Posts Tagged ‘Alberta’

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

Jason Kenney’s Quest.

Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

There is something about being the big dog in a small kennel. It brings the walls to you and it feels all warm and snuggly. It must be what Jason Kenney thought of when he saw that the years of posing as heir apparent to former prime minister Stephen Harper held hollow promise. Jason Kenny is a person of large ambition and his quest is not to be denied.

But what turns the crank for a pudgy, misogynistic bachelor politician? It’s the power trip. Since he fought against co-eds at his Catholic college in San Francisco being allowed access to birth control information, Kenney’s quest has been for power.

It was this quest that sent Kenney back home to Calgary after the conservatives lost to the Justin Trudeau liberals. He told his supporters he was there to unite the right-wing conservatives and Wildrose parties. And he did it with little concern for any Marquis of Queensbury rules.

Kenney is on the extreme right of the social conservative spectrum. His first hero was Stockwell Day of the Canadian Alliance. Yet he was politically astute enough to recognize that the conservatives were well behind the liberals who were already taking the support of Canada’s ethnic groups for granted. When Stephen Harper came out on top as leader of the combined Canadian conservatives, he saw the work Kenney was doing in the ethnic communities and bought into what he was doing. It was a winner.

This apparatchik choked the first time I saw one of Kenney’s carefully constructed ethnic walls of people behind candidate Stephen Harper. I called it pandering at the time, even if I had to admit that it worked. Harper’s conservatives did not always win majorities but they won three federal elections in a row.

But like anything that works in politics, it ends up being overdone. Even today, Kenney gives the small percentage of ethnic communities in Alberta a little extra attention. He knows that all votes matter.

But if I were a betting person, I would check out the odds being offered by the Alberta bookies and maybe risk a looney or two on Rachel Notley and her team.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Nothing New about a Stalking Horse.

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

Oh, to be in Alberta when the politicos are running! Have you heard the latest about that sleaze Jason Kenney of the united conservatives? With premier Rachel Notley about to pull the plug on the provincial election, UCP leader Kenney has got his jeans in a twist. It seems people can actually document how he made sure of beating Brian Jean for the provincial party leadership.

Not, I hasten point out, that there is anything illegal about using a stalking horse campaign. It is just desperation in a tough fight.

But if another candidate pays for the stalking horse campaign, in whole or in part, there is reason to look at the financing to determine if there was a fraud perpetrated. Mind you, I also think it is a fraud to have one politico pay off another with a plum cabinet position.

A good example of that was the sleazy way former premier Kathleen Wynne won the Ontario liberal leadership in January 2013. By quitting the race to support Wynne, two weeks before the convention, stalking horse, Glen Murray, blocked a realignment of liberals being elected delegates. By forcing his supporters into the independent category, Murray blocked many of the truly independent liberals from getting elected. That sewed it up for Wynne.

A stalking horse can be a very effective strategy in campaigns but the more people who know about it, the less chance it has of working. No doubt Jason Kenney forgot that part when he used the tactic against former Wildrose leader Brian Jean. Kenny’s problem seems to have been that he had too many balls in the air at a time. His misogynistic attitude with women was causing him constant trouble throughout his leadership effort and made it difficult to control some of his supporters who were just following his lead.

The 2019 provincial election in Alberta is not necessarily a foregone conclusion. Premier Rachel Notley is not the same person as won Alberta against a split conservative vote in 2015.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

‘Take that, John Horgan.’

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

The Toronto Star’s Calgary apologist, Gillian Steward, thinks maybe Alberta premier Rachel Notley can frighten her former ally, B.C. premier John Horgan, into approving the Trans Mountain pipeline. It seems that the Alberta premier has committed $3.7 billion to lease 4,400 rail tanker cars to carry diluted bitumen to Burrard Inlet. The objective is not just to carry the tar sands output but to show the B.C. premier that rail is not as safe as pipelines.

