Alberta Politics
Sixteen-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg in Calgary yesterday (Photo: Twitter).

Gretamania strikes Alberta! Be afraid! Be very afraid!

Posted on October 17, 2019, 1:42 am
6 mins

Be afraid. Be very afraid. Gretamania appears to have struck Alberta!

Yesterday, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who is apparently the environmental movement’s answer to St. Joan of Arc with a planetary mass following to suit, was spotted in Calgary.

Alberta Environment Minister Jason Nixon says Ms. Thunberg doesn’t understand Alberta (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

This wasn’t like your usual Alberta Elvis sighting, either. There was an actual photograph taken and circulated on social media.

Apparently unconcerned by a stern warning from the would-be separatists at Wexit Alberta that she could be charged with defamatory libel for speaking ill of the oil industry, the young Swedish environmental activist will lead a lunch-hour march tomorrow from a downtown Edmonton park to the nearby Alberta Legislature.

Ms. Thunberg and her supporters will gather at 11 a.m. at Beaver Hills House Park on Jasper Avenue and set out for at 11:30 for the Legislature six blocks away, where they’ll rally until 1 p.m.

Climate Justice Edmonton said in a news release the group expects hundreds of Ms. Thunberg’s enthusiastic supporters to turn up.

With anti-environmental trolls in full cry, the Wexit crowd vowing “our team will monitor Ms. Thunberg’s statements closely and report any suspected violations to the appropriate law enforcement authorities,” and former Kudatah guy George Clark busy on social media trying to drum up a noisy truck convoy to toot their air horns impotently the visitor, one supposes police will have to be on hand to maintain order too.

Former Kudatah guy George Clark is trying to organize a last-minute truck rally to protest Ms. Thunberg’s protest (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Well, if the cops won’t help, maybe the Wexiters can email the Government inquisition snitch line. Chances of an actual charge of defamatory libel, a rarely used Criminal Code offence, being laid in circumstances like these are so remote that they are practically on holiday in Antarctica. As for the possibility of a conviction, that would be even farther out – say, somewhere in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

With the Alberta Government’s War Room — pardon me, its un-FOIP-able Canadian Energy Centre Ltd. wholly owned private subsidiary — not quite organized, the United Conservative Party response to Ms. Thunberg’s visit has so far been fairly low key, often incoherent, and occasionally whiny.

Environment Minister Jason Nixon got stuck with standing in for Premier Jason Kenney, who is scheduled Friday to be visiting a power plant near Edmonton switching from coal to natural gas. A big guy said to have thrown his weight around, Mr. Nixon was reduced to whinging that Ms. Thunberg doesn’t understand Alberta, a dubious proposition that doesn’t particularly help the government’s crusade to Make Oil Great Again.

The unauthorized Star-Metro wrap (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

“I think when you look at some of Miss Thunberg’s comments, she doesn’t understand our province … she doesn’t understand the reality that to accomplish climate change goals worldwide, we need Alberta as part of that solution,” he complained to reporters on Tuesday.

Mr. Nixon didn’t exactly explain how that is supposed to work seeing as the UCP has just dismantled almost all of the previous NDP government’s carbon-reduction policies intended to help achieve such a goal.

Other UCP leaders seem to have been hoping to avoid having to meet and be lectured by the young woman who is possibly the most prominent 16-year-old on the planet at the moment.

Setting the bar low, the Alberta government has also been issuing statements arguing that since we don’t abuse human rights here as badly as they do in Saudi Arabia, our greenhouse gas emissions ought not to be counted. “We trust that Ms. Thunberg will recognize Alberta’s leading human rights and environmental standards,” a Kenney spokesperson said last weekend when the young activist’s trip was announced. “… Especially in comparison to oil-producing dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela – which she will presumably visit next,” the aide added sarcastically.

As Alberta political columnist Graham Thomson observed in iPolitics, “these are the same arguments the province’s Conservative governments used for years. Without success.”

