Alberta Politics
Charlie Angus, NDP MP for Timmins-James Bay (Photo: Facebook).

What should we make of the post-election Edmonton Journal editorial urging the UCP to keep the carbon tax?

Posted on May 25, 2019, 2:50 am
5 mins

I suppose we should never attribute to mischief what can be explained by incompetence, but what else are we to make of the Edmonton Journal’s earnest editorial yesterday urging Alberta Premier Jason Kenney not to pull the plug on the carbon tax?

Killing the provincial carbon tax is one political promise that will be better to break,” the Journal’s four-member editorial board piously intoned.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau (Photo: Twitter).

Not that this is an unreasonable sentiment on its face. Given the federal carbon tax that will likely soon replace the provincial version about to be axed by Mr. Kenney’s United Conservative Party government, it’s true enough, as the editorial’s authors opined, that “there are no advantages to be gained that would justify the bureaucratic nightmare of switching from one carbon tax to another slightly different one.”

But surely even the great minds of the Journal’s editorial board understand that Mr. Kenney would be laughed out of the room if he reneged on this promise just now. Even die-hard Alberta New Democrats would have chuckled.

Now consider the collective wisdom of the members of the board on April 13, mere hours before the provincial election that brought the UCP to power.

On the topic of the carbon tax, they argued that while it might have been a “gutsy” play by the NDP, it didn’t work. “Rachel Notley’s carrot approach on the pipeline file was a well-meaning endeavour but it failed to produce results. Now, it’s time to try the stick.”

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

“Now is the time Alberta, and by extension the rest of Canada, should be capitalizing on that resource to help bankroll a greener future,” they reasoned, rather illogically if one considers the carbon footprint of the oilsands, but whatever.

After heaping praise on Mr. Kenney, the Journal’s editorialists concluded: On Tuesday, voters should choose the UCP.

Whether or not they were influenced by the efforts of the Journal’s editorialists, Alberta’s voters in their wisdom took their advice.

Now, consider the timing of these events:

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

On May 17, it was revealed by a sharp-eyed Edmonton blogger that Postmedia, the corporate owner of the Journal, had signed up a well-connected Conservative to lobby the new UCP Government to let it be part of its promised $30-million “war room” fossil-fuel public relations operation.

By May 18, critics of Postmedia were pointing out there is something remarkably wrong with the notion of a corporation with its hand out for a bailout from the federal government’s $600-million plan to put the legacy newspaper industry on life support to also be lobbying for a job in the ministry of propaganda of a political party opposed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and all his works.

By the May Long weekend, which immediately followed, the story had grown sturdy legs and was being reported in similar terms nationwide.

On May 23, Thursday, the National Observer – the independent online news site that does a better job of covering the Canadian fossil fuel industry than all of Postmedia put together – reported that NDP Ethics Critic Charlie Angus had written Finance Minister Bill Morneau to argue “Postmedia’s potential participation in the war room should disqualify it from government support, since it would make a mockery of independent journalism.”

On May 24, the Journal’s editorial appeared, apparently a lone, brave, independent voice calling on the UCP not to kill the carbon tax after all.

Coincidence?

6 Comments to: What should we make of the post-election Edmonton Journal editorial urging the UCP to keep the carbon tax?

  1. Expat Albertan

    May 25th, 2019

    Sigh…I remember when the Edmonton Journal was a good newspaper. Of course I also remember when Conservatives where concerned about acid rain and the ozone layer, and actually did something about it. Good times…

    Reply
  2. ronmac

    May 25th, 2019

    Most of us have made that trip to the altar to tie the knot only to be sidetracked at the last minute by a tempting honeypot.

    Postmedia has been lobbying Ottawa for quite some time now for some sort of newspaper subsidy. But then Jason Kenney’s war room tasty treat appeared out of the blue. So it’s only natural the media hound dogs would like to get their chops into as many yummy morsels as possible, preferably at the same time. It’s only human nature. Life’s a buffet table.

    Reply
  3. Andy Marshall

    May 25th, 2019

    Nice joining of the dots in a tawdry, cynical and absurd chain of events. Simple-minded me posted a “like” for the Journal editorial. My apologies.

    Reply
  4. Scotty on Denman

    May 25th, 2019

    Well, maybe it’s mere coincidence.

    But a certain sharp-eyed blogger probably knows it ain’t.

    It’s all about perception, isn’t it?

    Reply
  5. Dave

    May 26th, 2019

    Well isn’t it interesting that the Journal chose just now to come out with that position on the carbon tax. Wasn’t this a big issue in Alberta politics and a key UCP policy since it was formed? Wasn’t the Federal commitment to put something in place, where provinces didn’t implement or renege on their own carbon taxes, fairly clear for a long time? Has the Journal editorial board been in a Rip Van Winkle sleep for the last year or two and they just woke up, or did Kenney cast some sort of spell on them that was somehow just broken?

    I suspect the Journal and perhaps the Herald will make some effort to show some independence from the UCP for the next year or two, now that the election is safely over. Wasn’t it the same way things often operated under the PC’s? After the election, the main newspapers would sometimes savagely criticize the government for a few years, but grow more silent or supportive as the election approached and then often come out with an endorsement just when needed. Just like a dog that makes a great show of barking at innocent passer by’s during the day, but is oddly silent at night. I suppose the Journal is not quite a total lap dog perhaps, but not a great watch dog either.

    I suspect they have also been stung by criticism of their coverage leading up to the election and now Kenney’s possible plan to reward them with cash to run the energy propaganda war room has further undermined their independence and credibility so now they have to make a show of independence .

    Reply

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