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

If you concluded as New Brunswick’s Conservative premier just did that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s somewhat reduced victory in Monday’s federal election indicates a certain level of support for carbon taxes and like policies in Canada, the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan beg to differ.

Blaine Higgs told reporters in Fredericton yesterday that he’s now going to figure out how to comply with the Trudeau Government’s national climate plan, which includes a carbon tax. “I can’t ignore the obvious,” he explained. “The country has spoken.”

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe (Photo: Twitter).

People voted for it, so we have to find a way in New Brunswick to make it work,” Mr. Higgs also observed.

Out here on the Great Plains, though, we’re made of sterner stuff. We don’t have any problem ignoring the obvious. And, no, we’re not going to find a way to make federal policies work in Alberta or Saskatchewan if they don’t happen to have been made by Conservatives. (Or even, as in the case of the current equalization formula, if they were.)

The Liberals may have a renewed if reduced mandate, but here on the Great Plains, we’re sticking with the same old climate obstructionism.

Accordingly, Premier Jason Kenney called the pliant local media together in Edmonton yesterday and told them, in effect, that if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won’t adopt most of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s energy platform, as well as find a way to gut the Constitution’s equalization provisions, Alberta will hold a provincial referendum on equalization.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Alert readers will quickly point out that such a referendum would be constitutionally meaningless. This is true, as Mr. Kenney certainly knows.

However, it’s clearer every day that Mr. Kenney views the referendum idea, tied to Alberta’s perpetual complaining about Quebec getting “our” money and then not running its financial affairs the same way we run ours, as a thinly disguised sovereignty-association vote.

Or, at least, he clearly hopes the federal Liberals, in a slightly more vulnerable position than they were before Monday’s vote, will see it that way.

It would be interesting to know if such a deceptive tactic contradicts the federal Clarity Act, which says the wording of any sovereignty referendum must state clearly what it means.

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Regardless, perhaps confusing the election results on the Prairies with the national tally, Mr. Kenney told the reporters he had set out his demands in a five-page letterfive pages! must be serious! — to Mr. Trudeau.

The letter calls on Ottawa to create a national energy corridor, repeal the North Coast tanker ban, delay implementation of more stringent pipeline approval legislation, let Alberta off the hook for the federal carbon tax, and make big changes to federal transfer payments to suit Alberta.

Mr. Kenney made the referendum threat during the provincial election campaign last spring, in reference to Ottawa’s carbon tax. This time, it was tied to Ottawa’s tanker ban legislation. Blackmail being what it is, however, it’s reasonable to assume that if it works now it will soon be applied to another Alberta demand.

Mr. Kenney also told media and MLAs in the Legislature he will soon strike yet another “expert panel” to hold hearings on how unhappy Albertans are with Confederation. Presumably the opinions of Albertans who are happy with Confederation will not be particularly welcome.

Ontario-born social conservative Wexit enthusiast Craig B. Chandler (Photo: Facebook).

The names of the putative experts will be announced soon. No word on how much this will cost in these supposedly straightened times.

Meanwhile, in the Prairie province next door, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe was doing much the same thing yesterday, telling his compliant local reporters that the prime minister must kill the carbon tax, allow lots of pipelines to be built, and negotiate a new equalization formula — because, you know, western alienation.

Speaking of which, Mr. Kenney’s posturing and claims that even “political moderates” of his acquaintance are openly talking about Alberta separation certainly seem to have really stirred up the province’s “Wexit” nuts — some of whom hastily organized a luncheon yesterday at a Calgary Chinese restaurant to discuss creating a united Wexit campaign.

That scheme was cooked up by Craig B. Chandler, the Hamilton, Ont., native notorious in these parts for views so far to the right he was made unwelcome in both the old Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties. Apparently he has found a more congenial home in Mr. Kenney’s United Conservative Party, though.

A summary of the views of many of the folks who have been publicly advocating the Wexit cause — parodied as Weave or Rednexit by detractors on social media — suggests they dream of a sort of independent northern version of Alabama or Mississippi, with no gun control, no union rights, no human rights, no abortion rights, no seaport and no industry but dirty oil.

To which the most reasonable response, of course, is No Thanks!

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  1. We in the West should remember that the current equalization formula was set in place during Stephen Harper’s time as Prime minister.

    We should also remember that Harper promised Saskatchewan’s then premier Lorne Calvert that he would remove non renewable resources (Oil and minerals) from the formula, but in his last ten years as PM didn’t remove them from the formula as promised. Possibly because doing so would have caused him problems in the rest of the country.

    While we are remembering things from the past, the idea for a carbon tax was first floated by Preston Manning on behalf of the big oil companies because it would be paid by consumer’s instead of oil producers.

    So our troubles out west are partially created by western interests.

