Division unites Albertans under a vision for their future and Canadian confederation

In his victory speech Tuesday night, Premier-elect Jason Kenney shared the story of meeting a 17-year old boy three years ago at a rural Alberta gas station, who asked him to please hurry up with the next election. Mr. Kenney responded that the timing wasn’t up to him, but he was doing the best he could to prepare. Tears welled up in the boys eyes – he said, my father’s been unemployed for many months and he’s starting to get depressed, and I’m the only source of income for my parents and four siblings. Mr. Kenney said he’s thought about that boy every day for the last three years and it’s people like him that the United Conservative government will fight for.

An astounding record 72 percent of Albertans voted in the provincial election on April 16 with overwhelming support for a majority UCP government. The advance polls saw triple the turnout from the 2015 election, an indication that a change in government was coming. With these early votes still to be counted, the UCP sit at approximately 63 seats out of 87 in the legislature. The official and only opposition in the legislature are the NDP at approximately 24 seats – all other parties completely shut out as the Liberals lost their only seat and the Alberta Party lost their three, despite offering a full slate of candidates for the ballots. Albertans were exceptionally clear about the direction they want and that is conservative governance.

The UCP is a brand new party with most of its candidates new to the political game, though not in their professions, under experienced leadership, suggesting an interesting dynamic to come. In particular, legislative debate will be interesting because the NDP changed their public tune while in government to that of supporting (in rhetoric only, not in action) petroleum development and will now have no choice but to remain supportive or mute on the topic as official opposition, lest their hypocrisy become even more evident and lose further seats in the next election.

Over the past several election cycles, the left-wing has pushed the narrative of fear, hate, and division to the repulsion of most voters. On Tuesday, Albertans solidly thumped that narrative in favour of what really matters – facts, integrity, and a strong, transparent agenda and vision for the economic and social well-being of not just those in the province, but as Mr. Kenney conveyed in his speech, for all Canadians, including those who are Indigenous.

In a direct appeal to Quebec’s Premier for collaboration between the two provinces, the Premier-elect spoke at length in French that the two leaders must find common ground to strengthen the self-sufficiency of both economies. Two years ago, TransCanada pulled the plug on its proposed Energy East pipeline, which would have both provided the eastern provinces with oil and natural gas from home instead of foreign dictatorships and opened a market to Europe, due to opposition from politically charged federal regulators, local politicians, and paid environmental activists.

Premier-elect Kenney gave a taste of his leadership style over the next four years by directly calling out the foreign sources of anti-Canadian funding that have targeted energy production and infrastructure, in addition to other industries such as fishing – the Rockefellers, Tides, and the Suzuki Foundation among those in his sights for potential legal action. Another was Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has stonewalled energy infrastructure projects and introduced a carbon tax that only harms individuals and economic competitiveness while doing nothing to protect or improve the environment. The scene is set for another showdown between Alberta and a noxious Trudeau Prime Minister, and as an adversary, Justin is nowhere near as tough or clever as his father was.

Outgoing NDP Premier Rachel Notley had focused on name-calling and division, pressuring the wrongful ejection of two UCP candidates – Randy Kerr and then Caylan Ford – even going so far as to slander Mr. Kenney regarding the two without facts in the televised leaders’ debate. In the case of Ms. Ford, the NDP showed the extent of their dishonesty when they slandered her as a white supremacist, when the truth is Ms. Ford was manipulated and blackmailed by a sociopath connected to Press Progress – a propaganda organization for the left. How utterly disgusting and hypocritical for the left to claim championship of women while simultaneously smearing a reputation that may last beyond the election. It also highlights the mainstream media’s inability to conduct quality journalism and refuse to publish stories without even scraps of evidence. As all the losing parties lamented in their concession speeches, the UCP need to prove they are better – absolutely, and they can begin by righting the wrongs endured by Mr. Kerr and Ms. Ford. Premier-elect Kenney’s character will be tested and judged as much by his accomplishments for Alberta as the manner in which he treats those who are loyal to and supportive of him.

The media continued to push their narrative of how divisive the election was. No, only the NDP and the media were divisive because it’s the only game plan they know. Albertans, who have been suffering under years of prolonged economic recession without much hope that the compounded situation of provincial, federal, and foreign obstruction would change, demanded and manifested an opportunity to restore the Alberta Advantage. Canadian confederation has weakened as Alberta has suffered. It’s time to unite behind a positive and fact-based vision for the highest and best interests of all Canadians and deny the politics of division going forward.

Albertans reject nasty, divisive politics but the NDP still haven’t clued in

Albertans woke up to an electoral hangover on May 6, 2015. It was spring, but the air and skies were tinged with cool and grey. The entrepreneurial heartland of downtown Calgary was stone-faced with a noticeable mute in the air as everyone mumbled denials that they themselves had voted for the far-left New Democratic Party, with its socialist and communist roots. Yet somehow the province had just elected its first new majority government in forty-four years under now-Premier Rachel Notley.

The Progressive Conservatives, who had guided Alberta’s government uninterrupted since 1971, threw away their final chance at salvation when Jim Prentice became leader. They begged him to restore their fortunes then refused to change their ways and ensure Prentice had a real chance to make things right. Albertans had realized during the 2012 provincial election that the Wildrose Party were too negative and not their cup of tea, later reinforced by Danielle Smith’s shameless, egotistical, and somehow unironic (considering the foundations of her Wildrose caucus) floor-crossing in 2014. This decision, along with the unfortunate gender optics of Prentice’s rebuttal to Notley in a televised debate that “math is hard” (particularly the NDP-implemented Discovery Math method) turned Albertans off. Stop with the bickering and get on with the job, was the sentiment.

