Alberta Politics
Joe Biden, who if elected U.S. President has vowed to kill the Keystone XL Pipeline, again (Photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons).

The likely future history of the Keystone XL Pipeline: Yes, Alberta! The answer is still No!

Posted on May 19, 2020, 2:29 am
6 mins

Who can forget Nov. 6, 2015, the day that will live in infamy?

Just about everybody, as it turned out.

Jason Kenney and Stephen Harper (Photo: Facebook).

That was the day that U.S. President Barack Obama decided to pull the plug on the Keystone XL Pipeline, declaring that it was not in the national interest of the United States whether or not Stephen Harper was unwilling to take no for an answer.

It was in 2013, by the way, that Mr. Harper arrogantly told a room full of Republican toffs in New York City that if President Obama said no, “that won’t be final. This won’t be final until it’s approved and we will keep pushing forward.”

If Mr. Harper had been in a position to dictate policy to Mr. Obama, he probably also could have ensured Jason Kenney was his successor in Ottawa, instead of his protégé in the backwaters of Edmonton.

But that was back in the days when the President of the United States was still the Most Powerful Person in the World, and not a distant third after Xi Jinping, leader of the People’s Republic of China, and Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia. (I dare Forbes Magazine to make that accurate assessment this year, but I digress.)

If history had unfolded as many of us expected it to in the year after November 2015, that would likely have been the end of Alberta’s dream of Keystone XL pumping any more of our dilbit to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The Canadian oilsands industry would have been out of luck as the United States began to ease into its transition to a low-carbon economy under President Hillary Clinton, with a nice supply of low-quality heavy crude waiting right across the Gulf of Mexico in Venezuela in case anything changed.

U.S. President Donald Trump (Photo: Shealah Craighead, the White House).

TransCanada Pipelines might have changed its name to TC Energy a few months earlier.

Prime Minister Kenney would have sourly approved a of couple pipelines to Canada’s coasts before Justin Trudeau or some other Liberal managed to send him into retirement, almost certainly not in Alberta.

That picture of Devin Dreeshen in his MAGA cap, bitterly toasting Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2016 presidential election, would have been just another unremarkable snap of an unremarkable young Republican.

Alberta might even have gotten serious about developing a sustainable economy while there were still a few bucks to be squeezed out of the Athabasca Bitumen sands. Who knows? With the United States on the way to a green economy, we might not only have elected the NDP, we might have kept them around.

Plus, when the ravaging novel corona virus hit the United States, it would have encountered a better organized public health regime and a competent government and therefore killed far fewer than 100,000 Americans in the months before the next presidential election.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama (Photo: Peter Souza, the White House).

As a result, this year, President Clinton would probably have been re-elected.

Now it looks as if the naïve Alberta bitumen boosters who rallied around Mr. Kenney’s post-federal consolation prize, the United Conservative Party, are about to be disappointed again. History can contain some surprises along the way, but its long-term trajectory is more predictable.

With President Trump exposed to all as an incompetent nincompoop by COVID-19, it is likely his Republican Administration will be consigned to the ash heap of history in November.

Therefore, despite being an old codger, the former vice-president and likely Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, will win with a little help from his former boss, Mr. Obama. The fact he may not last out his first term may even be an electoral advantage, depending on his running mate.

Mr. Biden has already vowed, if he does win, to pull the plug on Keystone XL a second time.

In these circumstances, TC Energy may be able to make off with a considerable portion of the $7.5 billion Mr. Kenney has pledged on our behalf to complete the Keystone XL project for which no private investors could apparently be found.

Premier Kenney called this “a solid bet.” And it is … for someone. That someone is not likely to be Alberta’s taxpayers, though. Let’s hope he has negotiated a solid escape clause!

President Biden will have the satisfaction of saying to Mr. Kenney — just as his old boss said to Mr. Kenney’s old boss — Yes! The answer is still no!

And, what do you want to bet, that this time Keystone XL stays unplugged.

24 Comments to: The likely future history of the Keystone XL Pipeline: Yes, Alberta! The answer is still No!

  1. Just Me

    May 19th, 2020

    I presume that we can expect Kenney and a platoon of UCP MLAs to actively campaign for Trump during the 2020 Election.

