta oil for the next 20 years. This is what’s known as a forecast under securities laws, a smart CEO would never say such a thing because he/she can’t predict oil prices 20 years out.  

The AG report says one year after the completion of the project TCPL will pay APMC the value of its equity contribution and “accretion earned thereon” and will pay out the loan guarantee fee as the debt guarantees are released.

Which raises the question, what happens if TCPL doesn’t complete the project?

Mr Biden is now president-elect. He’s promised to revoke the KXL presidential permit. Without the permit the project will never be completed and Alberta will not get its investment back.

In his statement congratulating Mr Biden on his victory Mr Kenney reminded the president-elect that “US energy security is dependent on Alberta as the United States’ largest source of oil imports [and] much of the American economy is fuelled (sic) by Alberta energy.” I suspect Mr Biden knows that 94% of America’s petroleum is produced domestically, only 3% is imported, and Canada produces 49% of that 3%. But hey, Mr Kenney has it covered.   

Sturgeon Refinery

APMC manages contracts relating to the Sturgeon refinery. The government is obligated to pay $26.4B in toll payments over 30 years. The AG said the cash flow model to value this contract was flawed because it failed to include the impact of covid-19 and the OPEC oil price war on oil prices and financial risk.  

Failed to include the impact of covid-19 and the OPEC oil price war? See above re: material misstatement.

Oh, and there’s the small matter of the calculation error which ran to $121M.

Canadian Energy Centre (aka War Room)

Kenney created the CEC to foster energy literacy and correct misinformation about the energy sector. (And here you thought it was all about plagiarizing corporate logos and running around pretending they’re journalists).  

The CEC relies on contractors for everything from story content to IT support. In Q1, contractors accounted for $1.3M of the $2M the CEC spent on operating expenses.

The CEC doled out these contracts on a sole-sourced basis. This is contrary to the government’s contracting policy and a violation of the CEC’s own draft expenditure and procurement policy which the AG said had not been approved by the CEC board.

The AG said the failure to implement effective contract management processes may result in wasted public funds, potential conflicts of interest and an increased risk that Albertans aren’t getting the best value for the investment of public dollars.

It may also create the perception the CEC is a taxpayer funded boondoggle for the premier’s friends and loyal supporters.   

This is not a rounding error

Any board of directors in the private sector would go ballistic if it received an audit report riddled with material misstatements and material errors totaling $1.6 billion. The board would haul the CEO up on the carpet, insist he/she fire the executive(s) in charge of the out-of-control department(s) and threaten to fire the CEO if he/she failed to carry out their wishes.

Sadly, Mr Kenney and his cabinet ministers are elected officials and notwithstanding the assistant AG’s comment that he’d never seen deficiencies of this magnitude, they can’t be fired.

However, they can be demoted to the backbench (this includes Mr Kenney if his party gets tired of his incompetent leadership).

At least back there they’d be harmless until 2023 when Albertans could vote them and the rest of their incompetent caucus out of office.  

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83 Responses to The Auditor General’s Report: $1.6 Billion is NOT a Rounding Error

  1. ed henderson says:

    Have to agree with you Susan. I’m beginning to suspect that Premier Kenney had bigger plans than just running Alberta. I wonder if he figured that he could charge into Alberta and straighten out all of the problems he attributes to the NDP and after a week or two of doing that, head back to Ottawa and take over there as well.

    • Ed, I think you’re right that Mr Kenney always had his eye on the big prize. What I can’t figure out is why he didn’t stick around in Ottawa long enough to run in the 2017 CPC leadership race. He certainly had more name recognition than the three that made it to the 12th round, Scheer, Bernier, and O’Toole. Hopefully his legacy will be that he served one term as Alberta’s premier and we sent him packing with his tail between his legs.

      • ed henderson says:

        I suspect they ran him off.

      • carlosbeca says:

        I suspect Jason Kenney knew he could not easily cheat the Conservative Party of Canada as easily and as obviously as he did here. Do not forget that we still do not have a result of any of the investigations.
        I doubt he could pull that off with Mackay and O’Toole Here he easily found the goons that did the dirty job for him.

      • Carlos, I’ve been thinking about your comment that Kenney “could not easily cheat” the CPC. I wonder if it’s not so much a matter of cheating as it is the fact he was facing a field of competent (in the CPC sense of the word) contenders who would give him a run for his money and if Kenney couldn’t guarantee a win, he was not going to play. He reminds me of Donald Trump, he hates to lose and he’ll never admit he’s wrong.

      • Jerrymacgp says:

        By 2017, the tea leaves & the punditocracy were saying that the Cons should look elsewhere than yet another Alberta Conservative for their federal leader. So, when all was said & done, they picked a dual Canada-US citizen & pseudo-insurance agent from Saskatchewan — not all that different from ‘Berta, but there you go — and look how well that worked out for them.

