Posts Tagged ‘Alberta’

Circle your wagons; they’re on the warpath.

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

And here we thought war rooms in politics were a thing of the past? Now we see that the Toronto Sun has resurrected the idea with a one-time liberal in command. This must be the companion war room that PostMedia, owners of the Sun, promised Alberta premier Jason Kenney to complement his war room against the ‘lying’ eastern media. This includes those particular media that do not approve of Kenney’s province shipping highly polluting tar sands bitumen in pipelines or any other way.

I checked out what must have been a podcast coming from PostMedia’s Sun war room. I was not impressed. It was a seemingly tired diatribe against prime minister Justin Trudeau. It was, what it was.

But it seems Paul Godfrey and friends are taking an ‘anything goes’ approach to this election campaign. While PostMedia publications are well known for their conservative bias, bias might be too mild a word for their current stance.

Despite Trudeau’s insistence (to this time) that he is intent on finishing twinning the Trans Mountain pipeline, it is not fast enough for Kenney and PostMedia. It is not really ideal for democracy when you consider that PostMedia with both the Herald and Sun newspapers in Calgary and both the Journal and Sun newspapers in Edmonton dominate Alberta media with a combined daily circulation of well over two million copies.

PostMedia is majority owned by American Media Inc. (AMI) which has a stayed indictment by the southern district of New York federal prosecutor office on condition of good behaviour for three years, until September 2021. This possible prosecution was over some improprieties believed to be in support of Donald Trump’s presidency. It was because of this that AMI was forced to sell the National Enquirer and other similar publications.

Canadians have never been too impressed with the National Post or any other PostMedia publications. I tend to think of them as Paul Godfrey and Conrad Black’s legacy.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Kenney’s Conundrum, Capturing Carbon.

Monday, May 27th, 2019

It was in the business news recently. It was about the success of Shell Oil’s $1.3 billion carbon-capture plant, Quest, near Edmonton. The Quest plant is designed to capture and store carbon from the Scotford upgrader, a refinery that upgrades tar sands bitumen into synthetic crude oil. The Scotford upgrader plant output of about 200,000 barrels per day has provided the carbon-capture facility with 3.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the past three-and-a-half years.

It is particularly impressive that the Quest plant appears to bypass the bitumen slag by-product of bitumen processing by converting the excessive amounts of carbon in bitumen directly to CO². It also seems to make it obvious that the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) has been down-playing the amount of carbon in the tar sands bitumen from day one.

But what do you do with that much carbon dioxide? The Shell people refer to it as being sequestered, hence the name Quest for the plant.

Now if only there was a market for so much CO²? Eventually, we hear, scientists will figure out how to use CO² for fuel. As it is, this CO² is being pumped underground, where it is sequestered.

Canadian and Alberta taxpayers contributed more than $800 million to this project. While I do not know the cost of operating the $1.3 billion Quest plant, I will assume that Shell would save the federal carbon tax that will soon be levied on the ersatz crude oil produced at upgrading plants in Alberta. This will start at the current federal rate of $20 per tonne and raise to $50 per tonne by 2022.

Since the new premier, Jason Kenney of the United Conservative Party of Alberta, is committed to throwing out the provincial carbon tax, the province will be foregoing the money needed to help build more carbon-capture plants, such as Quest and other innovations for Albertans. Whatever premier Jason Kenney might be, he is obviously not much of a mathematician.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Fighting the facts of the future.

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

In a discussion of what is currently happening in politics, the realization emerged that provincial politicians such as Alberta’s Kenney, Saskatchewan’s Moe and Ontario’s Ford are denying our progeny a future.  It was not a question of a planned or malevolent denial of a future but simple ignorance. These men are choosing the direction that conservatism dictates, as they as they slash and cut at anything that they do not understand.

At the four-day Collision Conference, with attendees from around the world, in Toronto last week, premier Doug Ford was booed when he came to promote Ontario as the place to do business. It was the same time as his government announced that it was cutting funds to assist in the development of artificial intelligence. The $24 million might not have produced any breakthroughs in AI but was critical to positioning Ontario as a place to create the future. That one foolish error probably cost Ontario billions in investment down the road.

