Alberta Energy Minister and Canadian Energy Centre Ltd. Director Sonya Savage (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Political commentators and professional gag writers breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when they learned from Energy Minister and Canadian Energy Centre Ltd. Director Sonya Savage that Alberta’s “Energy War Room” will live to fight another day for oil.

Ms. Savage told reporters at an impromptu news conference in Calgary that the War Room’s problems are all the result of the nefarious work of “environmental activists and the green left,” who have targeted the publicly funded but completely private corporation.

War Room Commandant Tom Olsen (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

And she knows how these Red Greens operate, Ms. Savage explained, having observed their misdeeds during her 13 years as a big shot in the fossil fuel industry. “I saw that kind of organized campaign unfold,” she said after doing duty as the keynote speaker at a luncheon of the Famous 5 Foundation.

“It was always going to be targeted,” she complained as the reporters scribbled, or however they take notes nowadays. (Your blogger must trust the stenography of the Calgary Herald’s reporter. At the time, he was attending a meeting of college professors and the like at an undisclosed location on an Edmonton university campus.)

What Ms. Savage witnessed, presumably, would explain how barely a day has gone by since the Calgary-based War Room was formally announced two months ago by Ms. Savage and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney without what the Herald’s scribe politely referred to as “gaffes and missteps.” (The efforts of the crack team of former Fraser Institute and Calgary Herald apparatchiks inside War Room has been described in less complimentary terms in the blogosphere and social media.)

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

“Maybe we didn’t understand how much it was going to be targeted and how much effort was going to be put into it, but that being said, we’re not stopping,” the energy minister/public-private corporate boss defiantly declared.

Well, thank God for small mercies! If the Globe and Mail had had its way, today could have been the day the laughter died.

Just three days ago, that well-known hotbed of European Greens, vegan extremists, and Marxist economists on Toronto’s King Street East editorialized that the time has come to pull the $30-million-a-year clown car off the information highway lest someone get hurt while it “lurched from pillar to post.”

“It is, in short, a political PR operation dressed up in journalist-face,” huffed one of the Globe’s masters or mistresses of editorial sanctimony. “It’s an agency of government, masquerading as an independent news organization. That is wrong.”

“It also isn’t working,” the editorial continued, leaving readers to fill in the obvious blank: Please leave the defence of petroleum where it belongs, in the hands of the professionals here on King Street, thank you very much!

Red Green, with another Great Canadian (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

“The centre is not salvageable,” the Globe concluded grimly. “It should be closed.”

Ms. Savage’s riposte: No soap! The War Room will live on, as long as there’s a grain of oily sand left in Alberta!

So the remarkable career of War Room Commandant Tom Olsen will continue, like a morning stroll down Bamburgh Castle Beach, The Wreckage safely forgotten behind him.

The Famous 5 Foundation, a “woman-focused non-profit” with a decidedly Conservative tilt to its membership — former Calgary Herald managing editor Joan Crockatt, briefly a Conservative Calgary MP, says on her Wikipedia page she was a “mentor” to the organization in the 1990s — can get back to doing good deeds.

And, whatever those Red Greens referenced by Ms. Savage get up to, Red Green remains a great Canadian!

As for the media, the part of the story it didn’t bother to ask about or comment on was what the heck the War Room is doing with $30-million per annum, as it most certainly isn’t going to the bare-bones propaganda website operated by Mr. Olsen or the shabby corporate office it works from.

If some Albertans smell a rat, apparently even the sensitive noses at the Globe and Mail haven’t noticed a thing.

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  1. I suppose the next headline in the Globe and Mail could be “The War on Truth Continues in Alberta”. However, I doubt it will be so bold, even though that paper on occasion takes more than a passing interest in Alberta affairs and does not have much to risk, unlike the generally more reticent local mainstream media. Maybe they don’t want the War Room to go all rambo after them, like it tried to do to the New York Times. On second thought, it could be great publicity for the Globe and Mail.

    In any event, the message from Ms. Savage seems to be the lady is not for turning, at least not yet. While the final decision on this will probavly not made by Ms. Savage, presumably she talks regularly to those who would make it. My feeling is they are at the anger, denial and bargaining stages still on this issue. Perhaps there is even still some hope the gaffes will stop soon and things will settle down. Perhaps they are looking for some way to kill it off without it being an obvious public embarassing climb down.

    However, Ms. Savage did state one thing right and got another one right by omission. The War Room’s opponents are organized, something that can’t be said about the War Room ittself. So we are left to wonder how much more self inflicted damage this government is willing to endure. Certainly not bad news for the opposition, for the government to continue to shoot itself in the foot, but maybe not very helpful for the energy industry the governmnent claims to be trying to help.