The NDP were the only other party with a full slate of 87 candidates for the 2015 provincial election. So, every Albertan who wanted to make a point chose the ballot box as their vehicle of silent resistance and thought they would be the only ones to mark a protest vote with the NDP. Good morning, Wednesday.

Four years later and Alberta is now days away from choosing their next Premier and government. An NDP television commercial shows a middle-aged man sitting in his kitchen talking about how he had always been a PC voter, but geez – there’s something he just can’t put his finger on, about something non-descript about that Jason Kenney, and so, what the hell, he’ll vote for Rachel Notley because at least with her he knows what he’s getting. Except he doesn’t.

Few things rile Albertans’ anger like mention of a sales tax, unjustified in the country’s economic engine, yet the first thing Premier Notley did was introduce a carbon tax that, in practice, is a sales tax, despite not once mentioning it during the election campaign. Make no mistake, Notley knew early on in the 2015 campaign – as Prentice did – that she would become the next Premier and would be calling the policy shots.

We do know that Notley can neither tout the benefits of her four years in government nor the same for another four, amid the deep entrenchment of an economic crisis and the human suffering that goes along with it. Instead, Notley put out a commercial alluding to some vague bad-ness about Kenney, outright defamed him in the televised debate – and doubled down on her comments when Kenney challenged her – and kicked off the election with a horrible smear campaign deliberately intended to damage the reputation of one of the United Conservative’s star candidates, as well as her replacement.

‘White supremacist’; ‘misogynist’; ‘sexist’; ‘racist’: it is increasingly evident, as moderate liberal politics disappears and is replaced by inflammatory far-left proponents, that when politicians do not have facts on their side they engage in divisive, actually hate-filled campaign tactics and rhetoric (anything they disagree with from conservatives is always “hateful”). As always, the mainstream news media is willingly complicit in this race to the bottom by throwing qualified individuals under the bus on a scrap of something rather than the truth of everything, desperate for attention as people stop believing them, too. If Albertans actively showed their displeasure at these sick games before, their reaction will only be stronger now in context of rising unemployment, suicide, foreclosures, and taxation through the roof from all levels of government.

This election, strategic voting must be forward-thinking, not premised on disillusionment over the past. Deny the fearmongering NDP your vote and their accompanying satisfaction of believing corrosive, name-calling politics works. If you don’t want to support the UCP, then look to the Alberta Party – they also have a full slate of candidates who would likely make complementary allies of a UCP government or coalition, rather than adversaries who accomplish little of value.

For the Albertans lucky enough not to feel the pit of their stomach every minute of every day, consider your neighbours when you vote on Tuesday.

Kenney will launch a carbon tax court fight if he wins election and supports Indigenous projects

United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney says if he wins the Alberta election he will first get rid of the provincial carbon tax implemented by the NDP government, then launch a formal court challenge against the federal carbon tax before the end of April.

The Premier-hopeful said there are constitutional questions surrounding whether Ottawa can even impose the tax, which formally began this week in the four provinces that refused to bring in their own tax – Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick. Mr. Kenney added that since the constitutional challenge could take years so he’ll also do whatever he can to see Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defeated in the fall election.

“It is in Alberta’s vital economic interests, for the future of jobs and prosperity in this province, that we not only defeat this tax-hiking NDP government, but that we also defeat their close ally in Ottawa — Justin Trudeau. I, as leader of the United Conservative party, will do everything within our power to ensure that he is not returned as Prime Minister.” Mr. Kenney said last Monday.

He also promised to reduce wait times on energy projects to try to make them the fastest in North America, stating that approvals for oil wells currently take a year and a half, which he says places Alberta far behind Saskatchewan and U.S. jurisdictions and puts the province at a competitive disadvantage. He says if his party were elected April 16, he would set up legislated targets to cut wait times and would publish data to update progress. The goal would be to cut timelines in half and eventually make them the shortest in North America.

Mr. Kenney also guaranteed that, by law, once a project has received its permit, the royalty structure would remain the same throughout the life of the project. Additionally, his government would intervene at all National Energy Board hearings that affected Alberta’s oil and gas interests.

At the Enoch Cree Nation near Edmonton, Mr. Kenney announced his government would set up a Crown corporation to help Indigenous communities invest in resource projects., saying, “We need a radically new approach from the failure of the past so we can get a fair price for our energy, and we need to move beyond empty words to give real, concrete meaning to reconciliation with Aboriginal Canadians.” The Crown corporation would provide technical and advisory support to Indigenous communities and potentially provide loan guarantees or co-invested debt and equity lending from the Alberta government.

Mr. Kenney said a UCP government would consult with First Nations about how to structure the Aboriginal Opportunities Corporation and ensure there is Indigenous representation on its board. This would entail an initial investment of CAD $24 million to set it up and set aside CAD $1 billion to facilitate and backstop financing for Indigenous peoples who want to buy into pipelines and other resource infrastructure. These funds would come from the re-allocation of the NDP’s CAD $3.7-billion plan to ship more oil by rail, which the UCP has said it would cancel.

Mr. Kenney said many First Nations support projects such as the stalled Trans Mountain expansion to the West Coast, but do not have financial means to buy a stake and that opposing Indigenous groups have the support of well-funded foreign environmental organizations. “This is not just about getting a pipeline built. It’s not just in the strategic economic interests in Alberta. I also believe it is a truly moral cause,” he said, “Reconciliation needs to be about more than just words and symbols. It needs to be about substance. It needs, in part, to be about helping to empower our First Nations communities to fully develop their social and economic potential.

British Columbia’s Eagle Spirit entrepreneur Calvin Helin, who has proposed a multibillion-dollar Indigenous oil pipeline between the oilsands and the West coast supports Mr. Kenney’s plan, saying on Twitter, “No lip service but a real partnership with government.