        So, now, it’s 2020 … Scheer didn’t last any longer than fog on a car window in the morning, & so they went to the depth chart & picked some bald white dude from Ontariariario. But by the time that all happened, Kenney was already Premier & it would have looked really, really bad for him to jump ship to the federal party leadership. However, just as nobody has ever gone directly from the US House of Representatives to the Presidency, no provincial Premier since Sir Charles Tupper has ever become Prime Minister.

        So, I suspect he will never realize his ultimate ambition, & we’re probably all going to have to put up with the consequences of his pique over that.

      • Jerrymacgp: I’d forgotten that point, that the CPC powers that be thought it would be best to go with a non-Alberta leadership candidate (although Kenney’s Alberta roots are about as deep as his love of beer and pickup trucks). I continue to hope Kenney’s ambition and sense of exceptionalism will kick in and he’ll take a run at the CPC leadership. The thing with Kenney is he never makes a move unless he thinks he’s got it in the bag. So he may wait to see if O’Toole flames out in 2023 and then offer to sweep in and save the day. However by then Canada will have become even more progressive, the millennials are certainly leaning that way, and he’ll have missed his moment. *Fingers crossed*

      • Carlos says:

        Susan I think I agree with you on the fact that Jason Kenney does not have the competency to beat Mackay or O’Toole but he has never needed to be competent to win anything, He just uses his car sales skills along with well orchestrated propaganda and he manages to win by adding some unconventional rules to the process – I call it cheating but that is not how goons see it.

    • Comment says:

      I don’t think it was an accident or a falling out with Ottawa at all – quite the opposite. I think the puppet master (Harper) has a plan and Kenney is part of it. Harper needed to get control of AB asap (after he lost federally, the old PC dynasty collapsed, and Notley won provincially), so Kenney was sent here. Scheer and O’Toole are part of it; Scheer just couldn’t cut it as a leader, so it’s O’Toole’s turn. They all go way back and share the same ideology (reformers). The more parts of Canada led by closet reformers, the better. McKay is not part of that camp; hence, he is out. As far as Kenney goes, he is nimble and ready to serve, so will go wherever he is needed.

      • Comment says:

        That’s also why Kenney needed to win the UCP leadership race. To secure that win, Brian Jean needed to disappear, so in came Kamikaze Callaway. And the rest is history.

      • Comment, interesting point that McKay was not part of the reformer camp, hence he could not be a credible leader in their eyes. Kenney may think he’s ready, willing and able to go wherever to serve, but I’m pretty sure Canadians would reject him if he tried out for the job of Prime Minister. His constant whining that the rest of Canada is picking on Alberta is wearing thin.

  2. Verna Milligan says:

    Thanks Susan! Even you couldn’t find a humorous twist to such a disastrous story!! One respected reporter’s tweet read: “One of the worst audits seasoned reporters have ever seen…Scathing assessment of War Room”. Similar scathing words were used by the media (including investment magazine) to describe AIMCo’s “Boondoggle” a mere 8 months ago. A loss that was first listed as possibly $ 4 Billion, but later revised to a mere 2.1 Billion (Heritage Fund and/or Albertan’s Pension) Dollars. So, tell me, who in their right mind would want to let Kenney – and the expensive, numerous advertisements of his “Shaping Alberta’s Future” (PAC) — talk us into moving our arms-length CPP to an Alberta Pension Plan? It would likely be under AIMCo which, according to Sections 19 and 20 of the AIMCo Act, is a Crown corporation, and it must follow “directives” issued by the Treasury Board.
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/alberta-pension-plan-aimco-max-fawcett-1.5374110
    Keep up the great work, Susan!

    • Thanks Verna. I’ve worked with many CEOs over the years, they always try to push the facts to build a good story for their investors, but I’ve never met one who would say he’d unloaded 19 crude-by-rail agreements when in fact he’d only unloaded 8.
      Either Kenney didn’t know the auditors would validate this “fact” or he didn’t care. As one of my old bosses used to say if your explanation is (a) you’re lying or (b) you’re incompetent we’ve got a problem.