  2. I recall, from the many long hours I spent listening to politicos wax on and on about their various formulas to remake the world in whatever image they were promoting at the time, that there is one important maxim: when one is at their worst moment, when it seems as though all is for nought, and the sky is about to fall in, all one needs to do is stand up proudly, look about at the chaos that has been wrought, and declare victory. Yes, do exactly that.

    The scene described above reminds me somewhat of that scene from the horror classic, the Night of the Living Dead, were the one likely survivor is found turned to a zombie.

    Savage struck me as, in more lucid moments, as one of the adults in the room. While Premier Angry Midget and the Wolfman were raging on and on about the latest selection from their giant bag of conspiracies and dirty tricks, Savage tried to maintain an air of decorum and good sense in the midst of the mayhem. Well, it seems even she has turned into…one of them.

    The latest bit of news is that the war room has been the victim of a fifth-column element (no doubt a Soros-sponsored NGO) and all the mishaps and goof-ups were landmines planted by the nefarious sworn enemies of everything Albertan. Like the besieged defenders of the Alamo, the war room will valiantly fight on, all the self-inflicted fugazi be damned.

    This is the best episode of Seinfeld that $30M can buy.

  3. No doubt about it, you’re a paranoid when you blame your own faults on an amprphous someone “out to git yuh”. And this squawking from Savage would only resonate between the ears of right wing nitwits – “environmental activists and the green left” are all code words designed to re-vivify the laborious threshing of mouldy minds frightened by their own shadows. Everyone else would just have a good laugh at the mindless nonsense from a so-called leader in government. That’s if they spent any time even considering it, because it’s right up there with the US which assumed a Red under every bed in the early 1950s, magically transported to the USA to disrupt the American “way of life”. It was bullsh!t then and it’s bullsh!t now. It’s merely a tactic to keep the general population cowed into following the grand and glorious government line. I suppose the real trouble is, to my mind at least, that so many Albertans actually believe the utter guff kenney’s government spouts. Those who tend to disagree like provincial employees supposedly living high off the government hog, are bullied into keeping their heads down or face personal financial ruin by loss of job. It’s dangerous demagoguery.

    The assumption that environmental activists and green left are being nasty and unfair to them is the UCP’s basic mantra, because they themselves would act that way if the positions were somehow reversed. That’s why public money is being squandered to protect the frightened wabbits fwom the dark forces of evil gweenies massed to save the world and thus end the fabulous Alberta way of life. Good lord, in 2020, and by 2020 for that matter, you’d think the stodgy right wing mind might have learned something or come up with an excuse that actually made sense. It hasn’t, merely retreating into tired old re-tread arguments, recycled for your intellectual pleasure and enjoyment, to be dismissed as utter nonsense by thinking people.

    The Canadian Right establishment, keen to ruin our healthcare system by privatization and anything else where they can squeeze an extra dime out of regular folk for inferior service while claiming it’s better much like the banks retreat from rural Canada, floated a trial balloon these past couple of weeks in New Brunswick. The province is already that major anomaly, a modern feudal state, run by Irving Oil and Forestry. It’s so rampantly the case, nobody outside the place can even countenance that it could actually be true, being so unbelievable to the cultured mind most people assume they themselves possess. They should spend some time there trying to do business with the provincial government to see how the wind blows!

    PC Premier Higgs, a former Irving manager, managed to cobble together a minority-ish government following the last election, after the young Liberal premier Gallant had gone off the rails by acting independent, thus annoying the Irving oligarchy tremendously. Usually, both major parties toe the line. Blaine Higgs, on the surface a mild-mannered Aw Shucks kind of guy, decided somehow that his fellow citizens who had made the mistake of living rurally would no longer be able to access local Emergency Room care between 10 pm and 8 am. So there. Take that.

    Well, they didn’t, finally showing some spine, and pore old Higgsie, shaken to the core by the rebellion, had to back down on his plan. But only temporarily, he literally mumbled away for his backers, as he reversed his position following general visceral anger at the effrontery of the rich and powerful to limit citizens’ rights they have paid for. Even his deputy premier had quit over the matter. There’ll be an election there soon, and you can be sure the newly awakened populace will be all ears for candidates who attack the austerity parsimoniousness in NB that Cons have established worldwide. It started “properly” with the Cameron government in the UK from 2010, a general kicking to the curb of the really poor and destitute who couldn’t fight back. And harper was on it for his next major “improvement” to Canada, thankfully interrupted by election loss. Not that the replacement was much better — his latest incapablity seems to be to not to be able to understand English, where First Nations rail blockaders say they will withdraw when the RCMP SWAT and Bully Team is withdrawn from unceded Wetsuweten territory. (I note that TC Energy flogged off part of Coastal Gas Pipeline to that entity known as Alberta Investment Management Co just prior to this past Christmas)

    Alberta is still some decades behind the awakening taking place in NB, because it rode the wave of profitable oil and gas extraction, and there was more than enough spare cash to go around, even after gifting the province’s resources to foreigners. But kenney is already astride the Austerity horse, handing out $5 billion to people who don’t need it, the already rich, and then claiming there ain’t enough money left to go around for the people who earn it and pay taxes to be abused for not being productive, or some such typical right wing muse. At my advanced age, someone who lived through all the BS when the major crown corporation I worked for was suddenly privatized by giveaway to private interests, I’ve seen the same lame excuses floated up by the wealthy to justify their continued privilege again and again for the last quarter century. And mythical enemies hiding in the bushes out to “destroy” a way of life, as Savage bleats, is typical of the excuses. Forget climate change! Here, breath in a lungful of extra CO2 and rejoice – there’s lots more on the way!

