Alberta Premier Jason Kenney at yesterday’s COVID-19 briefing (Photo: Screenshot of Government of Alberta video).

Now that Premier Jason Kenney has declared it “un-Canadian” to say oil is dead, I wonder if it’s OK to admit Alberta’s fossil fuel industry is on the ropes?

Probably. Mr. Kenney said as much himself in a remarkable rant yesterday directed at the Parliamentary Leader of the Bloc Québécois and the former leader of the Green Party of Canada.

Former Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

But if you don’t want to be accused of un-Canadian activities, you’d better make it clear none of these troubles are the fault of anything that’s ever been done by any Alberta Government, except perhaps the NDP’s, and especially not by the United Conservative Party Mr. Kenney leads.

There is acceptable speech in Alberta, you see, and it doesn’t include saying that oil is done like dinner, which is probably not true just yet, but is nevertheless a position that can be argued in respectable company almost anywhere else in the world, including a number of countries known for producing what Mr. Kenney rather sophomorically calls “dictator oil.”

As has become his practice lately, Mr. Kenney took over Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw’s daily COVID-19 briefing in Edmonton yesterday afternoon for the sustained blast of gaslighting he directed at Yves-François Blanchet and Elizabeth May.

Mr. Blanchet had dared to suggest at a news conference Wednesday that oil “is never coming back” (uttered en francais, bien sûr) and that Ottawa’s bailout package should really be directed at “something which is more green.” Ms. May, for her part, opined at the same event that “oil is dead.”

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet (Photo: Twitter).

Specifically, the MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands told the media: “My heart bleeds for people who believe the sector is going to come back. It’s not. Oil is dead and for people in the sector, it’s very important there be just transition funds.” This may be wrong, but outside Alberta I doubt it sounds like a stab in the back or a curb-stomping.

Nevertheless, that is what sent Mr. Kenney over the edge, in a calculated sort of way, responding to a set-up question provided by Calgary Sun political columnist Rick Bell, who can be counted on to get the first question at one of Dr. Hinshaw’s frequently hijacked news conferences.

Postmedia Calgary political columnist Don Braid (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

“I just think it’s deeply regrettable that we would see national political leaders piling on Albertans and energy workers at a time of great trial for us,” Mr. Kenney said piously, opening what appeared to be a carefully rehearsed answer. “This is the opposite of leadership. Leaders should be seeking to bring us together, not to divide us.”

This is a bit of an irony, of course, coming from a premier who has been ginning up an Alberta separatist threat for months while denying the oil industry had anywhere to go but up, but let’s just take it as a lesson in Gaslighting 101.

In his remarks, Mr. Kenney trotted out benefits he said have been conferred on Quebec by Alberta’s oil industry, noted the province’s equalization complaints, blamed “predatory actions” by OPEC countries that “want to dominate the world with dictator oil,” reminded Quebeckers they like to drive cars and go on airplane trips, and totted up the medical equipment recently sent by Alberta to other provinces.

Having said it in English, he said it over again in French.

Postmedia Calgary political columnist Rick Bell (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Tsk-tsking and shaking his head, Mr. Kenney declared, “I would say to Mr. Blanchet and Madam May: Please stop kickin’ us while we’re down!”

“These attacks on our natural resource industries are unwarranted, they are divisive, they’re, I believe, in a way, un-Canadian at a time like this. It’s like blaming the victim!” (Italics added for emphasis. And, yes, Mr. Kenney really said that.)

Premier Kenney also took particular umbrage at Mr. Blanchet’s remark that Quebec receives a string of insults from Alberta — although anyone who has paid attention to political discourse in this province for the last half century would have trouble refuting the claim.

After the news conference, backup was provided in columns filed by Mr. Bell and his Postmedia colleague Don Braid.

Mr. Bell pronounced Mr. Blanchet and Ms. May to be “the Bobbsey Twins of B.S.” and the “deluded duo,” and accused them of choosing “to kick Alberta when we’re down” and indulging “in a little curb-stomping.”

Mr. Braid, the Dinger’s bookend of acceptable oilpatch opinion, charged them with “the foulest kind of cheap shot,” to wit, saying “Alberta’s oil and gas industry should be left prostrate in the dust with no help from the federal government.”

Well, there you have it: the debased state of political discourse in Alberta in the plague year 2020. It’s not reassuring.

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  1. There will not be a Stampede this year, but maybe our Premier Kenney will be putting up one heck of a pity party.