  3. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Thanks for another great blog. The UCP are as good as the Alberta PCs were, (with the exception of their government that was run by Peter Lougheed), at wasting our money on the most pricey of blunders. It is quite sad, when there are Albertans who prefer to brush it aside. They were used to doing this when the Alberta PCs were in power. I do remember Don Getty doing so many very costly missteps. Ralph Klein, who was part of Don Getty’s PC cabinet, followed in that same way, and continued on with very costly missteps, and more of them. Ralph Klein then said he never did any scandals. West Edmonton Mall, the mad cow assistance fund failure, electricity deregulation, which is around $40 billion, with the power purchase agreement blunder, pulp and paper mills, including Alpac, Miller West Pulp, and Daishowa, ambulance consolidation, Swan Hills, the disability fund blunder, (relating to AISH), the negligence of not enforcing oil companies in Alberta to fix their messes, shouldering Albertans with a $260 billion bill to handle this, the giveaway of Alberta’s oil, along with the vast majority of the profits, to corporations from other countries, and so on. This is another one of the UCP’s pricey misdeeds. They keep piling up. Who suffers? If you are a needy person, such as an AISH client, your benefits will be cut back. If you are a medical professional, including RNs (registered nurses), you will be laid off. Yes, the UCP is going to lay off hundreds of registered nurses, like Ralph Klein did. If you are a rural property owner, your property taxes will go sky high. If you are a teacher, in the public education domain, you will have to teach in a crowded classroom, and your educational support staff have been laid off. You also don’t have the tools you need to address the covid matter properly. If you are a student, in the public education system, you will be sitting in a packed classroom, and could spread covid to your elderly and immuno compromised relatives. If you go to post secondary school, you pay more for tuition, and if you are under 18, your wage was reduced by the UCP. If you are a senior, you will suffer, because of medical coverage has been altered, your utility bills increased further, (as has for all Albertans), and your insurance rates went up, (as has for all Albertans). The UCP also lost $4 billion in people’s pension money, through a poor investment company, AIMCo. The UCP lost close to $2 billion of our paltry Heritage Savings Trust Fund, through AIMCo, and they think it’s due to other factors. The UCP are like the Alberta PCs were, excluding the premier with prior oil industry experience, Peter Lougheed. They were counting on another oil boom to come back. The Sturgeon refinery is actually more than $26.4 billion. Add around another $10 billion to that hefty mistake. It was a byproduct of the Alberta PCs thinking that oil prices would remain high. With the UCP, Alberta sure is in a pickle. Will the UCP acknowledge this, (the very pricey mistakes were going on before covid), or will they fire the Auditor General, like they fired Lorne Gibson. I’d bet on the latter. The sooner we get the UCP out of office, the better. Even a couple of months ago, I heard that the UCP was saying that Alberta debt will soon be $100 billion. This isn’t a good thing at all.

    • Mike Klein says:

      Have we ever recovered from the Getty era closure of university seats especially in medicine?

      • Good point Mike. I heard an interview with Andre Picard, the Globe’s health columnist. He’s extremely concerned about covid spiking across the country. When he talked about Alberta he described it as a place where the government is “at war” with its doctors. So in addition to the ongoing loss of talented young professionals as a result of yet another round of budget cuts for universities, Alberta has the reputation of being hostile to doctors. Why would anyone come here?

    • Dwayne, this is an excellent list of all the headaches visited upon us by the so-called fiscally conservative conservatives. You mentioned the Sturgeon Refinery. It was the brainchild of Ed Stelmach in 2007 who wanted to give Albertans a “fair share” of royalties, but was so beaten down by the industry he couldn’t raise royalties. Instead he bet on the future of oil prices and now we’re stuck with a project APMC said in its 2020 Annual Report has a negative $2.5 billion net present value. Kenney called it “the greatest challenge” in Alberta’s “modern history, threatening its main industry and wreaking havoc on its finances.” This is ironic given Kenney’s $6 billion bet on KXL which was dependent on (a) Trump winning the US election or (b) Biden changing his mind about letting it proceed. Neither (a) nor (b) are within Kenney’s control, but hey, let’s place a $6 billion bet at the casino table anyway.

  4. lungta mtn says:

    The UCP are quite willing to break both your arms
    and possibly both your legs before they cry uncle.
    As a long time Albertan
    i have never been able to figure out how time after time
    my neighbors can vote against their own self interests
    and time after time
    believe the conservative claptrap.
    In jasons defense
    he has never held a job that had any measurable gauge of production
    that would indicate actual usefulness or production .
    His single skill is getting elected and it wasn’t always an honest skill.

    • lungta mtn: I agree with your assessment, particularly the comment that Jason has never had a real job and has no understanding of how the business world really works.
      Now what I can’t understand is how lawyers like Doug Schweitzer, Tyler Shandro, Sonya Savage and public accountants like Travis Toews sleep at night. They are well educated and have an obligation to abide by their standards of professional conduct. Surely they know the things their boss is doing and is asking them to do are wrong.
      Which brings us full circle to your last statement, maybe getting elected and staying in power is all that really counts.

