Alberta Politics
Former Alberta premier Rachel Notley (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Rachel Notley sets out to do a little narrative building of her own about what Jason Kenney is up to, now that he’s premier

Posted on May 05, 2019, 12:53 am
8 mins

CALGARY – In her first major speech since losing the Alberta election to Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party on April 16, Rachel Notley called on her supporters not to allow conservatives to rewrite history to suit their own ends.

“Make no mistake,” she warned a friendly crowd at the Alberta Federation of Labour’s biennial convention in Calgary on the day before the anniversary of her unexpected majority victory in 2015, “they’re already trying.”

Ms. Notley working the crowd for laughs (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Now the leader of the province’s 24-MLA Opposition, Ms. Notley told the crowd of about 300 union activists at the Telus Convention Centre that Premier Kenney has “sent up already false flags on our finances.”

What the premier is doing, she asserted, is “preparing excuses to proceed with cuts to the programs that regular families rely on.”

She described Mr. Kenney’s objective as being “just to cover up the actual hole that he plans to blow in the budget when he gives a massive $4.5-billion corporate tax cut.” That, she continued, “will cost each and every one of us in our health care, our education, and our infrastructure.”

Of course almost all governments pretend the economic situation of the jurisdiction they have just inherited is far worse than what we were all told before the election. Indeed, about the only recent exception to this rule was the New Democrats of 2015, and it’s said here they would have had plenty of cause to attack the Progressive Conservative government they replaced.

Well, maybe Ms. Notley has learned a thing or two from her recent experience at the polls. At any rate, she set out to do a little narrative building of her own to ensure Albertans hear from her first about how to view the new government they have chosen.

“We knew that we needed to diversify our economy after decades of inaction, and that starting that work was the only way to create good, long-term sustainable jobs for Albertans,” she said. “Despite the rhetoric that we hear from the other side, there are 80,000 more Albertans working today than there were at the height of the recession, and there are more Albertans working today than when we first got elected. Yes, there is more to do. But we laid out a plan that worked and was working.”

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

Ms. Notley then turned to the direction set by the Kenney Government, and the dangers she said it poses.

“On the topic of conservative history, let’s take a look at their first week,” she continued, to chuckles from her audience.

“Against all advice, he signed into law Bill 12, rather than use it strategically. He’s giving the courts time to shoot it down. In other words, he is letting them disarm the missile while it’s sitting on the launch pad. All in the interests of making threats and generating headlines!”

“Alberta is this close to getting a pipeline,” Ms. Notley continued. “And Mr. Kenney is putting this project in danger. If Mr. Kenney is allowed to treat the pipeline like a political football, which is exactly what he’s doing right now, then all it will ever be is a political football. And that is not what Albertans deserve.”

It’s one of Mr. Kenney’s successes, one must concede, that the term “social license” is not much used any more. Still, it was what Ms. Notley had in mind when she told her listeners that “if we want the pipeline, we need to keep bringing Canadians with us, not turning them against us.

“But that’s what Mr. Kenney is risking,” she said.

She assailed Mr. Kenney for his UCP government’s apparent aversion to accountability. “This week, I called for a special prosecutor to be appointed because for the first time in Alberta’s history, and quite frankly the history of most any other province in the country, we have a premier and an attorney general whose leadership campaigns are closely linked to matters under police investigation!

“Fake emails, shady donations, electoral fraud. This is a sorry state of affairs and quite frankly their failure to appoint a special prosecutor to clean up the process, to keep the system clean, demonstrates incredibly bad judgment, very early on,” she stated.

Speaking of bad judgment, the former premier added, “we also have a person with a lifetime of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in charge of GSAs.

“During the campaign, Mr. Kenney routinely dismissed these kids, and said no one cares. Well, I would say that he should tell that to the thousands of kids who walked out of class yesterday in support of their friends, in support of their safe spaces, in support of their own human rights.”