  2. All benefit, no cost, right?
    The ‘Wexit-eers’ so to speak are dismal economists and businessmen in the sense that they fomenting separation without being honest about the cost of separation.
    Over the last 40 years or so, this cost would be simply put in one word: remediation. The cost of remediation and reparation given the damage that has been done to the environment would probably be in the $1,000,000,000,000 range. Yes, ONE TRILLION DOLLARS.
    Also, add to the fact that we need a ‘poison pill’ that would allow any First Nations organizations and land holdings to be recognized as theirs to claim first and ‘Alberta’ will simply be a little less than ‘A’.
    Finally, we could tack on the original tab of things like social services and payments that have been made to Alberta over the last 150 years, including construction of the railway, healthcare transfer payments, subsidies to the oil and gas sector and ongoing annuities in the form of millions of ‘eastern’ homeowners being connected to natural gas. Again, I’d suggest the tally would likely be an even additional trillion dollars.

    So, Alberta: will that be cash or cheque to cover your costs?

  3. Oh, where to start with all this Conservative silliness? They are even more cranky and out of sorts than usual after losing the election. Even Mr. Scheer’s brave save face comments about moral victories are not going to satisfy them now, particularly when he managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of possible victory. There seems to be an unstated leadership competition starting in who can shout the loudest and be the angriest.

    The Conservatives may soon be going down the path of the Tea Party Repiblicans. Of course, the more reasonable ones like the NB premier are already quietly geting off the crazy train before it really goes off the rails, leaving more room for people like Mr. Chandler. Speaking of which, why is it some of the wackiest people in Alberta politics seem to come from Ontario?

    Last I checked equalization was a Federal thing and part of taxes collected by Ottawa. I suppose Mr. Kenney can hold a referendum if he wishes, but it will have absolutely no legal power. While he is at it, he might as well also hold a few Senator elections too, you know to further distact from his cuts. However, the risk of all these ineffective measures is Albertans might turn on him when they realize there is a lot of heat and light, but he is accomplishing so little.

  4. .. presumably Kenney et al will slipslide Alberta over the Rockies, then the Coastal ranges and safely into ‘tidewater’ where it will float to uh.. where ? Anchor off Hawaii ? Alaska ? Of course all First Nations lands will be left behind.. and what Indian Tribe could complain in BC about their territories being slithered or slipslided across.. in the spirit of white mumbo jumbo Doug Ford, ‘not a single tree will lose its pine needles’ .. Will Kenney tear up the tracks.. horrify Gordon Lightfoot ? Will he leave a ‘legacy’ (which actually means gift) behind ? IE the tar sands tailing ponds.. ? The National Parks are not his to take either of course.. so Banff National, Wood Buffalo, Jasper.. what other National Parks will be left behind ? A new currency ? Will banks remain ? Airports close ? The man is a thuggist idealogue.. whipping up anger just like Donald Trump.. Ulp.. the remediation of oil and gas wells, the tar sands.. he gonna fix all that before splitsville ? By the by.. who actually ‘owns’ the staggering amount of free freshwater that fully 96% of Canada’s vast petroleum reserves (yes 96%) require to steam bitumen in situ out of the tar sands ? Who ‘owns’ the tar sands tailings ponds (yes, ‘ponds’) visible from outer space or the moon ? Alberta’s government or Canada and Albertan taxpayers ?????

  5. Nothing funnier than an angry little man telling the whole world he’s going to burn it all down.

    Jason Kenney just threw a tantrum.


    The referendum will be meaningless, and rendered even more meaningless when that video pops up (again and again) of federal minister Kenney defending the equalization formula over a decade ago.

    The only thing that’s even funnier than being an angry little man throwing tantrums is being an angry little man throwing tantrums over an issue that he was on the other side of at one time.

    J.K. was looking forward to PM Scheer letting him run riot over everyone. Now, with PMJT insulated by a pretty solid minority government, with the potential for support from the nearly broken NDP, as well as a very compliant BQ, there is no reason why the Liberal government cannot see through to the end its current mandate unscathed.

    The only excitement will be Jason Kenney stabbing Scheer in the back and demanding he become PM.

    Or we’ll all be swept into the Nine Circles of Hell.


    1. Reading the text of the letter is possible on Twitter, if you don’t mind doing successive screen captures and enhancing the text. Using Twitter for dissemination of official documents via Twitter is a pretty bonehead move, and is something another well-known bonehead does.

      As for another comment about Kenney’s blue pick-up truck, funny thing about Kenney driving a truck. I recall then when Kenney was director of the nascent CTF, he never drove himself anywhere. He didn’t own a car, so he often relied on taxis, sometimes used public transit, or got a lift from a political ally with a ride. When he became an MP and a minister of the Crown, Kenney was chauffeured everywhere. It leaves me to wonder if he even knows how to drive, let alone even got his driver’s licence.

      So it would seem that Kenney’s own reputation as a pick-up truck driving guy is about as fake as everything else about him.

  6. Yeah, if Kenney and his band of freeman on the land rednexiteers want to go, I’ll buy his first tank of gas. Problem is that blue truck is not likely his. Nor is the vast majority of the land base in Alberta.
    I would still be happy to see him and his band of whiners go.

