Alberta Politics
Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage, at left (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

This is not the Beaverton: Energy Minister Sonya Savage finds the bright side of COVID-19

Posted on May 26, 2020, 3:01 am
6 mins

Well, it’s nice to know someone’s happy about the global coronavirus pandemic!

Canadians got a rare glimpse into Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage’s thinking yesterday thanks to a friendly podcaster at the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors.

On the topic of the TransMountain pipeline expansion, John Bayko, who is also CAODC communications vice-president, asked Ms. Savage: “Do you anticipate any more issues as far as protests go in B.C.?”

Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors Vice-President and podcaster John Bayko (Photo: CAODC).

She’d just been chatting about COVID-19 when Mr. Bayko posed that question. It was no trick — you couldn’t have asked for a more sympathetic interviewer.

Ms. Savage responded without sounding as if she was thinking very deeply about what she was going to say next, though, or who might be listening beyond the simpatico audience you’d expect to tune into a drilling contractors’ podcast.

“Now is great time to be building a pipeline because you can’t have protests of more than 15 people!”

Mr. Bayko chuckled nervously.

“So let’s get it built,” Ms. Savage continued. “Let’s get it built!”

I’m not making this up. You can listen to the entire podcast if you wish, or just the money quote. But talk about your undiluted disaster capitalism, always seeing the bright side of a deadly catastrophe.

Good lord! My mama warned me not to speak too loudly in a fish and chip shop. I bet yours did too. You just never knew who might be sitting in the next booth, she explained.

Same deal applies to podcasts, it turns out. Sure, the podcaster’s a nice guy. But anyone on the planet can click play.

The former pipeline lobbyist is said to be a smart operator, well respected in the oilpatch. But you have to admit this sure makes it sound as if you don’t actually have to be a genius to get into Jason Kenney’s cabinet.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Photo: Justin Trudeau/Flickr).

Well, I’m sure someone will try to pass this off as refreshing honesty, but I doubt it will go over very well in a lot of parts of Canada, not to mention the rest of the world.

Ms. Savage rambled on: “You know what? As we go on and get out of the, you know, out of the more immediate phases of COVID, people across Canada, across B.C., Alberta, are not gonna have the tolerance and patience for protests that get in the way of people working.

“Like, we’re … we believe we’re gonna be north of 20-per-cent unemployment as we get into the summer and out of COVID. People need jobs. The country is gonna be hundreds of billions of dollars in debt. People need jobs, people need economic activity, and these types of ideological protests that get in the way are just not gonna be tolerated by ordinary Canadians.”

Well, we’ll see I guess. I suppose a few ordinary Canadians might be unhappy when they realize just how few permanent jobs are created by these megaprojects too.

Judging from the CBC’s coverage of the conversation, even Ms. Savage’s press secretary cringed when he heard this. “I would note that the limitations to public gatherings … have benefited no one, including project proponents and any opposition groups,” Kavi Bal told the broadcaster.

“We respect the right to lawful protests,” he also said. So never mind the Kenney Government’s efforts to criminalize free speech unless it happens to be by covidiots protesting social distancing measures in the public square.

This, of course, is pure gold for the many people who are opposed to the pipeline and, yes, know they can’t really protest right now.

As far as the TMX goes — thanks to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, not anyone in the Kenney Government or the private sector — a lot of the air has gone out of the fight in B.C. to stop the pipeline expansion. Throwing down the gauntlet as Ms. Savage did may pump it up a bit again.

What will really kill the TMX, though, is the lack of a market in Asia or anywhere else in a world awash with sweet, low-cost oil for the heavy crude that will be shipped through it.

The irony is that the TMX will have to be completed to be truly done for.

23 Comments to: This is not the Beaverton: Energy Minister Sonya Savage finds the bright side of COVID-19

  1. Abs

    May 26th, 2020

    “But you have to admit this sure makes it sound as if you don’t actually have to be a genius to get into Jason Kenney’s cabinet.”

    Remember that each and every UCP candidate was hand picked by Jason Kenney himself.

    Reply
  2. Bill Malcolm

    May 26th, 2020

    Every time I see a pic of Sonya Savage I first think it’s that ex-premier of BC, what’s ‘er name oh yeah Cristy Clark, a well-known environmentalist, ahem.

