Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg (Photo: Anders Hellberg, Creative Commons).

Apparently uncertain how to respond to news Greta Thunberg will soon visit Alberta, the Kenney Government seems to have opted for adolescent sarcasm as an appropriate counter to the 16-year-Old Swedish environmental activist’s message.

“We trust that Ms. Thunberg will recognize Alberta’s leading human rights and environmental standards,” said Premier Jason Kenney’s spokesperson, Christine Myatt, in a statement yesterday. “Especially in comparison to oil-producing dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela – which she will presumably visit next …” (Emphasis added.)

Kenney Government spokesperson Christine Myatt (Photo: Linked-in).

Ms. Myatt also suggested Ms. Thunberg should visit “major growing emitters like China.”

Such a strategy doesn’t give the impression grownups are in charge here in Alberta, and appears to ape U.S. President Donald Trump’s similarly sarcastic response to Ms. Thunberg’s grim speech on climate change to the United Nations Climate Action Summit last month.

“She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future,” President Trump tweeted. “So nice to see!”

Still, it’s not as bad as a complete hysterical meltdown. I suppose we Albertans should count our blessings.

Kenney Government chief tweeter Matt Wolf (Photo: Linked-in).

Ms. Myatt’s one-liner was echoed, unsurprisingly, by Matt Wolf, the $200,000-per-year Kenney Court Tweeter, between tweets insulting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Rockefeller Family, presumably intended to shore up the government’s taxpayer-supported federal election campaign and its alternative reality conspiracy theories.

Even Energy Minister Sonya Savage, said to be one of the adults in Premier Kenney’s inner circle, weighed in with a similar if milder line, tweeting that Ms. Thunberg should “learn how Albertans are proud to produce energy the world needs with the highest environmental, social, and governance standards. Then she should visit other energy producing countries …”

For her part, Ms. Thunberg has not indicated when she will arrive here, or by what mode of transportation, although one imagines she is enjoying the furor she is already provoking in Alberta’s say-ethical-not-fungible oil circles. Neither has she yet responded to the Kenney government’s sarcastic cheap shots.

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Presumably when she does, she will remind the UCP’s supporters that even if China can be persuaded to buy and burn bitumen from Alberta, that will nevertheless result in more carbon in the atmosphere for which both Canada and China will share responsibility.

As for the Kenney Government’s commentary about Canada’s genuinely admirable commitment to protecting human rights, it is in significant part the result of our 1982 Constitution, which impacts Canada’s political reality today largely because of the commitment during that decade of prime minister Pierre Trudeau and his Liberal Government.

Moreover, we should remember that the Constitution’s Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in particular was unpopular with many hard-core Conservatives in the 1980s. In fairness, Charter opponents included some non-conservatives, and Progressive Conservative premiers Bill Davis of Ontario and Richard Hatfield of New Brunswick supported the prime minister.

Opponents argued, quite rightly, that the Charter undermined the supremacy of Parliament. And a good thing that was too!

In addition, it is worth remembering that in 1998, Mr. Kenney demanded Premier Ralph Klein use the Charter’s Notwithstanding Clause to overturn a Supreme Court of Canada ruling making it illegal to fire employees on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

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

And in 2001, Stephen Harper, who would later become Conservative prime minister and after that the UCP Government’s eminence grise, helped draft the notorious Firewall Manifesto urging Mr. Klein to weaken Alberta’s ties to Confederation.

While the Firewall letter, signed by a group of right-wing activists associated with the University of Calgary, called for Alberta to take such measures as replacing the RCMP with an easier-to-control provincial police force, dumping the Canada Pension Plan, and creating a U.S.-style private health care system, it was undoubtedly inspired by hostility to the elder Mr. Trudeau’s successful constitutional project.

To Mr. Klein’s great credit, he ignored both Mr. Kenney’s and Mr. Harper’s suggestions, placing them in the constitutional trash bucket, where they belonged.

So when Conservatives like Mr. Kenney and Ms. Savage harp on Canada’s enviable human rights record to visiting activists like Ms. Thunberg, we need to keep in mind that many of them have opposed it every step of the way.

Moreover, when they sarcastically advise Ms. Thunberg to visit autocratic petro-states like Russia, and theocratic petro-states like Saudi Arabia and Iran, these places are very much the model for some of the Alberta separatists they have been encouraging, not to mention those oil billionaires who apparently think holding environmental convictions is the equivalent of treason and ought to be punished accordingly.

