Alberta Politics
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, bringing Alberta more job-creating job cuts! (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Kenney to Edmonton: Drop dead!

Posted on March 03, 2020, 12:47 am
10 mins

When the New York Daily News published its famous FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD headline on Oct. 30, 1975, all president Gerald Ford had done was deny a federal bailout to Gotham, which was nearly bankrupt.

It shows the power of a great headline that Oct. 29, the day President Ford gave the offending speech, still lives in infamy in the memories of New Yorkers and headline writers.

U.S. President Gerald Ford — in this picture he was reading the pardon he granted his predecessor, President Richard Nixon (Photo: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library).

President Jason Kenney, as he no doubt thinks of himself as he hums Hail to the Chief on his way in to the Premier’s Office on those mornings he’s not back home in Ottawa, campaigning for conservative politicians in Vancouver or the burbs of Toronto, or on mysterious “business” in Washington or London, seems actually to be trying to wreck the economy of Alberta’s capital region.

He’s doing it principally by killing public sector jobs, quite intentionally, under the cover of the discredited claim austerity will be good for the economy. You know, “job-creating job cuts.” (My quote, not his, to be fair, but, admit it, you wondered if he actually said that, didn’t you?)

Indeed, Edmonton learned it would lose up to 240 more good jobs yesterday when the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology announced it would be laying off employees to cope with Mr. Kenney’s brutal cuts to post-secondary education funding.

Like that of U.S. President Donald J. Trump, much admired in Mr. Kenney’s inner circle (Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen, c’mon down from the farm!), Mr. Kenney’s government is all about revenge. That, I reckon, is why the UCP cabinet, bizarrely, has launched a blitzkrieg against the province’s physicians, especially family docs, with plans to cut their compensation by 20 per cent over four years.

The infamous New York Daily News headline of Oct. 30, 1975.

The Alberta Medical Association, after all, was actually prepared to work with the previous NDP government like grownups. That cannot be allowed! They’ll have to be punished for not acting like those agricultural check-off groups the Dippers tried so hard to work with, and foolishly continued to support, for which they were thanked with sabotage at every turn.

This goes double for the teachers. However, the Alberta Teachers Association also had a long relationship with the old Progressive Conservative Party that gave the PCs several capable ministers over the years. So Mr. Kenney has an additional motive to want to mess with the teachers’ union. Not only was it credible among many old Red Tories, now purged but still potentially influential, it stands in the way of the UCP’s apparent plan to privatize public education out to religious fringe groups and chi-chi prep schools.

Of course, the thing about Edmonton that really gets up UCP noses is what the voters of the capital city did in the general election last April. To wit, they elected a clean slate of New Democrats, but for a single sorry UCP MLA in the city’s south end.

Former Alberta Premier, now Opposition leader, Rachel Notley (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

This guaranteed Kaycee Madu a spot in cabinet as minister of municipal affairs — a job, it would be fair to say, at which Mr. Madu’s performance has been less than stellar. We’ll leave that assessment to the voters of Edmonton-South West, however, when Mr. Kenney brings in his MLA recall legislation. In the mean time, though, it’s obvious the UCP braintrust has determined Edmonton must also be punished for so reliably sticking with the NDP.

Still, Albertans actually hear it said by serious people that UCP supporters in Calgary demand Edmonton now be made to suffer at least as much as Calgary did during the recent recession, which was caused by slumping international oil prices, not Rachel Notley and the NDP.

Not only that, but as Alberta’s capital city, Edmonton has a higher percentage of unionized public employees than the province’s other major centres, and by definition they’re organized and inclined to defend the excellent services they provide. (Even the UCP reluctantly concedes front-line public workers like nurses do excellent work, even as it acts as if the opposite were true.)

Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister and the UCP’s sole Edmonton MLA, Kaycee Madu (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Of course, we all know how the Trump-style Republicans at the core of the UCP feel about unions, not to mention the well-known propensity of organized labour to resist the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the 1%.

That would explain why Mr. Kenney’s toadies on social media try so hard to pass off the surprisingly strong and growing opposition to the UCP’s destructive policies as the work of unions and other “special interests.”

When an astonishing crowd estimated by the Edmonton Police Service at 13,000 turned up at the Legislature Building last Thursday to protest against Mr. Kenney’s cuts, the premier’s echo chamber dismissed it as “just a bunch of union funded noise.”