The NDP Scandal No One Is Talking About

The NDP government has tried to hide a wasted $2 billion from Alberta taxpayers. This unnecessary $2 billion cost has added to Alberta’s exploding provincial debt, currently at $53 billion.

Electricity is a complex topic and one of the less well-understood issues for Albertans. Rachel Notley’s NDP took advantage of this when they interfered with power purchase agreements immediately after forming government in 2015.

Minister of Energy Margaret McCuaig-Boyd claimed the NDP government was taking action to provide Albertans with a more stable, affordable, and reliable electricity system. However, their actions resulted in the resignations of all but one board member from the Balancing Pool and a cost of $2 billion for Alberta taxpayers.

For decades, Alberta’s competitive market for electricity kept prices low and encouraged investment, including market-financed green power. Before the NDP, a market-friendly electricity system brought $20 billion in investment dollars to Alberta to build 10,000 megawatts of new power since 1996, including 1,727 megawatts of market-based green energy without subsidies.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, the province’s electricity industry was restructured to introduce competition and allow for full deregulation of electrical generation through the implementation of Power Purchase Arrangements (PPAs). Legislation – not negotiated contracts – mandates that the PPAs govern the relationship between the producer and the buyer.

Zealous to implement their ideological view, the NDP waited only a mere month after winning the election to implement carbon tax changes for large greenhouse gas emitters, including coal-fired power plants. Attempting to change the rules mid-game triggered a “hand-back provision” in the contract between the Province and electricity producers that producers say are to their detriment.

The NDP government sued all the power producers. Instead of accepting back the power purchase agreements through the Balancing Pool, which acts as a backstop for the electricity market, the NDP required the Balancing Pool to sue the producers. The NDP government eventually lost in a settlement agreed to out of court.

What does this mean for you?

Between 2004 and 2014 most residential electricity customers would receive $2 to $3 back from the Balancing Pool on their electricity bills. The Balancing Pool had a surplus of about $700 million when the Progressive Conservatives lost government in 2015 – under the NDP, there is now a $1 billion deficit.

This means you pay an additional $2 to $3 dollars extra as a Balancing Pool rider on your ENMAX bill every month. However, if this reflected the true cost of electricity it would be closer to $20 because the NDP has funded the Balancing Pool by adding to Alberta’s debt in an attempt to hide the $2 billion loss from you.

A few dollars may not seem like much on an ENMAX bill, but Albertans will pay for it one way or another. How many $2 billion blunders can you afford?

Millennials Can’t Afford an NDP Government

Do you believe you are better able to create the life you dream of in Alberta today than you were four years ago?

Most Millennials will say no.

The central issue of this election campaign is the economy. The fact is Albertans have been harmed by an NDP government. Their carbon tax, specifically, raises the cost of everything. Life becomes ever-more unaffordable, particularly for Millennials who are still creating the foundations of their lives.

The NDP did not campaign on the introduction of a carbon tax in 2015, which now takes $1.4 billion out of the pockets of ordinary Albertans and the companies they work for every year. When it was introduced, the NDP said the carbon tax would be “revenue neutral” but only a third was ever “recycled” to Albertans.

No financial stability for Millennials and young families

You are a young family of four: Rachel Notley’s carbon tax has added $30 every month on average to your ENMAX bill. You are paying $1.53/ GJ for natural gas – which is more than the natural gas companies do.  If the NDP are re-elected, this is likely to reach the $100 mark on the carbon levy alone. Notley’s government assumes a couple with two children earn up to $95,000 per year: do you have an extra $100 every month to put toward a higher carbon tax?

Currently, Albertans pay 19.74 percent in carbon tax on each litre of gasoline at the pumps. 13 percent is the federal rate and 6.73 percent is the provincial rate, which Notley has vowed to double. This is also taxed 5 percent GST, bringing a total of 24.73 percent in taxes per litre. So, if the NDP are re-elected, you will be paying nearly 30 cents per litre just in carbon tax. The price of food, and every other commodity, will also go up because those transportation costs will have gone up as well.

By eliminating the carbon tax, a single mother with two children will save $400 a year and save a mom and a dad with a minivan and a pickup truck in excess of $1,800 over the next four years – in gas alone. According to economists, 70% of families would receive tax cuts ranging from $25 to $1,150 with the carbon tax gone. The average small or medium-sized business would also save $4,500 a year in carbon taxes currently applied to natural gas, gasoline, and diesel.

The economic recession is getting worse

At least 100,000 petroleum jobs have been lost in Calgary alone, and they continue. This doesn’t include every other economic sector that relies on the strength and viability of the energy industry. The unemployment figures don’t account for people who have tapped out Employment Insurance or are by default retired as they’ll never have a chance to re-enter the workforce. The oil and gas heartland of downtown Calgary has a vacancy rate pushing 40 percent.

Trendy neighbourhoods suffer the same as local entrepreneurs and businesses go under. Over the span of two recent months, the 17th Avenue SW district lost 29 businesses. Kensington has lost 15 of 274 businesses since Christmas.

Because of the carbon tax, the City of Calgary lost an estimated $250 million in commercial property taxes in 2018 and Council has shifted the tax shortfall to homeowners to cover the difference; cutting a bloated bureaucracy is somehow never an option.

Stokes Economics estimates the economic benefit of eliminating the carbon tax versus a $50 carbon tax by 2024 results in higher nominal and real GDP, an increase in plant and equipment investment, 6,000 more jobs, and $1.9 billion more in retail sales by 2024. 

There are no new jobs coming to save Albertans

There are more unemployed Albertans today than when the NDP took office, and the province has the highest unemployment rate outside of the Atlantic. The NDP claim new jobs have been created in the province, but this is primarily because Notley continues to expand the size of the government’s bureaucracy, a dream for her husband Lou Arab, who is a Communications Representative for the Canadian Union of Public Employees and an NDP campaign strategist.