  4. The war room is an embarrassment to the Government and to We Albertans.

    I shudder to think what other must think of us. Ignorant, redneck hillbillies comes to mind.

    Close it down or right the ship by replacing the current leaders of this ‘Fawlty Towers’ like organization.

  5. Mr. Blogger, how did you manage to get that photo of your previous Calgary Herald co-worker, picket line crosser and now taxpayer funded War Room Commandant? Wide eyed, he looks either startled or star struck by your presence.

  6. In political circles (and in other organizations, business or otherwise) friends and family will be looked after first. That is rule number one.

    It works the same everywhere. it is what is politely referred to as “networking”.

    How else are a bunch of absolutely useless individuals going to pay their bills, fund their lifestyle, and buy groceries? That is where the $30 million dollars are going and that is why the “War Room” was created. The rest is merely obfuscation and old time BS. A government funded advertising agency that serves the interests of large, financially robust, private corporations continues to make sense only so long as the revolving door that serves the political class and the business class continues to operate as it should and that means it must be greased or lubricated on a regular basis.

    Cronyism and Alberta politics go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other.

  7. Brilliant move by “green leftists” and “far-left greenies”.
    Left to his own devices, Kenney would have quietly closed down the War Room embarrassment in short order.
    But Kenney can’t cave in to the demands of wackadoodle communists and “foreign-funded” green groups.
    So he’s going to have to keep the embarrassment open. Keep defending the indefensible. Keep taking the political hits.
    Score one for the pinko enviros. Well played!

  8. Thank you DC as always. I love that all the war room’s self inflicted wounds are attributed to the “Green Left”.
    I’m surprised she didn’t say “Foreign-funded Green Left”. Towards the end of the Herald article Ms Savage is quoted as forecasting (directing?) some changes for the war room: “Savage acknowledged the first two months of the war room’s existence have not gone smoothly and there have been some “bumps.” She said she expects there will be less social media activity coming from the CEC in the immediate future, as the organization “reprioritizes” to focus on its energy research and data mandate, as well as an upcoming traditional advertising campaign.

  9. And so we arrive at the point where the SS makes it obvious that the War Room is merely a cover for a $120,000,000 UCP slush fund. As a distraction for what’s really going on with all that money that is being siphoned out of Albertans’ pockets (for strictly partisan purposes), it makes sense that the War Room must continue. It’s really, really distracting. It’s working! And red and green make brown, the color of oil, and historically-significant shirts.

  10. The phrase ‘going to the well once too often’ comes to mind.

    I do wonder if, just like Jason’s War Room itself, Ms. Savage has done the cause more harm than good. Jason Kenney has been a master at blaming others for Alberta’s problems, but at least his claims have some semblance of credibility, if you don’t look too closely.

    For Sonya Savage to claim it is environmentalists to blame for plagiarized logos, mis-representing workers as journalists, and ill-advised tweets about the New York Times, however, is simply incomprehensible. Not only does it make her sound stupid, it is bound to make some people who have so far accepted Kenney’s blame game reconsider how much they have been willing to believe our premier.

  11. I noticed yesterday they have four Teck press releases dated Feb 7. Were those there before? I’ve been checking regularly to see how many items we’re getting for our $600,000/week, but don’t remember seeing them.

  12. So when is the UcP going to stop fighting imaginary enemies, and start preparing for some very real issues that are about to hit the fan? Like this:

    China’s economic woes are spreading to South Korea and Japan. China’s greenhouse gas emissions have plummeted due to the shutdowns. Not much demand for what Alberta’s selling, but hurry up because China’s chomping at the bit for that pipeline? Not even the beautiful mountains will be making money for us this year.

    Here in Alberta, our leaders apparently can’t be bothered to look at imminent impacts from world events. What plan? What world events? “Blithely unaware” isn’t a responsible action plan.

  13. Gosh I thought Savage was a nick name but it is actually her last name – oh well!!
    So much for women joining the man’s club. It is proving to be as bad unfortunately.
    By the way I suggest we stop calling Jason Kenney our premier – I personally cannot recognize this thing as my premier.
    All I can hear and feel is lies, deceit, arrogance, intimidation and condescending attitude.
    I do not accept that kind of treatment from no one so he and soon all of them are invisible to me.

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