Alberta Politics
South Tyrol, pretty as a postcard — now forget about it! (Photo: GreatItalianChefs.com).

Somehow South Tyrolean autonomy doesn’t sound like the best way to sell the Alberta Fair Deal Panel’s dumb ideas

Posted on June 09, 2020, 1:34 am
8 mins

Sure sounds like Jason Kenney has a problem. He’s promised to release his Fair Deal Panel’s report next Monday, but it’s not at all clear Albertans are going to like what they hear.

In politics, like the dairy cooler, things come with a best-before date. And the Fair Deal Panel’s has come and gone.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Lots has changed since last November when Mr. Kenney cobbled together the panel from a group of likely suspects and gave it its sovereignty-association mandate as a way to keep the minority Liberal federal government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on its back foot.

In case you missed it, there’s been this thing called COVID-19.

The global pandemic’s been bad for everyone, of course, leading to Depression-level unemployment all over the planet. That in turn has reduced fossil fuel demand everywhere, a double whammy for oil-revenue-dependent jurisdictions like Alberta.

It’s not pretty, but while your typical weactionary Wexiter might miss the obvious, it’s been dawning on lots of Albertans who voted for Mr. Kenney’s United Conservative Party last year that the politicians in Ottawa, not the ones in Edmonton, have been the ones paying the freight to keep folks’ heads above water.

About the only jobs the UCP has saved, meanwhile, have been those of their party’s political staffers, by claiming they’d stopped fund-raising so the party could game Ottawa’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program. Well, that and keeping those meatpacking plants running no matter what.

Throw in that Saudi-Russian oil price war and the fact the UCP forced through a delusional spring budget based on estimates Alberta’s bitumen-based crude would fetch nearly $60 per barrel, and “more Alberta and less Ottawa” doesn’t sound like nearly as good a slogan as it did last fall.

Airdrie-East UCP MLA Angela Pitt (Photo: Facebook).

There are other reasons too. Maybe some folks thought it was a good idea when Mr. Kenney put $7 billion of our money on a bet Donald Trump would win next November’s presidential election and finish that Keystone XL Pipeline Alberta’s taxpayers were kindly bankrolling.

But after last week? Maybe not so much! Who’s betting now that the Trump Administration will necessarily even last until November?

And every time Mr. Kenney runs the Fair Deal Panel’s predetermined sovereignty-association flapdoodle up the flagpole, nobody seems to want to salute. Alberta Parole Board anyone? Pffffft! Hand over your Canada Pension Plan to the Alberta Investment Management Corp., also known as AIMCo, so it can sink it in the oilpatch? Fuhgeddaboudit!

Indeed, the panel’s eight remaining members got enough of an earful about that last one on their travels around the province that if it’s in the published recommendations on Monday, we’ll know for sure the old Kenney fixeroo was in.

The UCP’s own legislative priorities generate disquiet too. If you try really hard, it may be possible to overlook the Trump Administration’s efforts to turn the United States into a police state. But it’s troubling when the UCP follows his example with blatantly unconstitutional legislation designed to suppress public demonstrations against its pet projects right here at home.

So this is probably not the best moment to be rolling out a report predestined to include a bunch of Charter-busting, disruptive, quasi-separatist measures to a population that’s already growing justifiably dubious and jittery.

The government’s been sitting on the report since May, so Mr. Kenney’s strategic brain trust knows what’s in it.

But what to do? It’s not easy to stop a train even if you haven’t announced its arrival time in less than a week.

This may explain why Angela Pitt, MLA for Airdrie-East and the Deputy Speaker of the Legislature, got the job last weekend of trying to reframe the report as a harmless, Euro-style exercise in provincial autonomy.

Should Alberta be an autonomous Province?” she asked on Facebook. “South Tyrol has — The province is granted a considerable level of self-government, consisting of a large range of exclusive legislative and executive powers and a fiscal regime that allows it to retain a 90% of revenue, while remaining a net contributor to the national budget.”

South Tyrol, in case you missed it, is a mostly German-speaking Italian province that didn’t get rolled into the German Reich along with next-door Austria in 1938 because the leaders of Germany and Italy at the time were somewhat simpatico, even if the Italians didn’t exactly encourage use of the German language there. Since 1945, Austria and Italy have yelled at each other now and then about who ought to run the place, but nobody seems to have moved the army to the border.

Be that as it may, South Tyrol has a population of about half the size of Calgary, some apples and decent wine, good scenery, and a plethora of tiny separatist parties. So there’s that.

Unlike Alberta, though, South Tyrol doesn’t appear to have any ambitions to run half the continent, or any notions of its own manifest destiny. It has no pipeline demands.

Predictably, Ms. Pitt’s hot-air trial balloon attracted more darts than laurels, and some of the voices of support weren’t really the kind you want to hear from.

