Alberta Politics
Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage at a recent Keystone XL related announcement (Photo: Chris Schwarz, Government of Alberta).

Good union jobs! Green jobs! UCP supporters need not panic, they’re not for anyone around here!

Posted on August 06, 2020, 3:00 am
8 mins

Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party, friends of the union man and woman, not to mention the environment!

Who would have seen that coming?

Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: Chris Schwarz, Government of Alberta).

Yet there was Energy Minister Sonya Savage, her words in black and white in the text of a government of Alberta news release yesterday, boasting about agreements with four big unions for work that even comes with a refreshing whiff of Green New Deal!

The UCP’s generous supporters need not worry, though. These aren’t deals between the government and the four big health care unions that represent the bulk of Alberta’s front-line medical workers who are risking their lives in the fight against COVID-19, for example, or anything like that.

Not a chance! Those guys are still in for a world of pain, just like Alberta’s physicians and teachers, if Mr. Kenney and his government get their way and some “activist judge” doesn’t muck up their plans.

No, as usual, there’s a caveat with any good news from Mr. Kenney’s government, and in this case it’s that the work done by the members of the Laborers International Union of North America, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the International Union of Operating Engineers, and the United Association of Union Plumbers and Pipefitters will all be south of the 49th Parallel.

LiUNA, the Teamsters, the Operating Engineers and the Plumbers all have a presence in Alberta but, notwithstanding Ms. Savage’s promise some of the work their American brothers and sisters are getting will eventually create jobs on this side of the border, it’s not clear if any of it will come to Canadian members of those unions.

Nope, Ms. Savage was celebrating a deal signed by TC Energy Corp., nominally of Calgary, to work on the U.S. sections of the Keystone XL Pipeline — that is, the one into which Mr. Kenney’s government has already sunk $1.5 billion and has committed itself to providing another $6 billion to the former TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. to see the project through to completion.

Critics have called the commitment “a bad bet,” which was understating things considerably even before it became obvious Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was likely to pull the plug on the project if he’s elected in November. And this seems probable unless Donald Trump can find a way between now and then to declare himself president for life.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange (Photo: Chris Schwarz, Government of Alberta).

So when Ms. Savage says “we will continue to work with our allies in U.S. states and the federal government to emphasize the importance of doubling down on this long-standing energy partnership that will help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil from undemocratic, predatory nations,” she may be whistling past the graveyard, metaphorically speaking.

And when she says “this project will support almost 60,000 jobs in our two countries, giving workers — sidelined by the economic downturn and COVID-19 pandemic on both sides of the border — hope and optimism for a steady and reliable paycheque for the next three years,” a certain amount of skepticism about how many jobs will actually be created north of the line is entirely justified.

When Mr. Kenney said he was laser focused on creating jobs, we didn’t expect so many of the good ones to be in the United States, even if that’s nice for our partners in what Ms. Savage calls “the world’s strongest and most mutually beneficial energy trading relationship.”

You have to read the TC Energy release, of course, to get a sense of what’s really going on. To wit, that TC’s enthusiasm for its deal with the four big international unions sure sounds like window dressing to change Mr. Biden’s mind in the now likely event he becomes president.

Former NDP Education Minister David Eggen (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

When you hear the corporation’s Houston-based PR department bragging that their union deal “will inject hundreds of millions of dollars in middle-class wages into the American economy, while ensuring this pipeline will be built by the highest-skilled and highest-trained workforce,” what else could it mean?

Same goes for the promise that “TC Energy is also working with labor to establish a unique Green Jobs Training Program to help union members acquire the specific skills needed to work in the developing renewable energy sector.”

I mean, seriously, it’s smart to get to the front of the parade before there’s a crowd there.

As for Alberta, the Kenney Government’s War on Unions continues apace, as everyone involved gears up for years of legal challenges to Bill 32, the tendentiously named and largely unconstitutional Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act, which received Royal Assent on July 29.

The only union leaders Mr. Kenney likes, it seems, are south of the world’s longest temporarily closed border.

“The Keystone XL Pipeline project will put thousands of Americans, including Teamsters, to work in good union jobs that will support working families,” said James P. Hoffa, general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in the TC Energy presser.

Education Minister to discuss ‘next steps’ in curriculum changes

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange will be back at the podium this morning, this time to tell us about “the next steps to update the curriculum and strengthen the K-12 education system.”

Alert readers will recall how the UCP’s overheated rhetoric during the 2019 election campaign tried to make the curriculum review started by the old Progressive Conservatives but continued under the NDP after 2015 sound like some kind of communist plot.

