Alberta Politics
A rodeo clown, a revered cultural tradition of Alberta’s distinct society (Photo: Facebook).

Parole boards! Rodeo! Guns! The U.S. may be in flames while the world goes viral, but Alberta’s legislators cut to the chase!

Posted on June 02, 2020, 2:36 am
6 mins

The great republic to our south is in flames, led by an American Nero and seemingly teetering on the brink of martial law. At the same moment, the world is convulsed by an entirely new disease, the first truly global pandemic in history.

So what are Premier Jason Kenney and his United Conservative Party government up to here in Alberta?

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, in a culturally distinct “Cattle Buyer” hat that looks like it was made by Smithbilt Hats Inc. of Calgary (Photo: Twitter).

Well, yesterday they were talking about setting up a provincial parole board, an idea so lacking in utility it has to be seen as right-wing virtue signalling on a grandstand-show scale.

Plus, these proponents of the quaint complaint “there’s only one taxpayer” apparently want to give taxpayers’ money to gun nuts so they can sue the federal government over the country’s new gun control regulations — an idea that surely deserves a blunt Anglo Saxon retort.

Oh, and the Alberta Legislature has declared rodeo a culturally distinctive activity, sort of like the tea ceremony in a Japan or bullfighting in Spain, except Spaniards have mostly rejected it as needlessly cruel, culturally significant or not.

Well, last Thursday the UCP demonstrated its deep contempt for the rule of law by passing obviously unconstitutional legislation banning peaceful protest in the province — if it’s inconvenient for pipeline builders, meatpackers or anyone on the UCP donors list, anyway. By comparison, at least yesterday’s announcements have a degree of comedic value.

Mr. Kenney’s parole bill — Bill 18, the Corrections (Alberta Parole Board) Amendment Act — will increase costs to taxpayers when it’s passed by the UCP majority in the House.

It has political utility only as long as enough Albertans don’t understand the difference between the Canadian and U.S. justice systems to ensure there’s herd immunity against facts. In other words, Mr. Kenney is counting on Albertans not understanding and not finding out that an Alberta parole board is never going to have jurisdiction over any sentence longer than two years.

Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright MLA Garth Rowswell (Photo: Government of Alberta).

Like the parole boards of Ontario and Quebec, the only two provinces with such institutions, it will only be able to make “parole decisions for applicants serving a sentence of less than two years in a provincial correctional institution.”

So the millions in additional costs that we’ll have to bear for this little exercise in symbolic sovereignty-association will deliver only a counterfeit impression Premier Kenney is tough on crime, plus a few more minor sinecures to which UCP loyalists can be appointed.

And never mind that most of the members of the current Parole Board of Canada were put there by Stephen Harper’s Conservative Government — you know, the one in which Mr. Kenney served so loyally for so long.

As for tax support for lawsuits frivolously argued by gun “rights” advocates steeped in constitutionally irrelevant National Rifle Association codswallop, that idea can be tied to the UCP’s promise to its base to create a provincial chief firearms officer to subvert federal gun control law.

Oh, wait. Mr. Kenney told an interviewer that “by appointing an Alberta chief firearms officer we believe we can have somebody, while obviously committed to upholding the law, will do so in a way that focuses enforcement on criminal misuse of firearms rather than regulatory harassment of safe, legal law-abiding farmers in God’s country.” (Emphasis added, and Mr. Kenney really said that bit about God’s country, and somehow I don’t think he was talking about the scenery.)

As long as readers understand that the phrase “obviously committed to upholding the law” is a dog whistle meaning the opposite, the intention of the premier’s comment should be clear.

It was while discussing that plan on a right-wing radio program in Calgary that Mr. Kenney raised the idea of subsidizing citizen lawsuits against the federal government.

Finally, as for rodeo, I suppose yesterday’s otherwise meaningless declaration of the Legislature will be a big help when Mr. Kenney’s fatuous Fair Deal Panel recommends sovereignty-association for Alberta on the grounds we’re a distinct society, seeing as we have rodeo.

The motion by Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright MLA Garth Rowswell read as follows: “Be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly urge the government to recognize the cultural importance of rodeo and its related agricultural events.”

It was passed unanimously, which means it was even supported by NDP Opposition members in the House.