This is a clear conflict of interest, as described by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD): “Conflict of interest occurs when an individual or a corporation (either private or governmental) is in a position to exploit his or their own professional or official capacity in some way for personal or corporate benefit.” In other words, a conflict of interest exists when someone could abuse his or her official position for private gain. In this ongoing climate of economic falter, uncertainty, and no job security, are we all going to end up working for a union?

In their 2018 Vote Prosperity report, the Alberta Chambers of Commerce found that corporate tax increases along with the provincial carbon tax and costlier environmental regulations have resulted in weak job growth, layoffs, and the highest unemployment rate outside of Atlantic Canada. One estimate indicates the carbon tax increased costs on restaurants and hospitality businesses by over $36,000 annually and new labour regulations could cost an additional $11,000 on a single statutory holiday. Additionally, 73% of businesses indicated their costs will increase due to the carbon levy, while only 21% of those businesses believe they will be able raise their prices to compensate. 

We can’t afford another NDP government

You are not alone; two-thirds of Albertans have continually opposed the carbon tax.

The NDP platform offers no credible plan to get Albertans back to work, grow the economy, and reign in out-of-control finances after four years of their mismanagement. As result, Alberta is on track for $95 billion in debt by 2023. This is the equivalent of 1,185,588 nurses; 1,202,973 teachers; 4,834 schools; and 72 hospitals.

Millennials do not have reason for greater hope for their future under an NDP government. The painful consequences of unemployment across multiple generations of Albertans, from all job markets, are depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide. Millennials need a government that protects our futures instead of hobbling us with more and more debt, into a hole we can never dig ourselves out of.

Rachel Notley's Sales Tax

Unveiled as part of her election campaign platform, Rachel Notley proclaims her government will have a balanced budget in 2023-24. Aside from the assumption that this would be the first year in a third NDP term of government, a balanced budget includes all sorts of spending promises. How the NDP will accomplish both a balanced budget and increased spending remains their dirty secret.

During the 2015 provincial election that brought the NDP to power, not once did Notley announce she would introduce a carbon tax if her party formed government. Once elected – albeit accidentally – her NDP government introduced a carbon tax and then spent $9 million in ads justifying it to Albertans. It is the single largest tax hike in Alberta history, implemented without a public mandate and in violation of the Alberta Taxpayer Protection Act, which requires a referendum before a sales tax can be introduced.

In their 2018 budget, the NDP revealed that as they increase the rate by 67%, there will be no additional ‘green’ spending, and no increase in the rebates. It had a budget estimate of bringing in $1.34 billion in 2018-19. This is almost equal to the combined royalties on crude oil and natural gas of $1.59 billion for the same period. Oil price futures to 2024 show oil at about $61 per barrel. If Rachel Notley is serious about balancing the budget, then additional sources of tax revenue are her only option.

When the current carbon tax was introduced, it was set at $20 per tonne, increased to $30 per tonne in 2017, and planned to increase to $50 per tonne. That carbon tax is applied to all home heating, gasoline, food, clothing – essentially, everything we need and buy.

Simply increasing the carbon tax to $50 per tonne will not ensure a balanced budget, especially as NDP policies cause further destruction of Alberta’s oil and gas industry, resulting in even less royalty revenue in addition to less corporate and personal tax revenues.

Using the 2018-19 budgeted amount of $1.34 billion of carbon tax revenue, and increasing the carbon tax to $100 per tonne, the Alberta Government would take in about $4.5 billion. Four years of that tax level will bring in about $18 billion. This is a long way off from the $53 billion of tax debt the NDP has accumulated over the past four years.

Alberta Government documents show us where an NDP government is headed. A sales tax of 7-8% would increase government revenues to the point where Rachel Notley could almost balance the budget.

According to the CBC, Rachel Notley has advocated a Provincial Sales Tax.

CBC: You've spoken in the past about how we need to have a conversation about a PST.

Notley: No, no,  no — I haven't been talking about that.

CBC: Your exact quote is: "In the long term, is this a conversation we need to have? I think it is — but not right now. It needed to happen in the context of a government needing a mandate." Is this something you want Albertans talking about in the coming campaign?

Notley: No. Not at all.

Last year, Notley told the National Post “We have never outlined that $30 was where it was going to stop. People who talk about effective carbon pricing acknowledge that, as time progresses, it needs to go up.

And this is just the provincial carbon tax. A memo from the Canadian government’s Department of Finance contemplated increases on the federal portion beyond $50 per tonne: “The overall approach is to be reviewed by 2022 (referred to as the ‘five-year review’) to confirm the path forward, including continued increases in stringency in future years.” A secret memo leaked from Environment Canada estimates that for Canada to meet its climate targets, the carbon tax would need to be $300 per tonne in 2050.

If Albertans are genuinely opposed to a provincial sales tax, then the last thing they should do on Election Day is re-elect Rachel Notley and her NDP government.

Section 3 | Lougheed’s Progressive Conservative Dynasty and Challenging the 'Eastern Bastards'

Series: Political Myth and Consequence in Alberta

  

Myth is powerful. Leading up to Alberta’s 2019 provincial election, the story Albertans have told about themselves and been told by others since becoming a province is firmly connected to events transpiring today.

The following interpretation of Alberta’s dominant political and cultural history highlights and traces the contextual, defining features and nuances in the evolution of Alberta’s identity through reconstruction, as Albertans seek to rise from the ashes once more at the ballot box this spring.

