PHOTOS: Jim Prentice during his time as premier of Alberta. Below: Premier Rachel Notley, Prentice co-author Jean-Sébastian Rioux (Twitter), and journalist Jason Markusoff (Twitter).

The revelation that the moderate and thoughtful energy policy proposed by the late Jim Prentice soon after he left politics in 2015 was very similar to Premier Rachel Notley’s is likely to help the NDP’s re-election chances in 2019.

Leastways, it does the NDP no harm – especially if, as expected, Jason Kenney wins the Progressive Conservative Party’s leadership race on March 18 and proceeds to purge the remaining Alberta conservative party of Progressive Conservatives, Red Tories and others with what the Kenney campaign deems insufficient ideological purity.

Mr. Prentice, of course, was the last Progressive Conservative premier of Alberta, who decisively lost the general election to Ms. Notley’s NDP on May 5, 2015.

He immediately and rather precipitously retired from politics, but he put his time afterward to good use writing a book about energy policy in Alberta and Canada – a project that was almost complete when he was killed in an airplane crash in the British Columbia Interior on the night of Oct. 13, 2016.

The book’s co-author, Jean-Sébastian Rioux, a University of Calgary professor who was once an aide to Mr. Prentice during his career as a Calgary MP and Conservative cabinet minister, has completed the work. Triple Crown: Winning Canada’s Energy Future is about to be published by Harper Collins.

Yesterday, journalist Jason Markusoff published a story in Maclean’s Magazine outlining Mr. Prentice’s recommended approach to making Canada a true energy superpower, as opposed to the blustering would-be powerhouse we saw during the years Stephen Harper was Conservative prime minister.

“Prentice’s arguments are striking not only in their closeness to those of Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but also in how far they diverge from the orthodoxy of today’s Conservative Party, where Michael Chong is the clan’s black sheep for daring to advocate a price on carbon,” Mr. Markusoff wrote.

In the book, Mr. Markusoff observed, Mr. Prentice “gives Notley credit for instituting a carbon tax and suggests he’d helped lay the groundwork for her approach.” (Emphasis added.)

Mr. Prentice also credited the approach taken by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Notley with more success than the “amateurish” bullying favoured by Mr. Harper and his acolyte Mr. Kenney.

Mr. Markusoff quotes Mr. Prentice’s argument that if Canada won’t commit to serious coastal protection measures as demanded by so many people in British Columbia, “then we shouldn’t be shipping oil at all.” The late Conservative premier also advocated that Alberta help bear the costs of protecting the West Coast and include Canada’s Indigenous peoples as full partners in our national energy policy.

In the coming Alberta election, it is likely to be made clear to Alberta voters by both sides that the energy policy advocated and implemented by Ms. Notley’s NDP, working with Mr. Trudeau’s federal government, would be cast into the trashcan by Mr. Kenney as premier, with Mr. Harper pulling the strings.

If by some unlikely turn of events Mr. Kenney fails to triumph in the post-leadership-vote fight with Wildrose Leader Brian Jean to control the province’s conservative movement, it will be no different.

The conventional wisdom, which in this case is likely correct, is that the next Alberta election will be a fight for the hearts and minds of voters who inhabit the middle ground of Alberta politics.

This is especially true in Calgary, which will be the key to a second NDP term if there is to be one. The NDP has a strong chance to hold Edmonton and the province’s slowly depopulating rural ridings will likely vote for whatever right-wing option is most extreme.

So, while Alberta’s right-wing online rage machine will claim the opposite, it certainly won’t hurt the NDP for centrist small-c conservative voters to know Ms. Notley’s energy policies are far closer to the last Progressive Conservative Premier of Alberta than either Mr. Kenney’s or Mr. Jean’s are likely to be.

This is true whether or not Donald Trump is still the president of the United States and whether or not the Keystone XL Pipeline remains on track when the Alberta provincial election rolls around, likely in 2019.

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  1. Dave, you fail to mention one important difference, Jim Prentice thought that Northern Gateway was the better choice for a pipeline for 2 reasons. It gave a equity stake to First Nations, something not done before and the water in the port was much deeper allowing for larger ships. Premier Notley has always campaigned against Northern Gateway, as she did all pipeline construction before she was elected as Premier.