Predicting disaster if Mr. Kenney keeps his promises, she derided the premier’s desire for “a rollback of the climate leadership plan that secured our province federal approval of a pipeline, but also … created jobs and generated the most significant reduction of greenhouse gases in the history of our country.”

“Just yesterday, Saskatchewan learned that the federal government has a right to impose their own plan. Now if Mr. Kenney has his way, Alberta’s opening itself up to Ottawa’s plan. Great! That’s what we’re all looking for. Having Ottawa come in and tell us what to do about climate change. That’s his plan.”

Recalling the filibuster by the four-member NDP caucus in defence of public sector pensions before the 2015 election, Ms. Notley reminded her listeners that “today we have 24, so let me just say … we can filibuster forever. If they start coming after workers’ rights, that’s exactly what you’re going to see.”

Well, for all that, it will be a long and bumpy road ahead, no doubt.

Nevertheless, the new Opposition leader did not give the impression of a person who has given in to despair, or who is ready, as she put it, to wrap herself in a blanket and start watching Season One of Game of Thrones again.

14 Comments to: Rachel Notley sets out to do a little narrative building of her own about what Jason Kenney is up to, now that he’s premier

  1. Public Servant

    May 5th, 2019

    I was very glad to hear Rachel Notley mention worker rights because that issue has been overshadowed by Kenney’s ridiculous posturing on the carbon levy.

    Kenney will try to roll back safety legislation, overtime rules and bargaining rights to curry favour with the car dealers and other anonymous wealthy donors. The official opposition must be ready for these attacks and it is a good sign that Rachel Notley is aware of the threat to worker rights and plans to defend them.

  2. Bill Malcolm

    May 5th, 2019

    After reading that, I’m glad that Notley is gone. Just like all the Alberta guff I read, absolutely NO awareness of the environment from her. Just loads of stupidity and idiocy.

    “if we want the pipeline, we need to keep bringing Canadians with us, not turning them against us.” And in a world of 410ppm and rising CO2, what the world and Canada needs is even more. How wilfully blind can a leader be? Not much.

    “Great! That’s what we’re all looking for. Having Ottawa come in and tell us what to do about climate change.” Hello?!!’ Alberta is part of Canada and Ottawa is not a national enemy, there are standards for belonging to this country, which itself is no shining beacon of environmental leadership. Trying to live in a bubble immune from the rest of us in true navel-gazing Alberta fashion? Is that what a provincial leader should be saying? Of course not. This isn’t a hockey game with tribal levels of hate between “opponents”, it’s unfortunate reality and the rest of us get to swim in the resulting crap.

    But deaf to all entreaties even as useless as Notley’s and as smug , self-interested and dismissive of any opinion other her own, the people of Alberta felt that being as stupid as that wasn’t stupid and idiotic enough. No, indeed, they elected a complete outrage of a jerk even further removed from reality and a proven social disaster as well. I am ashamed of the province suposedly part of Canada, but which in the end is interested only in itself. While ignoring all the money/bitumen flowing out to foreigners for measly royalties and being entirely happy merely with jobs raping the countryside even more, stupidity is the only word that fits. A 50% increase in production since 2010, somehow pumped away in existing pipelines, but another pipeline to allow producion of even more poison is what Alberta wants for essentially no return except a few jobs. And the worst part is – we as Canadians get to pay for the lunacy of a bigger pipeline, making us complicit in the horror of it all.

    Thanks for nothing, Alberta.

    • Bob Raynard

      May 6th, 2019

      I do wonder how universal your sentiment will be in the rest of Canada, Bill. Right wing commentators have taken great delight claiming the ‘social license’ Ms. Notley was pursuing didn’t work, but I have felt all along that the value of social license can’t be assessed until we have seen how things go without it.

    • Farmer Dave

      May 8th, 2019

      Bill Malcolm, you are the reason and other thinking the way you are is why Alberta is in deficit today.

