Maritime traffic in the Port of Prince Rupert not long before your blogger lived there (Photo: Provincial Archives of British Columbia).

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any nuttier out here in Wexitopia, former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith took to the Twittersphere to promote a territorial corridor from Alberta to the B.C. Coast.

I know what you’re thinking, but as regular readers of this blog well understand, I never make stuff up about Alberta. There’s no need!

Former Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

With last month’s federal election results pointing to another four years of Justin Trudeau as prime minister, probably followed by a return to a Liberal majority after that, the entire right-wing establishment that runs Alberta appears to have gone certifiably crackers, bonkers, and right over the edge of our flat little Prairie planet.

On a positive note, though, apparently it has sunk through to Ms. Smith, who lately in her new role as a right-wing radio talk jock has been sounding like an outright Prairie secessionist, that not having a seacoast might turn out to be a problem for our new Wexitopian petro-state. This would be especially true in an era of rapid global warming when there’s a growing worldwide demand for the quickest possible exit to a low-carbon future.

Her solution? Take some of Canada’s Pacific Coast away from British Columbia, plus a big hunk of Manitoba, and run huge corridors back to Sweet Home Alabamberta.

I suppose the next thing Ms. Smith or some of the nuts who take her seriously will say is, “These are Alberta’s last territorial demands in North America.”

Geographical dreamer Gerard Lucyshyn (Photo:

Ms. Smith refers to a document penned by one Gerard Lucyshyn, who is said to be a “senior fellow” and VP of research at the not-exactly-respectable Frontier Institute for market fundamentalist lunacy in Winnipeg in addition to being a lecturer at Calgary’s Mount Royal University. He was the Wildrose candidate in the Calgary-West riding in 2015.

Last month the Frontier Centre published 10 pages from Mr. Lucyshyn, in the words of Ms. Smith’s tweet, “about redrawing Alberta’s and Saskatchewan’s borders to correct an historic wrong and give us access to deepwater ports at #PrinceRupert and #Churchill.”

Mr. Lucyshyn’s plan would lop off all of British Columbia north of the 54th Parallel and give it to Alberta. It would do much the same thing to the top half of Manitoba with Saskatchewan as the beneficiary — if gaining the moribund Port of Churchill can be described as a benefit.

Former Alberta Premier Alison Redford (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Let me repeat. I am not making this up. It would be safe to conclude that Mr. Lucyshyn, who appears to have a Master’s degree from Carleton University (an academic credential, it must be noted, that he shares with the author of this blog), does not have a strong background in the history of Canada’s West Coast.

Be that as it may, Ms. Smith concluded her tweet with this question. “What say you BC and Manitoba?”

As it happens, not only do I have a Master’s degree of sufficient prestige to become a “senior fellow” at an “institute,” I am in a position answer that question.

Leastways, while I think it is a reasonably safe bet that neither Ms. Smith nor Mr. Lucyshyn has ever lived in Prince Rupert, I am here to inform readers of that I have.

Indeed, I doubt that northern port with the third deepest natural harbour in the world has ever forgotten me, and there are probably people there still bitter about my controversial opinions about North Coast fashions and haircuts — expressed, unfortunately, in a university newspaper in another part of Canada and cruelly reprinted by the local rag.

Well, never mind that. There was only one death threat, and it was too elaborate to be taken seriously.

Nevertheless, despite a bumpy start, my extensive experience in that part of the country, a hotbed of NDP support, enables me to inform you with great confidence, dear readers, and Ms. Smith as well, that this suggestion will not be well received at the Mouth of the Skeena, let alone across the Kandaliigwii in Haida Gwaii.

Indeed, I could tell you exactly what they would say. Two concise Anglo-Saxon words, not unfamiliar these days to residents of Alberta, that I am not prepared to print in this blog on the reasonable grounds they might be read by impressionable youngsters.

In Prince Rupert, they are probably breaking out the muskets as I write this.

The Annals of International Travel: Albertans are abroad again!

Students of Alberta politics will remember the brouhaha back in 2012 and 2013 when Alison Redford, then Progressive Conservative premier of this place, was shamed into repaying $45,000 in public money for a trip she’d taken to South Africa on the public’s dime to attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney in full Brexit mode (Illustration: Press Progress).