And look at Alberta. Jason Kenney has already announced that he will end all of Alberta’s green energy programs—as well as ending the carbon tax. He might be too late to stop the opening of Alberta’s pioneering geothermal electricity generation plant. This is something the Italians have had for the past 100 years but the Alberta facility that takes the steam to power it from below the earth’s surface will be a first in Canada.

Why conservatives do not like anything they cannot touch, taste or smell is beyond this writer’s understanding. Does the world have to end with a bang one night to convince them that global warming is a threat to human life? The world is already into the throws of turmoil as the ice caps melt and the oceans rise. Drier weather in our west is feeding wild fires while the heavier snows of winter in the east are flooding the water systems in spring. The world is responding to the carelessness of mankind.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

War Rooms from the political past.

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

It started back in the late 1970s and 80s when Senator Keith Davey, some of us liberal apparatchiks and the marketing communications experts, who volunteered their time, started to look on other parties as enemy combatants. I was even quoting Carl von Clausewitz’ On War when talking about campaigning to groups of party faithful. It was a stretch, but also fun, talking about beating your opponents with a war-like strategy.

The idea became somewhat passé later in the 80s when we were contending with the Mulroney government in Ottawa. It was also when a couple of New York advertising guys, Al Ries and Jack Trout, came out with a book on Marketing Warfare. It was practically Campaigning 101. We had to concede that the opposition could also read.

But the best war rooms in politics or in war are the ones nobody knows about. You can brag afterwards if you really want but in any election campaign I ever ran, the only person allowed in the committee rooms with an ego was the candidate.

This concept of a war room has become so common that PostMedia in Toronto wants to buy in on the action of Alberta premier Jason Kenney’s Energy War Room he is setting up to fight what he considers to be disinformation and lies by special interest groups in the coming election. Just why a newspaper would want to so blatantly support a province and a party in interfering with the federal election, leaves me cold. Mind you, PostMedia gave up all pretentions of neutrality in elections a long time ago.

The only problem is that Jason Kenney is not the type of person with whom you want to share any kind of room, let alone be on the same side in an election. Kenney is misogynistic, a mean-spirited schemer and a generally nasty politician.

He explains his rationale for an Energy War Room is to police the eastern media. He wants to make sure that they never use the word ‘bitumen’ when talking about what Albertans call the highly polluting, high-carbon, ‘heavy oil’ from the tar sands.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Is Kenney a Constitutional Crisis?

Monday, May 6th, 2019

It seems that between Jason Kenney and his predecessor as premier of Alberta, Kenney has the shriller voice. When he goes to Ottawa to bitch and whine about how his province is not given everything it wants, he knows the buttons to push and the people to harangue. There was no sign at the airport saying ‘Welcome Home Jason!’

And nobody is buying that crap about “a growing crisis of national unity” in Alberta that has only been created in the smarmy mind of Jason Kenney.

Who would believe the threats over Kenney’s opinion that the federal government “doesn’t care about a devastating period of economic adversity”? Any economic adversity in Alberta was created by greed and a lack of economic diversity.

It is disappointing that Kenney and his narrow-minded party got more than 50 per cent in the recent election. It says that Albertans, by and large are buying into the bitching and whining. It is easy to understand people who think they should not pay taxes. And it is easy to understand greed but there is nothing wrong in Alberta that the voters did not bring on themselves.

Albertans have ignored the very wise advice of former premier Peter Lougheed and devastated his Alberta Heritage Trust Fund. This was a fund to build a future for Albertans and instead successive provincial governments have used it to pay bills that were the taxpayers’ responsibility. This kind of waste and misdirection of the funds will continue as long as Albertans vote for it.

If the voters did not know what a sleaze Jason Kenney was before they elected him, they are certainly going to learn now. He took his victory lap in Ottawa to make foolish threats against the liberal government and prime minister Trudeau.