      • carlosbeca says:

        ‘Now what I can’t understand is how lawyers like Doug Schweitzer, Tyler Shandro, Sonya Savage and public accountants like Travis Toews sleep at night. They are well educated and have an obligation to abide by their standards of professional conduct. Surely they know the things their boss is doing and is asking them to do are wrong.’

        Susan with all due respect to you in special and to your profession I am surprised with this paragraph. Lawyers are in the top 10 least respected professions in Canada – Politicians being the first and lawyers the 7th. Others are car salesman, priests ..etc. Not in great company.
        I personally am not surprised at all that these people are all lawyers and even less that they would have troubles sleeping. Of all people of many different professions I have met in my life, lawyers are by far the ones that have the coldest attitudes towards emotions or morals others may have. I doubt that any professional association of lawyers would care that any of these politicians lie and behave against what is considered their standards of professional behaviour. As far as accountants I do not think the situation is much different. Most of the illegal money that now fills the Banks in the Bahamas, Cayman Islands and others is facilitated by accountants. As long as there is money to be made there are line ups of lawyers and accountants ready to serve.
        Please do correct me if this is in any way not true.

      • Carlos, I understand where you’re coming from, but I take heart in the fact that the Law Society imposes serious penalties on lawyers who cross the line. The problem is that the Law Society seems to focus only on lawyers in the private sector, not lawyers who’ve become politicians. I don’t know how accountants are disciplined by their governing body, but I wonder whether the same is true for them. It’s time for the Law Society to step up its oversight of lawyers who’ve entered politics. The Law Society certainly has the right to discipline politicians who are lawyers under their Code of Conduct. It must start sanctioning those who say or do things that would violate the Code of Conduct under any other circumstances.
        Timothy Snyder says authoritarians need obedient public servants. They also need obedient cabinet members. Too many of these cabinet members trade their integrity for the rewards that come with exhibiting unbridled loyalty to their dear leader.

  5. Bill Malcolm says:

    Well, considering the Supreme Court in the US sent Keystone XL back for a complete environmental assessment this past July 6, and this under the Trump badministration, I’ve seen little comment during the ensuing four months on that fact. And that’s before Grandpa Joe revokes whatever permit it was that Trump gave the project that’s now on hold anyway.

    https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/06/politics/keystone-xl-supreme-court-pipeline/index.html

    Conservatives all say they’re business whizzes so Canadians should vote for them to run governments on business lines of keen efficiency, meritocracy and no jobs for friends down on their economic luck. No sir, that stuff’s right out when you’re a gimlet-eyed efficiency expert. Privatization of public assets and services for private gain substitutes — er, strike that out, it must have been brain fade that caused me to mention it.

    As superCons, jason and the Fleece of UCP no doubt regard themselves as oligarchs in waiting, just putting in a little public service time for the public good to gild their resumes, prior to resigning and becoming super filthy-rich entrepreneurs. Jason has experience claiming his parents’ basement as home business expense while a federal cabinet minister in Ottawa — I forget the sordid details. He also roared around Alberta organizing the UCP while still on federal salary so you can see he’s a crack businessman.

    $1.6 billion in “funny” payments? Time to fire the AG, like that Elections Commissioner who got things wrong by beginning to look into UCP shady election practices. Now, THAT’s business — fire the deadwood!

    • Bill: great comments. Like many people I can’t understand why people continue to vote for Kenney (or Trump for that matter). It’s as if they’ve been brainwashed by the bully who yells he’ll make things easy for business, business will create jobs, and all you ordinary people will be prosperous. They’re oblivious to the fact that it doesn’t work that way (I’d love to hear a UCP supporter defend the corporate tax cut now).
      In the section dealing with APMC the AG said “Although the errors were adjusted and the amounts reported in the audited financial statements are correct, we are reporting these findings to reinforce the need to comply with established processes and best practices.” In other words the AG is warning the government he’s got his eye on them.
      Kenney’s usual practice when he’s caught out by a government official is to fire them and replace them with someone more compliant. I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen here or Albertans will truly be in the dark.

      • Comment says:

        I live (born and raised) in the heart of PC/Wildrose/now UCP country. People here are extremely partisan. They know very little to nothing about a party’s platform and how that matches what they want from a government. They know very little to nothing about bills rammed through, corporate tax breaks, or auditor general findings. They only know they hate Pierre (yes, it’s long standing), hate Rachel, and are voting conservative and that’s it. Kenney has, like Trump, mastered the art of populism and swagger. People here remember a few catch phrases, which is enough for them. There will never be another party elected where I live – so the hope lies elsewhere in the province. I think the most important factor for the next election will be reporting this information and making sure the information consistently reaches as many people as possible, via as many formats as possible.