This series will be featured in the following sections:

1.       Foundations of Alberta’s Conservatism: Confederation to 1935

2.       The Social Credit Generation: 1935 to 1965

3.       Progressive Conservatism: Lougheed and the Oil Boom

4.       Return of Ideology: The Wildrose Alliance Party

5.       The Re-Merge: Jim Prentice to the United Conservative Party


Lougheed’s Progressive Conservative Dynasty and Challenging the 'Eastern Bastards'

In 1965, Alberta’s revamped Progressive Conservative Party elected a new leader in Peter Lougheed. The 1967 election produced the election of Lougheed and five other Conservatives, proposing many alternative policies and approaches to Social Credit, including consistently questioning the myth of Social Credit providing good government. The provincial election of 1971 would bring in a new era of Alberta politics with a majority Progressive Conservative government with 49 seats under Lougheed to Social Credit’s 25. Lougheed’s first piece of legislation introduced was an Alberta Bill of Rights. The PCs won 69 seats and 62.5 percent of the popular vote in the 1975 election and won 74 out of 79 seats in the 1979 election, kicking off a four-decade-long dominance in Alberta politics and back-to-back majority governments.

A moderate by international standards, Lougheed enraged petroleum producers by retroactively changing the royalty maximums written into long-term petroleum leases, causing a sense of betrayal in the oil patch. The Seven Sisters had been generous to Alberta, which had been one of the poorest provinces in the country before the oil boom, but the electorate supported Lougheed’s move.

A month before the Yom Kippur war broke out in November 1973, Ottawa had announced that it would finally extend the Alberta-Ontario pipeline into Quebec, which in 1961 had refused western oil because foreign imports were slightly cheaper and the security of supply seemed irrelevant due to the international oil glut. Now, amid rising prices and market uncertainty, Ottawa asked Alberta producers to voluntarily freeze their domestic price until the end of January. Insult was added to injury two weeks later when the federal Energy Minister Donald Macdonald imposed a 40-cents-per-barrel export tax on crude oil.

The rush of petroleum discoveries in the western provinces through the late 1940s and 1950s were developed in the teeth of persistently low prices. Even so, Quebec refused to buy Canadian oil because offshore supplies were slightly cheaper. The federal government’s provocation aimed to raise money so Ottawa could continue to subsidize increasingly expensive foreign crude to Quebec and the other eastern provinces. Also suspected was to deter exports so domestic supply would be kept artificially high and prices artificially low.

The federal taxation on provincially owned resources was an unprecedented attack and exacerbated inter-provincial tension created by Ottawa, being antagonistic toward the western provinces since Confederation. With an upcoming election, and the Liberal government in a minority position, the goal of the deliberate confrontation with Alberta was to earn votes and popularity in their eastern stronghold. With the Arab embargo in place, Macdonald then raised the export tax fivefold to $1.90 per barrel, costing western producers $1 billion annually.  

The angry Ottawa-Alberta confrontation spawned the widely posted bumper sticker with the slogan, “Let Those Eastern Bastards Freeze in the Dark”.

In the seven years between 1973 and 1980, Alberta’s Oil Boom brought incredible wealth to the once-destitute province, the oil patch headquarters in Calgary, their employees, and the economy beyond the petroleum industry itself. The cradle of the Oil Boom was the repository of petroleum that geologists called the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin, which stretched from the 49th parallel northward on a swath from central Manitoba to northeast British Columbia, to the Beaufort Sea and the Arctic Islands.

The men who managed it were the first generation of postwar, post-Leduc boom professional leadership. Having successfully explored the Basin in the 1950s and 1960s, they knew the sweat and grit of the fieldwork first-hand. They had drilled wells and laid pipelines before graduating to the executive suites in which they recreated the Alberta economy, building a foundation of prosperity of future generations. Before OPEC started ratcheting up oil prices, Alberta was poised for a decade of exceptional growth, with a new energy and confidence in the Canadian oil industry and among the 250 independent explorers and producers. The boom was executed by this group of entrepreneurs who blended roughneck aggressiveness with the practical creativity of western farmers. The oil boom was directly and indirectly responsible for the creation of tens of thousands of jobs in Alberta during the 1970s. At the drilling rigs, it was filthy, back-breaking, dangerous work and the rig was run like a military bootcamp. Young men came of age making lots of money while the work tested their strength and character.

Lougheed inherited his opinion that the first step to a diversified Alberta economy was the production of oil and gas processed at home from his grandfather, Senator Sir James Lougheed, who had invested profitably in Alberta’s first commercial oil discovery at Turner Valley in 1914. Lougheed had a circle of Canadian oilmen with whom he conferred, but even as producers applauded his toughness with the federal government, they took issue with his interventionist mindset and eagerness to tinker with the royalty regime. That said, criticism from outsiders was not welcomed: “He may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch,” one influential executive told the national newspaper Globe and Mail.

At the closing of the fall session of the Legislature in 1978, Lougheed said he was now convinced that Ottawa, backed by a few other provinces, might try to take over Alberta’s energy resources in the name of national interest. Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau called the long-awaited federal election on May 22, 1979 and campaigned primarily on his plans to patriate the constitution and his government’s economic record – a shaky platform. The public didn’t share Trudeau’s grand constitutional vision and the country suffered from a sluggish economy, double-digit unemployment, rising government debt, and a slumping dollar. On election day, the Conservatives formed a minority government. However, by 1980 the Liberals were back in government with a majority and zeroed in on Alberta to turn around Ottawa’s deteriorating finances.

On October 21, 1980 federal Finance Minister Allen MacEachen and Energy Minister Marc Lalonde of the Liberal government unveiled the government’s National Energy Program (NEP). The Prime Minister hoped to treat Ottawa’s increasing deficit problems with an extra injection of oil money from Alberta, which was already contributing a healthy amount to federal coffers, and he was determined to make his mark on history by patriating the constitution. To achieve these aims, he needed concessions from Lougheed on energy revenue and provincial rights – concessions the Premier was unwilling to make. His government reflected Albertans’ firm belief that they deserved their hard-earned profits as well as a larger voice in national affairs. Therefore, Alberta found itself in direct conflict with Trudeau’s vision of Canada as a nation of two founding peoples held together by an all-powerful central government. Lalonde said it was time for Ottawa to “seize control” of Canada’s energy resources in the name of “fairness to all Canadians.