Funny how that works. When a couple of hundred farmers infuriated by the NDP government’s plan to let farm workers be eligible for Workers Compensation showed up in the same place in December 2015, the same folks made it sound as if it were the biggest thing since the Berlin Wall came down. Alberta’s mainstream media was delighted to provide amplification.

Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Surely, though, an intentional vengeance attack by a senior government on one region’s economy must be unique in Canadian history, notwithstanding the Wexiters’ and Kenneyites’ ridiculous constant whining that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government in Ottawa is doing the same thing to Alberta. (Projection, anyone?)

Needless to say, political revenge on recalcitrant voters is far from a sound basis for economic policy, no matter what the short-term political benefits may appear to be to the government. As for austerity, it fails everywhere it’s implemented, and “job creating tax cuts” never seem to create any jobs. The UCP’s been at it for the better part of a year now, and Alberta has lost something like 70,000 jobs. Unemployment in Edmonton was at 8.3 per cent in January, statistically tied with Windsor, Ont., as the highest of any major city in Canada.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson would be within his rights to strike a “Fair Deal Panel” to visit the neighbourhoods of his city and come up with options to help Edmonton ensure it gets a better deal from Alberta. Of course, Mayor Iveson is a grownup, so I have no doubt he’d politely decline to engage in that kind of tomfoolery.

Which is a pity, because without something like that, someone less dignified is sure to found a YEGxit movement soon, to get this city the hell out of Alberta, if only to ensure we remain solvent and part of Canada when the UCP wrecking crew gets done.

If Premier Kenney actually manages to bankrupt Edmonton, I’m pretty sure he’ll tell it to drop dead too.

18 Comments to: Kenney to Edmonton: Drop dead!

  1. e.a.f.

    March 3rd, 2020

    When these cuts in to the public service start to really impact those still working in Alberta, they may come to regret their’ choice. Kenny is no Peter Lougheed.

    To those instructors being laid off: do feel free to come to B.C. Although Greater Vancouver and Victoria are a tad pricey, there is a lot of the province which still has affordable housing. You’d love Nanaimo and there is a university and trades center here. Great view of the ocean also.

    Doctors, oh, yes please come to B.C. we have a real shortage of family practise doctors. the provincial government here is building new hospitals, opening new clinics. You’ll have a full practise and get to go skiing after work in a lot of places.

    Now that I’ve finished with my ads, Kenny is being stupid. All he is doing is creating more poverty in Alberta without creating one single new job. We in B.C saw restraint policies back in the early 1980s. didn’t help the economy. We save them in 2001 when Gordon Campbell took over. Didn’t create any new jobs when he fired all 9K HEU hospital workers. Hospitals haven’t been clean in B.C. since.

    Kenny hasn’t even been smart enough to look at other industries which may be interested in coming to Alberta. With lots of reasonably prices housing and office space, you’d think they’d be making a try at getting companies like those in Silicon Valley to come to Alberta. We got them to come to B.C.

    Its going to be very hard for Albertans in the next few years. However, they will have to learn to live with it and some may die because of it. With Kenny’s cuts to health care and doctor’s salaries don’t expect to do well with the impending COVID 19 epidemic.

  2. Dave

    March 3rd, 2020

    There were not too many things I was hopeful about with Kenney, but one thing i hoped was he might not be Klein like in taking every opportunity to stick it to Edmonton. After all, it seemed he hardly lived in Calgary, so if there was any city he should favour based on length of his residence it wouldn’t be in Alberta, it would be Ottawa.

    Kenney would probably not quite put it that way, but would probably assert he is not singleing out Edmonton. After all, SAIT had almost the same number of positions cut recently. Yes, the K Days Parade is gone, but he cut funding for the Stampede too. Strangely, he seems to have found some loose change in the cushions for the Glenbow, which may not happen as it seems to require some matching funding from the City of Calgary. That does seem a bit Klein like, but as it may not happen as Calgary’s municipal funding has also been cut, perhaps this is a moot point. There were surprisingly a large number of Calgarians protesting Kenney recently too and his support seems to be falling there too.

    The only things that seemed to have been partly spared by the UCP are some rural things, coincidentally where UCP support is strongest. So perhaps Kenney has it in for major urban centers in Alberta and for him it is just a happy coincidence for more of the government spending is in Edmonton where he has so few MLAs to lose.

    If Wexit does take off, Kenney might find Alberta also becomes divisible. Edmonton, Calgary and some other places may be less than enthusiastic about an even more unrestrained Kenneyland. My preference, to sort of echo what the dear leader himself said about Canada, would be to keep the province together, but kick the current Premier out.