    I can see it all now: Kenney goes to Washington, DC for a personal audience with President Trump, who will thank Kenney for his support. The transcript of the event will be as follows …

    Trump: It was very nice for Premier Kennedy…oh, Kenney! Thanks for coming to visit me, Premier Kenney. It’s very nice to see one of the world’s great leaders and get to talk to him. I have greeted many leaders, kings, presidents, dictators — all have come to see me and it’s very nice to be appreciated, so thank you…Kenney.

    Kenney:

    Trump: Yes, it’s great to see the premier here, and we talked about many important things…lots of things…things that will change the world…in many spectacular ways. The Premier is from a place called Albert, which reminds me of that game I used to play. I’d call someone and say, “Do you have Prince Albert in a can? And they would say, ‘Yes’. Then I would say something like … ‘who’s there?’ It was a fun game … and I still play it with President Putin. He appreciates me very much; we have a great relationship and get a lot done.

    Kenney:

    Trump: So…we have to wrap this up. I’d like to thank Prime Minister Kenney for visiting me and starting this great friendship. Oh, he’s not prime minister…well, not yet — right? You should run, I bet you’ll win — win bigly. You seem like like a winner and I bet you can’t stop winning, too?

    Reply
    • Comment

      May 19th, 2020

      They will be well prepared. Young Minister Dreeshen took a lot of notes when he campaigned for Trump the last time…and he brought home a lot of MAGA hats to share.

      Reply
    • Magda

      May 20th, 2020

      No way in hell Trump wouldn’t call him “Governor Kenney”.

      Reply
  2. Just Me

    May 19th, 2020

    I presume that we can expect Kenney and a platoon of UCP MLAs to actively campaign for Trump during the 2020 Election.

    I can see it all now: Kenney goes to Washington, DC for a personal audience with President Trump, who will thank Kenney for his support. The transcript of the event will be as follows …

    Trump: It was very nice for Premier Kennedy…oh, Kenney! Thanks for coming to visit me, Premier Kenney. It’s very nice to see one of the world’s great leaders and get to talk to him. I have greeted many leaders, kings, presidents, dictators — all have come to see me and it’s very nice to be appreciated, so thank you…Kenney.

    Kenney: Nods

    Trump: Yes, it’s great to see the premier here, and we talked about many important things…lots of things…things that will change the world…in many spectacular ways. The Premier is from a place called Albert, which reminds me of that game I used to play. I’d call someone and say, “Do you have Prince Albert in a can? And they would say, ‘Yes’. Then I would say something like … ‘who’s there?’ It was a fun game … and I still play it with President Putin. He appreciates me very much; we have a great relationship and get a lot done.

    Kenney: Nods

    Trump: So…we have to wrap this up. I’d like to thank Prime Minister Kenney for visiting me and starting this great friendship. Oh, he’s not prime minister…well, not yet — right? You should run, I bet you’ll win — win bigly. You seem like like a winner and I bet you can’t stop winning, too?

    Reply
  3. Bill Malcolm

    May 19th, 2020

    That shelved panel report you mentioned yesterday was the subject of a CBC Radio item today, when Glans said 20% of participants at their public hearings wanted Alberta to get out of Canada “NOW”. No mention was made by Glans of those who were worried about the likely purloining of their public pension funds for kenney’s starstruck dreams, of course. And now this Biden rejection of Keystone XL if he’s elected prez makes one wonder at kenney’s next pronouncement.

    As a jumped-up minor autocrat from the back of beyond on the world stage, kenney fondly imagines that Saudi Arabia and Russia actually had agenda items labelled “Alberta” when they implemented their plans to flood world markets with cheap real oil. Only a delusional would think any specific thoughts of kenney or Alberta even crossed their minds, but kenney is surely one. Travel overseas and see what a mention of Alberta, or indeed any Canadian province will elicit, and the answer is — nothing. It’s only parochial navel-gazing which elevates Alberta to world status in the minds-eye of locals.

    Such is not the case with the Chinese, however. They have their eye on Canada because of the detention of that Huawei executive for the US, and the interminably long and inexcusable delay in her extradition hearings, a complete disgrace in my view. With substantial state investments and operations in the tarsands, plus goodness knows how much Chinese private investment in conventional Alberta oil and gas properties, it’s no surprise they’ve got an eye out on kenney.

