Just who is Jim Prentice calling an extremist? … Peter Lougheed?

Posted on April 09, 2015, 12:49 am
9 mins

PHOTOS: The extremist Peter Lougheed surrounded by some of his extremist supporters on his way to nationalize an airline, impose order on an oilsands development or, quelle horreur, treat Albertans’ resources as if we owned them! Reality may not appear exactly as described by Alberta Premier Jim Prentice, shown below apparently appalled by the kind of extremist ideas advocated by Mr. Lougheed and the Alberta NDP. Below that, Mr. Lougheed in his later years, still advocating what Mr. Prentice calls extremism. (Globe & Mail Report on Business, grabbed from the Internet.)

I can’t really say I knew Peter Lougheed, but I met the man, and I can assure readers this much: he was no extremist.

So what’s with Jim Prentice calling out our beloved – sainted, even – first Tory premier for his “extreme ideas and ideology”?

PrenticeI refer, of course, to Mr. Prentice’s accusation yesterday that the province’s New Democrats are extremists for their belief, famously spoken by Mr. Lougheed in the 1970s and repeated by the first Progressive Conservative premier until right before his death in 2012, that we Albertans should treat our resources as if we are their owners.

Not only that, but, just like the Alberta New Democrats led by Rachel Notley today, Mr. Lougheed argued clearly during the beginning of the current fiscal mess that fair business taxes and royalties need to be part of the government’s response to straitened fiscal circumstances caused by lower resource prices.

Mr. Prentice made his comments about extremists like Mr. Lougheed and the NDP as he kicked off the election campaign that almost no Albertans want – except of course for the premier himself and his Toronto-based political advisors, not that very many of whom are Albertans.

To be fair, he was also including the Wildrose Party led by Brian Jean along with Ms. Notley’s New Democrats in his scattergun accusations of “extremism.”

“Albertans have the opportunity to make a choice: a realistic, honest plan or, frankly, betting our future on extreme ideas and ideologies,” the premier said during some bus-borne speechifying after he arrived in Grande Cache in northwestern Alberta, a town where he spent a few of his teen years.

You could argue this statement is true in a manner of speaking, although not in the manner Mr. Prentice was speaking. “I’ve challenged those parties on the extreme left and on the extreme right to tell Albertans what they would do; to be honest,” he said with astonishing brass for a leader who provides as few details of his own plans as possible.

Mr. Prentice’s point, apparently, was that only the neoliberalized remnants of the moth-eaten Progressive Conservative dynasty founded by Mr. Lougheed almost 44 years ago have the antidote to the province’s economic straits, never mind that they were caused in significant part by mismanagement by the same old PCs.

Peter-Old-RLeastways, anyone else proposing anything else will now be smeared as extremists – and possibly as Communists later if the campaign takes a turn against the decrepit PC regime.

Back in the spring of 2011, as the PCs were choosing the refreshing new management that turned out to be led by Alison Redford, Mr. Lougheed made some comments in an interview with Sheila Pratt, one of the Edmonton Journal’s best journalists, that illustrated the former premier’s “extremist” views.

Ms. Pratt’s story ran under the headline “Consider tax hikes as oil, gas revenue falls, Lougheed says.”

Since the story is no longer readily available on line, I’m going to take the liberty of quoting Mr. Lougheed’s comments from it at some length.

For one thing, Mr. Lougheed told Ms. Pratt, Alberta needed to impose some order on the development of the Athabasca Bitumen Sands, instead of the Wild West gong show then under way, a legacy of Ralph Klein’s years of mismanagement. That chaotic situation has only moderated recently because volatile oil prices turned out to be volatile, which as ever apparently came as a complete surprise to the Prentice PCs.

“No more than two projects should be underway at the same time, one in the early stage and one in the later stage, and I think that’s very manageable,” Mr. Lougheed had said, although he cautioned in his 2011 interview that commitments made to oil companies when Mr. Klein was premier unfortunately had to be kept. “Those projects on the books should go ahead, and then a policy announced that we would do things differently.”

If the oil companies didn’t like it, Mr. Lougheed added, well, “after all, we are the owner and we have the mandate to do that.”

This is the sort of thing the NDP would advocate and, as we know from Mr. Prentice’s recent statements, that the premier would label as “extremist.”

But imagine how much better Alberta would be now – not to mention the provinces to which we outsource our cyclical unemployment problems – if only one or two major projects were under way in an orderly fashion as Mr. Lougheed had suggested.

Then Mr. Lougheed moved on to the question of taxation, telling Ms. Pratt: “the decline in natural-gas revenues has been dramatic and the degree to which we are dependent on oil revenues, it is time for us to consider an increase in corporate and personal tax.”

And remember, that was in 2011. Of course, things are much worse now, as Mr. Prentice keeps reminding us as he tries to force us to accept other policy responses that ensure the brunt of the pain will be borne by working Albertans.

Mr. Lougheed told the Journal reporter the new premier then being chosen would have to face up to dealing with these circumstances in the fall of 2011. Of course, we all know what happened next – just like Mr. Prentice, Ms. Redford called an election instead of dealing with anything much except fixed election dates. Things went downhill from there.

