Alberta Premier Alison Redford emerges alone from Government House on March 13, 2014, after a meeting with her caucus; six days later she announced she would resign, which she did on March 23 (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Whether or not Bob Buckle meant it to be an early April Fool’s joke when he posted his deep thoughts on public education on social media, opining that “perhaps it’s time to reduce our physical plant and footprint with large structures and move to virtual online learning,” he’d be smart now to claim that was his intention.

“If we can justify a complete school closure for a large portion of the year without major impact then maybe there is a better way and more cost effective way to deliver educational programming than the way it has been done the last century,” Mr. Buckle opined in a comment on March 31.

Cold Lake City Councillor Bob Buckle (Photo: City of Cold Lake).

“Worth looking at?” asked the city councillor, Chamber of Commerce stalwart and McDonald’s Hamburger University degree holder from Cold Lake.

Advocacy of this view by one of the burghers of the small city in northeastern Alberta seems completely plausible. As a business guy who relies on an educated workforce and doubtless talks all the time about “dollars and sense,” you could say it’s completely implausible too.

The response on social media was forceful, almost universally negative — although Shane Getson, United Conservative Party MLA for nearby Lac Ste. Anne Parkland, seemed sympathetic.

Anyway, it’s never too late in the age of Donald Trump and Jason Kenney to say the opposite tomorrow of what you said today and deny anything has changed. Especially when there’s a great excuse like April Fool’s Day just lying around.

If Mr. Buckle has any sense, he’ll grab it.

Being both plausible and implausible at the same time, of course, is the very definition of the perfect April Fool’s hoax.

At the risk of tooting my own horn, the most successful April Fool I ever perpetrated was in 2014, when April Fool’s Day fell eight days after Progressive Conservative Premier Alison Redford resigned in response to being handed her walking papers by her own caucus.

Alison Redford set to sue Alberta Government for wrongful dismissal,” fooled everyone.

“The former premier believes that because she was given a ‘work plan’ by the leadership of the province’s Progressive Conservative government and then forced to step aside before actually having a chance to prove she could do the job as set out in the plan her lawsuit has a strong chance of success,” the story continued.

Few readers read further than that before they expressed their outrage on social media.

Over to you, Mr. Buckle. It’s not too late for redemption!

Maxed out, UCP warns it may have to cease operations

Oh my gosh, the United Conservative Party says it may have to cease operations!

Grabbing hold of the global coronavirus pandemic and shaking hard it to see if any spare change falls out, Jason Kenney’s UCP sent off a fund-raising email to the party’s credulous supporters Monday warning that “we have received almost no revenue this month, and we are getting close to hitting the maximum of our line of credit.”

The reason — according to the fund-raisers, anyway — “our Leader asked us to stop fundraising when the crisis began.” Readers may believe that if they choose.

“We have cut costs, but if we do not receive some revenue to support our basic operations, we will be unable to pay our bills, and we will have to cease operations.”

Remember, this is a party that raised more than $7 million in donations in the most recent fiscal year. Come to think of it, this may explain a lot about the province’s just-passed budget, which is based on the prediction oil will soon be fetching close to $60 a barrel.

Government changes course, agrees to extend job protections for AUPE

The public reaction to the layoff of 26,000 education workers followed by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees’ announcement Monday the Kenney Government had also rejected its call to suspend planned layoffs of Public Service employees until the COVID-19 crisis had passed must have been harsh.

Whatever the reason, the government has reversed course. AUPE said yesterday the job cuts are now off the table for the time being.

AUPE said it signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the government Tuesday evening to extend job protections contained in a Letter of Understanding attached to the last agreement until the end of June. Bargaining for a new collective agreement has also been delayed until the end of June.

What’s up with Alberta’s environmental regulations?

NDP Caucus Communications Director Leah Ward (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Last night Leah Ward, NDP Caucus communications director, warnedthe UCP government is using the cover of a pandemic to suspend environmental reporting requirements.”

She provided a link to the ministerial order suspending the regulation requiring reports of spills and releases under the Water Act and other environmental regulations.

It’s possible this suspension is a genuine response to the difficulty processing paperwork at a time when the government and the economy are both in a virtual lockdown. But if so, it’s hard to feel much sympathy with a government that has illustrated a proclivity in recent days to lie about so many things.

