PHOTOS: The Calgary skyline in 2016. After a bad patch, the city is now back in the BMO Capital Markets’ Top Ten performance list, thanks in part to falling unemployment rates. (Photo: Kevin Cappis, Wikimedia Commons.) Below: Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci, Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips, and Calgary Chamber of Commerce Spokesperson Scott Crockatt.

Now, about that “job killing carbon tax” …

According to the Statistics Canada monthly labour report released on Friday, Alberta’s provincial economy is surging, with 26,000 new jobs added last month, a high percentage of them long-term, high-quality, permanent jobs to boot.

That’s roughly a third of the entire total of new jobs created in all of Canada in December – “blockbuster” results nationwide, according to the Globe and Mail, which the paper said economics commentators were calling “spectacular,” “impressive,” and “unbelievable.”

Presumably all this makes the blockbuster results for Alberta alone even more spectacular, impressive and unbelievable.

BMO Capital Markets noted in its monthly labour market report that the fourth-quarter job gains were the largest ever in Alberta history. “That has lifted employment back above pre-oil-shock levels,” said those crazy socialists at the Bank of Montreal’s investment division.

BMO Capital Markets also said the impact of the improving economy hereabouts has seen Calgary surge back into its Top Ten city performance ranking, with the big drop in joblessness helping. “For the record, the city was ranked right at rock bottom at the start of 2017.”

For heaven’s sake, even the Calgary Chamber of Commerce sounded chirpily upbeat about this, with spokesperson Scott Crockatt telling a local newspaper that 40 per cent of the organization’s members expect to hire even more people in the next year.

Obviously, it must be the management of the economy by Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP Government, hey?

That, of course, is pretty much what the government is saying. On Friday, Finance Minister Joe Ceci told the Calgary Herald that the turnaround shows the NDP was on the right track when the government emphasized economic diversification and refused to cut public services in defiance of the Conservative Opposition’s knee-jerk demands for fiscal austerity, which really does kill jobs.

Well, don’t expect the United Conservative Party and its semi-professional social media army of meme-makers, bots, trolls, and op-ed fabricators to admit anything like that just yet. But while they’re praying to the Almighty God of the Market for a timely 11th hour downturn in the economy, they might want to think about recalibrating their talking points.

On Friday, the social media accounts run by the UCP and its finance-law dodging PACs were screeching about and effort to promote an environmental group in Environment Minister Shannon Phillips’ Lethbridge riding – spinning it as an attack on Alberta cattle farmers.

That was pretty lame, but then, so was the Tweet that got it all started, which Ms. Phillips swiftly repudiated. Regardless, the vegan whoop-de-doo diverted the attention of the media from the promising economic results for a few hours, so I suppose it must be called a limited success from the UCP perspective.

Yesterday, UCP Internet trolls who hate Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberal government as much as they hate Ms. Notley’s Alberta provincial government were desperately trying to give U.S. President Donald Trump the credit for the good economic news in Canada and Alberta.

This will probably prompt more chortles than agreement, but it’s nice for Mr. Trump, I suppose, to know that there’s still at least one place they love him outside Alabama. … Oh. Wait. They don’t even like him as much as they used to in Alabama any more, do they? Whatever. Maybe he can open a golf resort in Cardston!

The upbeat employment numbers from Statscan that had the commentariat so enthusiastic were a definite fly in the ointment for Mr. Kenney, the UCP, their media echo chamber and the narrative they’ve all been busily spinning.

Because whatever the NDP’s carbon levy is doing, obviously, it’s not killing jobs right now. You could almost make the argument it’s doing the opposite. You can try to spin the numbers any way Jason Kenney wants you to, of course, but the apocalyptic sense of the NDP-sponsored End Times the UCP leader has been encouraging us to feel as we await 2019’s anticipated provincial election will soon evanesce if positive numbers like these keep piling up.

In politics, you’ve got to be able to turn on a dime, which the UCP’s spokesthingies fresh from Ontario and B.C. can presumably do with ease. But you can’t expect the editors of rural newspapers, or even websites, to be so quick – so we’re bound to see a few more versions of the job-killing carbon tax story like the one published by the Eckville Echo Friday just as the UCP’s propaganda boffins were trying to create a distraction from Statscan’s disappointingly upbeat figures.

Mind you, Mr. Kenney isn’t one to let the facts stand in the way of a good story – like his fanciful claims Alberta’s population is declining, which it ain’t.

Perhaps next year’s planned step up to a $15 minimum wage will do the trick. Whatever it is, you can count on the nattering nabobs of neoliberal negativity at the UCP to come up with a new reason that is clearly the NDP’s fault to explain why the sky is not only falling, but will continue to fall, or, failing that, at least will fall soon.