    Your Danielle Smith was tossing easy pro-petro lobs at Mark Smith for the War Room again too for an interview from the wacko hell of the right. I thought the War Room was on furlough, but they’re probably using that 75% wage top up from the Feds to keep the doors open. So now I too get to pay for complete UCP nonsense from here, way down East. I’m so happy! I could have a long throne session just to celebrate.

    https://www.canadiantrendsblog.ca/2020/05/the-ethical-province-that-couldnt.html

    There are all sorts of progressives happily and fondly imagining a renaissance away from neoliberalism and big business with this Covid-19 pandemic, and they dream of nationalizing LTC facilities and all sorts of other happy thoughts. Not going to happen if your local friendly billionaires and their public front spouting ideologues like kenney can help it. Kenney and Savage with help from the idiotic Trudeau still want to spend billions on useless dilbit pipelines. They’re going to ram it through regardless on the public dime, either from federal or Alberta Pension funds. O happy days!

    And no pesky environmental monitoring required any more, either! Alberta is now on a level playing field with Borneo. At last! Nor can citizens gather to protest. It’s fascism by definition no matter how you slice it – government and business hand-in-hand frolicking over the rights of citizens, who’d better keep their heads down or else – jail time and fines based on hard working medicos trying to do the right thing. Keep ’em occupied figuring out how to implement social-distancing rules at hair salons etc instead, so they won’t think of challenging vast environmental disregard. What better time to ream the public? No sign of democracy or even the notion that the people shouldn’t be taken for a ride and that real gentleman are in charge on the side of common people. Nope, it’s full steam ahead for capitalism. The rich need to get richer or at least not lose too much and that’s the most important thing in the whole wide world.

    Reply
    • Murphy

      May 26th, 2020

      There is a theatre in the Class War that pits global super capital against lower-tier national or regional capital. The Branch Covidian faith is being used to squash the lower-tier. Branch Covidians will soon find themselves in a super-speculator wonderland in which every level of government is broke, beholden to billionaire gamblers and in which public services will be a relic of a bygone way of life, like hunting bison. Wear your mask if you want to go clear!

      Reply
      • Kang

        May 27th, 2020

        Broke governments? It depends on who is in power. Look at history. In 1939 Canada was an agrarian society with not much in the way of industry beyond simple farm equipment. Ottawa had been pleading poverty and letting people starve since 1921 in the west. Yet, within three years of war being declared in 1939 we were manufacturing hundreds of high-tech bombers and fighter planes, dozens of ships, and hundreds of thousands of tanks, trucks, fire arms, munitions, and the like. That is not to mention a major build out of domestic infrastructure at ports and inland terminals.
        All done on the government tab financed through the Bank of Canada, NOT the commercial banks. Aside from a trivial level of privately held war bonds, none of that was ever really paid back. This ushered in several decades of prosperity. There is nothing stopping us from doing something like that again to transition to a less carbon intensive economy.
        https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thesundayedition/to-rebuild-the-economy-after-covid-19-we-ll-need-more-government-not-less-jim-stanford-1.5575638

        Since you seem to be enamored of Hollywood movie references, here is Tom Cruise explaining “Covid 19 does not kill people”: (some rough language)
        https://youtu.be/lBS9AHilxg0

        Reply
        • Greg Elliott

          May 28th, 2020

          No question that putting the Canadian economy on a war-footing to support the Anglo-American banking empire in 1940 completely altered Canadian society, and that it was quite feasible to do so through the creation of money by the Canadian Government. Do you feel that conditions right now will generate a similar phenomenon? I don’t. Broke is a state of mind for government, but we live in a society in which kooky neoliberal superstitions have taken hold in the minds of most of the population and their elected representatives. If you choose to put stock in what Tom Cruise says, I’m not surprised given your propensity to espouse Branch Covidian dogma, which I find scarcely more credible than the wisdom of the late, greta Elron. Stay six feet away from Xenu!