    • Brogan

      May 9th, 2019

      Notley was the smartest politician this asshole province can produce, but still not ideologically pure enough for you.
      The left is crippled by this kind of thinking. When you hold progressive politicians to impossible standards it helps completely self serving fascists clean up in elections and destroy what people with actual empathy and evidence based policy have built. The vast majority of this province are dumb hicks offended by the idea of environmentalism. That humans can damage the world runs counter to their notions of their God’s existence and infallibility. Notley couldn’t dispel all that superstition and greed, and she had to appeal the church bitch voting block somehow, so pipelines. It wasn’t enough, but nothing is enough in a province so thoroughly dominated by Petro-Corp profiteers and their Stockholm syndromed underlings. Notley was never the problem. This province’s willfully ignorant, gullible, superstitious electorate is.
      Thanks for nothing, panic-monger.

  3. tom in ontario

    May 5th, 2019

    This Ontarian would like to see Ms. Notley heading up the Official Opposition in Ottawa one day. She’s experienced, intelligent and not intimidated by bully boy loudmouths. Prime Minister maybe?

  4. Paul

    May 5th, 2019

    It’s going to be painful to have to watch flashes of sanity from a far more capable leader, amid the daily evidence of what Albertans chose instead.
    They were probably not going to get a second term anyway, but she might at least have laid the groundwork for something transformational.
    If being Premier of Alberta means that you cannot even try, then she should be in another jurisdiction, and leave us to our mess.

  5. Geoffrey Pounder

    May 5th, 2019

    Notley: “a rollback of the climate leadership plan that secured our province federal approval of a pipeline, but also … created jobs and generated the most significant reduction of greenhouse gases in the history of our country.”

    Big Oil’s climate plan:
    A small carbon tax and fraudulent oilsands emissions cap in exchange for new export pipelines — enabling oilsands expansion and increasing emissions.
    Where does Notley’s claim about the “most significant reduction” of GHGs in Canada come from?

    The latest data is from 2017:
    “The latest national inventory report on emissions … showed 716 Mt of GHGs were produced in Canada in 2017, an INCREASE OF 8 MT from 2016.”

    “The newest edition of Canada’s National Inventory Report, covering data up to 2 years ago, shows that the oil & gas sector was responsible for 195 Mt of greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, UP 8 MT FROM 2016.”

    “…the 2019 National Inventory Report, covering data up to 2017, shows the oil & gas sector was the largest generator of carbon pollution that year.”

    “Pollution from fossil fuels in Canada continues to grow by staggering amounts, with the oilsands sector alone responsible for more carbon pollution than all of B.C. or Quebec in 2017, says the federal govt in its latest climate change report to the UN.
    The newest edition of Canada’s National Inventory Report, covering data up to 2 years ago, shows that the oil & gas sector was responsible for 195 Mt of greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, UP 8 MT FROM 2016.

    Grossly under-reported* oilsands emissions do nothing but climb. AB’s emissions show no sign of falling:
    Year:…….…….1990…..2005…..2012…..2013…..2014…..2015…..2016…..2017…..Change (%) 2005 to 2017
    GHGs (Mt): ….173…….231…….261…….271…….276…….275…….264…….273……………………………………18%

    When Ontario shuttered its coal-fired power plants, Ontario’s emissions fell significantly (22% between 2005 and 2017). When AB shuts down coal (2030?), those savings will be more than offset by rising oilsands emissions.

    *In April 2019, Environment Canada scientists confirmed that oilsands emissions (of all types) are grossly under-reported. Govt figures for oil & gas industry emissions are essentially fiction. Actual figures are much higher.
    What has Notley said about this? Not a word.

    In AB, both sides of the aisle are very “conservative” with the truth.