Ms. Thunberg, meanwhile, appears content to give the Kenney Government a few days to work itself into a full-blown swivet before she announces her Alberta itinerary.

Join the Conversation


  1. This is a great opportunity for Kenney to show off his Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction Fund projects.

  2. What does “Canada’s enviable human rights record” have to do with AB’s deplorable greenhouse gas emissions record?
    Does planet Earth respond differently to our “ethical” emissions? Does Mother Earth grant Canadians a reprieve from global warming? Are we spared from wildfires, lethal heat waves, drought, wildfire, floods, sea level rise, coastal erosion, warming oceans, melting sea ice, etc.?

    Meanwhile, the NDP responds with empty praise for its own “nation-leading” climate plan with fictional emissions reductions and its support for working people producing “responsible” oil and gas.

    What is “responsible” oil and gas? How does it differ from “ethical” oil and gas? Does planet Earth respond differently to “responsible” emissions? Isn’t it the same black tar goop that we are digging up and shipping to China? Isn’t pollution still endangering the health of indigenous people in the region? Aren’t caribou still being extirpated? Aren’t wolves still being shot and poisoned? Don’t most of the profits of this hellish enterprise still flow out of the country to foreign investors?

    The NDP’s response is just as denialist and condescending than the UCP’s. In fact, it’s worse, because we no longer have industry critics in the Legislature. No one heeding the science. Notley & Co. took the progressive, science-based option off the table. Albertans now have to choose between bad and worse.

  3. I just hope Brian Lilley can restrain himself while dissing the heavy security that will be required for this visit to …. Alberta

  4. And then, there is this today:
    “Firms ignoring climate crisis will go bankrupt, says Mark Carney. Bank of England governor warns of financial collapse linked to climate emergency.”
    Remember when Mark Carney was the Governor of the Bank of Canada? He kept chirping at the Canadian corporations who were not trickling down their wealth with investments, employment, new business, etc. They were sitting on years and years, courtesy of too low corporate tax rates by both the Lierals and the Conservatives,, of some $600 billion.
    I wonder if the Kenney UCP, et al, be just as snotty toward Mark Carney as they are toward Greta Thunberg. One would think, that if money really talks, they would be listening to both.

  5. This will be Jason Kenney’s first opportunity to embarrass our province on the global stage. I am sure he won’t disappoint.

  6. Alberta has the “highest environmental, social, and governance standards” according to Ms. Savage. I call BS. Effective impunity of the fossil energy gang to take private land does not speak to high governance standards. Leaving an unfunded multi-billion dollar clean up liability does not speak to any kind of environmental standards nor does ignoring the high cancer rates among down-stream first nations people. The thuggish reaction of the fossil energy people to even the mildest of criticisms says all you need to know about the social standards in Alberta. The fact Kenney has funded a star tribunal witch hunt into critics of the fossil energy sector speaks for itself.

    The failed Notley administration and the Kenney administration just demonstrate how the Government of Alberta has been captured by the fossil energy crowd, just as Dr. Taft, among many others, contended.

    1. KANG: What failed Notley administration? There is only 2 big failures. The Alberta PCs, after Peter Lougheed left office, and now the UCP. It was the Alberta PCs, starting with Ralph Klein, who allowed oil companies in Alberta to get away with not cleaning up their messes, leaving Albertans with a $260 billion bill to cleanup abandoned oil wells in Alberta. How is Jason Kenney and the UCP dealing with this? They are not. They are ignoring it, like they do will all the other unsurpassed Conservative scandals.

      1. What failed Notley administration? Gosh, they lost the last election didn’t they? The NDP did absolutely zero to end the industry capture of the Government of Alberta and its regulatory systems. That I would say is a fundamental and profound failure. So I would say “failed” is a fair description.

        1. KANG: The NDP were defeated in the last provincial election because most Albertans prefer to return to unsurpassed Conservative corruption, and Jason Kenney cheated to become Alberta’s premier. How will he look when the R.C.M.P are done investigating him for election related crimes?

          1. The NDP did zero to change the total industry capture of the Government of Alberta. The NDP also failed to explain why the glory days of the Klein administration are gone forever. This paved the way for Kenney and the UCP to peddle false hope and cast blame where it is not deserved.