    It’s a bit of a joke for political columnists to take this so seriously. After all, it is all just political jockeying. Ms. May and the BQ playing to their crowd are unlikely to win or lose amy seats in Alberta and Mr. Kenney of course currently has none to win or lose outside of Alberta Perhaps the only loser in all this could be whoever takes over the unfortunate job of Mr. Scheer, but Mr. Kenney doesn’t like one of the candidates anyways, so probably does not care about any such collateral damage of this dust up.

    Also, what is it with the Conservative cowd and the Bobbsey twins these days? Apparently Mr. Trump is not the only one old enough to fondly remember them.

    As for dictator oil, Mr. Kenney is hardly the model democrat and Alberta is hardly the best poster child for democracy having been governed as a one party state for over 40 years – a Canadian record I think. Now the descendants of that party are back in power trying desperately to make sure rwgime change doesn’t happen again. I mean really, Mr. Kenney should be a comedian when he goes on like this.

  2. Blanchet is unencumbered by the fossil fuel industry or Alberta’s idiot voters, so he’s free to offer intelligent commentary in a frank and honest fashion.

    I saw the interview with Vassy Kapelos and I can saw without reservation that Blanchet dealt with her UCP-inspired hatchet job effectively. Blanchet said that he had reservations about pushing public money into an industry that was producing a product that was becoming increasingly worthless. He was not opposed to economically viable conventional fossil fuel resource development, even with public funds, because the return on investment was predictable. Blanchet opposed Tarsands development with public monies because the return on investment was uncertain and would likely lead to heavy losses over the medium and long terms. Given the state of oil prices right now, it’s clear that Blanchet has a better grip on reality than Kapelos or her UCP fellow travellers.

    The opposition to Alberta’s fossil fuel industry grabbing more of the public purse for their insane agenda should serve as proof that the public has had enough of Alberta’s lies and theft.

    Time to deal with Alberta in the most severe terms possible. I am pleased to say that my Canada does not include Alberta.

    1. Well you’re right about the liberal butt kissing Vassy but you’re wrong about Blanchet. You yourself don’t understand apparently about the economic multiplier effect or the Fact Canadians need an energy type and right niw none other than oil are viable. Your comments range from blind to ignorant to misunderstandings about core elements about what makes Canada tick. Yves is another french idiot. I can’t wait for the post-Trudeau canada era!!!

  3. Taking a page from the Donald Trump political playbook on beastmode jackassery, Jason Kenney mirrors the prickly behaviour of the thin-skinned U.S. president — but with a notable French connection. How divine — said no one ever.

    Instead of being laser-focused on a pandemic that’s raging through long-term care facilities, meatpacking plants and oil sands work sites, the irascible Mr. Kenney chooses to focus his pent up rage over two of the most unheralded and nonthreatening political players in Canadian politics today. Once again proving, it doesn’t take much to get under the skin of Jason Kenney and his American clone. Albertans will know we’re in real trouble when Mr. Kenney starts referring to Elizabeth May as “Lyin’ Lizzy” and Yves-François Blanchet as “Low Energy Yves.”

  4. Who exactly is investing in Alberta’s oil industry besides Kenney with public debt and pension fund money? The Premier needs to grow up and stop making an ass of himself at these press conferences. It is just embarrassing sure a few mockingbird journalists will back him up but who takes them seriously anymore? Something about punching down in politics just makes him look so pathetic and weak.

  5. The Alberta oil & gas sector is dead, or soon will be.

    That is not the same as saying oil & gas is dead worldwide.

    Albertans’ pension monies should not be invested in a dead sector where the growth potential is zero. That’s investing 101. The risks are high and the rate of return is zero. By any measure it is stupid or corrupt to use throw other people’s money into such a black hole.

  6. I think that M. Blanchet and Ms. May started with a valid point, but tried to reach a little bit too far with it, and left themselves vulnerable to legitimate criticism as a result. This is indeed unfortunate because it gave Jason Kenney something to distract the discussion from the original, and very legitimate, point: should tax dollars be used to support the bitumen industry?

    Oil is not dead. On that point Mr. Kenney is quite correct. What is very much open to question, however, is whether the price of oil will ever recover enough to make bitumen profitable before the world does eventually move away from oil. There is certainly enough doubt that it very much begs the question whether tax dollars should be spent trying to support an uncertain industry. It is entirely possible that fracing is the new technology that renders the oil sands oil obsolete, even as we continue to use oil from other sources.