    It is quite clear the narrative you are following is to paint Jason Kenney and Brian Jean as extremists and Rachel Notley as a centrist. Both Jason Kenney’s and Brian Jean’s record in office show that they are not extremists and even though Rachel Notley’s record in office is closer to the center than the federal NDP in my mind her inability to address Alberta’s unprecedented deficit spending exposes her socialist roots.

      1. it’s hard to say upfront what sort of policies would be implemented by either Brian Jean or Jason Kenney, after reaching their objectives. for now it’s more like kind of violent pillow fight for right segment in Alberta but after it’s done, real life issues come to deal with.
        after all, Rachel Notley have had pushed quite different targets and policies, than those, she started implementing after being elected.

    1. Well Farmer B, I do not know about Brian Jean’s extremism, but wasn’t the destruction of Canada’s Agricultural, Health, and Freshwater libraries carried out by the Harper government pretty extreme?

      Almost nothing of this irreplaceable scientific information was preserved on computers. Destroying scientific data crosses a line for me and it should for everybody else as well. Apparently Mr. Kenney was PM Harper’s right hand when this was happening while Brian Jean was a helpless backbencher.

      You can read about it here and many other places:

    2. Regarding your last point, Farmer, the socialists in Canada (particularly in Saskatchewan) were generally much better at balancing budgets than conservatives. My bet is that NDP governments took deficit reduction seriously by both cutting where appropriate AND raising taxes. Conservatives usually just cut taxes, putting the lie to their concern for balanced budgets; for them, it’s really about enriching the business elite, directly or indirectly.

      1. Expat, have you looked at the Alberta NDP’s fiscal plan for 2016-2019? In it you will find a projected deficit for 2016-17 without risk adjustment and including capital spending of 14.72 billion. The latest fiscal update would put that deficit at 15.8 billion. For 2017-18 this same fiscal plan projects a deficit of 14.73 billion. For 2018-19 a projected deficit of 11.75 billion. They are predicting a return to a balanced budget by 2024! I will agree that conservative government’s over emphasize tax cuts but it doesn’t appear to me that the Alberta NDP are interested in balanced budgets!

    3. Hi Farmer B,

      This actually touches a topic that came up in one of David’s previous posts about Stephen Harper, and how good he was for the Conservative Party. Although Harper was roundly criticized for the way he controlled his ministers, what we have been seeing lately suggests that control was essential for the success of the Conservative Party.

      You are definitely correct that Jason Kenney’s and Brian Jean’s record shows they were not extremists while serving in Stephen Harper’s cabinet. What isn’t clear, though, is whether their lack of extremist behaviour is a result of the 2 gentlemen not having extremist leanings or whether Stephen Harper forced them to keep their extremism in check. Given what we have seen from Kellie Leitch and Chris Alexander in recent months I think it is pretty safe to say that Mr. Harper did succeed in some serious, and necessary, control action. If you can accept that, it really is an open question how much Harper had to control Kenney and Brian Jean.

      Given how Brian Jean has had to try (with limited success) to control some of the extremists in his new party, my gut thinks that Brian Jean knows better than to give in to whatever extremist tendencies he may harbour; something he either knew already or learned from his former leader.

      Jason Kenney, on the other hand, is a real unknown. He is smarmy enough that he managed to ingratiate himself to the immigrant community his role as immigration minister required him to. Now he is ingratiating himself to the redneck crowd. Heaven knows what is next.

  2. Thank you for reporting this, David. Just this morning CBC news carried a story in which former PC senator Ron Ghitter described himself as a political orphan should Jason Kenney succeed in his plans. Ghitter even went so far as to call for the formation a new centralist party. He even complained about a party of ideologues on the right, but did not call the NDP ideologues.

    Unfortunately CBC did not have the story up on their website when I wrote this.

  3. I believe that Rachael Notley would have been comfortable in a Peter Lougheed Government.

    I do not believe that Peter Lougheed would have been comfortable having Jason Kenney on his Cabinet or as a spokesman for his Government,
    Same with Jim Prentice. Could not see him stomaching Jason Kenney as one of his Cabinet ministers either.

    We need to pay attention to the people and the policies, not the name of the Party.

  4. It always amuses me when I see hard line Conservatives tatters get on about the deficit and spend policies of the NDP and liberals.

    Just take a hard look at the record setting deficits of the Mulroney and Harper Governments.

    Then take a look at our debt pre Mulroney and post Mulroney. It tells a story at variance with some of our popular myths about Conservative Government being so fiscally responsible.

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