Posts Tagged ‘Alberta’

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.

-30-

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?

-30-

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.

-30-

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!

-30-

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.

-30-

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!

-30-

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.

-30-

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.

-30-

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.

-30-

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.

-30-

Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

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