    • Kang

      May 7th, 2019

      Geoffrey: there is some poetic justice at work here. The other day poor Farmer B was complaining about abandoned gas wells on his land. Too bad so sad he did not save some money to clean up the mess. And the Cons did not save anything either. A few months ago when an analyst with the Alberta Energy Regulator told the public the truth that cleaning up the mess would amount to $270 billion, he was fired.
      Obviously the Dear Leader does not intend to pay to clean up the mess since he is giving corporations a $4.5 billion tax cut. So who is going to pay? My bet is Farmer B and his fellow landowners will be left holding the bag. Anybody want to buy $200 thousand worth of farm land with a $500 thousand clean up liability attached? Cash only please – no bank finance.

      • Rocky

        May 7th, 2019

        Hoo! That was a zinger!

      • Farmer Dave

        May 8th, 2019

        Kang, Farmer B does not have a clue what he talks about. He reads a comment in the media and takes it as fact for what he believes in. Farmer B needs to get out from under the dome and do some proper research before making comments.

  6. Ken Durham

    May 5th, 2019

    Well said, David.
    Most UCP voters I talk to think the election lost means Ms. Notley is powerless now and will go hide under the rock of obscurity they’ve been holding up for her.
    Naturally, being the side of the political spectrum those of lower intellect are more drawn to, they have completely misjudged her, just like they did their own leader.
    I have no doubt she and the rest of our NDP MLA’s are going to make every attempt of Kenneys to enrichen himself and his wealthy buddies with OUR earnings so difficult,if not outright impossible, he is going to be spending a lot more time in medical care treating stress and anxiety related issues.
    I hope some of them are brought on by his inability to create a private health care system and he is forced to sit and cool his heels in noisy walk-in clinic waiting rooms with the rest of us poors.

  7. David Grant

    May 5th, 2019

    Well at least people in Alberta got to enjoy an all too brief Orange Chinook while it latest. While I voted for the NDP twice, I have to say that I am disappointed at finding out the the New Democrats believed that the UCP was hard to stop that they didn’t pass as much legislation as they could in that time which is what Dave Barrett did between 1972-1975. It seems to me that Rachel tried far too hard to get the conservative voters to vote NDP which was never going to happen. Rachel could issued drone strikes on the pipeline protesters and the UCP supporters wouldn’t give her credit. I hope that the New Democrats take the time to do some soul searching while in opposition so they can perhaps takes the reigns of power sometime in the future. I am hoping that this won’t be a return to the old dynasty of the past, but I, like Duane Bratt, don’t think that this will happen. I just participated in a virtual town hall with my union, AUPE, about our concerns with the president. From the end of the town hall, I was reassured that my union has been preparing for the day when a UCP government would take power. While they won, it doesn’t mean the priorities that I have will go away. They will take up new battles as we carry on in the future.

  8. Dave

    May 6th, 2019

    Its going to be a while to the next election, so I suppose one could argue it may not matter so much what is said now, but one could also argue it does set the tone for the next few years.

    I think the next 3 to 6 months may be a bit frustrating for the new official opposition. Every new government generally gets some sort of honeymoon, where things that they do are not that scrutinized or maybe they are kept secret in some cases and they tend to blame any problems on the previous government. I don’t think the UCP will get a long honeymoon, ironically the anger and impatience they have so successfully stirred up may come back to bite them. I don’t think the voters will take blaming the previous government as an excuse for very long this time.

    Also, I think being in government will be harder than being in opposition. Its easy to run around the province talking about cutting spending and it may resonate with a lot of voters, until the consequences of it are felt say with their local schools or hospitals. The UCP will find out very soon it will get ownership of the deficit, so it will faces two unpleasant possibilities – first, cut spending and take the blame for the negative fall out from that or second, don’t and face the wrath of those conservative leaning voters who are focused on the deficit. It was easier in the past for Alberta Conservatives to rule with their unique combination of low taxes, low deficits and fairly high spending when oil prices were high, but those days are way behind us now and the next few years will be more challenging. Mr. Kenney may eventually come to regret the prize he chased for so hard and so eagerly. In tough times, many voters blame the government, whether fair or not, well guess what – now he is the government.


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