And if there is a serious derailment of bitumen-loaded tanker cars, it will be John Horgan’s fault. While the logic of this might confuse some readers, Steward goes on to list some of the recent accidents that might or might not have involved bitumen. She takes special note of the run-a-way freight train near Lake Louise that headed west with nobody at the controls. The killing of three Canadian Pacific employees and the derailment of 99 cars and two locomotives was horrific enough but if I was on the Transportation Safety Board, I would be having loud discussions with CP management about what the hell they think they are running?

What is just the icing on the cake, among all the failings of the CPR, is the ridiculous sight recently of two CP Rail trains colliding in the rail yards in Calgary. What were they doing? Practicing?

With hundreds of thousands of barrels of diluted bitumen being shipped south, east and west from Alberta every day, people are soon going to learn the difference between bitumen and crude oil. Crude can be cleaned up. Bitumen becomes part of the environment.

It sometimes appears that John Horgan and his NDP government in B.C. are the only adults in Western Canada. They have stood with the aboriginal groups, they have approved liquified natural gas shipping that can be done safely and they have shown their concern for the remaining Orcas in the Salish Sea. They are doing their job in a responsible manner. Others should do likewise.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Saving the Scenic Salish Sea.

Monday, February 25th, 2019

To nobody’s surprise the other day, Canada’s moribund National Energy Board (NEB), once again, approved the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. And once again to the barricades my friends to stop the tripling of the ocean-going tankers manoeuvring under Lions Gate Bridge, through Vancouver Harbour to the Second Narrows and into Burrard Inlet to fill up on highly polluting tar sands bitumen.

The NEB approval comes with the caution that the traffic will harm the killer whales, annoy some of the aboriginal groups (probably the ones that could not be bought off) and cause significant greenhouse gas emissions. Since nobody has figured out a way to provide emergency measures services to the endangered Orcas, you would think this advice alone from the board would come with a negative on the project.

But, no. The NEB obviously made note that the federal government now owns and operates the pipeline and the government can do what it wants anyway. And since this is also the government that appoints the board members, you can assume that they would not bite the hand that feeds them. And, at the same time, it pleased their friends down at the Calgary Petroleum Club. This was a win-win for those guys.

The funniest response was from Alberta premier Rachel Notley. She took a cautiously optimistic approach. She figures it’s an important step, though she did not seem to be rushing to call out the brass bands.

But the federal government still has 90 days to make a final decision. It can take its time. Notley and the tar sands exploiters have spent a great deal of money on the false advertising for their part in the tar sands charade. You would think that with how Notley and her government have stood up for the lies, there would be some payoff. They have cut themselves off from the federal new democrats and crossed the country telling us that ‘bitumen is good for you.’

Despite all her efforts, I hear there will be nothing but bad news for Notley in the election she has to call.

Maybe Justin Trudeau will be even more of a chump. Does he really think his liberals will hold all three seats they now hold in Alberta after the October election?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

Lies, hyperbole and alt truths.

Monday, February 4th, 2019

What has happened to politics? And what has happened to the decency that it used to have? We all know that U.S. president Donald Trump creates his own truths but we also know that he is not really a politician. He does not know any better.

Justin Trudeau knows better. He was raised in politics. His father was quite good about telling the truth—and, sometimes, regretted it.

But that did not stop Justin Trudeau from using some hyperbole (exaggeration for emphasis) last week in the House of Commons. He claimed that his government has “helped more than a million Canadians find affordable housing.”

Defending the prime minister’s exaggeration, Adam Vaughan, parliamentary secretary to the minister of social development, explained that while the actual results created housing for less than a million Canadians, some double counting was involved. He stated that this was necessary to provide “rhetorical advantage.”

What it sounds like, is Vaughan is saying that Justin Trudeau, who used to be a school teacher, could stand up in front of a class and tell the children that it is alright to lie, to make your point. This is a frequently used rationale for telling lies.

But reality is that there is no need to lie. There is a long journey from truth to the way station of hyperbole and on to the alt truth. We see the alt (alternative) truth everyday in television commercials such as the current heavy saturation of ads for what Alberta calls an “oil” pipeline. What they do not want you to know is that it is to carry the highly-polluting bitumen from the tar sands. They want the public to think of it as just crude oil.