    History is filled with industries that have died because of technological developments. Travel southeast of Drumheller and you will see remnants of the once thriving coal industry that used to exist there, until the middle of the last century. Tiny villages, which are now suburbs of the Town (formerly city) of Drumheller, are all that exist of centres that used to boast several hundred people. Massive numbers of people were put out of work when railroads went through a technological advance: diesel electric locomotives replaced steam engines. This development was really welcomed by the transportation industry; trains no longer had to stop to take on water, and people no longer had to keep water tanks above zero in the middle of winter. In that instance Alberta was able to get on board with the industry that replaced it: oil to make the needed diesel fuel. And since natural gas came as part of the package, it was a much nicer way to heat homes, since you did not need to shovel coal into the furnace, and haul out the resulting ashes. This, of course dealt another blow to the coal industry.

    Now imagine a 1950s era Premier Jason Kenney elected as a puppet for the coal industry. “Help out coal industry,” he bellows, “look at all the benefits the rest of Canada has gotten from our coal! Support us until the price of coal recovers and our coal miners can go back to work.”

    Supporters of the Alberta oil industry describe their request for support as a ‘bridge’ to get to higher prices. I am not fussy for the idea of starting to build a bridge when the other side may not exist.

    1. Well let me clearly state a fact …btw are u sick of the dep pm as me…anyhow on point, nobody’s married to oil but we cannot switch to another source when technology isn’t there yet. This conversation should include, uf you insist on Killing oil, in line with reducing carbon emissions, the Ontario and Quebec auto manufacturer plants need to be closed . Kenney should have asked blanchet that “yves, so are you saying we should close down all auto gas emitters plants too”?

  7. And the Right likes to accuse the Left of the sin of political correctness. Mr Kenney’s remarks are a perfect example of the ongoing conservative effort to control the scope of political discourse in Canada. There are words conservative politicians never use, and don’t want anyone else to use: racism, climate change, poverty, inequality. Now we have to add to that list predictions (unless made through rose tinted magical thinking) about the future of fossil fuels.

      1. Well, Franko to answer your question here’s another question: Are people still buying cars manufactured in Quebec?

        In the case of Alberta tar sands – no one is buying that stuff so…

        In what economic world do producers market a commodity that no one buys? Unless the oil industry in Alberta is just a pretext to squeeze out more public money for doing nothing. Take the tax incentives and subsidies and then move to Houston like Murphy oil?

  8. Ms. May, for someone so intelligent you sure are tone deaf. Have you ever heard of something called an Energy Balance. The world (outside of COVID) consumes 93,000,000+ barrels of oil a day to help meet its energy needs to operate and survive (that excludes all other sources of energy). There is absolutely nothing known to mankind that can come close to meeting this daily need of energy until such time perhaps if FUSION energy finds its way. No matter how fast, how hard, renewables (wind, solar, other) can ramp up, a TRANSITION PERIOD is required and is likely multiple decades, it’s grade 3 math!

    1. Tone deaf? That’s the very definition of Alberta governments and a majority of its population. Has been for years. Me right you wrong gave us harper and kenney to blight the Canadian landscape.

      I have no idea what your doctorate is in but you obviously find it self-important enough for your ego to let everyone know you’re a doctor of something or other. My brother is an actual real one as in MD — never bothered lording it over everyone else. So Dr., join the other billion basement geniuses opining on the internet, including me.

      Current world oil usage has fallen back below 80 million bpd while you weren’t looking. Alberta “oil”is mostly highly processed bitumen tar, diluted to slither guckily through pipelines when diluted with lightweight solvent. Hence diluted bitumen or dilbit. The taboo word in Alberta, where it’s catchily renamed as Western Canadian Select and scented with Febreze for all I know. Nobody wants it when you can buy from the worldwide glut of so-called light sweet oil for next to nothing. Tankers lined up offshore of the US – take your pick if you’re a refiner. Why bother to run the decokers to take out actual carbon coke lumps from dilbit, when you can buy light sweet crude? No reason whatsoever, it turns out. What, we all expect a return to the gung-ho ruination of the planet after this pandemic? I don’t think so. And Dilbit digging is at the bottom of everyone’s list.

      Are you aware that kenney has completely abandoned environmental monitoring on the oil/tar patch? That virus is a bitch, ain’t it?

      He hasn’t exactly boasted about that, has kenney. No, we’re fed the lying line that Alberta is the world’s most ethically and environmentally soundly produced oil, ersatz as it is. Not like that commie Russkie oil, or murderous Saudi Arabian oil, no sir. No, it’s the pure clean mountain air Alberta sludge, now monitored by non-existent eagle-eyed provincial inspectors.

      Now, in return for a couple of million bucks worth of PPE, kenney expects $30 billion from Canada to prop up oil company profits so they can make a graceful exit from the scene for their shareholders. Screw the man in the street, except for no PST to guarantee re-election. No capitalist risk in Alberta for oil companies. None. Profits are guaranteed, otherwise it’d be a commie paradise, eh? There isn’t a company on the tarsands patch who doesn’t want to be somewhere else. Give ’em a way out and they’re gone, leaving their mess behind them.

