Alberta Politics
Andrew Weaver, leader of the Green Party of British Columbia, in his office in the B.C. Legislature in Victoria last week (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Andrew Weaver to Jason Kenney: ‘Every day you keep opening your mouth, more people come to the B.C. Greens!’

Posted on August 27, 2019, 1:53 am
8 mins

When it comes to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Andrew Weaver is not a fan.

This will not come as a complete surprise to anyone who follows either Alberta or British Columbia politics. Dr. Weaver, after all, is the leader of the B.C. Greens. He is also a climate scientist. In some circles, either of those factoids might be enough to make folks conclude they are natural enemies.

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

Just the same, when it comes to Premier Kenney, Dr. Weaver is scathing. “He’s just a bully,” he said dismissively in his office in the provincial Legislative Building in Victoria last week. “He’s a bombastic bully that I think is looking out for his own interests and not for the interests of Albertans or, frankly, broader Canadians.”

“I find him very confrontational. He’s not somebody that I personally think I can trust. Those are my views.”

Dr. Weaver compares Mr. Kenney’s vision unfavourably to that of Peter Lougheed — “an esteemed statesperson who … recognized that the wise approach to policy development would be to ensure that you put something aside in the good times.” Or Rachel Notley’s — “she was trying to navigate a very difficult situation whereby there are still a large number of Albertans who believe, and I would say foolishly, that their prosperity lies in extracting bitumen from the tarsands.”

A more apt comparison might be the leadership provided by Ralph Klein, Dr. Weaver suggests. “We start giving out Klein Bucks, frittering this away, and we now have a situation where there’s nothing left of the Alberta Heritage Fund.”

Anyway, Dr. Weaver continued, Mr. Kenney “wants to be prime minister of our country, and this is his pathway there. I think he’s actually taking Albertans back in time, which ultimately will not help them economically.”

The Green leader’s assessment of the future of a petroleum dependent Alberta is bleak: “Kinder Morgan Canada’s now divested itself. … Statoil’s gone. Total’s gone. Shell’s out. Where do I end?

“We know that the Alberta oilsands (require) some of the most expensive ways of getting oil out of the ground. We know that you must mix it with diluent to make it flow in pipes. We know that everybody in the world has discovered horizontal drilling technology, and we know, for example, that the Trans Mountain Pipeline was going to be approved to create a means to get Alberta diluted bitumen to the California refineries, but with the onset of horizontal fracking and the huge reserves in the Bakken shale, that market’s dried up.

Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

“So we have no market left for the Alberta diluted bitumen. And for (Mr. Kenney) to suggest that we have to somehow get it to tidewater for economic growth …” Uncharacteristically, Dr. Weaver momentarily runs out of words. He shakes his head.

“The fact that Mr. Kenney continues to think that there is prosperity in this direction is fiscally foolish. I would think a good Conservative government would recognize that conservative fiscal policy plans ahead. It doesn’t try to continue down this path of race-for-the-bottom economics where we essentially eliminate royalties for our Crown resource, where we basically give subsidies and tax credits to these multinationals — who are looking out for their shareholders, not necessarily for the people here.”

Now you may think, who cares what Dr. Weaver thinks? After all, he’s the leader of a party with only three members in the B.C. Legislature. Mr. Kenney, by comparison, is the leader of the government of Canada’s richest provincial government and, if recent history is a guide anyway, among the country’s most influential for all the whining to the contrary. Mr. Kenney’s United Conservative Party has an overwhelming majority.

Ah, but those are the sort of small ironies that make history interesting. The Green Party of B.C. may have only three MLAs, Dr. Weaver included, but for the moment it holds the balance of power in the B.C. Legislature. And the Greens have chosen to uphold the B.C. NDP over the B.C. Liberals, who, despite their name, are really conservatives not all that far removed from Mr. Kenney’s worldview.

There will be an election in B.C. on or before Oct. 16, 2021, and that may change. But if the current federal auguries mean anything, that could very well result in more power than less for the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, a provincial riding that shares territory with Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May’s Saanich-Gulf Islands electoral district.

Ms. May and the federal Greens, it would appear, are on something of a roll. This would not be a bad thing for the B.C. Greens, even if Ms. May and Dr. Weaver don’t see eye to eye on every issue.

Certainly the NDP and the B.C. Greens don’t share the same views on a variety of environmental issues — for example, the rush to drill for gas in northeastern B.C., which Dr. Weaver sees as a public relations sleight of hand, since “we’re actually drilling for the condensates,” used to dilute bitumen, to ship the stuff from Alberta’s oilsands back through B.C. and on to whatever markets can be found for it. And “there isn’t an international market for this stuff,” he asserts.

As Dr. Weaver sees it, in the 2017 B.C. election, which resulted in the current delicate but surprisingly stable balance in the Legislature, that province’s environmental leaders lined up behind the NDP as their best bet.

But if the Canadian Green Wave persists though the Oct. 21 federal election, Dr. Weaver wouldn’t be the first political leader to ride another politician’s coattails to greater success.