  3. Abs

    March 3rd, 2020

    Edmonton is being hit hard, there’s no denying that. SAIT also announced job cuts that along with NAIT’s almost equal the “new” jobs monsieur Kenney thinks will be created cleaning up toxic oil wells with our $100M. You know, private blue collar oil jobs instead of public ones.

    Let’s face it, Kenney wants to bankrupt all of Alberta, because his true agenda will be revealed once that job is done. He’s a wrecking ball. It never was about serving the people of this province. His master is elsewhere. If he really did care, would he waste all that money on expensive taxpayer-funded trips wiith no evidence of any government work done?

    I’m pretty sure that recall legislation that includes just about everyone except parents on school councils will come with some sort of clause that protects his seat, for surely his government would fall.

    And please get on board with Alberta’s new arch enemy, the coronavirus. Apparently it is responsible for dropping oil prices over the past several years, not Rachel Notley. Who knew? The Penguin vs. Covid. We live in a comic book now. BTW, there is no actual plan for dealing with public enemy number one, other than oil-related scapegoating.

  4. J.E. Molnar

    March 3rd, 2020

    With apologies to Benjamin Franklin: “A UCP government that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”

    It didn’t take long for Jason (I’ve-Got-A-Panel-For-That) Kenney to cite the coronavirus as another cause for his government’s dismal economic performance—despite the fact there is no indication the coronavirus has even directly or indirectly impacted Alberta.

    In addition, Mr. Kenney blamed declining oil prices as proof his government is not to blame for a failing economic climate—intent on the continued punishment of Alberta. This, despite the fact the UCP refused to recognize a similar pattern of oil pricing and the subsequent challenges it presented for the NDP government. Maybe someday the UCP brain trust will eventually come to the realization that it’s better to offer no excuse, than a really god-awful bad one.

  5. Jim

    March 3rd, 2020

    I have often wondered how Dreeshen family dinners go.
    Son supported Trump who was against the TPP, called out Clinton on Libya, appeared to be antiglobalist, spoke out against forever wars. Father supported the TPP, supported the destruction of Libya, fully supports the worst kind of globalism, and backed forever wars everywhere. Son is part of a government trying to destroy public education, drain the pension fund and demonize teachers. Father was a teacher currently collecting a pension and by all indications is proud of his teaching career. They both likely wouldn’t be where they are today without the government assistance provided through the homestead program. I’d go talk to Earl in his office but, much like Kenney, he never seems to be around.

  6. Bill Malcolm

    March 3rd, 2020

    In preparation for this comment, I read among others, the following background article from 1975:

    It is so well written in the technical sense, you have to wonder what happened to education these past forty odd years. A pleasure to read. Most of today’s public writings, not this blog, I hasten to add, seem to be written by not very bright Grade 9 types to whom logic and sentence construction are a Martian concept.

    Some things haven’t changed that much in Alberta so far as the right wing attitude is concerned. Though not a rabid right-winger as we think of them now, continually grumping in their cups over perceived slights no matter how small, Lougheed was at least talking about oil royalties being used for diversification of employment in the future. kenney never has, to my knowledge. He arrived after the party was over and all the best food had been eaten, and was presented with the bill. This is not how he sees himself as the virtuous lord and master. So he is spitefully angry and paranoid at being snookered by circumstance, oil price collapse and climate change meaning lowered investment outlook in Alberta’s particularly nasty tarsand resource by large investment funds.He may not become famous, other than as a tinpot autocrat with no edeeeming features wahtever.

    Forty-five years have gone by since Lougheed’s ascension to the premiership of Alberta. The easy oil has been tapped out, and the Alberta deficit is $70 billion. Well done! Nothing saved. Nice vacation. Great parties. Nobody bothered to listen to Peter.

    So in a rage, as so many Albertans seem to have been in perpetuity from reading the aforementioned article, kenney exacts revenge on those exact people who had nothing to do with the profligate waste. Yeah, it’s all THEIR fault! those spineless public sector workers and doctors who are trying to RUIN Alberta, not the people who ran through the resource as if it were water and partied like Bacchus while going on about rugged individualism and the other nonsense entitled people feel is their due.

    Even Lougheed thought Confederation should be changed, but quite how it seems he never really got around to articulating. Perhaps he at heart understood that one person one vote is how a democracy as we know it functions. kenney and the UCP cannot get this simple concept through their heads. They’re special.