The Alberta government’s response to the NEP was immediate and decisive; 48 hours after it was unveiled, Lougheed went on province-wide television to inform Albertans that “the Ottawa government has, without negotiation, without agreement, simply walked into our home and occupied the living room.” The federal budget and energy measures were more than just another round of simmering energy conflict between Ottawa and Alberta, explained Lougheed, “they are an outright attempt to take over the resources of this province, owned by each of you as Albertans.” He warned that the federal program directly threatened the constitutional rights of ordinary Albertans.

The Premier fought back hard with high-risk decisions. He announced that over the next nine months, beginning March 1, the province would reduce its oil output by 15 percent. Shipments of oil to the rest of Canada would be cut by 180,000 barrels per day, and $16 billion earmarked for the oil sands and heavy oil development would be re-evaluated and possibly shelved. Alberta would launch a legal challenge to the new export tax on natural gas. After eighteen months and the third round of output cutbacks, Lougheed and Trudeau signed a five-year energy pricing agreement on September 1, 1981, which was not well-received by industry.

By this time, there was a high surplus of crude oil in the international markets caused by falling demand following the 1970s energy crisis and 1980 marked a six-year decline in the price of oil, which reduced the price by half in 1986 alone. Additionally, a severe global economic recession across the developed world that began in the late 1970s left high unemployment until at least 1985 and Canada experienced high inflation at an average of 12 percent, and high interest rates, with the Bank of Canada’s rate hitting 21 percent in August 1981. The Alberta government had wanted to avoid a protracted war with Ottawa and the severity of the province’s response to the NEP was calculated to force the federal government to the table, and it worked. In less than twelve months there was a new deal and Alberta shelved the threatened production cuts.

Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s the notion that Albertans were obliged to share their “windfall” resource wealth was the keystone of federal Liberal policy towards the province. Implicit in this argument was the suggestion that Albertans were not sharing their good fortune with the rest of the country, and were, therefore, greedy and un-Canadian. In reality, the federal government confiscated $139 billion in net transfers between 1961 and 1992 from Alberta to the country’s ‘have-not provinces’, specifically Quebec, Ontario, and the Atlantic provinces. By 1985, the NEP and its related tax policies had resulted in this net transfer of wealth from the producing provinces, where 90 percent of this had been taken from Alberta. Th assessment and figures, determined by economist Robert Mansell from the University of Calgary, indicated that Alberta had been subjected to the largest per capita transfer of wealth ever recorded in a democratic nation.

In a 2001 interview, Lougheed reflected that the West had turned against Trudeau after 1968 for three reasons. First, he suffered from a “lack of knowledge” of western issues. Second, his policies catered to his political base in Quebec and Ontario. Finally, “more than anything”, he came across as someone who
thinks he knows it all” and westerners found this offensive. Lougheed said the relationship with Ottawa always seemed to come down to a desire to “control” Alberta: “They see us as being able, physically, to be independent and that means we would have influence with other provinces. When I look back on the Heritage Fund and the Canadian Investment Division, we just thought we should be participating in the Canadian mosaic. But actually … lending money to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland just drove the federal bureaucrats wild. It shook the foundations of their position. We probably, in hindsight, shouldn’t have done that … [but] we though we were expressing our patriotism.

 

Defending Alberta’s Place in Confederation

As Trudeau progressed toward realizing his vision of a federal constitution, strong-willed Premiers fought for the idea of Canada as a federal of ten equal provinces and resisted a constitutionally-entrenched charter of rights, which represented a departure from the country’s English common law tradition and a move toward the French Civil Code philosophy. Though the country would be vastly changed by the 1982 Constitution Act, Lougheed and his allies managed to strengthen the principle of provincial equality and preserve the right of elected legislators to assert their will over unelected judges.

In 1978, after the Trudeau government began threatening to patriate the constitution without provincial consent, Lougheed staked out his turf with ‘Harmony in Diversity’, a position paper that listed Alberta’s 29 constitutional demands. The majority of points asserted the province’s demand for retaining or enhancing its existing constitutional powers, especially as they related to control over resources. Furthermore, Ottawa’s power to disallow provincial legislation or invade provincial jurisdiction during national emergencies would be curtailed, and human rights would remain a legislative responsibility, outside the constitution. Alberta gave two major concessions to the federal agenda: a commitment to subsidizing poor (have-not) provinces through equalization payments and recognition of English and French as national languages.

Lougheed unveiled a new formula for constitutional amendments, proposing that the threshold for ratification be at two-thirds of the provinces representing at least 50 percent of the national population, and that all provinces retain the right to opt out of amendments that directly affected their legislative powers or control over their resources. Constitutional scholar from Simon Fraser University, Edward McWhinney, wrote, “A ‘dualist’ (deux nations) approach to Canadian federalism was replaced by a more broadly pluralist, ‘regionalist’ conception.” On April 17, 1982, Queen Elizabeth II signed the proclamation patriating Canada’s constitution, on Parliament Hill, formally giving the country independence from Britain.


Source: Alberta in the Twentieth Century, Volume Eleven, Lougheed and the War with Ottawa; CanMedia Inc.

NDP Appoints Foreign-Funded Activist to Regulate Alberta Oil and Gas

Albertans have not forgotten the NDP’s 2016 infamous appointment of environmental activist Tzeporah Berman as co-chair of the Government’s Oil Sands Advisory Group. To date, the Premier has never expressed regret for appointing a virulent opponent of Alberta’s oil & gas industry to such an important government body. But it also appears that the NDP has not learned a lesson.

