PHOTOS: Jason Kenney, at left, in his fevered imagination, visits the Alberta Army on the B.C. front. (Photo of an actual event, heaven only knows what, grabbed from Mr. Kenney’s Twitter feed.) Below: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, B.C. Premier John Horgan, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, all of them keeping calm and carrying on. Each of this shots is from the author’s vast if technically imperfect personal collection of snaps of political leaders.

By vowing economic “repercussions” for British Columbia if the province’s NDP-Green governing coalition blocks or slows down the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline, Jason Kenney may have hit upon the perfect scheme to ensure no pipeline is ever built from Alberta to the Canadian West Coast.

But, as they say when the gales of November come early to the not-so-pacific North Pacific, “any old port in a storm!”

If throwing a giant monkey wrench into Alberta’s still fragile economy is what it takes to wrest power from the New Democrats of Premier Rachel Notley and hand it back to the rebranded Tories of the United Conservative Party, which the former Harper Government cabinet minister expects to lead soon, Mr. Kenney and his advisors may reckon it’s worth the damage.

Would Mr. Kenney climb into bed, metaphorically speaking, with Greenpeace if it offered him a chance to whack Ms. Notley’s government – which has done something no Conservative government in Edmonton or Ottawa has been able to do, and that’s get a pipeline project approved by the federal government? The jury’s still out on that one.

Then again, maybe Mr. Kenney, who nowadays holds no actual elected office, is just frustrated with the lack of power that goes with his current absence of official status. Blustering about what he’ll do when he’s premier may feel quite satisfying under the circumstances.

All the better if he can tie the pro-pipeline Alberta NDP to the half-heartedly anti-pipeline B.C. Dippers, their leader John Horgan’s shaky hold on government shored up in the B.C. Legislature by his three determinedly anti-pipeline Green partners. (Never mind that the conservative Liberals then led by Christy Clark promised exactly the same things in the last desperate hours of her government in late June.)

And given the UCP’s recent penchant for telling huge whoppers – like the one about how the only reason the Alberta economy’s perking up is because of the recent merger of the Wildrose Party and what was left of the Progressive Conservatives – I suppose in the event the pipeline expansion is completed as Premier Notley promises Mr. Kenney can claim it was because of his threats.

Well, whatever this is, it sure as heck isn’t “servant leadership!”

And here we thought that Mainstreet Research poll the other day meant a Tory Restoration was a certainty! Perhaps Mr. Kenney and his advisers are less sure of that than they want us to think.

I imagine that British Columbia’s legions of committed environmentalists were almost as thrilled to hear Mr. Kenney’s bluster as was the far-out fringe of the UCP’s base. After all, pipeline opponents don’t really have a legal case to make any more, only a political one.

As Ms. Notley keeps patiently explaining, Ottawa has now approved the project, so under the law it will have to go ahead – no matter what roadblocks the B.C. government might try to throw in the way.

And as Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau keeps patiently explaining, the only reason the project got Ottawa’s approval was because of the efforts of the Notley Government on the environmental front – which Mr. Kenney and the other UCP candidates all vow to dismantle the instant they get elected.

So Mr. Kenney’s sabre rattling in an interview with the Globe and Mail gives an enormous boost to those who hope to generate political conditions west of the Rockies that can halt the Kinder Morgan expansion.

By threatening a trade war he doesn’t have the power to deliver – and wouldn’t even if he were in office, thanks to Ottawa’s constitutional power to ensure peace, order and good government – Mr. Kenney strengthens committed pipeline opponents’ arguments immensely.

Ironically, he would be counting on Mr. Trudeau’s federal Liberals to bail him out of this mess in the event this scheme actually succeeded.

But that might not be enough to save the rather fragile Kinder Morgan project, which right now has a little momentum thanks to Ms. Notley and Mr. Trudeau.

Momentum is important in this case because Kinder Morgan’s investors are likely getting cold feet as they think about continued softening in the market for petroleum products and how this project is likely to play out politically and physically in British Columbia. This will be especially so as construction nears the Vancouver region, where tanker traffic is predicted to increase seven fold as a result and opposition is strongest.

If the expansion is stopped for any reason, the impact would surely cascade to threaten other planned and proposed projects that traverse B.C.

If you doubt me, I have one word for you: Petronas.

Of course, when the Malaysian oil and gas giant of that name cancelled its multi-billion-dollar LNG project near Prince Rupert late last month as expected by pretty much everyone for all the same market reasons, Mr. Kenney loudly blamed the B.C. NDP, which at the time had been in power for six days.

So there you go.

Really, the big question right now is only whether the damage Mr. Kenney’s empty trade war threats do to the Alberta economy is inadvertent or intentional.