Under the circumstances, Ms. Ward’s suspicion “the UCP are jeopardizing the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land we grow our food on and I cannot for the life of me understand why this is OK” is completely understandable.

Alberta Greens choose new leader — sort of

New Green Party of Alberta Leader Jordan Wilkie (Photo: Green Party of Alberta).

Members of the Green Party of Alberta have elected firefighter Jordan Wilkie of Edmonton as leader of their party — sort of.

Since the Greens, who have gone through a surprising number of leaders lately for such a small party, have adopted an unorthodox co-leader format, there’s yet another leader to be chosen soon.

Mr. Wilkie’s victory was announced in a press release on the weekend after the party’s planned convention in Red Deer was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Romy Tittel was elected leader in November 2017 after Janet Keeping stepped down from the post. Six months later she quit. Coral Bliss Taylor served as interim leader until September 2018, when Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes was chosen. Ms. Chagnon-Greyeyes served for a year before stepping aside, after which William Carnegie was interim leader.

‘Fair deal’ timing perhaps not the best

Yesterday being April Fool’s Day, it seems appropriate the final report of the recommendations from Premier Kenney’s “Fair Deal Panel” on Alberta autonomy was due to be submitted.

Will anything change, now that the federal government appears to be keeping our collective head above water? Or will the UCP just stall for a more propitious date to release the panel’s predictable findings?

In closing, riddle me this …

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau buys a pipeline for Alberta and he’s a bum. Jason Kenney buys a piece of another one for potentially about the same price and he’s supposed to be a bold and innovative hero. Can someone explain this, please? Inquiring minds want to know.

Join the Conversation


  1. Here’s a footnote to the education layoff debacle.

    “Our view was that school board expenditures are going down markedly right now but provincial expenditures are going up by billions and billions of dollars.

    “So while the school board expenses were going down because of a lack of work, and they were going to do these layoffs in many cases — perhaps not all — we saw our expenses going up by billions of dollars.”

    “The concept of paying for folks who aren’t working is very difficult with the billions of additional dollars we’re spending and the revenue floor falling out from underneath us,” he told reporters.

    Whose fault is it that billions and billions of $US are going out the door? That would be Jason Kenney’s fault. As we recall, the pipeline deal was announced after the education layoffs. And the revenue floor falling out from under him preceded the decision to toss bilions and billions of $US into the revenue pit.

    Perhaps The Joker would have been a better choice for him than The Penguin suit he wore yesterday, but no matter. One comic book villain is much the same as the next.

    So Bob Buckle is real, and doesn’t live in pineapple under the sea. Good to know. I could have sworn JK profusely thanked the Krusty Krab in the daily Covid health update yesterday. It worked well to advertise for free on national TV, and did you know they have an app for curbside pickup service?

    April Fool’s Day gives me a sick headache.

  2. One tiny bone to pick with the statement that physical therapists will be working with school children during this pandemic. H-e-double-hockey-sticks no! Wrong! One clinic explains:

    “We have continued to remain closed for regular Physiotherapy services. This was mandated by the City and the Province’s Health Authority where the Social Distancing of 2 meters could not be maintained.

    “During our mandated closure, we are allowed to offer our Physiotherapy service to those patients that fit an “Emergency or Urgent” status. This has been recommended by both the Canadian Physiotherapy Association and the Physiotherapy Alberta College Association and is currently allowed to be provided by Alberta Health within its current Public Health order.”

    Even urgent/emergency cases must be pre-screened.

  3. Disaster capitalism at its finest.
    As COVID-19 dominates the headlines, and millions of citizens cower before an invisible enemy, billions of dollars transferred from public coffers to fossil fuel corporations. Environmental regulations and health protections are rolled back.

    I predicted Kenney would follow Trump’s example last week (March 27):
    “‘To help businesses deal with the outbreak, the Trump administration has decided it will be easing back on environmental enforcement and compliance requirements, according to an Environmental Protection Agency memo. The decision follows requests by the energy industry and other sectors.’ (CBC)
    “Expect the same demands here.”