On February 12, 2019, NDP Energy Marg McCuaig-Boyd Boyd quietly appointed former Pembina Institute Executive Director Ed Whittingham to the board of the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER). Mr. Whittingham served as Pembina’s executive director January 2011 to June 2017. Prior to that, Mr. Whittingham served as Pembina’s Director of Consulting.

Pembina was an early participant of the American organized ‘Tar Sands Campaign’ that aims to landlock Alberta’s resources. It’s apparent that that work continued under Mr. Whittingham’s leadership.

According to extensive documents obtained by independent researcher Vivian Krause, Pembina was the recipient of well over $2 million in US foundation funding during Whittingham’s leadership period (2011-2017). From grant descriptions provided by the US-based foundations themselves, nearly all the funds were provided specifically to target the oil sands, pipelines, and/or “dirty fuels.”

Mr. Whittingham has publicly defended taking foreign funds on numerous occasions, telling the National Post, “I don't care where the money comes from." (National Post, December 9, 2011)

“It’s outrageous that the NDP Government would appoint a foreign-funded, anti-oil sands, anti-pipeline activist like Mr. Whittingham to such an important government body,” said United Conservative House Leader and Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre re-election candidate Jason Nixon. “The Premier and her government have never expressed any regret for the disastrous 2016 appointment of Tzeporah Berman. Mr. Whittingham’s appointment once again demonstrates the NDP’s hostile views towards Alberta’s oil and gas industry – despite public claims that they have changed.”

In May 2011, Mr. Whittingham personally travelled to Washington, D.C. to lobby the Obama Administration to reject Keystone XL. Later in September 2015, Mr. Whittingham publicly pushed for the very regulatory changes that the Trudeau Liberals would later use to kill Energy East: “The National Energy Board’s evaluation should take the pipeline’s cumulative impacts into account.”

“It’s not hard to speculate how much better our province’s economic state would be today if the activists’ pressure campaign for the US President to block Keystone XL did not succeed, nor how better off our country could be if Energy East did not die in 2017,” said Nixon. “I wish I could say I was shocked that the NDP would appoint such an individual to the AER. But for those of us who have followed the NDP’s long history of anti-oil, anti-pipeline activism, this latest appointment is perfectly consistent with the NDP’s history.”

“Lastly, I’d like to commend Vivian Krause for her invaluable work in exposing the foreign-funded campaign to attack our oil & gas industry, including exposing the NDP’s latest appointee,” concluded Nixon.

Calgary - Edgemont: Julia Hayter

Julia Hayter is known in her community as a determined, dedicated, and passionate advocate.

Julia knows what it takes to be a strong public representative. In her role as a Constituency Assistant, Julia acts as a liaison with residents, community associations, and local businesses. Julia has also worked as a Residential Care worker for a non-profit organization that provides residential and day supports to individuals with developmental disabilities.

A commitment to community engagement and service is important to Julia, who served as the Vice-Chair and then Chair of her children’s elementary school. She was also involved with the Community Coalition to assist in engaging the community to create and sustain a safe and healthy neighbourhood.

Julia is progressive and a keen defender of Rachel Notley’s values and policies. As an approachable professional and a great communicator, she will be will be a strong advocate for your community.

Calgary - Elbow: Janet Eremenko

When it comes to politics and public administration, Janet is a sought-after expert in her field. She graduated from University of Guelph with a BA in International Development, and has dedicated her career to improving her community and city.

Janet spent eight years at Vibrant Communities Calgary, most recently as a Senior Policy Strategist, advocating to address the root causes of poverty in Calgary and Alberta. A born-and-raised Calgarian and mother of two, she’s running to build a sustainable future for her kids, her neighbours, and for all Albertans.

She campaigned for Calgary’s city council in 2017 and is building on that positive momentum as she joins the provincial race for Calgary—Elbow.

Calgary - Falconridge: Parmeet Singh

Parmeet is a long-time resident of Calgary’s northeast and has served the community in many different capacities including as the president of Dashmesh Culture Centre and as chairman of Khalsa School Calgary.

As a community advocate and an engineer, he is well aware of issues facing our communities, is a strong voice for everyday Albertans, and an exceptional candidate to represent Albertans in the industrial sector. He has also mentored youth including helping them guide and recruit those interested in serving with the Canadian Forces.

Parmeet believes in equity, social justice, hard work and opportunity for all.

Calgary - Foothills: Sameena Arif

Sameena is strongly committed to her Calgary community. Her history of deep dedication to public service and education will make her an excellent MLA for Calgary-Foothills.

An educator at her core, Sameena built her career as a teacher in the Middle East and as a social educator and settlement counsellor in Canada. Sameena holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Education from the University of Punjab. Since her arrival in Canada 15 years ago, she has worked with some of Calgary’s most vulnerable populations including immigrant seniors and youth. She currently working as a Seniors’ Program Coordinator at an immigrant serving agency.

Sameena is also an active volunteer for the South Asian Police Advisory Committee (SAPAC).

Her personal and professional experience have given her a strong sense of pride in calling Calgary home and a keen knowledge of what is at stake in the next election. She is honoured to be on Rachel Notley’s team and committed to fighting for what matters on behalf of Calgary-Foothills.

Calgary - Glenmore: Jordan Stein

Jordan was born and raised in southwest Calgary and is ready to fight for what matters as part of Rachel Notley’s team.

She brings with her a wealth of professional experience, including health care research and change management, labour advocacy with WestJet Encore and Air North, and research and administration for Nexen. Jordan currently owns and operates two local coffee shops and is deeply connected to the communities she works with every day.