    And so he promptly stuck his foot in his mouth, taking the right wing viewpoint on having a go at China on Covid-19. A dumber approach could not have been choreographed by the Fraser Institute, the U of C advanced Economics department, and the intellectuals manning the War Room all combined, if they had all decided that suicide was the best option for the province. kenney was promptly issued his one and only warning from the Chinese, but who knows if he’s bright enough to “get” it. Alberta is sitting on an almost worthless resource, yet kenney shows no sign of leadership in looking to a more diversified future for his subjects.

    With Trump swigging zinc solution and gagging on synthetic quinine pills to ward off the virus, it seems that the propect of magic is all the right wing nitwits of the West have left to bank on. That and possibly a major misdirection on blaming China for all their troubles. I say possibly, because serious reading on the coronavirus shows no definitive conclusion on its origin. Only the right wing press has decided for certain it’s all China’s fault, with the fascists in Australia leading the charge as the vanguard for Amerika.

    It’s also worth noting that when it comes to Covid-19 deaths that Canada’s tepid response from a position of complete unpreparedness currently lists 6,000 deaths, which exceeds China’s possibly fudged figures of 4,000 by 50%. I believe their population is about 60 times greater than Canada’s. So they’re not about to take lectures from a nobody like kenney too kindly, especially as they are to some extent propping up Alberta, and have not as yet pulled out of the tarsands. Recognizing home truths is not a Con/UCP strength.

    Reply
  4. TENET

    May 19th, 2020

    Kenney can bully kids and roll back their minimum wage, but he is nothing next to a U.S. president or our Prime Minister for that matter. Trudeau did his best to save Alberta, but in the end, Kenney will have left an ash heap. Maybe Alberta’s future will be best served to revert to another Territory?

    Reply
    • Daniel Niquet

      May 19th, 2020

      I’m sure the aristocrats in Ontario and Quebec would love it if everything west of Upper Canada became a colony again. No need to hear the peasant bellow and the reality is we are just puppets pretending to be involved in Canada anyways.

      Reply
      • Murphy

        May 20th, 2020

        Is that from the University of Calgary’s Reichskulturkammer or do you get transmissions from Tralfamidor? There are more millionaires per capita in Calgary than any other city in Canada. This is where the jumped-up aristocrats are.

        Reply
      • Athabascan

        May 21st, 2020

        Daniel, no need to concern yourself with Ontario or Quebec aristocrats.

        Alberta’s real enemy is within. Fear Kenney and his gang who are systematically looting the Alberta treasury and public pensions.

        Reply
  5. Athabascan

    May 19th, 2020

    Well, that only took just a little over one year for Kenney to transform Alberta into a third-world country.

    Let’s not forget his AIMCO lost $4 -5 billion in pension deposits. How much more Albertans’ money will he continue to piss away? Yet, despite all this he is still not being held to account.

    Is it time to finally call him King Kenney? Apparently, he answers to no one – least of all Albertans.

    This is definitely the worst province to live in during this time, and I fear it will only get worse over the next 3 years. Our biggest threat isn’t COVID-19, it’s the Kenney virus. He’s like an economic disease.

    Reply
  6. Dave

    May 19th, 2020

    Well this is really no surprise. I was wondering when this issue would come up again. Mr. Biden was VP under Obama and seems content to present himself as a continuation of the Obama/Biden years and it may work well politically for him also.

    Of course, one should never underestimate Trump and his die hard supporters – damage and destruction all around him and yet he somehow still manages to somehow survive not only in his failed business endeavors, but this probably could also be applied to his political career. Why Congress didn’t treat him like Nixon and dispatch him months ago when they had the chance is a bit of a mystery, but somehow he has many of the Republicans entranced in a cult like state and many of the rest paralyzed in a state of fear. Of course, cults often don’t end well. Hopefully this one will soon be dispatched by the voters. Any country can make a mistake once, but twice says something more serious about the intelligence and character of the country.

    In any event, I would say the prospects for Keystone XL at this point are not so good, which leads me to further question the wisdom of the Government of Alberta trying to bankroll it exactly for the reasons highlighted. We have very little or no control over what the US does politically. I doubt any other Canadian Prime Minister will be any more successful than Mr. Harper in trying to get a Democrat US President to change course on this.

