A message from the Lone Star State to the Lone Tar Province: Assignment of blame is everything

Posted on January 17, 2015, 2:55 pm
7 mins

PHOTOS: Greetings from Texas! You’re going to need a haircut, Albertans, plus a few more holes in your belt. Below: Alberta Premier Jim Prentice stops off at the State Fair of Texas. Actual visitors to the Lone Star State from the Lone Tar Province may not appear exactly as illustrated. Calgary Sun Political columnist Rick Bell.

It’s not their fault. It’s our fault.

It’s not Jim Prentice’s fault. It’s your fault.

Have you got that, fellow Albertans?

You caused this crazy reliance on yo-yo oil prices and insistence on public services. You! It’s what you said you wanted.bigtex04

Well, now you’re going to have to take responsibility or face the consequences. Maybe both!

I’m not making this up. That was the message yesterday from Prentice Election 2015 Campaign Headquarters in Houston, Texas.

OK, I did make up the bit about the campaign headquarters being in the Lone Star State. Leastways, the front office and the mailing address will probably be in Calgary, unofficial capital of the Lone Tar Province.

The official story is that the premier was in Houston to reassure U.S. oil industry big shots everything is under control back in Alberta, which shouldn’t necessarily reassure you if you happen to live here, if you know what I mean.

The message to citizens may be “Panic! Now!” But the message to the corporate titans south of the Uninsured Medicine Line is, “Stay calm. We have everything under control. It’ll all work out the way you want it to.”

If you think about it, both could be true. If you’re a mere taxpaying citizen, that should worry you.

Anyway, we’re sure to hear the same thing over and over as we approach the early provincial election designed to ensure at least four or five more years of strong, capable, united, stable Progressive Conservative government under Mr. Prentice’s steady, guiding hands.

BellAs is well known, the conservative frame on crime, poverty, use of health care resources and almost all of the things that a civilized society provides for its citizens is that individuals need to “take responsibility” for the consequences of their own actions.

Yesterday morning, though, listening to the audio feed from Houston of Premier Prentice’s teleconference with the Alberta media, it was quite clear that neither Mr. Prentice nor his PC Party have any intention of applying that yardstick to their own activities.

Just for starters, Mr. Prentice explained in response to a sharply worded query from Calgary Sun columnist Rick Bell: “I didn’t create this circumstance. I inherited it.”

He didn’t elaborate on whether he inherited it from Alison Redford, the Bitumen Bubble Lady, from Ralph Klein and Ed Stelmach, or from fate, karma and kismet. Or from Suspect No. 1: Us. Maybe a combination.

Regardless, Mr. Bell responded by making the point that Tories are being accused of creating the circumstances themselves by doing a lousy job of managing Alberta’s economy and resources even when times were good. “That’s also part of the reason there is a hole now,” the columnist explained helpfully to the premier.

Mr. Prentice replied: “I’ve been the premier of Alberta for approximately 120 days. And I’m doing the best I can. I wasn’t in the Alberta government before and I have inherited the circumstances we’re in and I intend to deal with it.”

He also said: “We’re all in this together. We got into this collectively as Albertans. We’re going to get out of it together.”

I don’t know about you, but to me, not a single part of the preceding sentence was very reassuring.

Indeed, it’s enough to make one want to dig out an old “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted NDP!” bumper sticker from back when I was growing up in Social Credit British Columbia.

But then, I suppose, some bright spark Alberta PC Party’s Twitter Strike Force would Tweet: “It would have been even worse then!” And in the absence of a map of an alternative universe, with only logic and facts to guide us, who could argue with that?

Mr. Prentice also said from sunny Houston that “this is difficult for every single one of us.”

Judging from the tone of his commentary, though, it’s going to be considerably more difficult for some of us than others, and the ones being punished won’t necessarily be the ones who committed the sins.

But then, whoever said the universe was fair – or should be? Certainly not a Conservative when the tide is running his way!

We don’t come in to this province in an automatic state of grace. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of the market, as I’m sure PC patron saint Preston Manning, chief unifier of the One True Market Fundamentalist Faith, would concur.

We’re just going to have to repent and admit that this whole mess is our fault.

Only then can we be redeemed … by 40 more years of Tory government.

Thus endeth the lesson.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

5 Comments to: A message from the Lone Star State to the Lone Tar Province: Assignment of blame is everything

  1. January 17th, 2015

    Congratulations to Rick Bell for hitting the targets. As far as Prentice spin goes at the least is a misrepresentation of his history. He has been an insider PC for years. He was part of the decision making how ever silent he was in the media. There is not a thing that went on that he did not go along with and endorse in his circles.

    It is more of the same from this guy no changes. When pressed he will say we can’t afford it yet, the oil companies will continue their free ride in Alberta if they get in again. He has rejected the progressive tax several times knowing full well it benefits the oil industry and lays the expenses at the low and middle income of Alberta.

    He has rejected a school curriculum overhaul although a decent high school education and lower university tuition would allow a lot of the soon to become unemployed a chance to improve their lots.

    The Conservatives took advise the could not grow big business because they could not graduate sufficient degrees. They immediately dummed down the grade school and high school curriculum cancelled senior matriculation as kids who got that far couldn’t pass it anyway.

