Ontario Premier Doug Ford addresses a friendly UCP crowd in Calgary (Photo: @FordNation, Twitter).

Give Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party their due: They got a large and enthusiastic crowd out last night to their rally in Calgary against taking action on climate change.

Leastways, I’d say 1,500 warm bodies at a rally on any topic should concern the government they came out to yell at, no matter what the issue, which in this case was technically the Trudeau Government’s policy of putting a price on carbon outputs.

The bromantics, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Alberta Opposition Leader Jason Kenney (Photo: @FordNation, Twitter).

This is true even if a large percentage of the audience looked to be well over 50. Someone waving a white cane in support of the speakers may not have been quite the image the UCP was striving for, but oldsters are known for getting out to vote.

This said, while the crowd in the Stampede Grounds’ convention hall last night was officially yelling at a Liberal federal government that’s rarely been warmly received in Calgary, in fact this turnout should be more of a worry to Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.

Indeed, it may not hurt the federal Liberals at all for voters elsewhere in Canada to see the same stage occupied Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who as the real leader of Canada’s Conservatives is bound to play the foil to Mr. Trudeau in next year’s federal election, and Mr. Kenney, who will serve nicely as a stand-in to remind Canadians of the dreary decade Stephen Harper ran things in Ottawa.

Much of Canada has historically viewed Alberta and its politicians with a jaundiced eye, and may well continue to do so while memories of Mr. Harper’s leadership style remain fresh in many memories.

As for the often-clownish Mr. Ford – who appears to have taken elocution lessons from W.C. Fields – his shelf life at home and elsewhere in Canada is likely to be short.

Moreover, Calgary, which will probably be the key battleground in next year’s provincial election, is not an unsophisticated city. The Ontario premier’s histrionics and his pandering to social conservatives are bound to embarrass some Calgarians and trouble others.

Being able to tie Mr. Ford to Mr. Kenney – who is normally very cagey about what his own policies in office might be – may not be a bad thing for Ms. Notley’s NDP either. After all, we already know what Mr. Ford’s policies are, and they are not encouraging.

Hollywood comic actor W.C. Fields (1880-1946), apparently the elocution model for Premier Ford (Photo: Source not indicated).

It’s mildly surprising in fact that Mr. Kenney was prepared to tie himself so closely to Mr. Ford, who with an unconvincing mandate is enacting controversial health care, education and workplace policies that many Alberta voters, even quite conservative ones, fear Mr. Kenney might also implement.

By contrast to his self-described “bromance” with Mr. Ford, Mr. Kenney has been very sly about his ties to anti-abortion activists, whom the CBC reports are working hard to snatch many UCP nominations, and homophobic and creationist fringe home-schooling groups.

Maybe there’s a deeper strategy at play here about which extremists the UCP acknowledges and which ones it denies. Or maybe Mr. Kenney is flirting with going Full Trump in the 2019 provincial election campaign. But most likely the Alberta Opposition leader just couldn’t resist the star power of a notorious politician like Mr. Ford, who was bound to draw a crowd from the UCP base even if he gives more centrist Albertans hives.

After all, in Calgary victory in 2019 may come down to which party can get out their base.

Judging from the limited news coverage and short social media clips of this members-and-supporters-only affair, a MAGA hat or two notwithstanding, the crowd wasn’t howling for blood and Mr. Ford didn’t seem to wander too far from his carbon tax script.

“The carbon tax is the worst tax ever, anywhere,” he declared in his customary foghorn style. The Ontario premier, not known for his scholarship, may have missed the lessons about the American colonies’ experience with taxation without representation or the Ottoman Empire’s blood tax of boys for the army, but a little Trumpian hyperbole is par for the course nowadays.

Be that as it may, it was charming to hear Mr. Ford complaining that the federal carbon tax is “the most regressive tax in Canadian history.”