When is he going to learn what is needed to be done in Alberta?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

On being liberal in disquieting times.

Sunday, April 28th, 2019

The word ‘disquieting’ took a while to choose. I have been trying to define the times leading up to the October 21 federal election and it reminds us of flying through clouds. You want to break into the bright sunlight, you know is above you, but that oppressive cotton candy is just a grey mist that continues to embrace and smother you.

In these disquieting times, the clouds are a metaphor for the cocoon of a country’s confusion. The angst of the SNC-Lavalin affair is but a construct from which we draw the prejudices of our times.

There is no question but the voters are disquieted. It is not the anger that produced the Doug Ford victory last year in Ontario or meeting the demands of greed recently in Alberta. Even peaceful little Prince Edward Island showed some spunk by bringing on the Green party to be the official opposition.

But neither of the major opposition parties in Ottawa have adequate leadership to survive the rigors of a general election. ‘Chuckles’ Scheer from Saskatchewan is but a servile retainer serving the aperitifs for the conservative wolves in premiers’ clothing. Jagmeet Singh is but testimony to the hospice condition of the political party that Tommy Douglas built.

But that is certainly no excuse for Justin Trudeau. He has unfulfilled promises from 2015. He is the one that still needs to prove he can save our environment. He has commitments to our aboriginals. And he still has to explain the events that cost him a justice minister and another cabinet member, his principal secretary and the clerk of the privy council. His hypocrisy in declaring himself an environmentalist and then buying the Trans Mountain pipeline has been a very difficult pill for many liberals to swallow.

His story is that he traded it for a guarantee from Alberta’s previous NDP government to put a cap on carbon from the extraction and the upgrading of the bitumen to allow it to be exported.

The incoming premier of Alberta, Jason Kenney, has promised an end to all environmental protections in Alberta and threatened court proceedings to get the B.C. and federal governments out of his way. Now if we could just get Mr. Kenney to bend over, we could show Justin Trudeau what to do with his pipeline.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Political Pipe-Dreams.

Sunday, April 21st, 2019

While the rest of North America were out on an Easter egg hunt this morning, Albertans were out beating the bushes looking for the pipeline that their politicians have been foolishly promising them. This could be one of those blue-sky political promises on the same track as a chicken in every pot.

And why should anyone believe it is going to happen? Albertans have already been informed that the federal government has delayed the decisions on this pipeline until June of this year. When you have been stalled for years, what is another month?

This Trans Mountain pipeline has been a good news-bad news story from the beginning. It is an old pipeline that was built long before anyone thought of using a pipeline to send bitumen from the tar sands over the Rockies. The plan was that the previous owners, American-owned Kinder Morgan, would twin the old crude oil pipeline and almost quadruple the capacity of the pipeline for diluted bitumen by adding heaters and high pressure to the two lines.

Obviously, the Kinder Morgan people had studied the possibilities and had made a few stabs at getting the twinning started but quickly found themselves mired in environmental challenges and protests from aboriginal groups. The answer was a quick sale and the federal government became the surprise buyer.

At $4.5 billion, the pipeline was no bargain. Estimates peg the twinning and equipping the pipeline to handle the bitumen will cost anywhere from $7 billion to more than $9 billion.

It might seem odd that a politician such as Justin Trudeau—who persists in claiming he is an environmentalist—would promote a pipeline for the output from the tar sands that is destroying the environment of Northern Alberta and will create three times the carbon pollution of regular crude when converted into an ersatz crude oil. And Albertans will give the liberal prime minister no thanks for it!

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

The Alberta that God forgot.

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

“O outcast land! O leper land!
Let the lone wolf-cry all express
The hate insensate of thy hand,
Thy heart’s abysmal loneliness.”

From the poems of Robert Service.

Jason Kenney won the Alberta election and the embittered battles over bitumen are drawing clearer lines. He joins the blow-hard conservatives of Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in building walls against people and Canada’s future.  Just another climate change denier.