  7. I’m quite happy to let the ring-wing nuts waste their energies on Wexit. Take a look around: almost all Albertans are loyal Canadians. Alberta has never, in 114 years, elected a separatist MP. Last Monday Quebec elected 32.

    Alberta once had a separatist MLA (Gordon Kesler). He won a by-election in 1982 and was defeated 6 months later. I suppose if you really wanted to build a separatist movement in Alberta you would have to build a provincial separatist party (like the PQ) and a federal separatist party (like the BQ). I can’t see Alberta Conservatives liking that very much.

    As an aside, although I’m not a Liberal supporter, I’ve always liked cabinet minister Amarjeet Sohi. The Conservatives pulled out all the stops to replace him with a retreaded poll, Tim Uppal. Now they lament that there will be no Alberta MPs in the cabinet. As Abraham Lincoln said: “Hypocrite: The man who murdered his parents, and then pleaded for mercy on the grounds that he was an orphan.”

  8. As you know, I have lurked your blog for years. What we face (I don’t even need to ask whether you buy in to my inclusion) is a grinding down. It is the opposite of my watch phrase. “ne bastardi es carborundum”. Oh yes. They have tried. They never stop, ne shagu nazad! We will never stop resisting! I have a song for David Climenenhaga. Just for you!

  9. If you do the math it is quite interesting. 66% of Canadian voted, of those that voted 33% voted for the federal Liberal’s. So only 21.78% of Canadians voted for Justin Trudeau to be our Prime Minister. And yet he says he has a strong mandate to govern, yikes! It is interesting to note that under his watch the Bloc Québécois has risen from the dead and at the same time western alienation has reached new heights! Regardless which way you look at it Justin Trudeau has made one hell of a mess. Enjoy your day.

    1. Farmer Brian, do the math, of all who voted 75% voted for parties with a climate plan, Sheer had no climate plan and got nothing, 25% of Canada’s vote. Did you get your information from Kenney’s tax payers war room? Get out from under the dome and see what is really happening in Canada. The worst thing about people who complain about this election results or Trudeau, when they are interviewed somehow they become champions of Canada saying this is the best country in the world to live in.

    2. Brian: you can turn those numbers on their head as Farmer Dave just did. Most Canadians voted against the Conservatives. Even in Alberta a big part of the population voted against the Conservatives. So not everybody goes to your church. In fact most of us do not go to church at all.
      But yeah, in an evidence based world, Trudeau should never had bought the Trans Mountain Pipeline. Whether he was conned or he thought he was helping people like you who rely on off-farm income from oil and gas does not matter. Delivering more high sulfur oil into a world market that does not want to pay for it is a bad idea.
      So it is too bad about all those abandoned oil/gas wells on your farm you mentioned in another post. That is a big environmental liability against your land. Hopefully they are cleaned up by the time you need the money for the old folks home, but I would not bet on it.
      The oil boom is over and it will not come back in our lifetimes. Blaming Trudeau and the NDP for not bringing it back and not cleaning up the mess left by the total screw up of the Klein/Manning/Harper Conservatives is disingenuous. Throwing a tantrum because two thirds of Canadians can see the boom is over is just childish.
      Have a nice day.

    3. Sir: the ScheerCons’ message clearly did not resonate with voters outside of their Saskaberta redoubt. In The Rest of Canada, their popular vote share was only 28.6% (Credit to Maclean’s’ Jason Markusoff for these calculations). That means that outside of Alberta & Saskatchewan, there was more than a 72% consensus around being more proactive on climate change than the Conservatives were propose to be. So, all Scott Moe & Jason Kenney are demonstrating with their lett RNs to the feds, is that they clearly aren’t listening to the message Canada’s broader electorate is sending: yes to pricing carbon, yes to moving to a decarbonized economy, and no to more pipelines & continued expansion of the oil & gas industry — differences between the Liberals, NDP & Greens on this issue are more around speed, deadlines & evidence of commitment, rather than ultimate goals.

      And, with all due respect, you are also not listening to the voters. They have — except here — rejected the dog-eat-dog Conservative worldview in favour of a more progressive approach to public policy.

  10. What we really need is faster-acting plate tectonics to remodel Canadian geography: how about inserting Quebec between Alberta and BC? Both sets of separatists could keep each other busy, and let the rest of the country go on about its business. (We’d need to hope, of course, that the Rockies maintained their height through all this upheaval.)

  11. Sure, we should put the environment more at risk because you think life isn’t fair. Sounds like Alberta needs a time out. Invest in renewable energy. The heyday of oil and gas is over. Be a leader in the future. In the meantime, get over it. No one wants your black venom piped across their land. We also don’t want leaky tankers along the coast either.

    You did well as a province for a long time and that’s great for you. Times change. Change with them or leave and then enjoy needing to over tax your citizens to stay afloat in your land locked existence.

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