      Sure Alberta’s hurting. So’s everywhere else, in case you hadn’t noticed. Time to wake up on the environmental front. Alberta’s been dodging that reality for years, arguing black is white. Time to adjust your specs.

  9. “dictator oil”
    Meanwhile,yesterday’s War Room
    is about how we need more pipelines to “the high demand-growth Asia-Pacific region”. Does this include what Scheer habitually calls the “communist, autocratic, human rights-abusing government of China”? I guess Kenney will not be fussy about who he sells our democratic oil to.

    (BTW, the War Room article is missing part of a paragraph above Figure 3. Doesn’t anybody read this stuff?)

    1. Thanks for pointing out the glaringly obvious cut and paste glitch, Keith. It is still there as of 7:10MT on Saturday. I will be curious to see how long it takes to be corrected. I guess with their budget cut back the ‘war room’ only goes to war during business hours.

  10. Blanchet and May’s comments might be a bit blunt, but they reflect —or perhaps, deflect—the Alberta premier’s own acerbic commentary, in style, if not in volume or frequency. The Bloc Québécois leader’s remarks that Kenney dishes out way more than he ever gets back is accentuated with the K-Boy’s howls of outrage from the slightest of concise sloganism.

    If it’s a ploy to provoke such snippy comments so the bishop of bitumen may justifiably return full fledged fuselages, it might be one of diminishing returns: the rockets’ red flares might look impressive from the launch pad, and an impressive, top secret, counter-intelligent HQ might convince there’s a “war” someplace out there—but eventually Winstons start wondering if this can really be “peace”, if this can be “strength”, and ask Julias if this can be “love”.

    Blanchet and May may be goading Kommander K to expose that he’s firing blanks, but it’s just as likely they’re sincere, if a bit blunt—as the Kommander probably deserves—that the petroleum industry can’t go back to the heady days of, say, 1984.

    I’m pretty sure most Canadians, especially those who’ve lived in discrete regions which have suffered resource-industry collapse while the rest of the country prospered—like the decline of fishing on both Coasts (particularly the codfish collapse on the East Coast), manufacturing in Ontario when NAFTA came in, coal and other kinds of mining that have left ghost towns across the nation—can sympathize that, once in a while, a region gets the stilts kicked out from under it when commodity markets tank and investors flee, and needs to ask for federal help. That’s what a federation is all about, after all: the strength of union assures the weakest of its members don’t wither to the point of gangrene that could infect the others. And complaints that such help is insufficient are natural in the face of a employment culture-casualty. Still, there’re few examples of beneficiaries biting the federal hand that feeds them: Quebec used to wail that English North America would subsume its unique, francophonic culture—and that Anglophonic Canada, despite the many confessions it has made to ‘distinct society’ and national bilingualism, has been out to get the beleaguered Habitants (although we note Québécois seem to have gotten over this narrative); the most justifiable complaint is from indigenous nations where the term ‘cultural genocide’ is much more warranted than it ever was in Quebec’s implication—the Crown has been busted, red-handed, trying to wipe out indigenous cultures (although the perfidy is too widespread to be much discerned as a regional problem).

    But most Canadians—and, I dare say, a considerable proportion of Albertans—have to wonder at the toxic gin the K-Boy tries to spray all over Ottawa and anybody else who dares to question his preposterous prognoses about a return to petroleum superpowerdom. The feds—representing the interests of all Canadians—offer help to Alberta, even doing the careful on-egg, thin-ice walk, yet the UCP government insists it’s a conspiracy to shut the bitumen industry down and threatens to both benefit and bite. It’s getting as unique as the bitumen industry itself.

    Kenney’s strength is like bitumen’s. However, the ignorance among his electoral base is losing its “strength”, the “war” is not bringing peace, and the “hate” is wearing the love Canadians have for our Albertan compatriots thinner by the day.

  11. Meanwhile Kenney regularly hijacks the weekday healthcare updates, that are ostensibly being given by Dr. Hinshaw on Covid-19. Last Thursday, as if by clockwork, the first question following the update from the phone-in “reporters/opinion columnists” was from Ding Dong Rick Bell, followed by Don Braid. Three guesses as to who was next (and the first two don’t count)……well none other than the reprehensible Licia Corbella! Of course they all had “canned” questions for Kenney to launch into his attack on Premier Blanchet and Ms. May.

    Yesterday Kenney was not present at the update and not too surprisingly neither were all of his soft shoe partisan hacks. What a disgusting tribe of PostMedia enablers.

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