Posts Tagged ‘Alberta’

Premier Notley comes to Ottawa.

Saturday, December 1st, 2018

She rode out of the west to plead her case in Ottawa this past week. Strangely, it is the same case as her arch rival, Jason Kenney, would have made. He would have been more strident and threatening. Let us say that Alberta has many hopes for Ottawa—mainly money.

The practical lady that she is, Ms. Notley asked first for some money to buy tanker cars to send Alberta’s tar sands products by rail. What she really wants is pipelines. She knows they take longer. And she wants them all sooner than later.

But she also wants serious cutbacks in Bill C-69 that will soon be sent to the senate. C-69 is an environmental bill that causes Albertans to be worried. It seems to hold the producers of the raw materials responsible for the downstream green-house gas emissions of the ultimate products. It sounds like the tar sands producers would be responsible for the emissions caused by heating the water and pumping it down to bring the layers of bitumen to the surface. They would then be responsible for the thousands of hectares of Alberta land destroyed to create settling ponds for all that dirty, greasy water that can kill wildlife.

Whether shipped by train or pipeline or ocean tanker, the tar sands exploiters would also be responsible for any spills that mar our environment. And it also needs to be noted that when the tar sands bitumen is processed into synthetic crude oil, it will create three times the pollution of normal processing of crude oil. Much of this pollution is in the form of bitumen slag that is almost pure carbon. And only then does it join the crude oil processes that put the oil products to use.

But Premier Rachel Notley was spreading false news last week. Never once did she mention tar sands, or bitumen. She calls bitumen “Western Canada Select.” It is nothing more than a highly polluting bitumen, fit for nothing more than paving roads.

There is a growing demand in Alberta for the bitumen to be processed there and it would no longer be discounted to prices under $20 per barrel. If the people in Alberta allowed that, they would destroy the environment of their province for many generations to come.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Perchance, a prophet’s pipeline pays profits?

Saturday, September 29th, 2018

If there is bad news among the brochures delivered in the post this day, is the bad news to be blamed on Canada Post? And should a government encourage the building of a pipeline for the transmission of natural gas to replace more seriously polluting coal-fired plants to produce electricity? Do the politicians get plaudits? Or are we, as a caring society, conflicted by these moves?

Listening to Ontario environmental commissioner Dianne Saxe the other day, did not help. It was, without direct accusation, a serious indictment of Ontario’s current conservative government.

But was it, at the same time, an indictment of the Trudeau government in Ottawa? Was it an indirect challenge to the climate change potential of the government’s recently purchased Kinder Morgan pipeline across the Canadian Rockies? Could it be that the expanded pipeline is to be just a blameless delivery mechanism such as Canada Post? Or is it political one-upmanship?

The conservatives and liberals in Ottawa these days are arguing about who is the biggest friend of the pipeline business. Conservative leader Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer and liberal leader Justin Trudeau are arguing about who has created the most pipelines to take the pollution of Canada’s tar sands to tidewater. These are not just pipelines for crude oil but pipelines for diluted bitumen—that creates more than three times the carbon pollution in being processed to synthetic crude oil products.

And besides, Trudeau must be a prophet—as he can so easily brush aside all the concerns about a high-pressure, dual pipeline spilling bitumen into the ecosystem of the Rockies and the fragile fisheries of the west coast.

Does the liberal government in Ottawa have the right to say “We won” because of the use of taxpayer billions to buy the Kinder Morgan pipeline? Does it make Justin Trudeau the prophet, loved of Alberta admirers? Or does it make him the dupe of Albertan greed? And is Alberta premier Rachel Notely but a stalking horse for the greed and ambitions of united conservative party leader Jason Kenney?

And can the prophetic Justin Trudeau profit not from his perfidy? Is there not a federal election in 2019?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Harper’s henchmen halted.

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

The earth is still shaking in Alberta from the Federal Court of Appeal finally corralling the Calgary-based National Energy Board (NEB). The court was asking the logical questions about the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project. The industry is angry and the politicians all a-twitter. It was high time that someone questioned that industry’s dominance of its regulator and their cozy relations at the Calgary Petroleum Club.

But it was Trudeau coming to power three years ago and allowing the relationship to continue that was worrisome. When Brian Mulroney’s conservative government moved the NEB to Calgary in 1991, the idea was to have the board more directly involved with the energy sector based there. It was under the Harper government that it appeared obvious that only the industry was the beneficiary. Many liberals considered the NEB to be just another squadron of prime minister Harper’s henchmen.