The MLA’s responses to some of these hoots of derision sounded plaintive. “We would remain Canadian,” she said to one. “Maybe this is the compromise for those on either side of the fence on this issue.”

Maybe not.

I don’t think this idea has legs. Or even a usable hashtag.

The UCP has six more days to come up with a better idea. After that, don’t stand too close to the fan!

13 Comments to: Somehow South Tyrolean autonomy doesn’t sound like the best way to sell the Alberta Fair Deal Panel’s dumb ideas

  1. Dave

    June 9th, 2020

    Yes our Mr. Kenney has a problem. He is a still a fairly good salesman, but circumstances have changed a lot recently and people are not that interested in what he is trying to peddle.

    The problem started in the last provincial election when Kenney led people to believe all they needed to do was elect a UCP government and there would be jobs, jobs, jobs again. After 4 years of a sluggish economy the UCP bright minds probably figured it was about due for improvement, so they felt this was a gamble they could win. Well, so much for that idea! The UCP has turned out to be a force for mass destruction of jobs and right now the only thing keeping Alberta afloat seems to be money from Ottawa.

    Accordingly, I suspect the appetite for more Alberta and less Ottawa has diminished greatly over the last several months. However, I doubt in the end Mr. Kenney will let harsh reality get in the way of his grand political plans. Mr. Kenney seems quite determined these days to keep flogging horses that really should be put out to pasture like the War Room and his government’s war on doctors.

    So really at this point, what is one more bad idea from a government that seems to have an abundance of them? I bet the war on Canada will continue as if nothing ever happened since last fall.

    Reply
    • Jean Bota

      June 9th, 2020

      Well said …he definitely has an issue…

      Reply
  2. Philip Akin

    June 9th, 2020

    Ah. The old adage still lives: when in doubt look to the Axis to figure it out.

    Ok. So I made that up. But still. The symbolism kind of speaks for itself.

    Reply
    • Derek

      June 9th, 2020

      Ha Ha. Jason always needs an enemy to distract people from seeing that he is a failure. His biggest problem now is he needs to stay on Trudeaus good side to he will keep on giving Albertans money to stay a float.

      Reply
  3. tom in ontario

    June 9th, 2020

    “The province is granted a considerable level of self-government, consisting of…”
    Ms. Pitt leaves out something else South Tyroleans are famous for. Wikipedia reports, “Yodelling is a form of singing which involves repeated and rapid changes of folk music from Switzerland, Austria and South Tyrol.”
    Since Premier Kenney wants to alert everyone in Canada to the Fair Deal Panel’s report, Jason and Ms. Pitt could do the honours by yodelling its contents in the Alberta legislature. With Jason singing melody and Ms. Pitt harmony, they’d make certain Canadians as far away as the Gaspe Peninsula get the message.

    Reply
  4. alan

    June 9th, 2020

    It is time to not only think ‘BIG’, like the godfather of both Jason Kenney and the UCP lamely advertises, but REALLY BIG!

    Ed Sullivan really big show, BIG!

    The Fair Deal Panel on steroids BIG!

    Charles Atlas BIG!

    Sparta BIG!

    Der Fuhrer BIG!

    ‘Triumph of the Will’ BIG!

    1000 year Reich BIG!

    The inevitability of the BIG UCP freight train that has long since left the station of rational thought, demands that Alberta create its own military might, with its own independent army, air force , and navy. And it naturally follows that Alberta would also need its own separate military industrial complex/armaments industry and mandatory military service for anyone over the age of 18 years.

    Think of the possibilities. No longer would arch nemesis, bully Ottawa be able to metaphorically kick sand in the face of 98 pound weakling Alberta, as the objective of carbon energy, economic superpower strength wanes due to the meddling of climate change foreign funded special interests, according to UCP dogma.

    https://thewalrus.ca/what-jason-kenneys-war-room-is-costing-alberta/

    The latent dreams and unconscious desires for power, independence, and domination can still be realized and fulfilled through military conquest and the hard option. It is time to ‘go ‘BIG’ or go home’!

    Reply
    • jerrymacgp

      June 10th, 2020

      One is forced to wonder … where would an Alberta navy sail? Lesser Slave Lake, perhaps? (Largest body of water fully within Alberta).

      Reply
      • alan

        June 10th, 2020

        Problem?

        Solution!

        —-> —-> Desired outcomes simply require a suitably rigorous thought experiment, proper planning, patience, the right attitude, and a forward looking gaze. For instance,

        ‘Wexit’ talk doesn’t stop at Alberta’s border with Conservative surge in B.C.

        https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/british-columbia-conservatives-wexit-1.5335966

        Even talk of “Where will the money come from?” is answered by creating your own central bank and following the principles of MMT.

        That being said, actual Balkanization and decentralization will never be “THE” solution as it only leads to further Balkanization, decentralization, dissolution, and polarization in an attempt to both homogenize a specific population and resolve the grievances of a specific population, even as past antagonisms and conflicted relationships remain unresolved and the creation of new antagonisms and conflict remain real possibilities in the newly fragmented political sphere.