Join the Conversation


  1. “If there’s a doomsday scenario and [the Alberta NDP] actually get a pipeline built. If that ever happens they’re going to govern for the next twenty years.” — Alberta Prosperity Fund (April 2016)(Conservative PAC)

    “Don’t look now, but politics and partisanship aside, Rachel Notley is establishing herself as one of the leaders among leaders.” — Rick Anderson, former Reform Party strategist (May 2016)

    Connect the dots. It’s easy to determine why Jason Kenney has begun to foster anti-Alberta sentiments intent on destroying and undermining any progress made by Rachel Notley and the NDP. Dystopian demagoguery is red meat to the UCP base and fear of electoral failure is driving Kenney’s daily dose of conservative dogma.

  2. Absolutely!

    Jason Kenney will do or say anything that will get him elected. He is a career politician. It is the only job he knows. He loves the trough. Why would anyone expect different behaviour from him?

    1. Brett: My thoughts exactly!

      Based on his past behaviours (public ones at least) Kenney has demonstrated where his moral- ethical compass lies.

      A better question would be: What would Kenney not be willing to do to slurp at the public trough?

  3. Can you enlighten this unenlightened easterner about what constitutes the “Alberta Army” pictured on your blog? Are those men wearing service ribbons with Mr. Kenney members of a combat unit? Why are they wearing Calgary Stampede cowboy hats?

    1. The Alberta Army was just a bit of the author’s trademark sarcasm, aimed at Mr. Kenney’s preposterous posturing. These appear to be real Canadian Forces officers of reasonably senior rank, judging from the crossed sword-and-scabbard thingies on their shoulders. These two officers are are wearing the sort of white cowboy hats that are handed out like American military medals at Calgary Stampede events. Going by the only visible name tag, I would say the officer in the centre is Major-General Simon Hetherington, former commander of Canadian Forces Base Edmonton, now in command of the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre at CFB Kingston. Judging from the lean frame of the type now fashionable among flag-rank officers in the U.S. armed forces, he appears to be the very model of a modern-major general. However, while a larger portion of senior Russian officers still have the stout frames associated with the general staffs of history, I wouldn’t advise making the mistake of concluding that detracts from the fighting efficiency of the forces under their command. DJC

      1. It would appear that the cowboy-hatted civilian in the picture may, indeed, have some difficulty (due to his portliness) to actually mount anything other than a Shetland pony. Also, references to “the very model of a modern-major general” may have to be referred to my extensive legal team.

        1. One might suggest something stronger. The 450 pound Shetland might be a bit light in the backside for lugging around such corpulence. A heftier alternative might be a 2,000 pound Percheron which would provide the sturdiness needed for daunting tasks ahead such as knock down drag ’em out leadership contests, right wing talk show gabfests, attack commercials and insulting the incumbent premier.

  4. Just a quick clarification about pipeline opponents who “don’t really have a legal case to make anymore, just a political one.” Note that neither John Horgan nor his Green partner Andrew Weaver have ever said they do have a legal case—only that they’d use every tool they have to stop the KM pipeline. What they refer to, sometimes explicitly, is the fact that the First Nations whose unceded territories the expansion must pass through have considerable legal AND political cases to make that, in the former’s case, can delay the proposed project in court for a long time, and in the political case can continue to raise considerable public opposition nationwide.

    It might be that those cases can’t be decisive by themselves, but the possibility that KM will tire of diminishing prospects in world markets might be an eventuality that can be met with enough delay. In addition, it appears the 60-plus year-old Burnaby refinery is about to be thoroughly examined for regulatory compliance and, depending on what’s found in need of repair, the matter of infeasible overhead costs is a distinct possibility. JT and Premier Notley can’t do a thing about that since it’s entirely BC’s jurisdiction.

  5. I figured Kenney’s policy free campaign wouldn’t last. True to form I figured he would briefly pop up out of his hidey hole, like a big ground hog at a convenient moment for him. I am sure giving a gentle push down the stairs to the tenuous pipeline project would be politically tempting to him. However, I doubt the grassroots would approve, and I think Kinder Morgan and the BC government are unlikely to be swayed by someone who holds no political office and who is clamoring for attention but is not at the big kids’ table.

  6. I find your attacks on Jason Kenney rather amusing. Let’s look at how what the Alberta And BC NDP parties ran on and what they did or are going to be able to do. The Alberta NDP never once during the campaign mentioned the imposition of a carbon tax. If they had ran on a carbon tax and had been honest to the Alberta voter they never would have been elected. One of John Horgan’s big election promises was to stop the construction of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. By your own admission there is really nothing he can do to stop the construction. How many votes would he have lost if he had been honest with voters and said, the approval of Kinder Morgan is a done deal and I can’t stop it! What about the site C dam? Looks like a bad deal all around, what will cost more? Finishing building it or shutting it down? Who pays for what has been done so far if construction is stopped?

