Alberta Politics
Yeah, it's not Alberta, bit it's the most festive photo I could find, snapped on my iPhone during a brief recent sojourn in Victoria, B.C., looking north across the Inner Harbour, the Empress Hotel on the right (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Happy Holidays! Alberta’s economic prospects may underwhelm, but at least you can spin them as you like!

Posted on December 23, 2019, 1:22 am
4 mins

Happy Holidays!

At this time last year, it looked as if Santa would bring something for everyone in Alberta, regardless of their political orientation.

This year, though, maybe not so much. Lumps of carbon-dioxide-emitting coal, maybe.

Leastways, you can spin recent economic outlooks for the province any way you like, but nobody’s going to be partying in the streets about what they say.

Alberta’s economy will grow, the economic forecasters at the Royal Bank of Canada predicted, for example. But don’t expect it to grow all that much. “The six years it will have taken to recover from the recession’s losses are a reminder that the path forward will be full of potential obstacles,” observed the RBC outlook’s authors, who are generally considered to be reliable.

With a little help from their echo chamber at Postmedia, Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party Government will certainly try to spin predictions like that as a sign confidence is returning because Conservatives are back in the provincial economic drivers’ seat.

But having sold the promise of a Conservative restoration as a way to give the Alberta economy an immediate kick-start, and then failed to see anything like that happen, the UCP may lack a certain credibility in that department without hard evidence of a dramatic turnaround. Well, they can always blame Justin Trudeau and his federal Liberals — and of course they’ll try.

By the sound of the bankers’ predictions, the best we’re going to see would be more accurately described as a modest return to growth. “This is no longer Alberta’s boom-bust economy of old when it could be reliably counted upon to snap back into shape after a setback,” the Royal Bankers cautioned.

“Ugh, ugh, ugh,” tweeted University of Alberta economist Andrew Leach after comparing RBC’s latest 2020 forecast with the one it published last year. “Cripes. It’s bad all the way down. Compared to their 2018 forecast for 2020, RBC’s current outlook has much lower real and nominal GDP growth, higher unemployment, less job creation, massive drop in retail sales, 10% fewer housing starts, etc. Damn.”

This is true even if the government’s harsh austerity policies don’t themselves push the provincial economy back into recession.

Meanwhile, on the federal scene, with the Opposition still in chaos after the October election defeat the Conservative Party of Canada had talked itself into believing it would win, we’ve just come through weekend during which Pierre Poilievre was being touted by media as the likely front-runner to replace Conservative Andrew Scheer.

Seriously? Skippy Poilievre? They’re kidding, right?

This is what happens when a political party comes to be dominated by ideologues. It would be funny were it not true that the gods of politics can sometimes make circumstances favour politicians who are unlikely, unlikeable and likely to do harm. The obvious example, of course, is Donald J. Trump. Mr. Poilievre could turn out to be another. Heaven forfend!

So it would be foolish to laugh out loud at this prospect.

Is there more? Of course, but tomorrow is Christmas Eve and the season of peace and goodwill is upon us, so barring unexpected blockbuster stories urgently in need of commentary, will fall silent for a few days, at least until the 27th, when this blog will celebrate its 12th anniversary, surely an occasion deserving of observance.

16 Comments to: Happy Holidays! Alberta’s economic prospects may underwhelm, but at least you can spin them as you like!

  1. Bob Raynard

    December 23rd, 2019

    Merry Christmas, David, and thank you for all you do on your blog.

  2. Death and Gravity

    December 23rd, 2019

    I am all in favour of Pierre Poilievre being leader of the CPC; provided Max Bernier is unavailable. Or Berlusconi. I mean, let’s do it up right.

  3. Dave

    December 23rd, 2019

    It’s a gamblers economy in Alberta, all the chips are on blue and oil and neither seem to be really winning right now. Yes, the UCP will probably just blame it all on Trudeau again, but after getting elected to supposedly quickly revive our economy, that excuse is starting to seem a bit tired and worn. The effect of the impending provincial cuts has not been fully felt yet, so whatever positive economic activity, if any, from the private sector that happens in 2020 will probably be largely offset by the effect of the provincial cuts.