Never mind Mr. Kenney’s vow to bring back Ralph Klein’s infamous flat tax, Conservatives worrying about regressive taxes is a novelty, even if it would be unrealistic to take it as a hopeful sign.

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  1. So David, I am caucasian, over 50 and I am not in favour of a carbon tax, I guess you would put me into that category you mentioned in your previous article of the an angry white elite(seems a bit racist). As a farmer and a businessman one of the problems I have is that a carbon tax in Canada will continue to escalate over time reaching $50 a tonne by 2022 and I am sure will continue rising past 2022 as governments discover GHG emissions are not decreasing as fast as they would like. Also the theory behind a carbon tax is that consumers can either chose to pay the tax or change their behaviour so that they pay less, as an example buying a more fuel efficient vehicle or a more efficient furnace or re-insulating your house. Well on the farm those options as far as machinery don’t exist. New equipment isn’t any more fuel efficient than my existing equipment. One of the first costs affected was my freight rates to have my grain hauled which have risen 12.5% in the last 2 years. Farming is like any business it comes down to profit per unit sold and selling enough units to make a living and being able to compete with farmers in other countries. A carbon tax does put me at a disadvantage compared to the U.S. or Russia because they have no carbon tax. I also disagree with a tax on the natural gas that heats my home. As a line item on my heating bill the value of the carbon tax now exceeds the value of the natural gas. As far as I am concerned when it is -30 you are taxing my survival. Interesting to note that LNG Canada negotiated a freeze on the carbon tax they will pay at $30 a tonne, so as the rest of the residents of B.C. continue to pay an ever escalating carbon tax LNG Canada’s is locked in and that was an NDP government that agreed to that. My final thought is that even though a carbon tax is being sold as a tax to reduce C02 emissions, I really believe it is nothing more than a politically saleable tax increase for revenue hungry governments! As for Justin Trudeau it appears he is gearing up to fight the next general election on the carbon tax, a fight that in my opinion he will lose. When he first introduced his Pan Canadian carbon tax plan he only had 1 province objecting and the rest were onside. Now he will have to impose a carbon tax on probably at least 4-5 provinces Jan 1, it will be interesting to watch. Enjoy your day.

    1. Preston Manning’s take on the value and purpose of carbon taxes contrasts with the views of the Farmer Brian’s of Canada. Who to believe? Farmer B types are likely to elect Kenney/UCP and run AB like the horse and buggy crowd. Really weird that Preston Manning/conservative economists advice to use carbon pricing(taxes) is going to be ignored.

      Farmer B: ‘My final thought is that even though a carbon tax is being sold as a tax to reduce C02 emissions, I really believe it is nothing more than a politically saleable tax increase for revenue hungry governments! ‘

      Preston Manning thinks carbon taxes are a ‘good idea’: ‘The “good idea” the commission seeks to advance – and that I wholeheartedly support – is that for any economic activity, especially the production of energy, we should identify its negative environmental impacts, devise measures to avoid, mitigate or adapt to those impacts, and include the costs of those measures in the price of the product. It’s the idea behind using carbon pricing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water pricing to conserve water, garbage pricing to deal with waste, and road pricing to reduce traffic congestion.’


      1. Sam what catches my eye is your statement “run Alberta like the horse and buggy crowd”, this points again to the urban-rural cultural divide and obvious arrogance of urbanites and their apparent belief that those of us that live in the country are just dumb country bumpkins. As far as Preston Manning’s outlook on a carbon tax, he believes in a revenue neutral model that compensates for the cost of the carbon tax with cuts to personal and corporate income tax making the carbon tax revenue neutral. The only carbon tax in Canada that came close to this model was the original carbon tax implemented in B.C. by the Liberal’s I believe in 2008. This model has now been abandoned by the recently elected NDP government of John Horgan with increases to the corporate tax rate and the carbon tax with no interest in revenue neutrality. So while those on the left consistently bring up Preston Manning’s support for a carbon tax, none are interested in following his model because they want the revenue! Enjoy your day.