      • Comment: I was just talking about this situation with a political scientist who would agree with you that partisan conservatives will vote conservative no matter what, they don’t need facts and data, they’re content to get on the “bad Trudeau/bad Notley” bandwagon and nothing will change their minds. I agree that the answer isn’t to waste our time trying to get them to change their minds (it will never happen), instead we have to spend our time and resources getting information out to those who will at least listen. If we disagree, so be it, but at least they’re making a decision based on fact, not blind partisan loyalty.
        PS It must be difficult to live in such an environment, you have my respect and admiration.

      • Comment says:

        Thanks, Susan.
        Speaking of reaching a large audience, I’ve noticed the government’s budget 2021 survey available to Albertans has not been talked about much. It was briefly mentioned on the news awhile ago and that was it. Things like this should be mentioned in a multitude of formats every single day, so as broad a cross-section of Albertans hears about it as possible.

      • Carlos says:

        Yes comment, people without any critical thinking at all. I would even guess that they do not know what that means.

      • Comment says:

        That’s right.
        Bashing the CBC qualifies as critical thinking where I live.

  6. JC says:

    Thank you Susan for your analysis of this report. Just one more example of how Alberta is so poorly governed…..and how the UCP takes for granted how much they can get away with.

    • JC: you nailed it…and we’re only one year into a four year term. The effort of staying on top of what Kenney is doing is going to be exhausting, but we have to do it.
      I’m beginning to think a massive letter writing campaign to your local UCP MLA, stressing how dissatisfied we are with Kenney’s leadership, may be the best way to depose him. Like I said, he can’t do as much harm from the back benches and whoever replaces him will know that he/she will be booted if he/she pushes Albertans too far.

    • Comment says:

      Anytime I’ve contacted my MLA and he decides to respond, he parrots something like this: “We have been given a strong mandate from the election.” I’ve heard other UCP MLAs say it, too. Rinse and repeat. No justification beyond that is needed.

      • Carlos says:

        You should not be surprised Comment. At least you get an answer. I do not get anything
        Furthermore they are not there to serve us. the UCP is there to serve the big corporations and those powerful rich families. He is proud of that anyway.

      • Comment says:

        It’s only because I live in a small, rural area and know his family and him. My MLA is a yes man. He’s not high ranking nor one of the insiders. And he had to ditch his allegiance to Brian Jean if he wanted a future in the UCP.
        I agree they are not here to serve us. I think it’s more of Kenney bringing his neo-liberal ideology to fruition (with Harper at the helm). A decisive majority in the election gave them full range to do that.

  7. Douglas says:

    Great commentary Susan as always.
    Adding insult to injury is the fact that the esteemed Treasurer is a “certified” Chartered Accountant. Must be tied up by the constant praying to Jesus for the second coming of $100 oil.
    And here I thought there was a professional regulatory college that protects the public from CA member incompetence and malfeasance.

    • Douglas, this is an excellent point. Academics who write about tyranny warn that professionals have a greater responsibility to protect the public against tyrants because they have unique knowledge and a voice. If they don’t use their knowledge and fail to raise their voice, then they are complicit.
      People argue these professionals are only human and afraid of losing their jobs, but when it comes to protecting democracy from a tyrant we all have to put our jobs (hopefully not our lives) on the line.

  8. DEb says:

    And where does the minister of Energy fit in all this? Was she not an Oil exec… who should know better about accepted financial practices, contracting and accountability …. is she just doing Mr Kenney’s bidding or does she think that no one will notice the gross incompetence in her portfolio? Who wins with these actions of the UCP? Will Ms Savage be welcomed back gladly to an oil company job when the UCP is booted out of office in 2023?

    • Deb, it’s my understanding that Sonya Savage worked at Enbridge, apparently as a lawyer and then in their government relations department, before she joined CAPP (a petroleum lobby group). I don’t know if she has any experience in corporate securities, but even a lay person knows that people should not make announcements that aren’t true. I don’t know whether she’d ever managed a large department. But when you contrast the AG’s audit of Sonya’s department with that of the NDP Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, they’re like night and day. Margaret had no industry experience (she has a Masters in Education Administration) but unlike Sonya, she didn’t get shredded by the AG, although the AG was concerned about ongoing issues with the Alberta Energy Regulator, that appear to be ongoing.
      As far as her future, your guess is as good as mine.
      Here’s the 2018 AG report file:///C:/Users/Susan/AppData/Local/Temp/Energy_Ministry_Chapter_Nov2019.pdf

    • GoinFawr says:

      “Will Ms Savage be welcomed back gladly to an oil company job when the UCP is booted out of office in 2023”?