The lack of depth and concern over environmental issues has been obvious to many. During the examination of the Line 9 Enbridge pipeline reversal and increase in capacity was my worst experience in trying to meet with NEB board members. The staff in Calgary are polite and interested but the chances of getting any hearing from the board were slim.

The fact that Line 9 crosses the top of the Yonge Street subway line in Toronto was a safety concern, the NEB chose to ignore. Considering the cavern of condos running downhill from that location with tens of thousands of residents, the willingness to ignore concerns was cavalier and worrying.

But luckily the judges at the federal appeal court disagreed with their laissez-faire attitude about the environment with the Kinder Morgan expansion. The judges considered the consultation with the first nations to be flawed and the lack of environmental concern for the ocean tankers coming into the Burrard Inlet terminus to be an unjustified failure.

The guy with the egg on his face from this fiasco is Canada’s environmental poster boy, Justin Trudeau. His government is now the proud owner of a $4.7 billion pipeline, along with plans and equipment to twin the line and no credibility.

The prime minister might have the power to overrule the court and simply say the pipeline is in the national interest—or even just in Alberta’s interest—but it would hardly help him get re-elected next year.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Lesson for today: Silk purses, sows’ ears.

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Listen up children; Our lesson for today is that you still cannot make silk purses out of sows’ ears. Excellent examples of this aphorism are the conservative leaders in both Ontario and Alberta. Having observed both gentlemen over their time in Canadian politics, I can assure you that the description of them as sows’ ears is about as polite a description as possible.

Mind you, there is a distinct difference between them. Jason Kenney of Alberta is a highly experienced politician and you can expect every sleazy political manipulation in the book. Doug Ford in Ontario is a neophyte and he will keep on blundering his way through the Ontario election.

A case in point: the handling of abortion questions. Jason Kenney has developed strategies over the years to avoid dialogues that will expose his extreme ‘right to life’ position. He even had his entire opposition caucus walk out of the legislature recently rather than allow them to debate the distance protestors must stay from legal abortion clinics. He did not want his views exposed to the public.

But for Doug Ford, extremism on this issue is just another blunder. Here he was encouraging Tanya Granic Allen, whom he knew was an anti-abortion extremist, as the conservative candidate in Mississauga Centre. It was when the liberals exposed her extremist homophobic views that he finally had to dump her as a conservative candidate. Yet he welcomes her continuing involvement in the conservative campaign. He can be forced to correct his mistakes but never seems to learn from them.

What is interesting about their campaigns in their respective provinces is that they are both running hard against strong female premiers. Jason Kenney is counting on his united right wing to swamp the one-term New Democrats in Alberta. It is not as though Rachel Notley has not been working hard to sell Alberta’s tar sands production and fighting for the Trans Mountain pipeline. She is just not a conservative.

Doug Ford has even less to commend him. He actually seems afraid of premier Kathleen Wynne. In a debate in Toronto last night, Ford was wooden and awkward. He was out of his element. (More on the debate tomorrow.)

The only solution we can come to about both leaders is that they would be disasters for both provinces. There will obviously be a lot of assessment of that possibility over the coming weeks.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Standing with BC’s John Horgan.

Saturday, April 14th, 2018

It is a memory from many years ago that sticks with you. It is this time of year. After being awakened by the sweeps rowers training on the harbour, you walk to downtown Vancouver from the Bayshore Inn, along streets lined with cherry blossoms in full bloom.

You drink in the wonderful freshness of the air off the Straits of Georgia. There is the warming sun on your face. You can still see the snow high atop the North Shore Mountains. Is this not a city to love?

British Columbia premier John Horgan would agree with that. We easterners might laughingly refer to it as Canada’s left coast but B.C. is a province of great beauty, industrious people and makes us proud.

And, somehow, there must be an answer to the current argument with Alberta. I suggested recently that we really need someone without a horse in the race to adjudicate between the premiers of Alberta and B.C. My suggestion was that it was about time for recently elected NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to show us what he can do.

Instead, we are expected to get prime minister Trudeau. He is cutting short his meetings in Lima, Peru to get back to Canada and meet with the two warring premiers.

The problem is that this is just two ganging up on one. Premier Sharon Notley of Alberta and the prime minister are equally committed to getting the pipeline expansion completed. There is nobody at the table capable of determining if there is a middle ground. There is no way to equalize. There is no way to compensate any party.

Advantage is obviously to the prime minister and Ms. Notley. And what does B.C. get but the thrills of the spills? And with three times the giant tankers in Burrard Inlet, you ask when, not if.

This is one problem that Justin Trudeau cannot solve with some selfies. There is nobody to charm.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Alberta commits to pollute.