        1. The ‘horse and buggy’ reference was *not* about urban vs. rural views.

          The reference is to those who didn’t think automobiles would replace ‘horse and buggy’ transportation.

          Preston Manning’s advocacy for pricing carbon is in part recognizing the massive economic changes are coming, which is the opposite of what UCP leadership’s policies are about. They want to keep AB stuck in a love-in with the fossil-fuel economy.

          And FWIW, I was raised a rural kid, on farms, rode horse all the time, and have lots of family in rural AB. And from personal experience I’ve experienced hearing the stereotypical thinking run both ways, now that I’ve lived in Edmonton for decades, but have also stayed in touch with my rural family.

          So just for the record, I meant nothing about rural ‘bumpkin’s vs urban attitudes by citing ‘horse and buggy’.

          My reference was about the current conservative political leadership in AB and Canada refusing to consider the need for rapid transition away from fossil fuels, b/c aside from the urgency due to the real risk of climate catastrophe, there are huge economic changes underway, i.e. renewable energy and EVs, that will potentially devastate AB’s oil/gas economic sectors in the short-term or medium-term, probably by mid-2040s at the latest, according a wide range of forecasters, business, thinktanks, universities, etc., if we keep doubling down on fossil fuel investments in AB.

          And under Kenney/UCP leadership, there won’t be a soft landing for AB if they go backwards by scrapping policies like carbon taxes to help transition/shift AB’s economy off it’s oil/gas dependence.

          Even the expert panel, that included some senior business executives, that advised on economic strategy to Premier Stelmach, urged the AB make every effort to diversify away from so much oil/gas/oilsands because the changes that are coming as a lot of the world acts on climate.

          EVs, for example, are likely at break-even with average internal combustion cars in the early 2020s, when that happens, oil prices will soon decline and never recover. Check out China’s EV production plans.

          My reference was simply meant to imply the UCP’s all-in strategy on more fossil fuels is somewhat akin to buying more horse and buggy transportation, while Henry Ford and the other automakers were creating the auto industry.

          Not good for urban AB or rural AB economic prospects. And I worry about my rural families future just as much as my urban neighbors and families.

          Your assumption about the stereotypes is revealing, BTW.

          What would be original… You could as an alternative try to explain why Preston Manning is wrong in advising conservatives to support carbon pricing. Write a letter to him and post it here.

    2. Brian you have made your opposition to the carbon tax very well known. Do you have any other ideas about how to get people to reduce their emissions?

      Your point about more efficient farm machinery is well taken, but I also believe farm fuel is not subject to the carbon tax anyway.

      Something I have never understood is why farmers, whose livelihood is probably the most threatened by climate change, aren’t leading the charge to get governments to do something about it. Farmers all over this province have been sitting around for the past few weeks watching their year’s income slowly deteriorate as they are unable to get out and harvest it, as a result of some kind of huge cold air mass in Alaska that will not move. Farmers in the southwest corner of the province have to be struck by the irony of the situation, since last year they were worrying about grass fires. Both of these situations are examples of the extreme weather events that climate scientists have been warning about since the 1980s. Yet when we finally get a government that wants to do something about it they get nothing but hostility.

      Yes, in this climate we need to heat our homes to survive, but we also need to look at what we are heating. Houses seem to be getting bigger and bigger all the time, with new homes offering ‘bonus rooms’, a creative term for what could otherwise be known as an unneeded room. How many of those quonsets I see in the country are heated and how badly do they need to be heated? The ‘we need heat to survive’ argument loses a lot of validity if 75% of someone’s gas bill goes to heating a building that is usually unoccupied.

      Sadly profligate waste of energy is even worse here in the city. Happy Thanksgiving.

    3. You and the rest of your chosen “race” are pulling a classic bait and switch, with existential consequences. You and your chosen “race” maintain that this carbon price is just another liberal tax scheme to separate you from your just earnings. Never mind the fact that it is the conservatives/republicans/fascists who impose the most harsh and arbitrary wealth confiscation.