In the same approximate time frame, Ms. Redford was also accused of using the government’s Dash 8 aircraft to fly her daughter, her daughter’s nanny, and sundry friends and relations hither and yon. And then there was the matter of her “personal travel scout” who ran up some $300,000 in bills over 20 months doing advance planning in exotic locales for international trade meetings and the like.

Fallout from that scandal — which certainly contributed to the demise of the PC government to the NDP in 2015 — permanently grounded the government’s Dash 8, which was subsequently sold off, to the great inconvenience of the present Conservative government whenever it needs something in which fly visiting Conservative premiers and their spouses to Saskatoon.

At the time, there was no shortage of critics in the Wildrose Party prepared to assail the premier for living like a wretched elitist, not the solid yeomen of Alberta for whom such real conservatives stood up.

NDP Ethics Critic Heather Sweet (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Well, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose!

Yesterday we learned from NDP Ethics Critic Heather Sweet that the appropriately aristocratic sounding David Knight Legg — described by local media as Premier Jason Kenney’s principal advisor, and said to have been expensively educated at Oxford — racked up about $45,000 in expenses flying first class, staying at a hotel in London billed as “a home to aristocrats,” and sipping champers with toffs from “the City of London,” as the financial district is known, supposedly to persuade them to invest their devalued post-Brexit pounds in Alberta.

The premier’s press secretary responded to Ms. Sweet’s revelation petulantly, complaining that the NDP is apparently not aware “that London is the global financial capital.”

“Under the NDP, Alberta saw tens of billions of dollars in job creating investment flee our province — and with it, jobs,” Harrison Fleming told local scribblers, rewriting history just a little.

“Mr. Knight Legg, a highly credentialed and experienced business professional, is tasked with working to bring that investment back to Alberta,” he huffed.

Note to Press Secretary Fleming, the global financial capital has given notice to London and commenced the process of moving to Frankfurt. This happened soon after the British people, as someone might have put it, chose hope over fear and embraced a confident, sovereign future, open to the world!

Pip! Pip!

Join the Conversation


  1. The level of dementia that has overtaken the #wexit movement is beginning to bend the needle as it pitches deeper into the realm of insanity.

    Adopting the notion that Alberta should carve itself a nice piece out of BC so that it can have a coastline it beginning to sound increasingly like the start of a Balkanization movement across Western Canada. So, if Ottawa won’t give into Alberta’s demands, Alberta will just help itself to a piece of of BC? I’m sure while visions of Blitzkrieg fill the hearts of UCP members with joy, pissing off a province you are trying to garner sympathy and support from isn’t a strategy for success. If anything it will get the crazy Alberta cousin committed to an institution. Judging by Kenney’s unhinged lashing of BQ leader Yves-François Blanchet’s remarks about Alberta’s aspirations of becoming a North American “petro-state”, it is becoming clearer that Kenney is becoming desperate. Obviously, Kenney’s three years of lying to Albertans is being exposed for pure nonsense. He’s doesn’t have a plan; he has no grand design to heighten Alberta’s place in Canada; he has no strategy to reform the inequities in the relationship with Ottawa. Kenney wants to kick, scream, stamp his feet, throw things, speak in tongues, shout obscenities, spin his head, make enemies, and (perhaps) projectile vomit on all of Canada. The dude was Norman Bates, but now he’s turning into the possessed teenaged girl in “The Exorcist”.

    The comedy just keeps getting better and better.

    1. Comedy indeed. With tongue firmly in cheek, I would have to say Mr. Lucyshyn’s essay is much too timid. If he just moved his suggested border in Manitoba from 58 degrees to 54 degrees not only would Alberta and Saskatchewan get the Port of Churchill, but they would also take possession of seven of Manitoba Hydro’s 15 hydro-electric dams. So while we are sending in the Alberta military to take possession of foreign territory, it should be obvious that having hydro-electric facilities is more valuable than pipelines to serve a sunset industry like conventional oil and gas. Why we could even use Manitoba hydro and BC hydro-electric to cook the tar sands and seize the future!

      Many of those unemployed oil workers and UCP supporters already have tons of military experience playing “Call of Duty” in their mom’s basements. Time to mobilize led by generals who have spent their life sucking at the public teat in Alberta’s increasingly industry captured universities and colleges. Pip! Pip! eh whot!