But what incentive does he bring to encourage prime minister Justin Trudeau to build the twinned, high pressure Trans Mountain pipeline? We have certainly not heard honeyed words between them.

Let us remember that the Old Kinder Morgan pipeline has been in use since 1953. Refurbishing it and twinning it to carry diluted bitumen costs about as much as what the Canadian government paid for it originally. To carry the bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to Burnaby, B.C., the pipeline has to have heaters to keep the bitumen liquid and use high pressure to keep it moving.

Admittedly, the voters of Alberta had little choice presented in the election. Premier Rachel Notley looked worn and tired after the rigours of her job for the past four years. Jason Kenney even lost some of his baby fat to look fit and ready to take the reins.

But with what looked like a record turn-out in the election, Kenney’s slammed together conservatives won the field.

Albertans can repent at their leisure.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Chuckles checks conservative campaigns.

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

You would expect that one of these days, conservative leader Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer will have to take the training wheels off his federal election campaign. He was out on the hustings with Jason Kenney in Alberta last week and little new came from either conservative.

The signature complaint we have heard from Chuckles and his four most strident provincial conservative leaders—Ford in Ontario, Pallister in Manitoba, Moe in Saskatchewan and Kenney in Alberta—is that federal carbon taxes are bad. And the conservatives always forget to mention that the liberals plan to return this money on Canadians’ income tax each year.

In Alberta, Kenney links the name ‘Trudeau’ with the National Energy Program of almost 40 years ago. He also talks about the Notley-Trudeau team as the one-two punch of failed government in conservative eyes. All this does is create an even stronger conclusion that these provincial and federal conservatives are global-warming deniers and their campaigns are based on ignorance.

As the world’s ice caps and glaziers melt and oceans rise, deniers have less land to stand on. And the growing violence of the weather patterns is just another indication of the need to cut back on spewing of carbon into the atmosphere.

But what might be positive in the conservative platform for this October is not clear at all. Chuckles says he is going to balance the books for the federal government within two years of being elected. That would be an amazing and probably very drastic promise to keep.

The most unusual promise from Chuckles is to give tax credits to people who send their children to private schools. Why anyone who can afford to send their children to private schools needs a tax credit for it is a question that needs to be asked?

It is important to know that Chuckles has always been a social conservative and yet he denies that he would support their more radical positions such as on abortion or LGBT issues. Which just means he is a person who does not stand up for his convictions. Some prime minister he would make!

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

In Alberta, vote, wash hands, wash hands again.

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

With less than a week to another Alberta provincial election I cannot forecast the vote. It is one of those times you can only vote against. There seem to be few positive options. The entire campaign is a disaster and a disappointment.

It is a given that I despise Jason Kenney. It makes it annoying that I have always had more readers in Kenney’s home town of Calgary than in Edmonton. Part of the reason is that I have more friends and relations there than in Edmonton. The only problem is almost everyone in Calgary thinks they are part of Sheriff Kenney’s posse that is going to restore Alberta’s fictional oil supremacy.

What I find hard to believe is that a normally smart and capable Rachel Notley has also bought into this oil B.S. and thinks she can solve Alberta’s economic problems with that ersatz heavy oil that is nothing but bitumen-based sludge.

The other day, premier Notley pledged that the Trudeau liberals would have the Trans Mountain pipeline back on the build by the end of May. Her back-up plan is to spend billions on rail tankers to take the bitumen to China. You would think that Albertans would be tired of hearing about how good it is going to be by now.

Mind you, that sleaze Kenney is a master of the untruth. Why does he remind me so much of Hollywood star Bob Hope singing I’m all yours in buttons and bows to co-star Jane Russell in the politically incorrect movie Paleface? Kenney does not even like women. He is the only politician I know who loses a few kilos of baby fat before an election.

But it all goes down to the wire next week. It hardly matters who the voters choose. There is no future in the tar sands but a few nickels and dimes for the foreign investors.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me