      Perhaps for one of those “ethical oil” companies from Saudi Arabia that that giant hypocrite Kenney is on his knees begging to come to Alberta?

      But then SA and ‘women in positions of responsibility’ are like oil and water… I wonder if that actually pleases the UCP base?

  9. mikegklein says:

    Thank you Susan.
    First; I’m left wondering what motivated all this, what was the purpose of all this? Who could possibly have been better off by publishing statements containing so many errors in fact?
    Second; was this done deliberately or was it done by mistake? In either of those cases, Yikes!

    • Carlos says:

      By Mistake?
      Jason Kenney knows exactly what he is trying to accomplish and 99% of the time is propaganda or destructive. It is disgusting and in the same lines of Donald Trump except ours does not have the power to damage the world only locally.

      https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2020/11/09/Target-Alberta-War-Room-Fires-Back/

      • Carlos, thanks for the excellent link to the David Hughes article. Hughes effectively makes the point that the Kenney government, though its surrogate the War Room, is nothing but a propaganda machine. What’s interesting, and sad, about this is that no amount of logic will get through to the UCP die-hards.
        Case in point: recently Kenney rejected the possibility of widespread lockdowns or economic closures in the face of spiking covid rates because they would be a “massive” infringement of people’s rights, and yet he had no problem closing down shops, restaurants and schools in the spring when our covid rates weren’t as high as they are now. If the first shut down was NOT a “massive” infringement of peoples’ rights, how come the second shut down is?
        Also last spring he railed against Trudeau’s so-called failure to control international travel, saying it was NOT a violation of civil liberties for Alberta to enforce quarantines (lockdowns) on visitors and track them through smartphone apps to prevent a second wave.
        The only explanation for his inconsistent position is this: if it impacts the economy it’s a violation of civil liberties, if it doesn’t impact the economy, it’s not a violation of civil liberties.
        And that is absolutely wrong.

      • Dwayne says:

        Carlos: I just don’t see the UCP meshing with democracy, but rather messing with democracy. It’s very bad, and it’s akin to what happens in governments from other countries, where there are dictatorships, and police states running things. Yesterday was Remembrance Day, and our veterans, (including my own relatives), fought for our freedom. The UCP didn’t attain power honestly and that is quite evident, because of so many clues. Mr. Robocalls couldn’t get any further in the CPC, so he thought he’d try his luck in Alberta. He and the UCP have already done so much damage, that it will be very difficult to undo it.

  10. Grant Hoe says:

    Susan, this takedown is exquisite. That anybody in good conscience can still say they support this level of incompetence and corruption is astounding.

    • Grant: thanks. Your comment brought to mind the 72 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump and the millions who continue to support him notwithstanding the mockery he’s making of the democratic belief in the orderly transition of power. Many Republican politicians continue to fan the flames of voter fraud when there is no proof there was fraud.
      What we’re seeing here in Alberta is a mini-version of the same warped mindset.

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: I think there is plenty of evidence that the UCP didn’t attain their position of power honestly, or by legitimate means. Yesterday was Remembrance Day, and our veterans, (which includes my relatives), fought for our freedom. Many of my uncles fought in World War 2, to help remove tyrannical dictators. I think it’s a slap in the face to democracy, and downright hypocritical for the UCP to honor our vets, and act in a manner which our vets were fighting against.

  11. Carlos says:

    By Mistake?
    Jason Kenney knows exactly what he is trying to accomplish and 99% of the time is propaganda or destructive. It is disgusting and in the same lines of Donald Trump except ours does not have the power to damage the world only locally.

    https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2020/11/09/Target-Alberta-War-Room-Fires-Back/

  12. carlosbeca says:

    Sorry did it twice and unfortunately this time it worked so you got it twice
    I apologize

  13. carlosbeca says:

    This is an excellent post and it just reflects what I think Jason Kenney and his government signifies. A hard core evangelical dogmatic people with one and only one objective in mind – transform Alberta into a religious 12th century medieval feudal state where the so called people work for the so called enlightened because that is how salvation and acceptance into their reign of God is attained. If one just pays attention to how any of the members of Jason Kenney government talks to the public, it is easy to observe their contempt and their constant bullying and condescending attitude in particular when it comes to public employees. I am sure they are the least liked people in the evangelical domain. The cheque grabbers like Ralph Klein called them.
    Of course they are all enlightened and are just trying to save us all.

    • Carlos, as you say it’s becoming clearer and clearer with each passing day, just what Albertans are up against. I’m never surprised when a politician stretches the truth to bolster his position, but I was shocked when Kenney made a public announcement (we’ve unloaded 19 crude-by-rail agreements when in fact he’d unloaded 8) and then, and this is the part that’s even scarier, staff at the APMC deliberately misstated the accounting record to show all 19 had been sold. Even a toddler knows the difference between 8 and 19. APMC is a sophisticated organization. Its CEO made almost $400,000 in 2019. His Director of Finance made $262,000. There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of behavior.