          Reply
          • Kang

            May 31st, 2020

            Greg: good point about the importance belief has in the creation of money. We seem to have substituted a culture war between fossil fuels and renewable fuels for simple cost/benefit policy decisions which include all externalities. Not surprising given the capture of the Alberta state by petro-interests and the failure to address clean up liabilities as they arose.
            https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/externality.asp

            The Tom Cruise quote was a sarcastic reference to the contention made by some that Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (Covid 19) does not kill people.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Severe_acute_respiratory_syndrome_coronavirus_2

            “I didn’t kill him, the fall and the bullets killed him” is the quote from the movie link. With that logic you can say Covid 19 never killed anybody either, it was the drowning in somatic fluid and/or heart failure, which is often true, but highly misleading.

  3. tom

    May 26th, 2020

    “Now is great time to be building a pipeline because you can’t have protests of more than 15 people!”

    But can 15 people build a pipeline?

    Reply
  4. Scotty on Denman

    May 26th, 2020

    The UCP is savagely grasping at any straw that might make TMX inevitable. Dismiss “these types of ideological protesters” and the bitumen market-price problem only stands out in savagely starker resolve.

    Two-hundred billion in the hole might thence suggest to dismal federal government scientists a more immediate priority than throwing another several billion at the 4.5 billion-dollar TMX dog—or, as Preston Manning used to say so savagely, when you want to get out of a hole, you have to “stop digging!”

    More savagely still, if you want to keep digging TMX infeasibility deeper, you’ll have to take the country hostage and put a fully-automatonic CV19-mach-2 to her head: get this hole built er da kid gets it!…works best when doctors and nurses can’t gather in groups larger than seventeen.

    More savage yet is the ominously implied host of marauding, unemployed North-of-20-percenters threatening Zapotecian insurrection when the frisbee, haki-sac , sunscreen and beer run out , replete with camo-bandanas, chanting: Flus will not replace us! Flus will not replace us!…

    Savaged TMX-ciphering like this might be as feasible as spooning bitumen, shovelful-to-shovelful, all the way from the Mines of Bitumia to the Terminus of Burnabylandia; forget masks—the brigade only makes work at a safe, shovel-length distance.

    Reply
  5. Roger

    May 26th, 2020

    Hi David
    Really good column again! Thanks. Just a note. Since it’s come time to use ad’s would you consider placing them in the center, and leave the edges for the people clips you use? Just a style type thing.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      May 26th, 2020

      Working on it. It’s a work in progress. I have had the same thought but noticed for the past couple of years on other blogs that Google always places ads flush left. Must increase their likelihood of being read. I have asked if we can achieve the same end with a fine dividing line above and below the ad, as I have seen on other sites. Might require a new WordPress theme, though. DJC

      Reply
    • Derek

      May 28th, 2020

      My ad is always an ear wax removal it’s so creepy.

      Reply
  6. Derek

    May 26th, 2020

    Their supporters love this. I don’t think its a bad look for them at all. The people that are against it, this changes nothing. The people in the middle can lump the protesters with the covidiot protesters and will say yeah we need some work. Because they have been laid off.

    Reply
    • Murphy

      May 26th, 2020

      Stupid is as stupid does. Perhaps the “covidiots” understand that the entire panicdemic series of rituals has been enacted to counter a disease that, in Alberta, where one would like to think one could trust the information coming from AHS, is not dangerous. There have been something near 1000 cases in long-term care facilities, in which at least 100 of the 139 deaths, (total listed as of today) have occurred. A total of six deaths of people under age sixty are linked to the Chupacbra, although I am personally quite dubious as thousands of positive tests have occurred while the single digit fatal case numbers have remained steady for well over a month. Regardless, take out the care home deaths and cases and we are left with 30-odd deaths, all over age 60, among 6000 people. Although basically everything that came out of Italy regarding Chupacbara was a distortion, it was painfully evident from the start that to qualify for the Covid Walk of Death, one requires at least one serious comorbidity, and most who make the team have two to three. I’m no fan of petit-bourgeois aspirational small business people, followers of the cult of entrepreneurism all, having observed every manner of exploitation and creepy predation in my time working for members of that group, but, to quote Jeffrey Lebowski, they’re not wrong Walter, they’re just assholes.