        So, the foregoing remains an amusing thought experiment and a trivial diversion, nothing more.

        Careful reading should have made that evident, i.e., “The inevitability of the BIG UCP freight train that has long since left the station of rational thought . . . .”

        See also, https://thewalrus.ca/what-jason-kenneys-war-room-is-costing-alberta/

        Reply
  5. Abs

    June 9th, 2020

    To borrow from South Tyrol, maybe the citizens of Alberta will be given the choice to leave Canada, or remain in Albertania. Then after the war, we will have to prove that we are Canadian to move back. I guess we’re either Albertans or “hostile, parasitic” Canadians. We can’t be both. Vive la révolution!

    Reply
  6. Scotty on Denman

    June 9th, 2020

    My casual observation is that whenever Canadian politicians start talking moot stuff like Senate reform they’re distracting from more pressing issues government actually can, but might not want to, address practically. “Sovereignty-association”—the euphemism for Quebec separatism, was always an example because, truth be known, every Canadian province is already sovereign (each has a governor representing its Sovereign, the Queen, conveniently enough) and is already ‘associated’ or, more correctly, federated (each relinquishing only the bare minimum of its sovereignty so that a federal government may deal with foreign affairs, criminal law, currency, &c on behalf of all the federated, sovereign provinces). The idea is, naturally, for federations, confederacies (in which the particular sovereign powers of each confederate might be relinquished to the central government differently or unequally from each other) and alliances (which are associated, often temporarily, for very particular purposes only, like trade or war) to acquire strength by grouping up. The British colonies were confederated for joint strategic defence from the USA, for example, and the attacks stopped (although American freebooters made forays into the Northwestern Territories on the Prairies, Sitting Bull’s Sioux took refuge after its victory over US Cavalry General George Custer, and American gold miners continued to flood into and through provincial BC)—Known as the Canadian federation.

    Political mootness is usually born lame and afflicted with hypocrisy. Alberta so acquired its federate exceptionalism by hatefully railing against Quebec which it said had too much influence on Canadian policy despite its heavy democratic weight. Countering such charges of treason, greed and duplicity, Quebec countered in rhetorical kind by presenting terms like session and independence, even though in truth Levesque was careful, if cagey, to ask his citizens to approve merely sovereignty-association —which is far less separate than independence or session than, say, Wexit is. It’s a matter of political expediency in desperate straits that the K-Boy adopts the exact same proposal for Alberta as the one he and his Western ilk cut their perennially-barred teeth on while condemning Quebec’s a generation ago. Plus ca change…?

    If not for this, I’d be puzzled by the Tyrolian comparison: Alberta, as a sovereign province, already has all the powers Tyrol’s supposed ‘autonomy’ aspires to—and more, much, much more. Still, while Ottawa is keeping the province afloat during this difficult time (including, in Alberta, the collapse of its primary industry and barely-developed economic diversity that might have ameliorated it), it’s probably politic to lighten up or dumb down the extremes of Wexiteerism: its premises of ‘liberating’ the declining bitumen industry from Ottawa’s preposterously alleged ‘suppression’, and retaining for itself federal resource revenue tax and royalties were already absurdly unworkable and are only more so in the paradigmatic coup-de-grace of this pandemic and resulting global economic crisis. (I might as well said: landlocked.)

    How embarrassing to have ginned the base only to have to tell them to go home before the dance even starts. Tough luck, K-Boy! Pay the DJ and band, fold up the tables and chairs. Sympathy sublimates, though, when you hitch your wagons to the spray-glo Orange presidunce and then he appears to be goin’ down! All one can say is: tough bananas, I guess.

    Worry not: Canada feels for Alberta in the peculiar nonreciprocal way of love.

    Reply
  7. Just Me

    June 9th, 2020

    Well, when your best effort to polish a turd into diamond has been upended, you keep polishing, because that’s the kind of person Jason Kenney is…delusional and plain nuts.

    Comparisons with weird quasi-nations that have little bearing in reality is just another way of pumping more hot air into the Western Firewall nonsense that just refuses to die. Now that the UCP’s staffers have decided that too much of that Firewall is a bad thing, like accepting the CEWS to cover the UCP’s fundraising collapse, dropping that report now would not only be the height of hypocrisy, it would reveal that the UCP is as nutty and Kenney.

    Given Ken-DOH’s unending run of extremely bad luck, there can be no doubt that the downhill run is far from over.

    Reply
    • Bob Raynard

      June 17th, 2020

      Today is Tuesday, June 16, and I am still looking for the Fair Deal Report.

      Reply
  8. ronmac

    June 9th, 2020

    An autonomous Alberta will turn into a pastoral paradise (pictured above)? Lol. More like a Nigerian oil field. https://youtu.be/4e3_bkKwgQY

    Reply

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