It will be interesting to see if the UCP communications brain trust’s intentionally irritating I-Love-Alberta-Oil placards are still pasted in the Legislature’s windows tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Star Metro newspapers in Calgary and Edmonton were surely displeased yesterday to discover someone supporting Ms. Thunberg’s visit had opened some of their unlocked newspaper boxes and wrapped each copy of yesterday’s edition in a lookalike four-pager proclaiming “change is coming” and touting a green new deal.

A banner on the front cover of the unauthorized wrap asked readers to “join the movement” and directed them to our-time.ca, so at least Star management has someone to whom to complain.

19 Comments to: Gretamania strikes Alberta! Be afraid! Be very afraid!

  1. Dave

    October 17th, 2019

    I suspect Mr. Nixon probably doesn’t understand Greta either, or more importantly doesn’t get (or want to get), what she and many others are trying to say.

    Mr. Kenney, who is no slouch at communication and mobilizing supporters probably realizes he has met his match in Greta, may spend the day hiding with the covers pulled over his head. Oh, to be outdone by a 16 year old girl!

    I am slightly surprised the Alberta Government didn’t come up with a better message than the tired old one – Saudi Arabia bad on human rights. Perhaps I shouldn’t be, as a politician Kenney as usual is playing mostly to a local pro energy crowd, who may be willing to over look that the real problem is carbon emisions and how good or bad a country is in human rights has no effect on that.

    Unfortunately our government’s less than nimble response will probably hurt our reputation further in the eyes of the rest of the country and the rest of the world.

    The one thing however Mr. Nixon actually got right is the world does want and need Alberta to be part of the solution. Too bad that everything the UCP has done so far has kept us as part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

    Reply
  2. Jim

    October 17th, 2019

    Perhaps George Clark should learn what it means to live in a free and open society, everyone gets the right to speak. If you don’t agree then come up with a counter argument, trying to silent those you disagree with is unacceptable. His response is no better than those that yell about climate deniers and call for their arrest.

    Reply
    • Death and Gravity

      October 17th, 2019

      Interesting equivalence you’ve got going there. Let’s explore it a little further.

      I suppose you will stipulate that Cigarette smoking is dangerous and that normal use will kill about 50% of the users, through cancer, COPD, heart disease or stroke?

      I suppose you will stipulate further that the tobacco industry instigated a concerted campaign to dispute these facts, using corrupt “experts for hire” to dispute the science, spread uncertainty and doubt, in order to prevent or delay concerted public action to curb the use of tobacco.

      I imagine you fill confess further that this campaign was very effective for several decades, and that the number of deaths that occurred as result of their delaying tactics must number in the tens of millions.

      That being the case, what would be the suitable punishment for those who knowingly caused those deaths, in your view?

      And if it were to turn out, as it has turned out, that the fossil fuels industry has used exactly the same playbook to delay action on anthropogenic climate warming, how should the consequences of that delay fall, and upon whom?

      Reply
      • Jim

        October 18th, 2019

        An interesting comment and of course you have every right to express it. Your tangent, as interesting as it is, falls into the trap that many fall into when trying to argue a point. That is of course equating those that don’t agree with you with a great evil. Examine what this equivalency will actually accomplish, what will labelling those that disagree with you as evil and going further dehumanizing them accomplish? In our last provincial election the NDP was equated with communists, I have personally been called a communist for supporting them. Now if you look at the facts the NDP and Notley are not communists they aren’t even very good socialists. What did this equivalency lead to? A very divided province for sure and the creation of a private corporation that can harass Albertans based on their associations. That will be okay though because these are evil communists, socialists, or foreign funded agents.
        Finally because I lean towards pessimism the individuals and families that made the real money from fossil fuels aren’t going to go to jail. Sure some lessor fall guys and gals may see jail time but no one of significant consequence.

        Reply
  3. J.E. Molnar

    October 17th, 2019

    The best part of “Gretamania” will be the international media coverage generated by her visit. Alberta’s environmental ineptitude under the UCP will be on full display — not to mention conservative inhospitality towards Greta Thunberg.

    That international coverage just won’t just be another well-earned notch in the embarrassment belt for Jason Kenney’s climate denying caucus of UCP environmental knuckle-daggers, who cowardly chose not to welcome and meet with her, but likely an even bigger abasement for Alberta if, as Climenhaga reports, Kudatah Clark and his redneck yellow-vester posse show up to try and disrupt the “climate strike.” Over to you and CNN, Wolf!