Oh, and here’s just one more bit of “extremism” from Mr. Lougheed, in Ms. Pratt’s words: “Lougheed also reiterated his stand that the province should set a policy that the bitumen should be upgraded in the province rather than shipped to the U.S. Each new mine should have an upgrader as part of its conditions of approval, he added.”

Well, Mr. Lougheed is gone now. He died on Sept. 13, 2012. So the man named the same year by the Institute for Research on Public Policy’s Policy Options magazine as the best Canadian premier in four decades is not around to embarrass Mr. Prentice with his common sense and pro-Alberta ideas.

Nowadays the NDP is really the only major political player focusing on promoting such “extreme ideas” as not simply giving our resources away to foreign oil companies.

As for Mr. Prentice, if Albertans listen carefully to what he’s saying, they’ll pretty quickly understand who the real extremist is around here!

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

14 Comments to: Just who is Jim Prentice calling an extremist? … Peter Lougheed?

  1. CuJoYYC

    April 9th, 2015

    Labelling political opponents is oh, so Harper. I’m so tired of the churlish politics as played by so-called conservatives.

    Reply
  2. Bloozguy

    April 9th, 2015

    The RCMP kept a file on Tommy Douglas. Visions of Ms Notley and other “extremists” being frog marched away after C-51 …. just kidding …. sort of.

    Reply
    • April 9th, 2015

      Actually the RCMP did keep a file on Tommy Douglas, for years! It wasn’t until after he had died that the information came out. Albertans are fond of back yard labels. Left, right, Marxist (don’t hear many Leninist) and the people usually using them are doltish and out of their depth on the subject matter but want to sound off anyway.

      For your interest however, The Conservatives have beat the RCMP into a corner on contract negotiations. The RCMP cannot investigate the Government unless they receive specif permission to do so from the Attorney General of Alberta (A position Redford held prior to running for Premier)

      Reply
  3. Dan

    April 9th, 2015

    Actually the extremist is the writer of this blog. Alberta has succeeded for one reason and one reason only: market fundamentalist economics. Alberta has by far the highest economic freedom and this alone is the reason for our success. Prentice is going against this and it is blogs like this that keep his extremist high tax agenda going.

    Reply
    • Athabascan

      April 9th, 2015

      High taxes for who? Neo-cons -High taxes for the low and middle income. Progressives – high taxes for top one-percenters and multi-national corporations?

      Since the neocons are already implementing their agenda, you must mean the latter.

      Based on your position, I can only surmise that you are either a top one-percenters, represent a multi-national, or perhaps you are a useful idiot to one of these groups.

      Defend your overlords, and perhaps one day they will make you rich based on your misdirected loyalty.

      Reply
      • Expat Albertan

        April 9th, 2015

        This dude shows up under different monikers with the same talking points. He is likely a paid shill for the PMO, the Fraser Institutes or one of their fellow-travellers. Best not to justify his nonsense with a response, Athabascan.

        Reply
  4. April 9th, 2015

    Seems like a great time to bring up the NEP; the much hated (and the haters don’t know why) energy program.

    This was planned and put into effect when there was no internet to defend the project or the system. What parties and industry told the press was pretty much the news. Only channel for reason was letters to the editor which invariably did not get published or punished out of context

    The Oil Industry was completely dominated by US oil. If you wanted a business you worked through them, not the Government. Peter Lougheed and Pierre Trudeau had teams that seen the fallacy in this design so they proposed the “National Energy Program” and it was decided that PET would be the spokesman and answer public debate if any.

    Well,no one anticipated the huge outpouring of spite and misinformation produced by the American Oil Consortium. They bought up pages of Alberta newspapers and inundated Albertan’s with their side of the story no matter how wrong it was.

    The NEP plan was to increase Canadian ownership in the oil industry to an extent that Canada would have some say in the marketing aspects of the oil. At this time I think the number for Canadian ownership was 6 or 7% and none of that in the burgeoning Tar Sands explorations and developments.

    Important to remember here that Lougheed agreed to this plan; helped to promote it. It was not as advertised by the oil consortium a grab placed on Alberta by PET and the Liberals.

    The plan ran from 1980 to 1985. In this period we hit another Global recession but the fall out was near horrific.
    The Conservatives under Lougheed and in keeping with the idea to increase Canadain ownership went out to the private investors and public in general expounding on the get rich fast aspects of the Tar Sands. Secure your futures in the Tar Sands projects.

    Petro Canada, an invention of the Fed invested in the Tar Sands, was really invented to do just that. And, they were totally trashed by the the US oil Consortium. Lot of trees died for that one; presses ran wild! But, even more astounding was the small army of Individual investors; Mom and Pops sold the store to invest in this new dream. Many sold the farm as the saying goes. In effect they borrowed against their homes and their farms to start a new business in line with Tar Sands service requirements.