    2. Given the fact that so many of these delusional fascists — Ms Smith, Mr Kenney, et. al. — seem to hail from Calgary, maybe productive use can be found for Calgary’s currently under-utilized water fluoridation equipment: maybe small but gradually escalating quantities of clozapine can start being trickled into Calgary water until their citizens, including those holding public office, come to their senses …. ;-).

  2. Ms. Smith is a bit kooky even by Alberta standards. We should not forget she lost an election in part by not convincingly denying she was a climate change denier, which in Alberta is a fairly low bar for most politicians. Of course there also was that strange, uncomfortable shot gun wedding between the PC’s and Wildrose that neither party or the voters were ready for at the time.

    I don’t think Alberta, sorry I mean Sask., easy to confuse the prairie energy twins these days, would need to annex part of Manitoba to get its government there to go along with some Albertans plans for Churchill. However, I suspect the more polite BC reaction would be over my dead body. I suppose it only goes to show how out of touch some here are with the rest of the country and the world.

    So Premier Kenney’s mile high pals have developed a taste for exclusive luxury hotels in London. It was bad enough when Redford was hosting her family and friends as frequent flyers. Its even worse now when the little people they fly over are being told they have to make do with less.

  3. “Mr. Knight Legg, a highly credentialed and experienced business professional, is tasked with working to bring that investment back to Alberta,”

    Hey, lets look on the bright side: at least Mr. Knight-Legg compensates for the poorly credentialed and dubiously experienced premier whom he represents.

  4. Well that didn’t take long! Once more, I guess austerity is only for the peasants and rubes; you know, teachers, nurses, university students, the severely handicapped.

  5. So now we as taxpayers are not only paying to investigate foreign influence in our province but also paying to bring foreign influence in? It is nice to know that Kenney does in fact, as most suspected, view Canada as a colony which requires the okay from our masters in London. Stocking up on tea…

    How delusional must one be to believe BC, Saskatchewan, or Manitoba would be willing to give up their territory so we can pipe tar to their ports? It boggles the mind the level of arrogance and back to the theme of the Kenney regime how exactly does this lead to the PM office for him?

  6. Champagne tastes and caviar dreams —the UCP returning to the life of the rich and politically infamous.

    Reports of David Knight Legg’s lavish exploits aboard would appear to have ushered in a new era of conservative entitlement. By all accounts in the past few weeks, the UCP and their sycophants have wasted little time in returning to the public “trough” for which they are renowned. Will these bozo eruptions ever end? Answer: Not while conservative arrogance, entitlement and privilege are allowed to flourish without political repercussions from voters. Sad.

  7. I’m not a fan of the secessionist Bloq Quebecois, but apparently on climate change and the false way Grand Duke Jason presents equalization, their chief Blanchet is the only leader to tell Kenney to eff off straight to his face. Of course this sent Kenney off into a rant about this and that, while nevertheless attempting to emulate exactly what the provincial (grandly termed national internally) Parti Quebecois and Bloq Quebecois have done to butter their own bread thickly at Canadian expense. Let’s have more inquiries, commissions and other stacked UCP initiatives to show how Alberta is Brazil Norte, willing to bust both Canada’s and the world’s carbon budget and give the middle finger to anyone who disagrees, Kenney says. He’s one nasty piece of over-ambitiousness.

    Makes you wonder whether this federation is worth the trouble. Alberta is the richest per capita province and wants to keep its tax money to itself, like any self-respecting billionaire does these days. Why pay into the kitty and help your fellow citizens, eh? That’s socialism, ain’t it? No, Alberta thinks money from the pumping of garbage oil is what motivates everyone, but living in an echo chamber of greed and bugger everyone else mentality, Jason and the Petro-pimps think everyone else is as venal as they are. They got that wrong. Not everyone lives in a growing pig-sty of tailing ponds using what will be soon be but a trickle of water from receding glaciers as if tomorrow did not exist, nor do they sit around and wait for Alberta “welfare” payouts. The real money goes south and doesn’t even benefit Alberta — the US likes it that way, and couldn’t care less how Alberta soils its own backyard by allowing multi-nationals free rein.

    You have to be living in demented cloud cuckoo land if you believe like the fragrant Danielle Smith that BC is going to hand over territory to the single-resource rapists of the prairies. Having assumed power under false pretences on social issues and a load of ongoing Reform BS instead of being toppled like a South American country by the USA for honouring its own population, Kenney the autocrat thinks we all want to be like Oilberta and be as greedy and grasping as he is, just as the world runs down. Crop failures in the US this year will no doubt bring everyone up with a bit of a shock as prices balloon this coming year.