Well, I guess we’ve all joined Alberta’s irony-free family now. No one’s going to accuse the NDP of calling anyone around here Canada’s embarrassing cousins ever again!

Presumably if you’re embarrassed, that means you’re not Albertan!

22 Comments to: Parole boards! Rodeo! Guns! The U.S. may be in flames while the world goes viral, but Alberta’s legislators cut to the chase!

  1. Bill Malcolm

    June 2nd, 2020

    Yup, no doubt about it, Mr Climenhaga, you’re living in Nirvana.

    I woke up a short while ago to hear CBC Radio News tell me about some nutball Albertans about to challenge the “sort of” ban on assault guns in court. As we all know, an AR-15 is needed to control varmints in God’s Country, like social democratic gophers fr’instance, so it’s all quite understandable. The social democrats, Alberta variety, are pro-tarsands and pro-rodeo too. Hey, Alice would recognize this wonderland.

    Paradise! I have advised my brother to leave at once before it’s too late and everyone blisses out on hogwash.

  2. tom

    June 2nd, 2020

    Naw–they’re not ideologues.

  3. Derek

    June 2nd, 2020

    I’m thankful Jason Kenney is helping out to fight against Trudeaus gun grab. The Liberal party has been giving money to gun control groups, to further their cause. The courts will have to decide if the cottage dictator broke the law when he rammed in his short sighted and contradictory new OIC.

  4. Kang

    June 2nd, 2020

    Ah! The light of intelligence shines brightly in the Alberta Legislature. Even the NDP now claims the abuse of calves and other livestock is central to Alberta culture. Rodeo, like the cowboy, is a creation of the early film makers of Tin Pan Alley in New York. It was largely a glorification of the “wild west shows” of the late 1800s which were designed to cover over and justify the genocide carried out against First Nations in the US during its civil war.

    For a few years in Canada we did better by making treaties with the First Nations instead of sending in the military. Of course then we ignored the Treaties, starved them, and stole their children for the wholly less savory amusement of the clergy in residential schools. Now that our Supreme Court has restored the sovereignty of First Nations on land not covered by Treaty, we are again ignoring the law to push pipelines through that unceded territory. You have to give the Yanks and the UCP full due for being honest, in comparison to the clueless finger-wagging NDP.

    Speaking of finger wagging: do you think guns are an intrinsic problem or are problems around guns the consequence of prohibition and the war on drugs? You can’t have a war without guns, but you can certainly have guns without a war. Under drugs prohibition, guns are just the lawyers of the trade. Might be more sensible to follow the many countries who have successfully de-criminalized all drugs. Just sayin’

    • Derek

      June 2nd, 2020

      The war on drugs should be ended immediately. Drug use is a social issue not a criminal one. All the money wasted on it should be spend on better healthcare and education for Canadians.

  5. Just Me

    June 2nd, 2020

    I am now waiting for Kenney to proclaim that reproductive rights run counter to the moral mission of his government. After doing so, he will likely take photo-ops while stand in front of a family planning centre with the Bible. Then, he will move on to the nearest church and brandish a gun, holding it aloft in Trumpian triumphism.

    The message, in case it was missed, is that all fascists think alike…by not thinking at all.

  6. Abs

    June 2nd, 2020

    Jason Kenney said, “We believe we can have somebody who, while obviously committed to upholding the law, will do so in a way that focuses enforcement on criminal misuse of firearms rather than regulatory harassment of safe, legal, law-abiding farmers and duck hunters.”

    Not sure that an assault rifle is entirely useful for duck hunting, but whatever.

    The CBC also quoted him saying, “The government will appoint provincial parole board members who come from rural communities experiencing rising crime.” Well, it’s good to know the farmers and duck-hunters of rural Alberta will be in charge of this parole board. Because if anyone will be tough on crimes under two years in God’s country, it’s a law-abiding farmer/duck hunter (sans assault rifle) from rural Alberta, certainly not a duck hunter who comes from an urban centre. They shoot pregnant wild horses out there, don’t they?

    Will Jason Kenney also be providing additional funding to women’s shelters?

    As this article points out, “provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan that have higher rates of gun ownership also have higher rates of gun crime, suicide and domestic homicide.” Go figure.