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

It is hard to think of Alberta Premier Rachel Notley as an oil baron but she must be at least an honorary member of the Petroleum Club. Her government has committed to shipping 50,000 barrels a day of what must be diluted bitumen through TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline over the next 20 years. Bitumen, the output of Canada’s oil sands, is the most polluting petroleum product our planet proffers.

Bitumen pollutes at every step in the process. It causes pollution just to be extracted from the land. The effluent of its extraction process pollutes the environment. The conversion of bitumen to ersatz crude oil causes extensive pollution and leaves behind a carbon-rich slag. Further refining it to different grades of fuels causes pollution. And finally, burning it as a fuel causes even more pollution.

But Alberta’s government does not care. Donald Trump’s America wants to be great again and burns more coal. Sharon Notley’s Alberta wants to be rich again and pollute for profit.

This makes the NDP premier of Alberta just as much of a hypocrite as her hero in the U.S. White House. Her government is accepting diluted bitumen from the oil sands exploiters in lieu of royalty payments. Instead of just being the regulator on behalf of all Albertans, the Alberta government is in the game. It is in the oil business.

It is because of this accumulation of output from the tar sands as royalties, that the Alberta government can make a commitment to TransCanada Pipelines. It is guaranteeing use of the line while speculating on the price of bitumen at the Texas Gulf Coast oil ports. From the ports, the bitumen can be shipped to countries around the world who are not concerned about the pollution it causes and the harm to the environment.

This makes the Keystone XL pipeline even more likely as the company has now secured 500,000 barrels a day in commitments. That is 60 per cent of the total of the planned capacity for Keystone XL of 830,000 barrels per day. Those guarantees TransCanada are showing off can be taken to the bank as proof of the financial viability of the pipeline—if it ever gets completed.

The question for the voters of Alberta is can you trust a government to regulate and control an industry if the government is directly involved in the industry?

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

The Lion proposes to his Princess.

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

We read that it was the Tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, who determined that Sikh men could identify as Singh (lion) and Sikh women as Kaur (princess). This happened more than 300 years ago and was all in aid of getting rid of the caste system for Sikhs and asserting the equality of women. It is why, with the upcoming marriage of Jagmeet Singh to Girkiran Kaur Sidhu, the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party and his wife will probably want to keep their own names.

But despite it being a Sikh ceremony, it is all very political. There are just too many problems with an unmarried political party leader. If you do not have to face the rumours and innuendoes about a politician’s sexuality, you can concentrate on the more important issues.

When you consider the provincial Conservative leaders in Alberta and Ontario, you can understand the problem. Nobody really cares about the sexual choices of Jason Kenney, who is now the leader of Alberta’s United Conservatives. His record is clear as a social Conservative and there have been enough claims about the misogyny of him and his circle that it is hard to understand why any woman would want to support him.

Observing Ontario Conservative Leader Patrick Brown while he was in Ottawa and representing us here in Barrie, I think his problem is that women do not seem to like him. He is also a social conservative and has voted to re-open arguments about abortion and against same-sex marriage. He does not appear comfortable talking to women and they seem to rapidly lose interest in him.

Jagmeet Singh is quite different. With an outgoing personality and as a devout Sikh, he would probably be considered a very good catch for a Sikh lady. His ‘princess’ also looks like the perfect spouse for a politician. She is a successful fashion designer and appears to wear her designs well.

Jagmeet is already a hero to younger Sikhs because of his days as an extreme wrestler as well as being a successful lawyer before going into provincial politics in Ontario. He has yet to win election though to the House of Commons and take his place in parliament as NDP leader.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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

Excessives beat Progressives in Alberta.

Monday, October 30th, 2017

Friends in Alberta have been asking why this commentary had nothing to say about the race to run that province’s United Conservative Party? It was not because we did not have an opinion. It was sleazy, it was corrupt, it was predictable and we wanted no part of it.

I never thought in this lifetime that I would have any sympathy for Brian Jean, the former head of the Wildrose Party. I used to have a cat with more political smarts than Jean. The cat always knew which stranger’s lap to climb up on. Jean blew it. He let himself be had.

Not that Jean and his Wildrose yahoos ever concerned us. It is the old Conservative Party of Alberta that will be missed. Those people might have been misled in some instances but their hearts were in the right place. They might have engaged in some unseemly rhetoric over the years but they are decent people and they are concerned Canadians. And they seem to have no idea what they are now in for.

I am too far away to comment on the people behind Jason Kenney but if he gives you the creeps, his backers will likely scare hell out of you.

When I first saw Jason Kenney in Ottawa and learned about his background, I had serious misgivings about him. When I saw what he was doing in some of the ethnic communities, it was a level of hypocrisy that I had never seen from a Conservative operative before.