Not to prejudge, but chances are whatever Ms. LaGrange trots out tomorrow won’t be all that different from what David Eggen would have announced were he still education minister.

21 Comments to: Good union jobs! Green jobs! UCP supporters need not panic, they’re not for anyone around here!

  1. Dave

    August 6th, 2020

    Good that Kenney is finally creating jobs, too bad they are probably mostly in the US. One of the things I detest are weasily stats from politicians, like when they say almost 60,000 jobs between the two countries. I’d like to know how many of those “almost” jobs are actually in Alberta, seeing as we are paying a lot for them and are potentially on the hook for much more. Surely, that is not too much to ask. That our current government does not want to be more upfront about this, I suspect is not a good sign.

    TC Energy is going to need all the green cred it can manufacture in this situation and more. However, lets not assume US politicians and voters are not smart enough to figure out that the C in TC stands for the name of a country that is not the US. Well maybe if they actually move their head office to Houston, it might help a bit more with their case, but unfortunately cause other problems for us. However, the biggest problem in this situation is the US really does not need more oil from outside the US now and the second biggest problem is Democrats are probably quite strongly inclined to over turn Trump’s overturning of what they did before. Risky bet does look like a bit of an understatement at this point. The political risk here is off the charts.

    Reply
  2. Abs

    August 6th, 2020

    It would be interesting to know what union leaders like Mr. Hoffa of the Teamsters think of Jason Kenney’s approach to his colleagues north of the border, or if it would even matter, as long as Alberta taxpayers pick up the tab for those American jobs.

    Remember, Alberta, that this is why your children are going back to school in the fall with bare-minimum pandemic safety measures in place and no physical distancing: jobs for Americans! Go Team USA! I bet those jobs pay a lot more than a flat rate of $13.50 CAD per person.

    Adriana LaGrange has a particular axe to grind with the curriculum, so we shall see if she finally gets her wish. Whatever happens, she will continue to look as grim as always. Life is meant to be carried as the burden it is. We must endure. Seems I’m going to be too busy to watch this live, but no matter. There’s not much liveliness to it anyways.

    Reply
  3. Kang

    August 6th, 2020

    I love the symbolism in the cover picture: there is Minister Savage standing in front of a MAGA energy pumper (does that stand for “Make Alberta Great Again?”) while behind her Premier Kenney is wearing a symbolic bison on a multicoloured lanyard around his neck.

    Apparently they are in a “business park” with various hopeful owners.
    https://www.parklandcounty.com/en/county-office/resources/Documents/Outline-Plans/RPT-FinalOutlinePlan-Highlands-Approved2017-02-28.pdf

    Speaking of hopeful: after the three years of construction end, how does pumping more low value crude into a declining market help? Is Alberta just producing itself into poverty?

    Reply
  4. Just Me

    August 6th, 2020

    This will serve as important leverage when the UCP sends their able MLAs and staffers to support the Republicans in respective congressional and presidential races.

    Now, the GOP can declared tens of thousands of new AMERICAN jobs created thanks to the Trump Administration’s policy of “energy independence”. No doubt this will send the “drill-baby-drill” crowd into a tizzy.

    Of course, it’s hoped that Trump will find a few seconds to thank “Prime Minister Kennedy for financing this project. Prime Minister Kenney is a powerful leader from a great place called ‘Albertastania’ — very nice place. Very blue people live there. I love those people.”

    Reply
  5. Athabascan

    August 6th, 2020

    Way to go kenney!

    I’m sure your republican overlords in the US will be pleased. That should bolster the UCP re-election campaign funds, when all that dark American money flows into his bank account in brown paper bags.

    More of our tax dollars flowing out of the province and in the hands of his friends.

    Reply
  6. Jim

    August 6th, 2020

    Mildly amused by all this ethical oil garbage, it shows a rather naive almost childlike understanding of how the world works. Take Iraq, Syria, Libya, or another country the US has destroyed under leadership from both sides. So the large oil companies get the oil, the “defence” contractors get paid for the weapons needed, and various other connected companies get paid as well with banks getting a cut of every transaction. Why do you think there is so much opposition to any politician who speaks out for peace? Why is it so hard to pull troops out of any of these warzones? Does anyone really think Biden, someone who has been deep in the swamp for almost 50 years, would change this? Take off the everything Trump does is bad because the media tells me so blinders and appreciate his honesty when talking about taking Syrian oil. No need to create wildly false stories like Obama and Bush, just tell it like it is.

    Regardless of the outcome of the election south of the border if the right people are paid keystone will go through. Biden is so out of it he likely doesn’t even know what decade it is or what he is running for. The only reason he would cancel keystone is because there are plans to get oil from Venezuela, you know that country our deputy PM wants to destroy.