      The carbon ‘tax’ is not a tax; it is a pricing scheme to eliminate the indiscriminate use of petro-energy. Why? Because we know that the continued indiscriminate use of petro-energy will change the Earth we live on in such a manner as to make it harmful to most of humanity and in such a time-frame that those harms will be visited on most alive today or their direct kin. You and your chosen “race” prefer not to believe this, in fact, choose to act as you always have, regardless of what you believe.

      The horse and buggy industry had it’s zenith and then fell off to just a quaint nostalgia. So did slavery. Horse-drawn transportation is today very expensive and cost-inefficient; owning another today is illegal. Both facts arose despite the massive profits and important contributions to the economy. Indiscriminate petroleum use or even just plain old-fashioned petroleum use is killing people, societies and ecosystems. Intelligent people are phasing it out.

      Lest you might think I’m just another of those ill-informed urbanites, let me share that my first 50 years were in very small rural communities in Western Canada, sometimes farming communities. I have had, more than once, to change careers as I and the greater society evolved. I never liked it, I never wanted it and I don’t know if it was for the better. But I found a way to prosper in this new world. So, I know how you’re feeling.

      “The times they are a changin” as ol’ Bob says. This time is for the better, if you can believe that the survival of humanity is better. It’s time for you to leave that race of angry chuckleheads behind, Farmer B and start using your clearly abundant supply of motivation and ingenuity to solving the problem rather than being the problem.

  2. The nostalgia brothers in Calgary is not a surprise. Pretty much every sector of the economy is now dominated by a handful of giant corporations. The left has failed to regulate those corporations to protect people, creating a political vacuum. Trudeau actually uses the code of “post national state” to cover his surrender to these giant corporations through comprehensive trade deals.

    The NDP is silent on economic justice and things like orderly marketing for farmers and ranchers. Obviously market mechanisms like carbon taxes are no longer relevant to giant corporations who just pass them down to helpless citizens with no choice but to pay.

    So it is no surprise the nostalgia boys’ call to burn everything down is popular. It will suit their corporate friends even better than the ever so accommodating Liberal/NDP.

  3. Glad to hear the convention of petroleum geologists went well last night. How many other scientists in attendance?

    Kidding aside… Make no mistake. When it comes to oilsands expansion, Rachel Notley and Jason Kenney are on the same page.
    We can laugh at Kenney’s climate change denialism, but Notley’s is far more insidious.

    Notley and Trudeau acknowledge the science, but ignore its implications. Boast about climate leadership, but push oilsands expansion and pipelines. Sign int’l agreements, but fail to live up to them.
    Notley and Trudeau are betting that the world will fail to take real action on climate change. That is the only scenario in which oilsands expansion makes sense.
    • thenarwhal.ca/new-climate-denialism-time-intervention

    Neither Notley nor Kenney offers a sustainable vision for AB.
    Neither the NDP nor the UCP will take AB where we need to go.

  4. The consensus from a couple of years ago was that Justin Trudeau would be unbeatable for a couple of election cycles, which prompted Jason Kenney to look for greener pastures, rather than follow his assumed role as Stephen Harper’s successor.

    The shine is coming off of Mr. Trudeau sooner than expected, however, and it isn’t hard to imagine CPC supporters feeling disillusioned with the rather vanilla Andrew Scheer if he is unable to win next year. That could set the stage for a bitter leadership battle between the bros for the top job which, I expect, both covet.

    It isn’t hard to imagine Jason Kenney’s base favouring Ford who, after all, emulates Ralph Klein much more than Kenney does, despite Kenney’s repeated attempts to paint himself as Klein II.

    That is a 2018 perspective. By 2020, when perhaps both have been premier for a couple of years, neither could win.