            I can think of at least a dozen other critical NDP failures, but I will not do the UCP’s homework for them.

  7. And just for fun, here’s a quote from a news story in Monday’s Guardian:

    “. . . energy experts are adjusting their forecasts as clean energy technologies, including wind and solar power, emerge faster than predicted and at costs that pose a direct threat to coal-fired electricity and combustion-engine vehicles.

    In the UK, renewable energy projects generated more electricity over the last quarter than fossil fuels for the first time since the country’s first public power plant fired up in 1882. It is a marked change from only 10 years ago, when gas and coal generated more than 70% of the UK’s electricity.”

  8. I think you are probably correct, the UCP and/or their war room is going to step in it big time. Conservatives like to attack others they don’t agree with and they have had some political success, at least in Alberta and in a few other places in western Canada in demonizing environmentalists. Their message is very simple and is designed to appeal to those people concerned about their jobs or the energy based regional economy – those environmentalists will take away your jobs. I think even in Alberta their is a growing concern about environment and climate change, but when pitted against an immediate concern of getting a pay cheque next month and paying your bills, its not hard to figure out which concern triumphs. The Green Party and others have made reassuring, but unfortunately vague and not completely credible proposals about replacing jobs in the energy sector with green jobs, but the need to be much more concrete about this if they are to convince many Albertans.

    However, the Conservatives have their own bigger weaknesses. It is hard to defend oil that has a higher carbon footprint these days and bringing up Saudi Arabia or whoever just misses the point when the issue is carbon emissions. So in response to the Greta threat, the Alberta UCP so far appears to be both condescending and clueless. That sort of message may play ok in Fort McMurray, where perhaps people don’t want to think too much about carbon emissions, but will not play well in the larger Canadian, or if Greta comes here, international stage. The Alberta government and its war room will be shown to be hopelessly out of step with the rest of the world.

    There is an old saying that generals have a tendency to try fight the last war over again and in this case our general Kenney seems determined to prove that to be true. The sort of misinformation and half truths that might have worked somewhat better ten or fifteen years ago will no longer work in an era of heightened concern about climate and carbon emissions. As for your half baked theories about conspiracies, Mr. Kenney, the rest of the world will just laugh at you and by extension probably laugh at Alberta for electing such a twit, so it would be best to shut about them when Greta comes here.

  9. The irony of course is the similarity between Kenney and Extinction Rebellion. Both funded by oil money in the case of extinction rebellion old oil money. Both groups seem to want authoritarian control to punish those that question them. And both want access, in Kenney’s case already have, to taxpayer money for their cause.
    Seeming to play right into Kenney’s rhetoric who thought it would be a good idea to bring in a foreign foundation funded speaker to bash the tar sands? This just gives ammunition to Kenney and his ilk and it is hard to argue against because the facts are right out in the open. Probably should have given this a little thought, yet another failure of the environmental movement. Real urgent environmental issues will be ignored as a result of this decision, thanks for nothing. As an added bonus we have to tolerate the endless references to Suzuki’s daughters 1992 speech. Again hard to argue against given the facts being right in our faces again.
    It is almost like these professional environmentalists don’t want to solve anything just continue protesting and drawing a salary.

      1. If nothing else Dave seems to be reaching a diverse crowd, which one will report him to the un-Albertan committee?

  10. This is the worst written article. So misleading. It’s the same abuse ‘toonberg’ receives from her antifa parents. Good thing albertans are not children and your article is seen as a joke.

    1. Yeah, except that Albertans are indeed children, and badly behaved ones at that. They are whiny, selfish, uninformed, and ungrateful.

  11. Socialists are using children to scare you into comunisum with fake climate a scam to take your freedom.This is 100%
    Child abuse.

    1. Yeah, and fascist right-wingers are luxuriating in oil money to deny science that proves they are killing 100% of the world’s children by destroying their habitat.

      Which of the two is real child abuse? One is fictitious abuse while the other outright genocide.

  12. Sure hope none of the nay-sayers are driving in cars (or buses, trains, airplanes or boats)…cause if you are, you’re part of the problem. Using fossil fuels and then complaining that they aren’t produced clean enough for you to use is contradictory.

    If there was no demand, there would be no production.

  13. Wow! That’s quite the editorial! You put a lot of stock in what a 16 year-old high school dropout has to say. She must have some qualifications!

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