    But in the miraculously climate-change-untouched ha-ha Alberta, this all passes unnoticed, apparently. Meanwhile, what First Nations think of Ms Smith’s musings of utter nonsense have yet to be recorded. Would Alberta go a rampage of putting down the natives like a white colonial power of the 19th century? You know, because First Nations have stewardship over much unceded territory in BC anyway. The white men of the UCP will apparently do anything for hegemony, they’re just wriggling in their socks at how long it’s taking to reduce the tarsands to rubble and tainted water. Dopes.

    Nowadays money, filthy lucre, trumps any sanity that the UCP possesses. Yesterday, we had Derek Fildebrandt, famed deer hunter, get on CBC and lecture us Maritimers about Oilberta and its dystopian vision of dilbit for all. Funny that my brother from Calgary is visiting right now — he grew wealthy on oil and gas professional services, but just holds his head in his hands about what’s happening now in his current home province. Like the 67% of Canadians who DID NOT vote for the Preston Manning team of nutbars masquerading as a political party, I see no reason whatsoever to even listen to Kenney, let alone accommodate him. What about us, Canadians who voted non Con? The majority of 67%? Is anyone going to listen to our side of things and respond to our needs? So far the omens are not good. And it pisses me off mightily.

    1. All things considered, and in the spirit of Reconciliation, I would be very pleased to join a sovereign First Nation formed in what was the angry midget province of Alberta. And I’m sure in the spirit of unity, the First Nations peoples of north BC would welcome the friendship and support of the Treaty Six sovereign land and its people, with an ironclad agreement to never harm the Earth again and to always live in harmony with each other as the Great Spirit intended.

      Then, Jason Kenney’s head explodes.

  8. Somewhat ‘tangential’ (since, as one devoted to ecology and its focus on “everything is connected”), but a headline yesterday caught my eye: ‘Over the next several months, there will be about 800,000 barrels of excess capacity in Alberta pipelines’, BNN, or whatever it is called now.
    And still the shrieking that we need another 800,000+ BO/D more pipeline capacity with TMX, along with the expansion of both Line 3 and Keystone.
    Who gets to pay for all this? Why is not at least someone in any government looking into what the (demand decrease across the world?!) hell is going on with oil use and pipeline capacities?

  9. Ms Smith needs to read more—she might have noticed the rationale I proposed for Alberta’s only feasible tidewater opportunity given British Columbia is unlikely to join Wexitopia (and the Northwest Territories cannot join with Wexitopia for Arctic tidewater because it’s not a sovereign, confederated province and therefore may not separate from Canada): secession of the three Prairie Provinces to acquire tidewater at Churchill, Manitoba is thus the only feasible way.

    Ms Smith should note that my conclusion was partly predicated upon the realistic criterion that provinces may secede only as whole units under the Federal Clarity Act. I think the SCoC has decided secession would require ratification by the remaining provinces—which seems fair considering subtractions from the federation would affect them. She might also consider the wily Chrétien’s quip that if Canada’s separable, then so is any of its federated provinces (he referring to Quebec’s separation referendum at the time)—which, as a former Minister of Indian Affairs, he understood implied treatied First Nations would challenge any erosion of their respective treaties with the Crown if the provinces in which they reside were to attempt secession. Indeed, FNs have commented on just this implication with respect Quebec’s proposed separation—and now again with Wexitopia: to them it means treaties are with our Head-of-State Sovereign—‘The Great Mother’ (Elizabeth, now, not Victoria) —over and above with the federated Dominion of Canada. They’ve succeeded remarkably with assertion of this relationship in court, especially with respect unceded traditional territories such as BC is largely composed.

    I suspect Ms Smith, known to be periodically quixotic, was being facetious with her totally unworkable idea—she appears, after all, in counterintuitive agreement with that Liberal paragon John Ralston Saul, former Consort to Her Excellency Governor General Adrianne Clarkson, who wrote that if Canada were to entertain reconfiguration it should, in the interests of what he called “Nordicity,”bisect seven of ten provinces in almost exactly the same way she suggested for BC (although he certainly did not mean annexing any one of these new ‘provinces’ with another as she envisioned). In fact, an 1889 configuration of the Northwestern Territories, Alberta was so-bisected into almost equal northern and southern halves.