    For all the recent grief and problems in Alberta, some self created, Mr. Kenney is probably regretting his clever flip from Federal to provincial politics. While he never quite got the nod for the top job, Mr. Harper gave Kenney some latitude in what he did and Kenney seemed to have some initial success at appealing to various multi cultural communities. However, Mr. Kenney may be a prime example of the saying that people tend to rise to their level of incompetence – being a useful assistant to Harper seemed to work ok, but being boss himself, not so much. However, Mr. Kenney seems to have an eye for spotting opportunity, so if he wants his long political career to survive, perhaps it is time for him to consider a back flip return to Federal politics, whether the Federal Conservatives really want him or not.

    Reply
    • Bob Raynard

      May 20th, 2020

      “…Mr. Kenney may be a prime example of the saying that people tend to rise to their level of incompetence”

      During his time as prime minister, Stephen Harper was often criticized for the control he exercised over his underlings. I wonder if we are really seeing why Mr. Harper knew the control was necessary.

      “…whether the Federal Conservatives really want him or not.”

      Good point. I suspect Jason Kenney has a lot more appeal to the CPC while he was an MP. All the shenanigans he pulled to elbow his way to the top Alberta job, as well as what he has done once elected will face renewed scrutiny.

      Reply
  7. Abs

    May 19th, 2020

    Hilariously, the ad that popped up with this post was one with a photo of eggs in a carton. The AI must think that you have written about the folly of putting all of one’s eggs in one basket.

    Yes, I think the Jay’s nest must be well-feathered by now. I was hoping that some independent journalist would have been able to verify this.

    Reply
    • Just Me

      May 20th, 2020

      I noticed that the pop-up when I load this page reveals an ad telling me that I can meet attractive women from all over the world. And the accompanying picture is…spectacular. Well, those are not the exact words in the ad, but the irony is not lost on me, however.

      Kenney is a middle-aged single and childless man with a tendency for his ambitions to rise beyond his abilities and/or good fortune — anyone will tell you that spells disaster for those dependent on this sort of person.

      Reply
  8. Abs

    May 19th, 2020

    I can’t help but think about how a tiny island nation dealt with its financial crisis. It involved a reckoning:

    https://www.bbc.com/news/business-35485876

    Naturally, I have some concerns about things I’ve read about recent developments in Alberta’s prosecution system and provincial courts. I’m beginning to wonder about future independence in areas of concern.

    At least Iceland has an independent press that continues to investigate and uncover stories about apparent insider trading and other scandals within the scandal at the highest levels of politics and society. It isn’t over, 12 years on.

    Reply
    • anon

      May 20th, 2020

      “Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
      Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”

      The UCP are determined to keep the game of musical chairs going, even if they have to steal pension funds, sell off health care, and corrupt our courts and laws even more than they already are. Cults are like that, especially cargo cults. Everybody gets to join in, until they cannot.

      Reply
  9. Jim

    May 20th, 2020

    You seem to have a bad case of TDS he clearly isn’t the best president, has the US really had a president since Kennedy? This is a similar affliction that spread on the so called right in Alberta after Notley’s win in 2015 It is time to face the facts for all his flaws Trump has exposed the rot that is the US empire. Would it have been exposed that Obama used the US police state against a political opponent had there been a president Clinton? Despite the war crimes in Syria Trump is the only president is recent memory to not start a war.

    Likely president Clinton would have started a war somewhere, Russia? Iran? Perhaps destroyed Venezuela like she and Obama did with Libya? President Biden just isn’t going to happen there are too many skeletons in his closet. How many times is the video of him threatening to withhold the billion going to be played in election ads? Perhaps Trump will invite Biden’s accusers to a debate like he did Bill Clinton’s. The longer Biden stays in the more tarnished Obama’s legacy becomes.

    In Alberta Kenney is more of a Clinton/Obama/Biden politician anyway. Career politician who has never had a real job and is therefore totally in the pocket of his funders. A globalist who doesn’t really believe in nations and sovereign countries with governments looking out for the welfare of citizens.