    They have operated the school system like a supply chain the only check being in the trade schools who would up their entrance mark when they had enough kids and lower it when it looked like we may need more. Bottom line is a kid educated in Ontario has a real education and a better chance at the jobs as they may become available and I’m sure there are a few on the board timing it to make Prentice look grate and have us forget about the 3 trillion dollars they cheated this province out of. Yes! Three trillion.

    700 billion lost in Heritage Trust by stopping growth at 5% taking everything above and putting it into general revenues to be used as taxes. Then brag about our low tax rates.

    They have been selling our crude using either the Brent or the WTI less 30% for 10 years or so. That would be 3 trillion dollars by itself.

    They have not collected royalty for years. I would place that at 3 billion lost.
    When Ralph Klein came into office our royalty was 32% and we were just starting to collect it after the build was paid off on a plant. When he left office it was down to 16%. We found this out when Auditor Fred Dunn chided them for not collecting the 19% they talked about. Next was Ron Liepert who told us to tighten our belts; royalty was no 6% and would stay there probably 5 years. It dropped immediately to zero%

    While this was going on Prentice was laughing with the rest of the Conservatives about how dumb we were. This from eavesdropping at the Unheard Of cafe in Edmonton.

    We have 6 years of disaster ahead of us unless some fool trips a world war the, who knows?

    Reply
  2. anonymous

    January 17th, 2015

    What’s all this then? Everyone has to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and every individual is responsible for their own destiny until the shit hits the fan, then it’s all ‘collectivity’ and ‘we’re all in this together’? So which is it? Bootstraps or collectivity?

    However, when/if oil prices rise to acceptably higher levels, I’m sure the mummified remains of Ayn Rand, Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman will be exhumed and tastefully displayed in the boardrooms of Calgary. And a forced march back to bootstraps for the collective.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QGMz9beIL0

    Reply
  3. Sam Gunsch

    January 17th, 2015

    Regarding Prentice’s claim: ‘He also said: “We’re all in this together. We got into this collectively as Albertans. We’re going to get out of it together.” ‘

    Prentice claim is BS.

    The vote percentages and seat outcomes (below at links) demonstrate how little legitimacy the Klein PC’s obtained in our first-past-the-post electoral system.

    And they never consulted widely and or sincerely with Albertans on lowering royalty rates to the give-away/firesale levels or on the implementation of the flat tax.

    It is the PC’s and the minority of Albertans who voted for the PC’s who are responsible for the looting of our natural resources and the gifts to the wealthy via the flat tax.

    PC voters weren’t a majority of Alberta’s eligible voters during the years the damage was done.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberta_general_election,_1993
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberta_general_election,_1997
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberta_general_election,_2001
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberta_general_election,_2004

    And when Stelmach tried to go back toward the Lougheed era royalty regime, the petro-elite and the minority of hard-right conservative voters who eventually funded WRP/Danielle Smith sent the PC’s a message. Funding moved to WRP.

    So again, Prentice’s claim that Albertans are collectively responsible is BS.

    The accountability lies with PC voters over the last 2.5 decades and the PC petro-party machine.

    Our unrepresentative first-past-the-post elections and petro-elite funding of the PC’s is the source of dysfunctional politics and fiscal mess.

    =================

    Even the federal Con’s, when they weren’t in power, pointed out the undemocratic nature our current elections system. We need proportional representation.

    Testimony against the first-past-the-post system that Chretien and Klein lived off of… here… by HarperCon’s themselves. At the link below.

    Behold: the principled Jason Kenney about Chretien Liberals monopolizing political power with a minority vote, and shitting on First-Past-the-Post, speaking in favor of a more representative electoral system being more healthy for democracy.

    http://www.macleans.ca/politics/lets-debate-proportional-representation-again/

    ===========

    And the NDP, Lib’s, ABParty, Greens should collaborate on proportional representation or we
    ‘re probably stuck with the PC – Petro party for some time.

    On that point, Trevor Harrison explains the PC – Petro conservative Borg that progressives face:

    excerpt: ‘Stelmach soon after struck a review panel to examine Alberta’s oil royalty structure. The panel’s subsequent report recommended a moderate rate increase that would be phased in over time.

    Alberta’s petroleum industry was livid and reacted as though someone had poured sugar into one of their CEO’s gas tanks. Clearly, Stelmach needed a reminder about who actually runs the province, but how to send it?”
    http://parklandinstitute.ca/media/comments/the_meaning_of_alberta_conservatism

    Reply
  4. January 18th, 2015

    http://www.uniongazette.com/local/newly-completed-pipelines-to-carry-far-more-canadian-oil-to-gulf-coast-h2063.html

    This link showed up while Prentice was in Huston. If you glance at it , it saying new oil going to the gulf.

    If you read it line for line and that is a chore; it is saying they are diverting a tiny bit of the existing oil going down there to the Gulf Refinery. Like stories may show up in our media. I found a copy of it under a “new find by our researchers” in a Danish paper. They would not accept my post but covered it on facebook and twitter if its needed.

    The oil companies are going to fight hard to keep their free ride in place.

    Reply

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