    With respect treaties, one twitter response to Ms Smith’s reminds that Alberta is completely covered with so-called “Numbered Treaties” and, should all of those treaty-holders object to separation, the only (remotely) viable territory secedable is a north-south corridor of BC’s Interior west of the Rockies and east of the Coast Ranges—the West Coast being the electoral heartland of pipeline-opposing Dippers, and most of BC not yet having negotiated treaties. But not only is there no bitumen in this region, it’s equally landlocked if the West Coast orange were to remain in the Canadian federation.

    —but of course that would accede to dividing a sovereign province and, as far as we can tell, that’s only possible (to say nothing of feasible) for Aboriginal nations—in BC’s case, complicated by the fact that yet-negotiated treaties have been found by the SCoC to be still owed (instead of extinguished by confederation as the BC courts held before their decisions were overturned); if provinces were as divisible as Chrétien implied, then it’s not yet known if these BC treaty negotiations might produce several new sovereign provinces in this montane fastness. (Come to think of it, any FN that became ‘Maître-chez-nous’ in this way, it might be more amenable to cutting a pipeline deal—I mean, if Alberta was a separate state that couldn’t cite a Constitutional right to transport its resources through any region of Canada like it can as a province.)

    The thing about Ms Smith’s proposal is it makes such an idea (making new provinces out of BC or Manitoba) seem, at least, less kooky.

    Remind, too, that the Vancouver Island Party has formed to contest BC provincial elections on a platform of separating the Big Island from the BC Mainland as they once were as Crown Colonies; it would remain a Canadian province, though. (The VIP’s slick, glossy brochure outlined a policy of ceding land to Island FNs in the proposed new province—so long’s they paid full market value for all the resources found therein, a notion so preposterous as to suggest the party was rather formed as some kind of electoral stalking horse to deprive the provincial NDP garnering votes from erstwhile Christy supporters casting about for a place to park them as they scurried off the BC Liberal government’s sinking ship; the VIP’s president and leader was a former MP in the CPC caucus, a party not known for respecting Aboriginal rights.) Again, there is no mechanism for dividing a province within the nation as currently constituted—although historically there were boundary adjustments between provinces as the nation, pre-patriation 1982, confederated new ones—Ontario-Manitoba being a long forgotten one, Quebec-Labrador being a never-forgotten one.

    The nation is not complete in this regard: there are still three federal Territories to confederate yet—and who knows how modern Aboriginal treaty negotiations might affect these Territories. Note, too, that the Métis have won a recent SCoC decision upholding their Aboriginal rights under Section 35 of the Constitution Act 1982–meaning the Métis have the same rights as the “Indians and Inuit” (as anachronistic constitutional language puts it), rights that have, as yet, not been exercised with respect territory nor tested in court in this regard.

    Nevertheless, Ms Smith’s proposal amazingly made Wexit seem more viable by way of comparison—meaning her plan is even more crazy.

    I’d just like her to answer by what authority she imagines the annexation of BC and Manitoba territory possible—main force? If that be true, Albertan conquistadors should prepare for a stout defence, at least from BC flooding, Viet-Cong-style, the invading bituminoid trenches with craft beer and bud until troops can’t remember what it was they were fighting for in the first place, and crave adulterated carrot cake and carob brownies instead. Wouldn’t be the first time young men were irretrievably lost to California North.

  10. I note that the plane used to fly Mr Kenney and his buddies to Saskatoon was a Dash 8. Was it the same one that was sold by the Alberta Government due to its misuse by Premier Redford and other Cabinet members of her government? If so, how long before it returns to Alberta Government Services as Premier Kenney’s preferred chariot?

  11. Danielle Smith is the near perfect example which demonstrates that an attained post secondary education is not automatically associated with wisdom or intelligence of any sort, as any nutter can now have a voice and a platform via Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, ect. Who cares about the opinion(s) and the dreary PR of a certifiable, superficial, loud mouthed crank and/or loon? Like minded cranks and loons, of course, one supposes. As such, Danielle Smith is little more than the talk radio pet rock for those individuals in society who wield (or think they wield) true economic and political power.

    But, the pay is good, as long as you do and say as you are told.

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