    My personal opinion is that foreign companies have already made their decision, Canada has and is proving that it cannot provide energy transportation infrastructure in a timely and competitive manner and are spending their money elsewhere. The existing political leaders in Canada seem to think we can replace our energy revenues with legalized corporate marijuana grow operations and government subsidized solar panel installations, makes me very sad.

    1. The existing political leaders in Canada seem to think we can replace our energy revenues with legalized corporate marijuana grow operations and government subsidized solar panel installations, makes me very happy.

    2. After his rise, like pond scum, to the top of the clapped-out PC heap, one of the first things emitted from Kenney’s well-worn cake-hole was a comment about the “left-wing hate machine”. Kenney has never worked a day in his life and he has never taken a step in his country’s military uniform. He’s a blow-hard professional trough-slurper and I shudder at the thought of the sketeal content of his closet. He runs an almost incessant stream of anti-people rhetoric. He is by definition a hate machine.

  7. Wake up Farmer B.

    Oil is DEAD.

    It’s time to wake up to that reality and get on with it. Anyone who defends the fossil fuel industry is a tool, unless they are a member of the top 1%. Do you own a fossil fuel company? If not, then why defend those who would shit all over the environment and have taxpayers foot the cleanup bill?

    Even now there are more people working in the green energy sector than in the traditional energy sector.

    Bring on the solar panels, wind turbines, tidal turbines, geothermal, etc., and move the money around.

    1. Farmer B, like many other UCP supporters, seems to be oblivious to reality regarding how AB’s petro-industry has royally screwed AB’s… the citizenry is going to be paying for decades for the pollution/reclamation liabilities bequeathed to us by decades of conservative gov’ts kissing industry’s butt. And to be reality-based, the NDP also haven’t done anything so far to address the petro-industry’s fobbing off on us of their pollution/enviro-damage liabilities.

      Some links to critique and analysis on the eventual bill ordinary Albertans will pay, that oilsands corporations will skip out on…re Athabascan’s comment: “why defend those who would shit all over the environment and have taxpayers foot the cleanup bill?”


      The Canadian Press July 6, 2015

      excerpt: Oilsands cleanup may not be adequately funded: Alberta AG

      Alberta’s environment minister said the government agreed with concerns that oilsands companies aren’t socking away enough money for cleanup

      The use of the taxes from ordinary Albertans to clean up the oilsands tailings ponds for decades and decades — Martha and Henry’s money — will be the legacy of 4+ decades of conservatives running AB in a corporatist partnership with the petro-elites. And the NDP looks like it might end up in the same bitumen spill.

    2. Here’s a Lougheed minister’s judgement about how the oilsands industry will be walking away from the industry’s tailings ponds clean-up bill, and leaving the bill for Alberta’s citizenry… for a clean-up taking a ‘thousand years’ potentially…

      excerpt: He (Allan Warrack) feels the lack of government oversight and fair royalty collection for the oil sands is creating a massive restoration liability. “There is going to be a thousand years of carnage left up there and we are not even getting fair money for it… I mean this is crazy, just crazy.

      As far as pledges to restore the area around Fort McMurray, Warrack is not optimistic. “Anybody who thinks the environment [at oil sands operations] is going to get fixed is smoking something. I mean they will just declare bankruptcy and they are out of Dodge. Is there any doubt?”

    3. Athabascan, the Alberta NDP has stated that 30% of our electricity will come from renewables. Wind turbines produce electricity at best at 35% efficiency and solar panels at 20% efficiency. So if 30% of our generation capacity was wind at the end of the day only 10.5% of our power would be produced by wind. If 30% of our generation capacity was solar only 6% percent of our power would be produced by solar. Look at this another way, if we installed enough solar to generate 100% of our power, at the end of the day it would supply only 20% of our needs, the other 80% would have to be supplied by natural gas or hydro. Does that really make sense?

      I have read articles talking about how many people in the US work in the green energy sector. Looks good until you realize that only 6.5% of electricity comes from wind and .9% from solar in the US(from EIA website). Still the majority of electricity comes from fossil fuel. Now if you want to talk thorium reactors or hydro power I agree 100%. As for solar, you still need fossil fuels to build the panels and transport them to North America from China where they are built. So yes you are moving money around but realistically your just pissing it away.

      1. Well Farmer B. you seem to have bought into the whole ‘lies, damn lies and stats’ line except you are using it in the wrong way.

        You do realize that auto engines are also not 100% effective but somehow are still useable, mostly because engineers (you know, those people trained in such matters) create an engine large enough to produce the desired power. Those same engineers (well not exactly the same ones, but engineers trained at the same schools) will design solar and wind plants big enough to produce the amount of power desired. So 30% capacity is 30% outcome, not 30% input.

        As for your other straw man argument, nobody is saying that fossil fuels will not be needed at least in the short term. As far as pissing money away, I hope you are doing so by investing long term in non renewable fossil fuel stocks as the world is a changing despite your attempts to pretend otherwise.

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