Alberta Politics
Jason Kenney’s anti-environmentalist ‘War Room’ – actual United Conservative Party strategic gatherings may not appear exactly as illustrated (Photo: Screenshot from the film, Dr. Strangelove).

Keep your eyes on the story of Jason Kenney’s ‘War Room’ – it’s going to be a boondoggle!

Posted on May 20, 2019, 1:18 am
9 mins

The discovery last week Postmedia was trying to cash in on Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s promised $30-million anti-environmental “war room” at the same time it has its hand out to Ottawa for a federal bailout has rather surprisingly turned out to be a story with legs.

The irony of a down-on-its-luck but still influential media corporation controlled by and heavily indebted to U.S. venture funds trying to cash in on the United Conservative Party Government’s effort to give credence to a conspiracy theory about Americans bankrolling the environmental movement was just too much to resist, I guess.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

As many observers of the Canadian media scene have noted over this May long weekend, Postmedia has already played a highly dubious role in its one-sided coverage of the energy and global climate change stories in Canada.

Readers are advised to keep their eyes on this developing story, though – not that they’ll get much help from Postmedia.

That’s because there’s much more to come than just the shabby remnants of the once mighty Southam newspaper empire proving that what journalists used to call “the separation of church and state” – that is, the metaphorical wall between the editorial and advertising departments – is nothing more than a fond memory at English Canada’s largest newspaper chain.

What to watch for? First, look for what private-sector firm gets to run the generously funded boiler room – and it will almost certainly turn out to be a private contractor, given the UCP’s market-fundamentalist predilections, rather than a formal Ministry of Truth staffed by civil servants.

This thing is going to turn out to be a boondoggle of historic proportions that makes some well-connected conservative operatives very, very rich.

Remember this when Mr. Kenney’s United Conservative Party Government tells you we’re so short of money, what with the corporate tax cuts and everything, that classroom crowding is inevitable and essential medical services must be delisted and privatized.

So follow the money. Take note of which Friends of Kenney get their paws on it. That’s good advice with any political story.

And while environmental lobbies are likely justified to scoff at Mr. Kenney’s threat of a legal holy war against fact and science – truth be told, it’s the greatest fund-raising opportunity the environmental movement has been handed in its short history – readers should also watch for signs Mr. Kenney will try to turn the “war room” into a Fox News style fake news and harassment operation funded with our taxes.

After all, it would be pretty hard for anyone to argue in a court of law that saying Alberta’s oilsands are the country’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, and are making it impossible us to meet our international climate-change commitments, is somehow defamatory or false.

Sure, you might be able to bully the Calgary-based Pembina Institute for speaking such an unpalatable truth, but not the federal government, which says the same thing.

So the “war room” is unlikely to get far going after major players in the environmental movement, backed as they are by the donations of huge numbers of Canadians.

But using weaponized social media and a taxpayer financed Fox News knockoff to gin up a campaign of harassment against the Alberta government’s long list of “enemies,” real and imagined, is another matter entirely.

This, presumably, is the trough Postmedia is lining up to get its corporate snout into, although the record suggests Mr. Kenney’s “boys in short pants” already have the skill set to deliver this without Postmedia’s questionable digital expertise.

Still, why not give it a try? As noted, Postmedia has already established there is no separation of church and state in its news operations. Consider the heavily indebted corporation’s pitch to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers that it would “undertake to leverage all means editorially, technically and creatively – through the Financial Post, Postmedia market newspapers and affiliated media partners – to further this critical conversation.” (Emphasis added.)

The corporation’s propaganda assets in Alberta are considerable: Two daily newspapers and their online operations in each of the province’s two largest cities and more than 30 community newspapers throughout the province.

According to the Narwhal, this even turned out to include running a couple of paid advertorial stories, nowadays known as “commercial content,” with no indication they were not written by one of the corporation’s diminishing cadre of real journalists.

As for those journalists, though, one is inevitably reminded of the immortal words of the distinguished British civil servant Humbert Wolfe:

You cannot hope
to bribe or twist,
thank God! The
British journalist.

But, seeing what
the man will do
unbribed, there’s
no occasion to.

Jason Kenney’s statement on the Battle of Monte Cassino – it’s weird

Jason Kenney’s official statement yesterday marking the 75th anniversary of the Allied victory in the Battle of Monte Cassino during the Italian Campaign is just … weird.

Monte Cassino after its destruction by the United States Air Force in 1944 (Photo: Deutsche Bundesarchiv).

Mr. Kenney rightly marks the sacrifice and remarkable courage of the Polish troops who finally dislodged stubborn German forces from the strategic heights on May 18, 1944, at the end of the bitter five-month campaign that was one of the bloodiest fights of the Second World War.

On behalf of the Government of Alberta I am pleased to join with Albertans of Polish descent and all Albertans in marking this proud moment in the history of the Polish people,” he says in his peroration. About 1,050 Polish soldiers are known to have died in the battle.

But beyond mentioning that many Canadians were among the 55,000 casualties of the protracted battle, there was not a mention of the sacrifice of the 855 Canadians known to have been killed in the fight for Monte Cassino.

Nor is there any acknowledgement that the long engagement might be fairly described as a pyrrhic victory – the Germans suffered about 20,000 casualties in their strategic retreat – and it resulted in the obliteration of one greatest cultural and artistic centres of the Middle Ages by the United States Air Force.

Tragically, it was learned later that the bombing raid was militarily useless, and probably counterproductive. Only civilians were killed and the Germans were not using the fortress-like monastery to spot artillery targets.

No acknowledgement of that in Mr. Kenney’s chest thumping statement either.  Like I say, weird.