    Mr. Poilievre, really? He’s a good attack dog for the Conservatives, but has too much of the negative, partisan side of the Conservatives that turned voters off. Remember, they got Scheer, thinking they needed Harper with a smile, with Poilivre, it will be like Harper on his bad days. I think Mr. MacKay’s analogy about the Conservatives not being able to score on an empty net was sort of apt, but the party’s problems go beyond Scheer. Rona doesn’t seem to be jumping in eagerly to run, nor does anyone else that might more broadly appeal to voters. Perhaps they are hesitating in part because of what Maclean’s magazine called the “takedown of Andrew Scheer” – every leadership of the party comes with a free potential knife in the back. Why they didn’t just leave it until April for the members to do deal with it in a nicer, more organized and more thought out way? I don’t know, but their judgement as a party has been a bit off for a while – after all they picked Scheer in the first place. So yeah, they might actually pick Poilievre too.

    Happy 12th anniversary! I hope there will be a bit more peace and goodwill in the world in 2020 than in 2019.

    • tom in ontario

      December 23rd, 2019

      Maybe no one wants to announce their candidacy just yet, bearing in mind the words of the late Dalton Camp, “First in, first out.”

      Keep writing, David. All the best for 2020.

  4. Hana Razga

    December 23rd, 2019

    “Pierre Poilievre was being touted by media as the likely front-runner to replace Conservative Andrew Scheer….”

    Pierre Poilievre, the “job-killing-carbon-tax” fire breathing dragon? He repeated that phrase every chance he got for just about all the time he had in Harper government…..uggh

  5. Hana Razga

    December 23rd, 2019

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays David and all the best in New Year 2020

  6. Scotty on Denman

    December 23rd, 2019

    Ahhh, the days are getting longer—you can just feel it! —well, at least I can. I really miss daylight so, even though the weight of darkness is lessened so little over each yesterday, barely anything more that the tiniest spell, just knowing spring is sure to follow—and then beautiful, long summer days—is really heartening. It’s really like a new beginning, happiness coming back little by little, all the more given recent troubles against which only a few days ago we’ve been having to aftend.

    This new thing, this fresh chance, is like the smallest child who, every day without rest, is happily waited upon with so much tender, loving care every feeding and each of those first halting steps. However, this proud and joyous moment should be no time to make a tiny toddler run the quarter mile or to owe to its parents for the rearing. What parent would ever want that?

    Surely that would be, so forfended, forfing without forethought.

    And so we wish the UCP government think again about loading a toddling economy down just as it’s getting back on its feet after a protracted period of infantile helplessness, a stroke of bad luck, let’s just say in keeping with the season of good will.

    The future is bright ahead! Good luck, all!

  7. David Grant

    December 23rd, 2019

    Alberta ruled by ideologues? Never!! We are ruled by pragmatic, decisive, righteous people who always knew how to keep Alberta prosperous. It is the environmentalists, public service workers(I am one of that lot), the Provincial NDP, and federal Liberals to blame. It isn’t the dependence of fossil fuels and a variety of other factors to blame for it. All kidding aside, there are plenty of examples online and in real life. There are many who still believe that the Almighty will give us another boom. At this point let us make the Serenity Prayer to accept the things we cannot change and the courage to change the things we can and hope that the wisdom to know the difference. In the things we cannot change it is the economic realities of fossil fuels.

  8. Just Me

    December 23rd, 2019

    Now that it is highly expected that Rona Ambrose will be Canada’s next ambassador in Washington, D.C. I guess the only candidate of any profile who could step up into the CPC leadership is Skippy Poilievre.

    Skippy Poilievre?

    Given his recent debate performance, where Poilievre appeared to be somewhat obsessed over PMJT’s self-pleasuring methods, I am hoping for the CONs to do their usual crazy and flock to the banner of Skippy Poilievre.

    As for Alberta’s angry midget problem, they really are stuck with Kenney and his legion of barely employable meat heads.

    But thanks to Wolfman and the mightiest war room of them all, the Soros-funded horde will be held at bay (no doubt from their dormant volcano HQ) thanks to their arsenal of angry tweets and other bizarro repostes on social media. It maybe hard enough keeping Alberta’s remaining independent media outlets in line, so I’m not sure if the Centre should go off and look for enemies further afield. (I’m sure the vast table maps on the Centre’s tables have written on their borders “There be Dragons”.)