    Thus, since he cannot at a stroke subject other Canadians to his inordinate rage, kenney has turned on some of his own fellow Albertans, a group of people who cannot fight back. It’s like one of those flesh-eating diseases come true. A nightmare.

    God help you lot out there.

    • Bruce

      March 18th, 2020

      Thank You for your comments.
      I live in BC near Vancouver and I remember Mr PL’s comments
      and his presence.
      He was a good educated politician, well spoken, wrote well and a person
      who saw what oil and resources could do in the best way.
      I am not a Conservative I vote social in most cases.
      But – I think your comments are spot on.


  7. Gail

    March 3rd, 2020

    “an intentional vengeance attack by a senior government on one region’s economy must be unique in Canadian history,”

    I am not sure how this can be called unique when this is a pattern of financial punishment that happened repeatedly under Klein and his successors.

  8. Keith McClary

    March 3rd, 2020

    Kenney is concerned about the Coronavirus. Not that people will get sick or die, but that it will decrease oil industry profits.

  9. Just Me

    March 3rd, 2020

    It appears that Kenney has decided he intends to burn every bridge and punish all his enemies. Of course trashing an urban area of almost one million people and affecting the surrounding rural areas should be cause for everyone’s concern.

    While Kenney can be easily accused of being an angry short man, taking his rage to the level of vendettas again a quarter of Alberta’s population puts him in the league of the likes of Pol Pot sans the Killing Fields.

    This is what happens when political bosses get into power. Kenney’s rage will spread far and wide; we’ll have to see if there is a tipping point where even Alberta says, “Enough already!”

  10. Alex C Polkovsky

    March 3rd, 2020

    I’m hip to the YEGxit idea if it gets us to the coast. What? No? That’s no good, then.

  11. e.a.f.

    March 3rd, 2020

    ah, Alberta separating. what a laugh. A land locked country. B.C. isn’t interested in leaving Confederation. If Alberta wants to leave, I’d suggest we insist they get passports to come to B.C. Changing how Canada operates as a country? Not likely. Don’t believe there will be another agreement of 10 premiers and leaders of the territories. If Quebec can’t manage it, Alberta won’t get it done either. Kenny also doesn’t seem to understand the province isn’t in control of all the land in the province. He might want to remember large sections of it is Indigenous land and they most likely don’t have any interest in “belonging” to Alberta. Their contracts are with the federal government.

    We have had recall legislation in B.C. for decades, but its never worked. Governments set the bar so high it doesn’t work. Expect no different from Kenny.

    Good luck to the people of Alberta and some one ought to remember its not the COVID=19. B.C. has way more cases and our economy is just fine, but then we did diversify over the decades.

    Again, doctors, teachers, please feel free to move here.

  12. Farmer Dave

    March 3rd, 2020

    Alberta’s worst Premier in history was just interviewed on TV today. He blamed everyone including the kitchen sink for the poor Alberta economy. Claims he has done everything to help the economy and none of the problems are his fault. This is what Albertan’s voted for, the worst Premier in Alberta’s history. Maybe Mr. Kenney better join up with his far religious right folks and pray to their personal God for better economic times.

  13. Janna F

    March 3rd, 2020

    He’s looking a little orange in that picture. Mind you, I think he’s smarter than Trump, but he’s blinded by his ideology. I haven’t quite figured out what he thinks he’s going to accomplish, the only thing could be that someone is paying him to do these things. Probably quite handsomely.

  14. Dan Boyd

    March 4th, 2020

    Great article. Great comments. Can’t add much.

  15. s

    March 4th, 2020

    Is this an NDP paper? Sounds a lot like U.S. fake biaaed news

    • jerrymacgp

      March 5th, 2020

      To “S”, whoever you are: this is a blog, not a newspaper. It is opinion, although founded on facts and thoroughly sourced. Our host is a well-known lefty in the Alberta blogosphere, who provides a counterpoint to the right-wing drivel spewed out by the mainstream media, especially the Northern Enquirer US hedge fund-owned local papers.

      You are free to disagree with his views, but please bring facts and logic to bear in doing so, not ad hominem labelling.

  16. Abs

    March 4th, 2020

    He may not have told Edmonton to drop dead in those exact words, but he did say,”Let me be blunt with you, Jan.” I’m sure there’s a Brady Bunch meme in there somewhere. “Here’s a story, of a man named Kenney…”


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