      1. I didn’t know Ralph but I’ve met him and in my time many others from the PC party of that time and the Getty group that went before. I didn’t care for them then (yet I voted for them and carried a membership) and I absolutely detest their legacy. That said? Having met Jason Kenney as well, way back in the early aughts, I have to say I have never encountered such a poisonous calculating self promoter as him. Ralph was not that. Kenney does share with Klein the lack of formal education and the animus towards those who have it that often animates some toxic ideas, but what Kenney is peddling is far beyond that. Doug Ford is a joke. A bad one. Just like his brother. The difference being he isn’t addicted to the product he sold and is like a pit-bull with his jaws locked on pay back. If this is democracy and our future? Lord help us!

  5. Thanks for the coverage on the United Conservative event with Doug Ford. It was to the point.

    Might I ask how old you have to be to remember the distinct speaking style of W.C. Fields?

    Carry on, sir,

    Peter Lowry

  6. When BroD’ohFo’s the de facto leader of the pseudoCons in Canada, you know their movement’s in trouble. The Hogtown blowhard has already killed his province’s carbon-cap-and-trade agreement, and Alberta’s NDP government has already threatened to pull out of the federal carbon tax if TMX pipeline doesn’t get under way soon, so Do’hFo’s visit to Alberta (I don’t recall any other Canadian premier leading rallies on behalf of another province’s opposition party leader) looks like moral support—and talks like it, too, “bromance”, and all. But the Hogtown Fog regularly takes pages straight out of the Trump playbook by doing the obtuse, deploying rally dates in jurisdictions where his political stakes are obscure, and unabashedly confirming many concerns about the fate of the nominal conservative polity by equivocating about his association with way-too-far-right figures like Faith Goldies’.

    Yet the angry white guy bromance in the Foothills wagon laager appears more a tactic of a larger strategy to muster the bromaniac musoxen in mutual support because their neo-right movement is looking scared—even of its recent successes—and prone to rush backwards on its heels to farther and farther frontiers of reaction under lamed rubrics of privilege unjustly denied and eco-bogeyman hystrionics—even hysteria.

    Not only BroD’ohFo’s been called to serve the wobbly looking Andrew Scheer as his federal party welcomes a Liberal turncoat to replenish the ranks after the Blue-flame neo-rightist (who’d won support of virtually half of the CPC membership before storming off to start a new, untie the right party) and to bolster BroJay-K as his party nominates more and more suspect extremists to parry with the NDP incumbent next year. The Dreary One, Stephen Harper, former CPC leader and co-founding conspirator of the Progressive Conservative’s demise has also been called, now with a self-congratulatory book of his politcal experiences and observations. Yes, the pseudoCon movement’s definitely in trouble.

    Harper apologetics follow a brief retirement from politics (when he wrote a book about hockey), a decade long depression of pseudo-conservative government so lacklustre he could only ‘unite the right’ by treachery, could not bribe an Independent conservative balance-of-power holder to topple Martin’s Liberal minority, only clung to the minorities he eventually did win by bullying the Governor General into allowing prorogation to save his government from a confidence vote it would have lost, cheated to finally exceed minorities while his previous legislation was being struck down by the courts, and left incomplete his centrepiece pipeline goal when his first and last majority was summarily thrashed, resigning from a party now largely commandeered by extremists as most moderates have defected and recruitment failed to make up for geriatric attrition. But to hear him tell it, conservatives defeated communism, invented globalized free-market capitalism and saved the world by not over-regulating polluting industries. Harper simply hasn’t been gone long enough for people to have forgotten what his regime was really like. He could have at least waited for a few more post-Harper governments to complete their terms. But, no, the federal bequest is even more lacklustre—with an election approaching in a year—and the provincial UCP risking voter opporobrium by recruiting from the religious right—with an election approaching next year. The watchword is ‘populism’ a la Harper.