    This was done at a time when inflation was allowed to reign. It was allowed as it appeared as appreciative profiting by the Mom and Pop investors. Interest rates however jumped to 25% or more even throwing the local non investor homes into jeopardy,

    Meanwhile the Oil Consortium US is still banging out their anti NEP stuff and blaming everything from the lack of production (we were now into another world recession and no internet) and the cry from the people who were loosing their live’s chattel was loud and clear. Ditch the NEP Trudeau killed us. All this vehemence brought forward by BS handed out by the US oil consortium.

    We are going to see a lot of press similar to this coming out now because of the new social presence in Canada.
    The article above outlines how Prentice is trying to draw on that old time hate and distress.

    There was one very major event turning moment. Pierre Trudeau was making his way to a train departure followed by a scrum (not called that then) of reporters. More like a gang of hoodlums. All screaming crap about the NEP to be aired on evening news. The poison was in the questions recorded not in the answers not given.

    One reporter got really nasty in his “question” throwing and Trudeau flipped him the Bird. This was caught on Camera and ran in the papers that Trudeau was flipping Alberta the Bird. It caught on quickly and was circulated around the province for months.

    That is why Albertan’s seem to hate the Liberal flag. Its’ got to change; reason has to start somewhere, why not here?

    In these few years the NEP operated the World Recession killed unnumbered businesses. Houses and homes were lost to banks. It was as nasty as it could possibly get with the inflation and recession going on at the same time. But, it was not the NEP that brought this on! In the few years it was in operation, the Canadian ownership went from the lowly 7% to over 25%. In that regard, the stated reason for its being, it was a success despite the oppressive, deep pocket resistance by American Oil Consortium.

    Reply
    • April 9th, 2015

      Interesting point, Mr. clark. As I argued in my 2009 book Green Oil, we need to consider how we can leverage our energy wealth. In a 2010 paper written for the Institute of Public Economics at the U of A, I proposed a variation on the severance tax advocated by the Alberta Royalty Review Panel:
      Natural Resources Severance Tax (NRST) applied to the gross value of any natural resource, measured by the market price of the resource at the first “point of sale” upon severance. If the proceeds of the NRST are emplaced in a designated fund to pay for The Green Future, Albertans will indeed realize tangible wealth from the natural resources they own. There would be fiscal levers: the rate would need to be in the single digits, so that it does not deter investment and innovation. Moreover, it could vary by the type of resource severed, so that it is sensitive to the particular costs and challenges of a given form of natural resource production. Yet it could provide a predictable and strong stream of revenue to pay for a clean-energy economy, accelerate the development of low-carbon industries, and greatly increase investment in renewables and alternatives. Thus, the combination of greener fossil fuel production and alternative energies would be a complementary and simultaneous development. The scale of the revenue is significant. If a five per cent NRST were applied to two million barrels a day of oil production priced at $60 a barrel, Alberta would have $6 million per day accumulating to fund the Green Future.

      Reply
    • Expat Albertan

      April 9th, 2015

      Wow – this is a revelation of epic proportion of this is what actually happened. I’d be interested in reading more – can you suggest any sources?

      Regardless, I agree that Albertans hate the NEP but most have no idea why. It’s been completely divorced from real evidence and become shorthand for hatred of: Liberals, Quebec, environmentalists, taxes, and just about anything else the denizens of the Sun newspaper chain want to gripe about.

      Reply
    • Anon

      April 9th, 2015

      Another contributor to the crash of oil prices around the world in the 1980s was that in 1978/9 President Jimmy Carter implemented mandatory fuel efficiency standards across the US car fleet. As these more fuel efficient vehicles became common the demand for gasoline declined. Given the way commodity prices tend to fall out of all proportion to falling demand (elasticity as the economists call it) no surprise oil prices crashed.

      Reply
    • LK

      April 16th, 2015

      Interesting revisionist history.

      According to Marc LaLonde’s autobiography (you know, the guy that WROTE the NEP) the purpose was to transfer the rapidly growing wealth in Alberta, to Ontario and Quebec, where the Liberal power base was.

      If you compare the economies of Houston (big oil centre), Toronto, and Calgary / Edmonton during that time period, you find that Toronto and Houston were pretty compatible in terms of the impact on housing and job losses. This was the impact of the recession. Calgary and Edmonton were decimated. They probably could have survived the NEP or the recession singly. Combined was just too much.

      Also, there was no huge “scrum” of reporters a Salmon Arm. There were 3 protestors, holding a sign asking (basically) why Trudeau would think it appropriate to travel across Canada on a private train, during a recession. THAT was who he flipped the bird at. see: http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/one-finger-salute-crude-to-ont-film-review-bd-1.368040

      Reply
  5. Athabascan

    April 9th, 2015

    Well, this is not unexpected.

    It was only a matter of time until anyone who places the interests of Albertans ahead of corporations would be branded a Marxist extremist.

    This is how far to the right we have gone. God forbid we should ask the top one-percenters and corporations to ante up one extra cent to sustain our society.

    Reply
  6. TC

    April 9th, 2015

    I always hate people using their predecessors’ legacies, especially when the person of interest is nothing like them. Peter Lougheed to today’s PCs is like Abraham Lincoln to the Republican Party.

    Reply

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