In the mean time, his advice to Mr. Kenney is to have at it. Go ahead, by all means continue “saying outrageous, completely ridiculous things.”

Because outside the Prairies, certainly in B.C., he believes, no one is paying the kind of attention Premier Kenney wants.

“We’re only getting stronger because of his outrageous behaviour,” Dr. Weaver concluded. “It brings people to us. So keep it up! Every day you keep opening your mouth, more people come to the B.C. Greens!”

8 Comments to: Andrew Weaver to Jason Kenney: ‘Every day you keep opening your mouth, more people come to the B.C. Greens!’

  1. the salamander

    August 27th, 2019

    .. a fine post – as always! Dr Weaver is capturing our attention more and more. Though we currently live in Ontario, I follow Alberta and British Columbia carefully & have family in both provinces – I have lived & worked in both as well & set much of my fiction (unpublished) in both. Sadly we don’t see your work in mainstream media.. but then, mainstream media often seems to deliver more and more superficial ‘news’ on polls, personalities, gossip, tragedy.. and weak advertising. The Tyee avoids this by being real.. and there are some other gems out there. Keep up the fine work & compliments to your key associates as well!

  2. Simon Renouf

    August 27th, 2019

    Thank you DC, a great column. I think the most important point made by Dr Weaver is his assertion that there is no Asian market for dilbit. Pipeline promoters have asked us to assume, without demonstrating, that there is such a market. The available evidence suggests otherwise. China seems to have no difficulty importing large quantities of high quality crude from Africa, Russia and the Middle East. I have never seen a pipeline proponent describe the capacity or interest of Asian refiners to handle dilbit. Dr Weaver seems to be right when he says there is no such market.

  3. Geoffrey Pounder

    August 27th, 2019

    “the Trans Mountain Pipeline was going to be approved to create a means to get Alberta diluted bitumen to the California refineries, but with the onset of horizontal fracking and the huge reserves in the Bakken shale, that market’s dried up”

    California’s complex high-conversion heavy oil refineries prefer heavy oil, especially at a discount. Indeed, California seems to be the primary destination for AB dilbit exported via the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
    With the greatest concentration of heavy-oil refineries in the world, the U.S. Gulf Coast oil complex sources heavy oil primarily from Mexico, Venezuela (until recently), Colombia, and Alberta. Meanwhile, the U.S. is boosting exports of its own fracked light oil to Asia.
    “Can Canada help fill the heavy oil shortage on the U.S. Gulf Coast?”

    “We’re only getting stronger because of [Kenney’s] outrageous behaviour”

    “Progressive” leaders like Notley and Trudeau are far more effective in advancing Big Oil’s agenda. Notley’s signal achievement was to “push country-wide support for pipelines from 40% to 70%.” Something Kenney could never do. (And she’s still at it.) Jason Kenney’s bluster alienates people, leaving him impotent and isolated. Of course, their views on oilsands expansion and new export pipelines are practically indistinguishable.

  4. Earl and Graham

    August 27th, 2019

    Weaver is not CLIMATE SCIENTIST but only a modeller. There is a big difference.

  5. Joe walley

    August 27th, 2019

    B C biggest export is coal 16 per cent of the wealth of the green B C

  6. Dave

    August 27th, 2019

    I suspect if you took a poll of Albertans on Andrew Weaver he would probably poll even lower than his party. I don’t think Albertans really much care for what he thinks.

    Perhaps it is true that the strident positions of the UCP and Federal Conservatives bolster support for the Greens and vice versa. There was a recent Federal poll with strange fluctuations of support where Conservative went up, while Green support went down and the other parties did not fluctuate much, which this sounds very odd is perhaps not. The Green Party is often described as leftist, but that is not entirely correct – a Conservative concerned about the environment may be as inclined or perhaps more so than a Liberal or NDPer with similar concerns to vote for the Greens. A better description would for the Greens more likely be a centrist party with a focus on environmental issues, or at least that seems to be how they try to sometimes portray themselves.

    As much as I would like to give Kenney credit for the rise of the Greens, I suspect the credit goes more of the other way. The Greens are becoming more popular in Canada, due to an increasing world wide concern about the environment. Kenney got elected in Alberta in part due to the fear many here have of this change. So I think the converse is probably more true – every time Andrew Weaver speaks or acts, support for the UCP and Kenney goes up (at least in some parts of Alberta).

    • Farmer Brian

      August 29th, 2019

      Dave I certainly agree on most of your points. Federally Green support is centred on Vancouver Island but I do think progressive voters who were hoodwinked into voting for Justin Trudeau in 2015 election won’t be fooled again.

      As for Andrew Weaver, he is probably a very smart man, but I can’t support any party that believes the only solution is to switch to intermittent power sources such as wind and solar as our sole source of power. I have no problem if they want to use solar and wind when available backed up by natural gas now and hopefully nuclear in the future. But to promote a false in my opinion narrative that we can power our society 100% with solar and wind is just ridiculous. And yes Dave people like Andrew Weaver and Tsepora Berman caused to vote UCP in the last election. Enjoy your day.


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