    The D’ohFo’s unprecedented Prairie bromance and Harper’s rushed historical revision are too conspicuous to be mere coincidence. Harper’s been using his ex-Prime Ministerial creds to access diplomatic audiences Andrew Scheer only looks pantywaist trying to get as the current CPC leader, stepping in, it seemed, to distract from Scheer’s pathetic politcal panhandling in London, England (Prime Minister May took pity on the little fella and gave him some tea a cookies before seeing him out). The D’ohFo is riding a buck-a-beer wave of clownish bluster (hey—now I’ll never be able to look at him without seeing WC Fields—thanx a bunch, DJC—it’s an actual improvement!) from his recent Ontario win, but before the cap-and-trade—and many other highly controversial and questionable policy roosters— come home to roost. These are extraordinary measures, to put it charitably. Otherwise it can only be called ‘pullin-out-all-the-stops’ in increasingly desperate times for the moribund neo-right.

    The neo-rightists can’t win, even when they do win. D’ohFo’s and Trump’s victories will destroy their respective neo-right-usurped, zombieCon parties—as their Romes burn. Kenney is preparing the ever accommodating continental redoubt to regroup and resurrect in revenge against growing environmentalism and, if we’re lucky, he’ll destroy the Alberta neo-right movement, too—if he hasn’t already.

    1. According to my blogging colleague Dave Cournoyer, Premier William Aberhart campaigned for his Social Credit counterparts in Saskatchewan for three whole weeks. I can’t recall the year. DJC

      1. I stand corrected—but I’ll qualify that by way of the special case of Social Creditism, an upside down pyramid scheme that required it’s British advocate to travel in person to the Canadian places that tried to adopt it. Alberta tried hardest of all only to have the federal court shitcan a whole year’s worth of legislation (back during the Great Depression) intended to enable the wonky system. BC’s WAC Bennet simply co-opted the name, shortened to “Socred”, and inaugurated the province’s most enduring government while abandoning Social Credit principles altogether, as they were everywhere Social Creditism was attempted, at least nominally.

        As exceptional, if not more, I think, is the frozen-in-the-dark, big-city Eastern bastard riding the Western range to assist a rabid, NEP-hating prairie reformer. We might also observe their religious incongruency —except for that one article of faith: that climate change is a hoax.

  7. I agree that Ford and Kenney are a bit of an odd couple. Sometimes the combination works – Bert and Ernie or Felix and Oscar for example, but that is because of the entertainment value it gives for people to laugh at one or both of them. While Ford relishes playing the populist and I don’t think much cares what his critics say, I am not sure this is quite what Kenney wants. I get the sense Kenney wants to be taken much more seriously.

    The combination of the two does not go over well because of the contrasts. Those in the Conservative base that love Ford may see Kenney as too calculating and cautious in comparison. Kenney has strengths, but genuine populism is not his forte – he is truly a career politician and often comes across like one. Those that have suspicions of Kenney are afraid he would go down the path of Ford and start engaging in unwise partisan battles, including disregarding and having contempt for the Charter of Rights. Its not a coincidence that Ford appeals more to less urban parts of Ontario and of course the UCP is strongest in rural Alberta too. However, the Wildrose wave as powerful as it seemed to be was stopped at the limits of the major cities, Kenney really needs to reassure urban voters he is not like Ford.

    I have a feeling the honeymoon for Ford will not be long and the ride will be bumpy. By the time our election rolls around, I suspect the message will start to roll out that things are not so great in Ontario and Ford is not doing such a good job. The Federal Conservatives seem to be a bit smarter in keeping their distance from Ford, I suspect some (particularly those from Ontario) know him better than Kenney and realize the dangers of being too closely linked to him.

    I suspect in the end Ford’s election will be a big gift for the Federal Liberals. The too long serving and unpopular Ontario Liberals are now gone and Trudeau looks very statesman like in comparison to the somewhat bumbling Ford. It is probably not a coincidence that Ford’s election seemed to be about the same time that the Federal Liberals support turned around in the polls and started going up again. It also certainly wouldn’t be the first time Ontario voters voted for one party provincially and then for another one Federally.

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