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      1. Chris, in this case wouldn’t it be trickle-up economics as it is the lower income workers providing the positive economic shift?

      2. Nah. Trickle down refers to the mythology that if you feed elite rich people with income inflation from tax avoidance and the like, the little people will be the beneficiaries from the inbred generosity of the upper crust to release the golden shower.

  1. Perhaps another positive way to view carbon pricing/taxes/trading is to become more knowledgeable about its success in other countries. Here is some info:
    “Which countries have introduced a carbon tax or emissions trading ? Check our quick guide.”
    and, then, there is Sweden!
    “Sweden’s carbon-tax solution to climate change puts it top of the green list”

  2. It is difficult to take Kenney or the UCP members very serious based upon their position on climate change and the environment.

    I believe that they are making a significant political mistake. The environment is becoming a larger day to day issue for Albertans. Anyone who has children knows that they are often the ones to spur actions by the parents.
    I am not a Green Party supporter but I certainly do not see any harm in being environmentally friendly or in passing measures that will ultimately lead to the creation of more environmental friendly technologies.

  3. Well the UCP risks looking quite silly if they keep on running around saying the sky is falling, when things definitely seem to be on the upswing now. Their best option now is probably to find something other than the economy to talk about (like say Alberta Beef) and pray for another bust.

    However, if the economy continues to recover it will seriously undermine their arguments about the carbon tax and minimum wage increases (perhaps not so job killing after all). I suppose they can try to appeal to climate change deniers or ignorers that don’t like the idea of a carbon tax, but even here in Alberta there is a growing realization that this is a serious issue and we all really need to do something about it. Unfortunately, the UCP has no alternative policy on this and technically it has still no policy except being generally against what the NDP has done (although I see some signs they are wavering on the minimum wage issue as they realize that might not be much of a vote getter or even a vote loser for them).

    I suppose without strong economic arguments, and no policy, Kenney can always try run just on the strength of his charming personality – well maybe that’s not a good strategy either. Also, what if the PC’s were to soon come back to life under a new leader with a new name? The UCP is not even 6 months old and perhaps its best days may already be behind it.

    1. re: ‘ Well the UCP risks looking quite silly if they keep on running around saying the sky is falling,…’ The history of voting behavior makes me less confident. Hope you’re right. But in addition to lots of poli sci research that shows that people with the mostly partisan views will generally believe their leaders despite evidence to the contrary.

      And FWIW, you might recall that AB has some history that illustrates that voters, and maybe especially conservative voters according to some findings, will ignore the contradictions between their leader’s claims and their own party’s recent record: e.g. Ralph Klein ran for leader of the PCs and his first provincial election on the claim that the last previous gov’t’s spending (Getty’s PCs) was out of control. In fact, Getty had been making steady spending cuts but nothing of course like Klein’s 20% slash to social spending, once he was premier. PC voters bought the BS about Getty’s PCs ‘spending out of control’.

      Evolution has apparently wired our species with misc. biases towards deferring to and adopting our tribal leaders’ claims over our own memories and judgements. And definitely over any outside sources. And especially when those outside-our-tribe sources have been demonized by our leaders.

      And it doesn’t appear that vastly improved access to information via the internet has made much difference.

    2. What makes you think the economy is recovering? Because the NDP says so? All the jobs they’ve created are public sector jobs.
      and the debt. What about the debt?

  4. From Edmonton Journal, Tuesday Jan. 9, 2018:

    “…..Fraser quit the new United Conservative Party during its leadership race last fall to sit as an Independent.

    He said the new party and the governing NDP present extreme positions that don’t serve Albertans well.

    Fraser has said the UCP focuses too much on hard-line fiscal austerity and Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP is mismanaging the economy……”

    So here is Rick Fraser still accusing the NDP of “mismanaging the economy”. Though he got the first part right about the hard-line fiscal austerity of the UCP.

  5. So ‘Yesterday, UCP Internet trolls who hate Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberal government as much as they hate Ms. Notley’s Alberta provincial government were desperately trying to give U.S. President Donald Trump the credit for the good economic news in Canada and Alberta.

    So Today, I wonder how those same UCP trolls are responding to the Trumps Pulp and paper industry in N.L. as they brace for Trumps administration newsprint duties (

  6. If UCP start loosing traction maybe Jason Kenney and his minions (Social Credit Party) will take over the Alberta Liberal Party like they did in B.C. and try fooling Albertan’s running under the Alberta Liberal banner disguising their Social Credit ideology.

  7. “Crazy socialists…,” at BMO, “…a golf resort in Cardston!” “NDP-sponsored End Times.” STOP! Yer killin’ Me!