    Reply
  4. Kang

    October 17th, 2019

    Well not all the results are in, but I have faith the UCP response to Ms. Thunberg will continue to be as sophomoric and patronizing as predicted.

    However, even a visit from Ms. Thunberg cannot make Alberta look any more idiotic in the eyes of the world than it already does. Norway with only 40% of Alberta fossil production, and most of that at the bottom of the North Sea, has over a trillion dollars US in its heritage fund. Those socialist Norwegians are so poor that over 50% of its new cars sales are electrics and they have a fully funded cradle to grave welfare state. Alberta has billions of dollars in unfunded environmental liabilities and the biggest thing “net-zero” around here is our Heritage Fund.

    Some reports have Canada as the fourth largest exporter of oil in the world.
    http://www.worldstopexports.com/worlds-top-oil-exports-country/
    Since most of that is from tar, you would think Alberta could muster a more rational response to the climate catastrophe instead of squawking like chickens at the sound of a young woman telling the truth.

    Reply
  5. Simon Renouf

    October 17th, 2019

    Let’s be there to give Ms Thunberg a respectful welcome. Meanwhile, DC, if I may I will remind your readers that this Saturday is the 35th anniversary of Grant Notley’s death. Grant died on October 19, 1984 in a commercial plane crash while flying from Edmonton to Grande Prairie, heading home for the weekend to his constituency in Spirit River – Fairview.

    Reply
    • anon

      October 17th, 2019

      Re: Notley plane crash. Thank you for the reminder. Carol Shaben’s book “Into the Abyss” documents that event and is worth reading.

      Reply
      • Jerrymacgp

        October 19th, 2019

        Read that book … even though the event happened before I moved to Alberta from Nova Scotia, it still felt close to home because of the names & places in it, many of which are familiar to anyone who has lived in the Swan City as long as we have (31 years & counting … ). As I recall, the actual crash happened at High Prairie, about 2 hours NE of here. One of the survivors was Hon. Larry Shaben — Ms Shaben’s father — Minister in the PC Cabinet at the time, and the first Muslim Cabinet Minister in Canadian history. Another was a low-level miscreant in RCMP custody, who ended up being the hero of the day (or night).

        Well worth a read.

        Reply
        • David Climenhaga

          October 20th, 2019

          Jerry: You are correct about the site of the crash, near High Prairie. I have amended the story to read that the scheduled destination was Peace River, which is what a news story at the time said. DJC

          Reply
  6. Doug

    October 17th, 2019

    Seems to be a non-event. Her stop in Calgary attracted little media coverage or attention by anybody. Too early to call what is happening in Edmonton today, but seems rather blah as well.

    I disagree about the AB government response. So far, it has been muted, consistent with previous messaging and binary true:
    -AB does have stronger environmental protections and human rights records than other major energy producers, with the possible exception of the US. That being said, the bar has been set extraordinarily low as most major energy producers are despotic regimes. Less AB supply would mean more supply for those jurisdictions, so their records are relevant
    -heavy oil has a higher environment footprint than does light oil and always will. The per barrel footprint has shrunken considerably and is similar to lower than that of other heavy oil production, which is mostly in Venezuela, Mexico and Saudi. Light oil is not a complete substitute for heavy as it cannot satisfy demand for all products

    Greta will likely say Alberta is not doing enough, but offer no suggestions as to what could be done differently. Oilsands producers are already incented to reduce GHG emissions as reducing energy inputs into a barrel of production would also reduce the cost of that barrel. Other than leaving it in the ground, what could be different? Leaving it in the ground may reduce Canadian emissions but would do nothing globally as some other producer would step in. For this reason, any discussion linking energy production to climate change is a red herring. The only way to reduce emissions is to reduce demand. The Canadian attitude has become so distorted. Why is there no talk of reducing automobile or aerospace production out east to combat climate change? Or reducing immigration targets to keep more people in low GHG footprint countries? The simple reason is that Alberta is an easy target.