In this election year, we are going to hear many more alt truths. My favourite Alt truth last year was Ontario conservative Doug Ford’s slogan, ‘For the People.’ We spend a lot of time trying to figure out what people Ford meant. I am waiting for this year’s campaign when Andrew Scheer’s conservatives try to convince us that we should not be concerned about the environment. I bet the Tories will have a slogan for that.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

An Olive Branch to Alberta?

Monday, January 21st, 2019

It was last April when Babel-on-the-Bay commented on the Toronto Star’s Quisling-like coverage of the Alberta tar sands quandary by Star business writer David Olive. We were pleased to note the other day that Olive has seen the light. In a recent opinion piece, he suggests that Albertans should get serious about the province’s future.

Olive picks up on the Alberta tendency to ride the rollercoaster of oil-industry feasts and famines. He even points out that most of the oil money profits (when they happen) go to out-of-province investors rather than to the citizens of the province. What he considers as inexplicable is the province’s lack of forward planning.

Olive is old enough to remember the heyday of Burns Foods and Gainers when Alberta was processing world-class beef products for Eastern Canada and world markets. The province also seems to have turned its collective backs on the high-tech potential out of the University of Alberta and a strong dairy sector.

While Olive still panders to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) desire to call bitumen ‘heavy crude,’ he admits that he is astonished that Calgarians, particularly, seem to have no concept of how long it takes to get a pipeline approved and built in Canada. (And if Jason Kenney thinks it is because we believe in democracy; tough beans.)

Olive says he is surprised by Albertans who seem to think everyone other than themselves is to blame when the price of crude oil drops. He is surprised that Albertans still do not understand why Peter Lougheed urged economic diversification. They would much rather damn a Trudeau for their pipedreams.

What surprises me about Olive’s article was his thinking that all bitumen mining in Alberta is open pit. That is the impression that CAPP seems to encourage by using the old news clips and pictures from Suncor. People in the east seem unaware that most bitumen is now flushed up from deep underground by forcing hot water down to the bitumen seams. Those wildlife-killing settling ponds that are taking over the northern Alberta landscape are the residue from bitumen extraction.

And Olive does not think premier Rachel Notley helped inter-provincial relations by saying in a Toronto speech recently that Canadians who are not lucky enough to live in her province were holding Alberta up for ransom. No doubt she could also improve relations by stopping those false-news commercials that say doubling the Trans Mountain pipeline is good for all Canadians.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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

What to do when money wins?

Friday, January 18th, 2019

The cynic tells us that everyone has a price. And when you are dealing in billions, what is a million here or there? I have often wondered when the companies exploiting the tar sands and the pipeline people were going to give the aboriginal peoples who have stood in their way a serious piece of the action. Now we find that they are not only offering participation, they want to sell the tribes everything.

A recent deal between Teck Resources and the aboriginal groups around Fort Chipewyan shows that the aboriginal nations are more inclined to be joining instead of fighting. It is as though, they have given up on the government protecting them.

Of special interest is a potential deal reported by the CBC that a group of aboriginal nations who have been involved in resource exploitation are interested in buying the Trans Mountain pipeline from the government. It was also clear from the quick denial by finance minister Bill Morneau that this is not a joke. It is for good reason that the government is not comfortable with Justin Trudeau’s rash decision to buy the Kinder Morgan package. The aboriginals can probably get it for a fire-sale price when the timing is right. And while these first nations do not always play well together, they understand each other and the negotiations would be fair and expeditious.

And can you imagine the relief for government and taxpayers when more of our first nations start to become financially self sufficient and paying taxes.

The only people who would be left with egg on our faces will the environmentalists who have been backing them. It would sure feel funny fighting the aboriginal-owned pipeline and those huge ocean tankers on behalf of the marine life in the Strait of Georgia.

I can already hear premier Rachel Notley and that damn Jason Kenney snickering over their brandies at the Petroleum Club.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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