    • GoinFawr says:

      “A hard core evangelical dogmatic people with one and only one objective in mind – transform Alberta into a religious 12th century medieval feudal state”

      Ah, so that’s why Kenney is courting the Saudis: Sharia Law did really come into its own around that time!

      I’m only half kidding because remember folks: in any debtor-creditor relationship, the creditor is the one ultimately calling the shots.

  14. Dave says:

    As much as Conservatives like to pretend to be sound business managers, I doubt Mr. Kenney learned much about business management in the US religious school he studied in. I don’t think he graduated from there with a degree in business or economics either

    I also don’t think he had any private sector business experience before going into a long career in politics. I don’t know how the UCP cultivated some image of business competence before they were elected, but as the Auditor General’s report shows, it was just another fairy tale Kenney told Albertans.

    Good luck on getting that equity back on a pipeline now not likely to be completed and I wouldn’t be surprised if the government has to write off the loans too. It was a reckless gamble by a government that keeps betting everything on oil and not doing much to diversify our economy.

    • Dave, not only did Kenney not graduate with a degree in business or economics, he didn’t graduate at all. Still there’s no excuse for this level of incompetence. In the discussion about crude by rail contracts he didn’t have to cite any number at all, he could have said some were sold and the rest were being readied for sale. Why did he feel he had to say all 19 were sold? Did he not know the real number? Did he not care? Did he not realize the auditor would check this fact and make his staff correct the “error”?
      This is the kind of thing a former boss of mine would describe as either stupid or illegal.
      Neither is a good excuse.

  15. JR says:

    Hmmm….I wonder why he thought that Alberta (UCP) should take over the management of our CPP?

    • carlosbeca says:

      Because it is nice to have access to our funds especially when the people at the company are close to the UCP government. I personally do not have any doubts that there is more than the danger of incompetency but of fraud as well. These people have a very casual way of interpreting fraud. One just has to look at the elections for the leader of the UCP and who won it

      • carlosbeca says:

        The investigations never came to nothing despite the fact that many of the people involved were penalized for cheating except of course Mr. Clean Jason Kenney
        I want to know what happened to the RCMP investigation? The other one was stopped by Jason Kenney himself

      • Carlos, the issue of fraud is an important one. When I worked in the private sector it was drummed into us that good governance starts at the top. If the CEO (or Kenney in this case) doesn’t set a good example, then rot sets in and every level of the organization is affected. A quick review of the Auditor General’s reports for the NDP shows they had issues, but none were of this magnitude. The fact that this is Kenney’s first real audit and it’s $1.6B out of whack is very worrisome.

    • JR, good comment. If this is how well Kenney’s team manages businesses it has managed for decades, then God help us when Kenney gets his hands on our CPP, an area requiring a level of business acumen and skills that appear to be sorely lacking within his government.

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: You would recall the Halloween nightmare that the CPC did with the income trust affair. $35 billion of people’s life savings were gone like snow after a chinook in Calgary. The UCP also lost $4 billion of people’s pension money, and they also lost pretty close to $2 billion of the Heritage Savings Trust Fund, through AIMco, which is a very bad pension fund. If the UCP gets their dirty paws on our pensions, it going to leave retirees with nothing. This is something the UCP doesn’t grasp. Years ago, I remember Albertans were absolutely furious with premier Don Getty, when their investments and life savings completely vanished in the Principal Trust disaster. It’s happening all over again under the misguided leadership of the UCP.

      • Dwayne, thanks for reminding us of the Halloween nightmare, etc. People need to understand that the conservatives (provincial or federal) are not the fiscally responsible party they say they are.

  16. ed henderson says:

    Susan,you mention in one comment that Premier Kenney is at war with Alberta Dr’s. Unfortunately I can add credibility to your comment. A family member was seriously ill in June – July and we had lots of contact with different Dr’s and specialists in the hospital. The anger is there and it is vitriol.

    • Ed: Mr Kenney appears to think he can attack anyone with impunity, even those who voted for him. I know a number of people in healthcare. Quite a few voted for Kenney in 2019 and sincerely regret their decision now. Some are staying to fight, others are leaving the province. Can’t say I blame them.

  17. Joan says:

    Once again Corruption reigns in this Capitalist UCP Government. Kenney is certainly caught Red Handed. It’s time he was ousted. One straight bare faced lie should be enough to kick his ass far and wide let alone of the multitude that he has wracked up.