    Honest: you got me laughing so hard I had to retreat to the bathroom to fetch some nitro…

    …and there, in the mirror, I saw myself clutching my splitting stitches, gasping for a breath, with tears of laughter rolling down my face.

    Not sure, but I think I just inadvertently observed a man experiencing Schadenfreud at a man experiencing Schadenfreud.

    Whatever it was, it’s definitely quite rare.

    Thank you. (My cheekbones are still hurting!)

    1. Thank you, Scotty. You made me think of the time I tried to persuade the Calgary Herald’s big shots they should let me write a humour column. The editor-in-chief looked at me blankly and sent me to the managing editor. The managing editor looked at me blankly and sent me to a person whose title was, as I recall, “executive editor.” The executive editor never looked up or stopped scribbling on his notepad as I made my pitch. Eventually, I got to the point where I said, “Look, I’m funnier than Dave Barry!” Dave Barry was then the “HUMOR” columnist distributed by the AP or some such, and run by almost all Canadian daily newspapers. He was from Miami. (My claim was obviously true, by the way, but then, it’s true of almost anyone with a typewriter.) The executive editor finally looked at me then, bug eyed, then returned to scribbling in his notebook. Not a word was spoken. After a few minutes, I slipped out the door and the topic was never broached again. DJC

    2. Scotty/David; It just occurred to me that S.O.D. (Scotty; your handle initials had to be highlighted :>P) has made a post that while the easy response might be an a “like/upvote”, you David, our host; D.C. if you will, have ordained that one must say something to be heard. I like it! And the dry humour of the commentators to the “dessicated desert of derision” style; irony, opprobrium and tactful deflation of the trial balloons that fly daily from the irrational gasbags to the right of Genghis Khan is tonic at it’s least!

      1. “Schadenfreud Over Dose” ? Your saintly handle got me wondering.

        David elevates the levity-nation.

  8. I think it is great that Alberta’s unemployment rate has improved. If you are going to give our Premier and her government all the credit in Alberta then you also must give credit to Donald Trump because the unemployment rate in the USA is the lowest in 17 years!

    As for the carbon dioxide tax I have an interesting story about a trucker that hauled my grain for me yesterday. He is a self employed small businessman that runs his own truck. Last time he was in my yard he was trying out a new Mack with all the latest bells and whistles. This time he was driving a 2004 freightliner even though he owns a 2014 Peterbuilt which he was planning to trade on the Mack last time he was in my yard. First I asked him about the Mack, he said he liked it but it was to hard on fuel, only 4.4 mpg, his Pete averages closer to 5. So then I asked him about the freightliner(I am quite nosey lol) and he looked at me and said I just bought that and it is payed for. So then he started to explain why he bought the freightliner and why he had put his Peterbuilt up for sale. He said the payments on the Pete were $3000 per month, on his trailers were $2000 per month and fuel was $5000 per month but it was now up to $6000 per month(diesel is $1.29 a litre at the pumps) so something had to give. He had just raised his rates due to higher fuel prices but you can only raise them so much and stay competitive, so he had to cut costs. Yesterday when he arrived at my place at 10:30 am he had already hauled a load to Strathmore. I asked him what time he had to get up to make that work, he said he was up at 3:30 and on the road just after 4, certainly glad I am not a trucker.

    Anyway, the point of my story is that yes you can try and say that the C02 tax hasn’t had an affect on employment, maybe it hasn’t but it sure has affected business profitability. It increases cost right down the line and as the level of the tax increases in the future the costs will continue to rise.

    1. So because our employment rate didn’t crater under irrational right wing austerity policies we should credit Trump? And as far as carbon taxes go you are dribbling off into some unresolved story about truck brands? Farmer B! Shape up! Your fan; Mom

      1. You misunderstood, first off I am not a Donald Trump fan, the point I attempted to make was if you are going to credit the NDP in Alberta with improvement to employment levels in Alberta you must also credit Donald Trump with the improvement with employment numbers in the USA, I was not linking Canada’s numbers to the USA. Unfortunately as soon as you mention Donald Trump everybody goes off.

        As for the truck story you also missed my point. My point was due to rising costs to make his business continue to be profitable he is selling his newer truck which he was still making payments on and replaced it with an older truck that he could afford to buy outright. This would eliminate a $3000 a month truck payment and return his business to a profitable level.

    2. Farmer Brian; Let me get this straight: Is Donald Trump really responsible for our current situation? Was he responsible for our situation last month? Is he responsible for Brian Jean? Jason Nixon? Ezra Levant? Rob Anders? Whoa! We need a freedom bus for all those freedomites!