    Alberta’s future in 2020 will be a continuation of the mayhem and nonsense that Kenney is famous for, while he plots his exit from Alberta’s hellscape and his rightful place on the CPC’s throne. The leadership election has been postponed until November, so he has time to not make his exit look like he’s running from a crime scene.

    Or, otherwise, Skippy Poilievre? Really?

    • Scotty on Denman

      December 26th, 2019

      Skippy Poilievre? Really?

      If ever a load of crap could get the bowl boiling as it swirls hissing down the toilet, it would be Skippy. True: some recruitment is to be expected whenever a pan full of intestinal parasites is brought to the sizzling point, but surely it can’t be very many nor a very attractive recruitment scent among the general electorate. But what’s a moribund party in full decline to do?

      Nevertheless, I would encourage any pseudoCon leadership so repellant. I dare say, most Canadians would.

      Skippy’s surname should remind that the skin of the hare is notoriously thin—which is probably why he’s so easily and often provoked to displaying the tirades for which he’s most famous.

      Skippy for CPC leader, I say! Go, Skippy, go!

      And take the pseudoCon party with you!

  9. Bill Malcolm

    December 23rd, 2019

    Sincere Seasons Greetings to all. This place gets my vote for best Canadian blog. Well done Mr Climenhaga.

    Poilievre is surely a cousin to Jacob Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson’s extreme right wing attack dog, newly-appointed Leader of the Commons at Westminster and general idiot. They remind me so much of each other just to look at. Supremely offensive snootballs full of ideological nonsense and prone to bouts of prolonged sneering when their brains are stumped for logical responses. Nasty.

  10. Farmer Brian

    December 24th, 2019

    Certainly Alberta’s economy under performed in 2019. According to the latest data Canada’s economy shrank by .1% in October following steep retreats in manufacturing and retail sales. On a year over year basis Canada’s economy grew 1.2%. The question is how much did and does one affect the other. If you look at the numbers both Justin Trudeau and Jason Kenney are doing a poor job. Look at the latest federal deficit numbers, $7 billion higher than forecast!

    A little off topic but some interesting numbers just the same. From a Wall Street Jounal article. In 2019 coal demand in China increased by 7%. In 2019 China imported 72% of its oil and in 2020 it is projected that China will be the largest importer of natural gas in the world. The demand for fossil fuels is alive and well in China.

    David have a Merry Christmas! While you and I agree on very little politically I do enjoy reading your blog, Congradulations on 12 years. Enjoy your day and the holidays!

    • Murphy

      December 28th, 2019

      Kon yokels in Alberta sure do aspire to greater co-operation with the Commies in China to hasten the degradation of the planet. Perhaps the yokel-grifter nexus was being ironic in that charming milennial fashion when they called Notley’s NDP neo-liberals, “reds”? Was the problem for you folks that Notley and co. were fake commies and with your discerning eye you won’t stand for ersatz? Not that I wouldn’t mind a PRC approach to dealing with the members of the Alliance Church here. Perhaps a deal could be struck. The hillbilly-swindler machine could whore the province out to China’s rapcious earth-killing corporatist-state and in return the rest of us get Chinese state-intervention to rid us of the social conservatives. Win-win!

  11. Keith McClary

    December 24th, 2019

    Our daily $100,000 worth from the War Room for December 23:
    “Finding fuel in the things we throw away”

    It promotes “Renewable Natural Gas (RNG)”, AKA biomethane:
    “The company then purchases a corresponding amount of RNG that it blends into its overall gas inventory, with the idea being to slowly but surely replace traditional fuel with the cleaner option.”

    I wonder what Alberta oilfield and gasfield workers think of this?

    • Bob Raynard

      December 25th, 2019

      I agree. If RNG was touted at a Saskatchewan Christmas concert it would be called anti-oil. I wonder if someone’s head will roll for putting it up on the Ministry of Truth’s site.

      I also like your arithmetic. People need to see the cost of the MoT in terms that make sense to them.

  12. Abs

    December 25th, 2019

    Here’s hoping the fog will lift, like it did on Christmas Day! That was a Christmas miracle. Otherwise, the island of misfit elves will be putting the C***** back in my vocabulary — and those aren’t Christmas stars.


Leave a Reply

  • (not be published)