Jordan has volunteered her time and skills to help vulnerable populations all over the world. In 2015 she volunteered caregiving for physically and mentally disabled young girls at the Mother Theresa House in India. For almost a decade Jordan has been a committed Big Sister through Big Brothers and Sisters of Canada. Currently she also volunteers with the Children’s Cottage Society, engaging with and caring for children under protective custody.

Jordan knows how important it is to elect a government that will fight for all Albertans, not just the super wealthy.

She lives with her fiance and two dogs.

Calgary - Hays: Tory Tomblin

As a life-long Calgarian, Tory has years of experience fighting for a strong, inclusive province.

Tory is completing her degree from Athabasca University in Human Resources and Labour and has studied at Mount Royal University and SAIT. She is proud to have served 15 years as a Primary Care Paramedic with AHS and represented her profession as a Labour Relations Officer for the Health Sciences Association of Alberta. Tory also has experience in the energy industry working as a medic for oilfield workers.

Tory was a candidate public school trustee in the 2017 Calgary municipal election and continues to build on the momentum from her campaign.

As a mother of two young children, Tory has seen first hand how critical strong public services like affordable child care and accessible education are to Alberta families.

Calgary - Klein: Craig Coolahan

Craig Coolahan was first elected on May 5th, 2015 as the MLA for Calgary-Klein. He serves as Chair of the Legislature's Standing Committee on the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund and as a member of the Standing Committee on Alberta's Economic Future and the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections, Standing Orders and Printing.

Before being elected, Craig was employed as a business representative with the United Utility Workers' Association, where he managed the administration of several contracts and represented hundreds of workers in the electricity transmission industry.

Craig holds degrees in English and in Journalism, and has worked in various writing and editing roles for nearly 15 years.

Craig and his wife Sarah have two children.

Calgary - McCall: Irfan Sabir

Irfan has been a strong advocate for basic human rights and civil liberties all his life.

Irfan has focused on protecting and defending vulnerable Albertans. From introducing the Alberta Child Benefit, to indexing benefits like Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped with inflation, Irfan has proven that he cares about providing all Albertans with a better quality of life.

Irfan has worked with law firms specializing in First Nation and Aboriginal legal arbitration and legislation, the Salvation Army’s Centre of Hope and several non-profit organizations. He has volunteered with Red Cross Canada, Calgary Legal Guidance and the Asian Human Rights Commission.

Since growing up and getting his early education in Kashmir, Pakistan, Irfan has called Calgary home since 2004. He has Masters degrees in Economics and Social Work, as well as a law degree from the University of Calgary Law School.

Calgary - Mountain View: Kathleen Ganley

Kathleen understands the importance of strong policies designed to protect Albertans.

Kathleen Ganley was appointed the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General in 2015, building on her history of working as an associate in a private law firm, specializing in labour, employment, and human rights law.

As an active community member, Kathleen is a dedicated volunteer, and over the years she has donated her time to participating in many community activities, including providing student legal assistance, delivering patient care at the Foothills hospital, coaching swimming, counselling children's day camp and assisting with community theatre.

Kathleen holds a juris doctor degree from the University of Calgary, along with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and a Bachelor of Science in psychology.

Calgary - North: Kelly Mandryk

Kelly is proud to be raising her family in Northern Hills. She cares deeply about her community and is ready to fight for what matters as Calgary North’s first MLA.

Kelly is a former journalist who began her career as a high school intern in the Calgary Herald newsroom. She spent five years in rural Alberta as a reporter and editor and won provincial and national newspaper awards for her outstanding coverage of public education, health care, crime and politics.

When she returned to Calgary, Kelly started a career in the finance industry. Her experience includes working with an international consulting firm and a national insurance company supporting employers in Oil & Gas, the public sector, and technology industries in Calgary.

Kelly has also spent years contributing to her community as a volunteer. For the last 20 years, she has volunteered and raised funds for local charities including the Heart & Stroke Foundation, JDRF, and the Calgary Northern Hills Community Association.

Calgary - North East: Gurbachan Brar

Gurbachan and his family are proud to call Northeast Calgary their home.

Since immigrating from India, Gurbachan has invested himself in his community as a volunteer and a professional. He holds a B.Sc in Biological Sciences, a Bachelor of Education, and a Masters in Political Science. His commitment to supporting his neighbours has led him to volunteer during the 2013 floods, work with the Punjabi Writers Association, and raise funds for the Lougheed Hospital.

As a former broadcaster at Red FM, Gurbachan has his pulse on day-to-day life in his community. He continues to build these connections as a successful realtor with Urban Real Estate Services Ltd.

Gurbachan knows how important supports like affordable child care, accessible public education, and living wages are to Northeast Calgary and he is committed to fighting for what matters when elected as an MLA.

Calgary - Peigan: Joe Pimlott

Joseph is a proud father and grandfather. His years of experience advocating for his community shows his commitment to fighting for what matters to Albertans. Joseph is not new to public service. He was elected Region 3 Vice President with the Metis Nation of Alberta in 2011 and provincial vice president in 2014. In these roles he advocated for critical issues like Metis rights, economic development and access to healthcare for the Metis Nation.

A community advocate at heart, after his tenure as an elected representative he served as the Executive Director of the Aboriginal Friendship Centre and currently works with Metis Calgary Family Services. Joseph has made transformative contributions to several local organizations, including the Bow Valley College Aboriginal Advisory Circle, the Calgary Aboriginal Standing committee on housing and homelessness and the Indigenous Liaison Police Chiefs Advisory Board. Joseph’s outstanding volunteer work was recognized in MacLean’s Magazine as a College All Star to Watch.

He is proud to join Rachel Notley’s team and is ready to be the next MLA for Calgary-Peigan.