12 Comments to: Keep your eyes on the story of Jason Kenney’s ‘War Room’ – it’s going to be a boondoggle!

  1. Bob Raynard

    May 20th, 2019

    I saw a story in the Guardian a few weeks ago (link probably provided by a commentor here) reporting that climate change denial is a multi-million dollar industry, with oil companies, Koch brothers et al, donating copious amounts of money to fund the effort to discredit climate science. When I see the Edmonton Journal (and probably the Herald as well) running columns claiming we shouldn’t do anything about climate change because Canada has trees, or one degree Celsius isn’t very much, it does make me wonder if Postmedia is collecting payments from the climate change industry.

    • Chris Wells

      May 20th, 2019

      Canada is being attacked by the climate cultists. Our government is in it hook line and sinker and our bribed media. The NW passage was closed last year due to ice. Does that make headlines? No.. In 1969 an oil tanker made it through the passage. Governments are influenced by the UN who’ve been highly influenced by the club of Rome. Pierre Trudeau was a member. They believe population growth is the biggest threat to the earth. 1992 the UN ratified Agenda 21 which is about control of resources and population. Is it any surprise global warming fear mongering really ramped up after this. Cheap energy will allow the third world to develop their economies and out compete the west. As their economies gear up, their population become healthier and grow dramatically. Cheap labor, lax environmental standards and cheap energy is the trifecta of successful manufacturing. The market share of the west is in danger so the energy must be removed from the equation. Boom, their economies die. Global warming hysteria explained.

      • Murphy

        May 21st, 2019

        I guess an anecdote about a single climate-related event blows the scientific consensus on climate interference out of the water. Is the UN behind the destruction of Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and the destablization of every single state that is geographically situated near the major hydro-carbon transport corridors? Did the UN triple the price of oil in the seventies just as the former colonized state economies were trying to transform and saddling up with debt?

    • Linda

      May 20th, 2019

      Oh I am sure there is huge funding.
      But my FB feed is swamped with climate change action.
      Canadians are embracing the reality of climate change and the potential dangers of doing nothing

  2. ronmac

    May 20th, 2019

    Technically Canadians weren’t involved in the battle for Monte Cassino. The major contribution of the Canadians came about a week later when they broke through the Hitler Line, which was a few miles upstream in the Liri Valley, paving the way for the capture of Rome.

    The battles for Monte Cassino and the Liri Valley lasted nearly eight months and was the longest battle of WWII. It was the Canadians who finally broke the stalemate, forcing the Germans to give up Rome. But it was the Americans, after enduring one disaster after another, who entered Rome and got all the glory. So what else is new?

    • Murphy

      May 21st, 2019

      Facts are of absolutely no import when these bizarre evocations of the Second World War are used to pander to people. It was clear that something really weird had happened over twenty years ago when Molson began using clips from the War in ads along with images of Bobby Clarke. It’s pure, 200 proof jingosim. One would be hard-pressed to support the notion of the Italian campaign being longer or bloodier than the Siege of Leningrad. And that’s the funny thing about the story of World War 2. The scope and scale of bloodshed in the east is simply incomprehensible to the targets of western propaganda.

  3. Public Servant

    May 20th, 2019

    This so-called war room will just be the first of many ways that Kenney tries to funnel taxpayer dollars into cronies’ pockets. Follow the money.

  4. GregH

    May 20th, 2019

    Why are we focused on Postmedia’s several US hedge fund owners, when we should be talking about their Canadian CEO, Canadian board of directors (ok, there’s one American), and Canadian Paul Godfrey – “Executive chair” and the man who made Postmedia the conservative propaganda organization it is today? Is there any evidence that their US owners have exerted editorial control over Postmedia outlets? Why wouldn’t we be more concerned with Postmedia’s connection to Canadian conservative think tanks, whose officials’ free market apologia frequently appear as “non-partisan” writings in the NP/FP?

    And why aren’t we talking about Postmedia’s semi-monopoly in Canadian newspapers? In the 1970s & 80s, this level of media concentration would have been scandalous.

  5. David Grant

    May 20th, 2019

    The war room really is a sign of a desperate paranoia from this government. The fact that they are worrying about the activism of the likes of the environmental movement shows that they really don’t have the confidence in their policies. They have no interest in protecting the environment, only the interests of the oil companies who gave them support. We need to keep putting forth the policies that we want such as more investments in green energy, stronger environmental regulations, and expansion of public transit. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is good start.

  6. Dave

    May 21st, 2019

    In the bad old days of the PC’s, the cozy relationship was pretty clear. The PC’s got tons of political donations and they returned the favours later. Well that didn’t go over well with the public or the Wildrose Party official opposition.

    The Wildrose Party did not mind generally treating those large corporations favourably eithe, but didn’t like the appearance of being beholden to them. They preferred a more grassroots approach to fundraising, which seemed to work well for them and allowed more of an appearance of virtuous independence.

    Kenney sems to have come up with an interesting hybrid approach. No cash is provided to the UCP, but favours are. Post media gives him a lot of favourable coverage before the election and after the election he gives them a lot of money to implement his war room idea.

    It was probably a fair trade dollar wise. All the flattering coverage they provided him during the election was worth millions or was even priceless. Unfortunately, it is the Alberta taxpayers, not Kenney personslly covering his side of this cozy arrangement. However, other than the reversal in the flow of cash has much really changed from the days of the PC’s?

  7. Todd

    August 3rd, 2019

    As these are the only jobs Kenney is going to create; I am wondering how to apply for one? I haven’t seen any postings and it is suppose to up by the end of the month.


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