    Where is Alberta’s Loyal Opposition?
    To quote myself:
    “The pre-2015 AB NDP was a force for good in opposition. The only voice of sanity on climate and energy. Notley has eliminated that option.
    “Now we have zero oil industry critics in the AB Legislature. Banished to opposition benches, the shrivelled NDP caucus can say nothing about oilsands expansion, oil & gas pollution, and climate inaction — because they shilled for Big Oil in office. Notley threw billions of dollars at the oil industry, failed to increase royalties, failed to investigate health concerns in the oilsands, and failed to fix Alberta’s Energy Regulator. Whose CEO ‘grossly mismanaged public funds’.
    “Once Notley endorsed Vivian Krause wacky theories, it was no longer right-wing and no longer conspiracy theory. Notley took it mainstream.
    “We no longer have a mainstream party that champions science.”

    Notley’s multiple failures enabled Kenney’s successes.
    To quote myself:
    “Notley’s denialism and pipeline push, supported by a wide swath of progressives, created the political space for Kenney to move AB further and faster towards climate disaster.
    “A pox on both their houses.”

    Former AB Liberal leader Kevin Taft can now write a sequel to his book: “Oil’s Deep State: How the petroleum industry undermines democracy and stops action on global warming – in Alberta, and in Ottawa”.
    The triumph of neoliberalism. Global disaster.

  4. “We have cut costs, but if we do not receive some revenue to support our basic operations, we will be unable to pay our bills, and will have to cease operations.”
    I offer the UCP my thoughts and prayers and, as a bonus gesture, tears of sorrow.

  5. Why is Kenney a bold hero and Trudeau a bum for buying pipelines? Perfectly simple. This is an internal contest between Bishops of the church of free enterprise for the top job. The base of this church is a cargo cult which believes building pipelines to nowhere will bring back the prosperity of a golden age of free enterprise – when V8s had four barrel carburetors and lead was just a harmless fuel additive.

  6. While the nonsense over the last week as been pretty impressive, even by Canadian standards, one has to admit that hearing that the UCP is near declaring insolvency because their fundraising base has dried up was more than my tiny brain could handle. I mean what happened to all those dedicated and intelligent party members that Kenney keeps bragging about?

    At the close of 2019, the UCP was bragging endless about their $7M fundraising success, largely on the back of a massive social media effort attack on Rachel Notley, who is no longer the premier. How many times can the UCP beat that horse before someone happens to say, “Ummmm…she’s not the premier anymore? Really. You own everything you’re doing now.”

    Now that Kenney has plugged almost $8B into a US-based pipeline project that is so questionable TC couldn’t raise the funds to build it, one wonders if Alberta will be left holding the bag on this scheme as well? Seems that Kenney’s claims of an alliance with US oil interests maybe the equivalent of telling a whopper could come back to bite him as well. Kenney floated the notion that he has the inside track on creating a North American energy firewall against the dumping of cheap foreign oil. The problem with this notion is that every American believes it’s their birthright to have cheap gas 24/7; this so called energy firewall will cause a captive market for North American oil, which is a high cost resource to begin with. If Americans have to pay $4.00 and up for a gallon of gas, every US politician will stop breathing and die. This is another firewall that is not going to happen.

    Meanwhile, Kenney is determined to make Alberta stupider and sicker. Thanks to his war on education and health care, it’s becoming clear that Alberta really is the battered wife of Canada, except it’s Kenney who’s doing the punching.

    Meanwhile, Doug Ford is looking like a real premier. Probably because he’s had the Beejesus scared out of him at the notion of Tories handing from every lamp post in the province. That’s why it’s better in Ontario.

  7. Re Mr Buckle: “If we can justify a complete school closure for a large portion of the year without major impact… “ Without major impact? It’s far too soon to know what the eventual impact will be. It’ll probably be a few months into the next school year, whenever that happens to be, before we see how this has affected students’ learning in the medium- to long-term.

    We have a granddaughter — our eldest — in Kindergarten, now stuck at home with her socially-distancing, laid-off parents, working on home-school lessons provided by her teacher, her school or the school board (which one, I’m not really sure) … it remains to be seen whether she will end up starting Grade 1 where she would have had this all not happened. The only upside is that every student at all levels, from K-12 & all levels of college & university, is in the same boat, so she won’t really be behind her peers; she will, however, likely be behind where last year’s kindergarteners at the same time of the year. Oh, well …

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