    The patronage payback schemes continue. The U.S. burns, the pandemic continues, Kenney kuts, and Kenney is concerned about the prominent issue of ducks, and those who hunt them. Distract, distract, distract from things like the UCP’s Ed Ammar. And on the topic of racism, how about those urban police forces that have made it clear they will not interfere with peaceful, law-abiding protests, even on the legislature grounds? Don’t they agree with that unconstitutional anti-protest law of yours, Jason? Better appoint duck hunters to police boards. Heck, I’m adding “rural duck hunter/law-abiding farmer” to my resumé. It has so much potential.

  7. Caron

    June 2nd, 2020

    Yup! Looks like Kenney in a ‘cattle buyer’ hat. According to the Smithbilt web site, the hat is “Worn by Presidents, Oil Tycoons, Musicians and of course “Cattle Buyers.” Starts at $320.00 which would not leave a rancher much change from a whole live calf.

    Historically, cattle buyers worked closely with cattle rustlers to help the meat packers, which is why we have the 1894 Brand Act – a law that was ignored by the banks and the Ab. PC govt. during the BSE crisis BTW.

  8. Simon Renouf

    June 2nd, 2020

    Kenney and Harper once advocated for a barbaric cultural practices hotline. They never proceeded with it. They probably realized that rodeo would be the number one “practice” complained of.

  9. Murphy

    June 2nd, 2020

    Perhaps you meant to say that this is the first “globalist pandmic”? Certainly the 1968 Hong Kong Flu was a global pandemic, significantly afffecting populations in Asia, the Americas, Europe, Africa and Australia. In fact it resulted in a million deaths, with estimates as high as four million.

    The 1957 influenza pandemic was also a global pandemic and like the 1968 pandemic, produced a million deaths, also with estimates as high as four million. The pandemic, as in 1968, also significantly affected populations in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa, although data regarding the outbreaks in central Africa is limited due to the destruction of civil society in the region as the European colonists reluctantly withdrew from direct control of their possessions.

    We are living in the age of populism because we live in a system in which the state is subservient to capital and has thus completely failed the people, and dragged them down, as the international speculative system to which the state is tethered goes into yet another new stage of chaos. And because we are living in the age of populism, we will get Tailgunner Jay or Drumpf or any number of pandering scumbags until the resultant instability is mitigated by the militarized state. Enjoy!

    Notley’s kinder, gentler neoliberals have proven consistently that they have no problem pandering to the most absurd elements in the province. Don’t you people know, we all ride horses here in Alberta! But seriously, folks. There is no UCP base, there is just sixty-odd percent of Albertans who are completely indoctrinated with fantasy concepts of the nature of the economy, and this mass is then split into two different branches who disagree on whether our most base appetites should be publicly celebrated or indulged in a clandestine manner.

    The AR-15 that li’l Magus has prohibited really is not an assault rifle. That term refers to selective-fire weapons which were developed as a result of the experiences of both sides fighting in cities on the Eastern Front. If I were a farmer I would definitely own an AR-15, the models of which sold in Canada are not selective-fire. I still recall quite vividly my cousin cleaving the skull of a cow, that had thrown it’s calf-bed and was exsanguinating slowly in the dead of winter, with a splitting maul, because he had put eight or ten rounds into the unfortunate creature with a .22 and failed to kill it.

    The first modern-day, high body-count spree killer was WW2 veteran Howard Unruh, and he did it all with an antique German pistol. Where there’s a will, there is a way.

    Tailgunner Jay’s owners are single-mindedly anti-democratic in their views and actions, but there is no getting around the fact that Alberta is a Kon province, in the same way that Italy or Ireland are Catholic countries, and the people wanted a Kon government. Disregarding the values and beliefs of a significant portion of our fellow citizens, regardless of how archaic or silly they are, is hardly going to result in consensus compromise.

    I wouldn’t look too longingly at Spain. They have the similar problems with regional differences that we experience in Canada, and similar problems with pandering politicians who indulge distasteful “cultural practices”. Catalonia produced worker self-managed enteprises across every aspect of the economy, in the face of the most violent armed opposition. The NDP gave us bitumen rail-cars, the acquisition of which had the fellas at Procor howling with laughter

    • Athabascan

      June 3rd, 2020

      Hey, Murphy,(aka Matt Wolf)

      It’s spelled “pandemic”. See you at the kudhata.