    • Joan, I agree. He continues to play the blame game, everything he’s screwed up is someone else’s fault.
      It’s getting harder for Kenney to blame Notley, but he’s certainly going at it hammer and tongs with Trudeau who, lest we forget, bailed out Alberta’s energy sector by buying the TMX pipeline for $4.5 billion to ensure bitumen got to tidewater and Asian markets. Still it’s not enough for these guys.

  18. lungta mtn says:

    wow
    57 replies really blew up my email 🙂
    guess we found the 20 people paying attention in Alberta.
    I’m betting those that voted ucp are 80% unaware
    and 20% i don’t care
    and i don’t have any answer for correcting that

    • Lungta: I hope the 80% of the 54% who voted UCP in the last election wake up and start to pay attention. Kenney is hurting them as much as the rest of us, but as you say, too many Alberta voters don’t care who they elect as long as they’re conservative blue.

  19. yessi says:

    Hi Susan,
    I’m not as knowledgeable about this stuff as your other readers, but I want to point out something I find odd and maybe even get your two cents on it.
    The AG report criticizes the CEC for not following government contracting practices, essentially holding it to the same standard as other ministries/agencies when it comes to large purchases. However, the CEC was set up as a private company (there’s probably a better way to put this) which conceals its practices and documents from public view. I could be wrong.
    My question is, if the AG holds the CEC to the standard of government when it comes to procurement, why would it stop short of telling the CEC it should be more transparent, in general. The way it’s set up now, watchers can’t even find out if the CEC is keeping its promise to only sole source contracts when it fits the criteria. Their documents, HR, etc. aren’t subject to FOIP or the sunshine list, I would imagine.
    Criticizing contracting practices and then letting the rest continue to be concealed—it seems to me like a weird place for the AG to draw the line.
    Thank you for reading.

    • Comment says:

      Weird indeed.
      Just as weird as AIMCo being at ‘arm’s length’ from the government yet having to follow any directives the Treasury (aka government) gives them.

      • Good point Comment: Again I think it all comes down to the government’s powers and how they choose to exercise them. What we’re seeing under Kenney is one of the most secretive and oppressive governments on record. The privacy commissioner’s complaint that she should have been consulted before the government proposed bills that would strip Albertans of the right to privacy with respect to their health information is a case in point.

    • Yessi: the distinction you make is a good one. The government has the power to set up departments and agencies, boards and commissions (ABCs). It also has the power to block the public’s right to compel disclosure of documents for some of these ABCs, but it does not have the power to block the independent auditor’s power to audit these ABCs. Consequently we have the incongruous situation where the AG has the power to review the CEC’s contracts and find they violate the government’s contracting policy, but is not at liberty to give the public the details of those contracts.
      That’s my understanding of how this works. If there’s another reader out there who has a different understanding I’d ask them to share it with us.
      Thanks for your question Yessi.

  20. Carlos says:

    The disgrace continues and of course nothing changes this miserable UCP experience. Their MLAs cannot challenge any of this absurd because they are all controlled by the democratic mind of Jason Kenney who is praying that his God comes to resolve the Covid-19 crisis.

    https://albertapolitics.ca/2020/11/covid-19-is-out-of-control-and-albertas-united-conservative-party-government-looks-like-a-deer-in-the-headlights/

    How lucky are we all to have to live through this UCP totally unintelligent era.

    • Carlos, you’re very right about Kenney’s iron-fisted control of his MLAs. They remind me of the Rupublicans under Trump who supported the orange oompa loompa no matter how egregious his behavior became.
      The only UCP MLA who is prepared to buck Kenney is Drew Barnes, I think that’s because Barnes is setting the stage for a power grab, either he’ll split off a bunch of separatist UCPers or he’ll take a run at the leadership of the UCP. It’s interesting that Kenney who seems to wield absolute power can’t rein in Barnes. That tells me Barnes has enough support that Kenney can’t risk tossing him out of caucus.

  21. GoinFawr says:

    Jason Kenney’s latest response to the pandemic.

    • GoinFawr: there’s a theory going around (which I support) that Kenney will never lockdown Alberta, he’ll wait until things get so bad that Trudeau steps in. That will give Kenney a new reason to attack Trudeau who, lest we forget, spent a bundle on Alberta by way of covid relief, bought TMX and is cleaning up our orphan wells to boot.
      The wild card here is whether Trudeau will step in. He may not. But as the cartoon says the deaths and long term health impacts of unchecked covid is a sacrifice Kenney is prepared to make.

    • Lungta mtn: these are depressing indeed. The one that shows you the UCP at its populist best is the one they passed to protect Albertans from unspecified threats to democracy posed by the United Nations and the World Health Organization. Good grief!

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