    But hey keep living under the delusion that Obama, Clinton, or Biden were in anyway positive for the world. I’m sure there are several people in Libya, the Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and other nations that would agree with you.

    Reply
    • Murphy

      May 20th, 2020

      Chanel No. 5. Share the fantasy. Hillary Clinton was unelectable. Drumpf was going in and that is why he was given free media exposure through the summer and fall of 2016 that dwarfed that actually paid for by people like Jeb Bush. The Forbes article linked above is a piercing example of the absurdity of the entire picture being presented in the Empire. Wicked Putin stole the Crimea, wicked Putin foughty a proxy war in Donbas, etc. Utter nonsense. Bill Clinton is a degenerate of the most odious sort, just like every other president. He sat in the Governor’s chair while Mena Arkansas was the hub of the Iran-Contra narcotics operation. He was all fired up to launch an actual war with North Korea, but unfortunately that epic atrocity fell through.
      Somewhere between 10 and 65 000 people died of influenza every year that Obama sat in the White House, so the idea that Drumpf somehow set up the US for their plague seems absurd. Of course the notion that Covid has killed 100 000 people in the US who would otherwise not have died is likewise a fantasy.
      No sense letting reality intrude on a good propaganda meme. We’re rolling merrily along pretending Covidmania is a reasoned response to a bug that results in a maximum 2% hospitalization in people under 60 and basically 0% fatality in that age group. Even in the over-eighty cohort in Alberta the best they can churn out is a fatality rate under 30%, although virtually all “confirmed” cases in that cohort are people in care homes, and already suffering from an array of significant illnesses. But you know, wear your mask and bang your pots and don’t let the five-year-olds on the monkey bars. We’re all in this thing together, I am the Walrus and remember the Maine!

      Reply
    • mr perfect

      May 21st, 2020

      Jim: r.e. Your comment, “Obama used the police state against a political opponent.” Please read this;

      https://thebulwark.com/45751-2/

      Then kindly remove your head from the FoxNews bunghole you have placed it in.

      Reply
  10. Derek

    May 20th, 2020

    Here is Obama campaigning for Keystone XL. US President Barack Obama has pledged to speed approval for the southern leg of the stalled Keystone XL pipeline.

    Speaking in the oil hub of Cushing, Oklahoma, he ordered officials to “cut through the red tape” and make fast-tracking a federal review a “priority”

    https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-us-canada-17483841/obama-backs-southern-keystone-xl-pipeline

    The pipeline is getting built right now. The US to Canada border crossing is completed already. Biden wont cancel because then he would be breaking are trade agreements and the US would get sued. Biden is just lying to his base for votes.

    Reply
  11. Farmer Brian

    May 20th, 2020

    What I find instructive is to look at the differential between the WTI oil price and the WCS price. When the WTI price was in the range of $55-60 a barrel before the pandemic this differential was in the range of $16-18 a barrel. Looking this morning with a WTI price just over $32, WCS sits just over $24 a barrel for a differential of roughly $8. One would think that if oil sands bitumen had no value that during a time of restrained demand for oil this differential would widen but it has narrowed, this shows me that the refineries in Texas still want our oil.

    As for Joe Biden’s outlook, I am sure he is attempting to appeal to the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez faction of the Democratic Party with his statement on Keystone XL. While I am certainly concerned with his outlook I wonder would the U.S. voter rather get their heavy oil from Canada or Venezuela?

    Reply
    • Kang

      May 20th, 2020

      It is not up to US voters whether they get heavy oil from Alberta or Venezuela. That is a choice the refiners on the Gulf Coast will make. My bet is cheap ocean transportation will favour Venezuela over Alberta’s dilbit which comes via a more expensive to run pipeline. This should suit the major tar corps up here just fine because they also have refineries to upgrade the tar, so the cheaper the tar, the more money they make.

      Reply
  12. Tom Cabine

    May 20th, 2020

    So with Biden confirming his opposition to the Keystone and Republicans in favour, we can expect many/most members of the Albertans for Keystone Fan Club to be rooting for a second term for The Donald.

    Charming.

    Reply
    • Athabascan

      May 21st, 2020

      You are right of course.

      Kenney’s UPC are Republicans in every respect. They are NOT Canadian conservatives

      Reply

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