  10. Dave

    June 2nd, 2020

    I suspect Mr. Kenney’s current political calculations signaled here are that he hopes he can retain enough support from the Conservative political base to stay in power. In theory the current 48% is good enough, although much diminished from what he had enjoyed before. Of course the problem is his pandemic bump is only 1% and there is probably only one way for those numbers to go now. His current ill thought out war on doctors and war on the truth (aka the war room) are embarrassing and annoying even people inclined to support the UCP. Add to that an economy that will limping along for some time that all of Kenney’s actions so far are not helping and probably making worse, so there is no guarantee that 48% will hold.

    So what is a desperate politician trying to save his political bacon going to do in such a situation? Well, of course pull out all the stops with a flurry of appeals to the symbolic to shore up support in key areas, even invoking patriotism and god in one sentence. Perhaps rural people will not mind or notice if they don’t have functioning hospitals or a functioning health care system, as long as they can go the rodeo and have guns.

    It is a distraction created by someone who is both politically clever and desperate. Will it work? Maybe, maybe not.

  11. Joe Waldron

    June 2nd, 2020

    Having witnessed Notley’s behaviour first hand on a number of occasions,
    I am not surprised at the endorsement by the NDP caucus of the “cultural”
    rodeo designation. Self-interest will have factored large in her decision.

    PS I enjoyed your bullfighting analogy, the bull we have to fight in this Province
    is all blue and oral.

    • Bob Raynard

      June 3rd, 2020

      I do believe you are correct on the self interest suggestion. When I read the story about how the NDP also supported the cultural designation I was a bit surprised, but then thought about how it would play in rural Alberta if they didn’t vote in support.

      Failure to support the motion could have also made people in Calgary, where the NDP can realistically gain more support, and they also need it, nervous, given the importance of the Calgary Stampede.

  12. Jim

    June 2nd, 2020

    The Kenney show continues distraction and misdirection with no clear aim at making life better for Albertans. We are distinct all right likely the only province where Kenney could get elected. A place where the homeless are lazy bums who shouldn’t get government help they just need to get a job. But the oil executive in downtown Calgary, or is it Denver, pulling in 7 figures is however entitled to government handouts. A place where when a pandemic hits instead of stock piling medical equipment we selflessly send it east and risk our lives using an inferior replacement. A place where the health minister has a financial interest is dismantling the health system and still has a job. A place where Trudeau sucks but people are more than willing to accept help from his government yet will likely vote for the other guy who did nothing.

    I’m sure there is a clinical diagnosis for our distinction but I’ll leave that to the medical professionals if there are any left.

    • Comment

      June 4th, 2020

      Sad but true.

  13. tom in ontario

    June 2nd, 2020

    Jason wows onlookers in his culturally distinct Cattle Buyer hat. Is he shopping for dogies or just spreading the bull?

  14. Dennis

    June 3rd, 2020

    I agree with pretty much everything you said about the Parole Board being a waste, I just want to point out though that most of the Harper-era appointees to the Board (at least in the Prairie Region) have been replaced by now (they’re term appointments rather than life). Not that who appointed them should really matter if we assume they’re following the law to make their decisions rather than ideology.

  15. Abs

    June 3rd, 2020

    Shuts down provincial superlab for humans, already under construction. Opens up forensic lab for guns during a pandemic, to fix a shortage of firearms labs created by the federal government he was part of, which shut down these labs. Appoints “pipeline, pipeline, pipeline” MLA to yet another committee. Ask her about her childhood. Stacks the rest of the committee with gun enthusiasts. Says it’s all part of the Fair Deal report, but won’t let anyone see the report.
    Pandemic priorities. Sneaks in another mention of the Alberta provincial police.

    Meanwhile, it’s been a busy day of marches and vigils in Calgary, but how about guns, guns, guns? Looks like banning protests has actually increased them. Nobody has mobilized the populous to protest quite like Jason Kenney. Maybe he should ask one of them why they are protesting.

  16. jerrymacgp

    June 5th, 2020

    Given the notion that a provincial parole board might be skewed towards keeping inmates locked up longer than the National Parole Board would have done, my prediction is that we will see the paradoxical trend of defence lawyers seeking longer sentences after conviction through trial or plea bargain, to put their clients’ cases under NPB jurisdiction & thereby open up the possibility of serving less time.

    There’s also the probability that we will see legal challenges on the basis of due process, reasonable apprehension of bias, etc.


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