This is the guy who showed his friend Patrick Brown from Ontario how to line up tens of thousands of immigrants from India to steal the leadership of Ontario Conservative Party. He and Brown are fellow rabid social conservatives. They are used to lying about it. They will be what you want them to be in exchange for your vote.

Originally, I paired Jason Kenney with Ottawa M.P. John Baird who worked closely with Kenney in the Harper cabinet. I called the two fat and forty-something bachelors the Bobbsey Twins.

But seeing how nasty Kenney and his sycophants were back in Alberta with women in his own party made me wonder if Albertans were missing something. Kenney has a lot to learn about being a gentleman and it strikes me that Premier Rachel Notley might just give him some lessons in the coming months.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

The marriage of Alberta’s Alt-right.

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Can you not just visualize Stan Laurel, in the person of Brian Jean, saying to Oliver Hardy, in the person of Jason Kenney, “Well here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten us into.” The mess they are into is a new provincial party in Alberta that could earn the enmity of the rest of Canada. It is an extremist version of a United Conservative Party of Alberta that few decent Albertans will want to support.

Former MP and former leader of Alberta’s Conservative Party, Jason Kenney has led Alberta’s once powerful Conservatives into a marriage with the Conservative offshoot Wildrose Party. It is a marriage without principles. It is a marriage without niceties. It is nothing more than a disgusting grab for power. It is so blatantly dishonest that it could make Donald Trump blush.

And yet nobody misses the similarities to Donald Trump’s policies. This is a party that is defiant on climate change. It wants to dig and use more of Alberta’s coal, not less. It is vehement about there being no cap on tar sands exploitation. It wants more pipelines. It will get rid of all carbon taxes. And it will cut Albertans’ taxes no matter what.

Instead of learning something from the roller coast ride that Alberta has taken on the price of oil, this party only believes in fossil fuels. They are ostriches serving the bidding of tar sands’ companies.

Brian Jean is the Member of the Legislature for Fort McMurray—Conklin and knows first hand of the best wishes and support from the rest of Canada during the fire storms of last year in that part of Alberta. Yet, he told Conservatives after the vote that their new provincial party will “send a message to all of Canada that Alberta is done apologizing for our industries and our way of life.”

That is not just a straight forward ‘Up yours’ to environmentalists and other concerned citizens.  Brian Jean and Jason Kenney have no understanding of God’s word to Moses that one should sock some away during the good years so that you can survive the lean years. They are mean and vindictive zealots who take their bitterness out on those members of society least able to speak for themselves. Please do not let these men speak for all Albertans.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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

 

Lies. And Trudeau-Trump lies.

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

You have come to expect it in the daily reports from the American White House. You know that the man in the White House tells lies. You just do not expect it from the guy in charge in Ottawa.

And you already knew that the guy in charge at the White House does not give a damn about the environment. You are more conflicted by the guy in Ottawa. This guy says he wants to save the environment and makes a big show of it. And then he approves doubling the Kinder Morgan pipeline over the Rockies to pump diluted bitumen to an ocean port. And he is a cheerleader for President Trump approving TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline to the Texas Gulf.

Of course, there is nothing new about the guff that Trump spews for the American news media. He even believes there are American jobs to be had. He had Russ Sperling, president of TransCanada Corporation in his office for the announcement. Sperling would have tripled the number of jobs created by that pipeline to get more bitumen to that Texas port. Hell, he might consider putting Trump’s grandmother on the payroll if that would help.

But it is not going to pave the way past all those environmentalists in the American Midwest who are digging their own trenches for the coming Keystone Wars. This question is not resolved by a long shot. Trump can try to call out the Nebraska National Guard if he likes but Keystone is going to have to run over a lot of environmentalist barricades on its way to the sea.

Trump appears to be drinking his own bath water though when he uses the usual untruths about Keystone. The American jobs Trump was going on about will be fleeting and if the entire line from Alberta to Texas involves as many as 400 maintenance jobs, it will be generous.

But by no stretch of the imagination will Alberta tar sands bitumen make North America self sufficient in ersatz oil. Nor will bitumen-based synthetic oil be cheaper. The greedy bastards who want to pipe the bitumen down the line will hardly be happy until the price of crude oil again hits the US$80 mark. And if we really tried to use bitumen-based oil to supply North America, we would all be knee deep in bitumen slag from trying to refine so much bitumen into synthetic oil.

It seems to be common knowledge now that Donald Trump usually does not know what he is talking about. What is Justin Trudeau’s excuse?

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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