    Reply
    • Murphy

      October 18th, 2019

      Tremendous parody of somebody regurgitating Used Car Party talking points provided by the oil industry! That bit about the US and their environemental and human rights records was a real side-splitter! This kind of edgy satire is just what progressive folks need, as they can sometimes come off as a little dour. Goes with the territory, I suppose, when dealing with the power of corporate entities like Exxon and British Petroleum and their historical function as a single entity with the folks who blew up Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan and kept the House of Saud happily ensconced in their palaces while the Petro-dollars got recycled through British and American (not to mention human-rights-loving Canadian) arms exports. Love your dry sense of humour!

      Reply
    • Expat Albertan

      October 18th, 2019

      A federal carbon tax will take care of all those cars out east and the immigrants storming our shores. If that is your policy goal, you should support it.

      Reply
  7. Anonymous

    October 17th, 2019

    We can’t eat money. If the world is damaged beyond repair, because of the way we are destroying it, we are screwed. Those who compare environmentalists to communists are really ignorant. One other point. Starting with Ralph Klein, the Alberta PCs allowed oil companies in Alberta to get away with not cleaning up their messes. Albertans now have to pay $260 billion to cleanup abandoned oil wells in Alberta. How will the UCP deal with that?

    Reply
  8. David in Sask

    October 17th, 2019

    Nixon says “she doesn’t understand the reality that to accomplish climate change goals worldwide, we need Alberta as part of that solution,”

    When is Alberta going to start being part of the solution?

    Reply
  9. alan lloyd

    October 17th, 2019

    The fat lady has already begun the final aria, yet the fat man holding court in the legislature is unable to tune in, either; due to faulty software, faulty hardware, or a combination of both deficits. Whereas, for example:

    “Accordingly, the research calculates that the long-term break-even oil price for gasoline to remain competitive as a source of mobility is USD 9 – 10/barrel, and for diesel USD 17 – 19/barrel.”–https://investors-corner.bnpparibas-am.com/investment-themes/sri/petrol-eroci-petroleum-age/

    And:

    “In their 11th annual review of oil sands supply costs, the Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI) pegs breakeven costs at $43.31/bbl for SAGD projects (steam-assisted gravity drainage) and $70.08/bbl for a stand-alone mine. The figures exclude blending and transportation costs but include capital expenditures.”– https://www.oilsandsmagazine.com/news/2017/2/9/oil-sands-breakeven-prices-decline-since-2015

    Assets will be stranded whether or not Mr. Kenney and his acolytes agree with the current scientific and economic analysis. The world will move forward and the creative destruction of the capitalist class will reinvent the economic order of things as it has done countless times in the past.

    What’s your frequency Mr. Kenney?

    Reply
  10. Just Me

    October 18th, 2019

    Nothing makes middle-aged white men angry these days like a 16yr old young woman telling them they have been careless with…everything that matters. They become apoplectic, start screaming about “bratty girls” and go off on some rant about where will your iPhones come from when there’s no oil.

    Where Jason Kenney is concerned, being middle-aged, devoutly religious, though still unmarried, terminally single, and as barren as Death Valley he must be ready to turn inside-out. Considering he desperately wants to be PM, he has to bottle all that rage within; who really wants a PM who’s angry 24/7?

    Reply
    • Athabascan

      October 19th, 2019

      Devoutly religious you say? Really?

      I don’t think so. He’s playing the religious base for political gain. He knows religious fanatics are obsessed with LGBTQ’s and so that is who he attacks.

      It’s a mistake to believe kenney is religious -he is not. However, he is political and he craves power at any cost, including using religion to get what he wants.

      Reply
  11. bill dunbar

    October 22nd, 2019

    Canada’s contribution to global green house gasses is 1.6%, so shut down everything in Canada and we don’t do a damn thing. we need world co-operation and most countries won’t help. china iran Russia and so on and on.no doubt humans are doing bad things to the earth. if we fix it, all we really do is allow more people to live on earth. so there is no fix there.maybe the real solution is not allowing more people to be born,or maybe even getting rid of a whole bunch of us now.the earth will fix itself after we are gone. think about it, and stop getting up on our horses and running off in all directions. bill

    Reply

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