  9. On Kenney’s climate policy, as far as I know he is still sticking to the vow he made last summer to refuse to talk about policy. So on the climate front all we have to go by is his statement that he wanted to see an end to “politically correct themes like oppression and colonialism and climate change.”

  10. re the Environment Lethbridge dare to be different outburst: A recent agri-food commentary on the heresy of heresy’s. In the ” How dare you challenge the prurient piety standards of the cattle persons ” category of the Picture Butte Feedlot Alley Temperance Society Chapter. Next thing you know them townies will attack the ongoing use of flesh burning hot iron branding as bumper sticker ID technology. Fisticuffs will break out, most assuredly.


    A few small but extremely well financed companies are introducing a new competitor in the protein market and it is striking at the longest standing icon of Americana — the all American hamburger. The national chain TGI Friday placed the plant based patty on the menu in its 400+ restaurants this past week. The offerings from the designer labs are created to look like and taste like traditional meat fare but be cleaner, more environmentally friendly and healthier.

    One of the companies, Beyond Meat, is designing products to look exactly like traditional burgers and sausages and other recognizable meat products.
    The audience they are targeting is young people and their advertising campaigns feature young, attractive athletes heralding the benefits of plant based proteins like no cholesterol, lower fat, less saturated fat, no GMOs or gluten and healthier all around. These health claims are accompanied by larger goals of reducing global warming and protecting animal rights.

    The beef industry would be remiss to discount this initiative and the plant based meat campaign strikes at the heart of the beef industry’s future — young people. Young people want to know more about the food they eat and how it is produced. In order to attract the young to our beef products, more information must be provided and in a form that will resonate with them on a personal level. The larger food companies are introducing ideas for supply chain links taking the consumer back through the supply chain to see, hear and understand how the product is created.

    The message must include explanations of production practices that are environmentally sound and sustainable. Producers also must be able to show how animal treatment throughout the beef pipeline is sensitive to the animal’s needs of good health, proper care, and sound nutrition. An explanation of the benefits of beef in the diet is critical to the consumers decisions at the purchase point. Expert nutritional advice has returned beef to its proper role in a balanced diet and this story needs to be told in the proper forums like classrooms — the natural setting for young people coming to understand food and diet.

    Ignoring or underestimating the initiative of plant based proteins would be a colossal mistake. The companies working on these initiatives are backed by some of the country’s wealthiest individuals and most prominent scientist.
    Countering the initiative must be done intelligently and strategically by recognizing the target [consumers and especially young ones] and their concerns about production, nutrition, and the environment.

    1. Doug you are quite correct that a lot of money is being spent on creating a veggie burger. In western Canada pulse crops have been heralded as a source of protein to put in these veggie burgers. I have only grown pulse crops for 5 years so I am certainly no expert. There is certainly the advantage that they require no nitrogen fertilizer. Unfortunately there are a few issues that limit how often you can grow them. First off, various forms of root rot have become prevalent in the last few years. At present no seed treatment has been developed that is effective against the root rot. The most effective treatment is to lengthen your rotation. I have decided to try and only grow peas on the same piece of land once every 5 years. Pea leaf weevil is another issue. The only treatment for this is an expensive seed treatment that costs about $16 per acre but does show great improvement over non treated control. Peas are also very succeptable to wind damage if swathed at harvest so require a per-harvest dessication so they can be straight cut.

      Now contrast that with my cow calf operation. Cattle pasture is works very well to sequester C02. Grasses sequester C02 in the roots, proper rotational grazing stimulates growth and improves sequestration. The hay I grow for feed fixes nitrogen just like pulse crops but requires no herbicides for the 4-6 year life span of the stand. Cattle pasture is also grown on land not suitable for crop production such as very sandy soils prone to erosion or extremely rocky land impossible to farm, so it produces food on land that would otherwise be of no use. Cattle manure is also a natural source of soil nutrients, it adds both organic fibre and nutrients with long lasting benefits to the soil. I certainly realize the concern of the emissions from cattle but to paint growing peas as environmentally superior is in my opinion wrong. Both have their pluses and minuses. Also keep in mind that 90% of the soybeans grown in North America are GMO. Soy is certainly a popular protein for plant based burgers but not enough heat units to grow it in central Alberta. Enjoy your day

  11. Isn’t an important point that the costs of the carbon tax will be passed down to the last person in the chain who cannot pass the cost down any further?

    That means farmers and ranchers, who have zero market power without marketing boards, will end up paying the full tax everybody else passes down to them.

    Once your frugal trucker wears out his rig, you will end up paying for his, or somebody else’s new rig.

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