      Reply
  7. Athabascan

    May 26th, 2020

    Typical UCP fascism. Just think we have another 3 years of this, and then another 5 years or more of cleanup after they are gone.

    A scandal free, transparent, caring Notley government looks pretty good right now. We had that, but…

    Reply
  8. alan

    May 26th, 2020

    Business as usual demands that public consultation, ‘fair deal panels’, and public protests are only necessary and/or sufficiently beneficial when they serve the interests and agenda of the UCP government and their revolving door corporate partners. An in depth, detailed examination of that revolving door and how it operates will never appear in the MSM in Alberta, ever, because ideological management and control is very important. For example, “What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream”

    https://chomsky.info/199710__/

    But it should, for the sake of full disclosure and transparency.

    “Van Tighem and Petterson point out the changes were made without any public consultation.” In other words, one more example of the tragedy of the commons, in the pursuit of private profit; where, the state, once again, will be responsible for environmental remediation efforts. Because, past behavior predicts future behavior fairly reliably.

    https://globalnews.ca/news/6970786/alberta-coal-restrictions-foothills-ucp/

    “Robin Campbell is a former Alberta environment minister and current president of the Coal Association of Canada. He says everyone in the industry that he has spoken with has been “quite pleased” by the province’s move.”

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/alberta-coal-policy-rescinded-mine-development-environmental-concern-1.5578902

    Reply
  9. Jimmy

    May 26th, 2020

    It seems that someone cannot muzzle all the idiots all of the time.

    Reply
  10. Mickey Rat

    May 26th, 2020

    You’re right Derek. One problem is that Ms. Savage is correct, losing your job, maybe your livelihood and maybe looking at no improvement in the future tends people to focus on things other than “ideological protests” as she calls it. Even just the threat of it, knowing someone who’s experiencing it, or even reading scary stories about it in the MSM promotes the worry. This is a result of a number of things not least of which is the insecurity our system imposes on everyone – well not exactly everyone, but about 99%.

    To derisively put it as “yeah we need some work” is a bit too cute though, considering in our system if you don’t have a job you and your family are pretty much done for. The value of work is way too important to just shrug off unemployment.

    Reply
  11. Just Me

    May 27th, 2020

    It’s good to know that ‘Beaverton Reality’ and joined with the ‘Onion Reality’ and has become the new reality.

    Huzzah!

    Reply
  12. Magda

    May 27th, 2020

    Alberta’s O&G sector executives have got everything they wanted from this government – and the reputation of Alberta’s O&G sector is lower than the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Major international business and banking companies want nothing to do with us, other countries’ energy sectors have adjusted to the new reality, and across Canada being an oil worker is synonymous with “crybaby” or “whiner” or “loser”. Heck of a job, Sonya!

    Rachel Notley should make it her first tweet every day to thank the War Room for showing once again how nonsensical all its arguments are, how useless its existence is, and how it demonstrates every hour of every day that it’s useless at best and downright harmful at worst to the lives of O&G workers. And it would be nice if the NDP started being smarter in its opposition work and not just reactive like they usually are. The next election is being prepared for now, and it’s time to start reaching out to rural communities.

    There is no sympathy anywhere in the country for the sector’s message. And that’s on Kenney. It’s time to wake up, Albertans. Wishful thinking is not a business strategy.

    Reply
  13. Murphy

    May 27th, 2020

    Are you kidding? Li’l Magus is stepping in to fill the void in the post-work Chupacabra economy by providing tickets on the CERB gravy train. People can enjoy the lavish $500 weekly payment for up to four months, and they don’t even have to leave the house! Never mind that a massive permanent contraction in employment is upon us; those whose livelihoods are gone will be spending that pre-tax $8k on luxury automobiles, fine art, and vacation homes! Catch the fever! My better half, my son, and my sister are all due to exhaust the government cheese by mid-July, but by then I think I can generate four or five thousand downlines in my “multi-level marketing” enterprise, and we’re all going to retire to Haiti.

    Reply
  14. Jim

    May 28th, 2020

    I thought it just was just the hands that were affected by the obvious procedure Ms. Savage undergoes apparently too frequently.

    Reply

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