    Reply
  7. Abs

    August 6th, 2020

    Whooa, Adriana, what the heck was that? When I asked for “lively”, I did not mean full-on-revival-tent-with-the-Airstream-trailers-in-a-field lively. I just meant eyes-slightly-more-than-half-open-and-pretending-to-care lively. I see there is no middle ground with these things.

    Anyways, how is that failure-to-physical-distance-in-overcrowded-schools plan coming along? Got a fix yet for that looming problem that won’t go away? Never mind, go back to your naughty corner and work on it later today. The assignment is due in a few weeks. Tick, tock.

    Reply
  8. Murphy

    August 6th, 2020

    I read the Social Studies 30 text in 2013. It appeared to be the intellectual manifestation of an unholy union between Ayn Rand and Richard Simmons. Can’t wait to see the fruits of the Grifter-Yokel pedagogical werks.

    Reply
  9. Bret larson

    August 6th, 2020

    The reason why money is tight is because the Notley ndp already spent it all in the “good times”. Currently taxpayers of Alberta are struggling under the debt the Notley ndp accrued during their reign. If they considered a rainy day might come when deficit spending was a good idea, their solution appears to have been to dig such a debt hole they could hide in it. Thanks ndp! Education spending is paying for it now.

    Reply
    • karl roth

      August 7th, 2020

      ok, i’ll bite

      first of all the debt the NDP accrued had mostly to do with the collapse of oil prices and 20 years of incompetent governing by conservative governments

      When the UCP took over from the NDP, Alberta continued to have the lowest debt to GDP ratio in Canada
      and also had continued spending less on public services, as a proportion of provincial GDP than the rest of Canada.

      the Kenney/UCP mob are bent on theoretically kick starting our economy by money gained by using austerity economic policies and cutting taxes to corporations as well as by direct government investment in the oil industry.

      Free market economics 101 i guess, regardless the social cost.

      The NDP’s final budget added $6.7 billion to the province’s accumulated debt and it increased spending on services with oil industry friendly policies also part of their economic agenda. ( too much so many would argue )

      UCP has slashed spending on a bunch of things that are beneficial and often necessary to regular Albertans, decreased tax income from corporations and the deficit is $8.7 billion.

      yAy UCP. nOt

      guess it’s a question of priorities and outlook

      Reply
    • Kang

      August 7th, 2020

      40 years of the Cons failing to act like owners, go slow, and save for a rainy day and you are blaming 4 years of NDP for the financial mess created over decades? As Bugs Bunny would say: “what a maroon!”

      Reply
    • Athabascan

      August 7th, 2020

      Matt, is that you?

      After keney’s fascists gave away nearly $10 billion to make rich people and corporations richer, are we still blaming the NDP, and for what? They had a scandal free government and didn’t give away billions to O&G.

      Oh, I get it. They are guilty of giving Albertans good government. What a crime eh?

      Reply
      • Bret larson

        August 8th, 2020

        I’ll answer all three together. The ucp are not the pcs, however the pc ascendancy provided the best standard of living in the country. Ndp ascendancy provided a worse and worse credit rating as they spent other people’s money to curry the favour, and votes, of the rent seeking union workers which elected them. How many votes do they get if they don’t spend their grand children’s tax dollars running an credit rating into the gutter?

        Reply
        • Kang

          August 9th, 2020

          Morning Brett: The PCs created economic activity by selling off carbon-land, acre by acre during a time of rising demand. In that situation any idiot could look like a financial genius and many did. It is a pity Lougheed’s successors were too feckless to follow his formula for development as the Norwegians have done so successfully.

          The NDP walked into a growing operational deficit coupled with a declining world price for oil. Instead of implementing the increased Royalty structure the Stelmach government planned, the NDP continued the PC model of managing the fossil carbon sector.

          It looks like the UCP are really just a cargo cult most of whom truly believe the world has not changed and prosperity will return with more fossil pipelines. The irrationality of the UCP will make them more dangerous as reality contradicts their beliefs. In that respect they are closer to the early Social Credit, than the foolish PCs or the naive NDP.

          Once Albertans learn how deeply their political class has betrayed them, it will be interesting to see if we sink into the mindless apathy of a Tasmania or Louisiana, or will we adapt to changing technology and use government to regulate the capitalist oligarchs as we did in a similar situation in the 1900s.

          Reply
          • Bret Larson

            August 9th, 2020

            The pcs developed the economy to provide the best standard of living in Canada. That is why people flocked to Alberta to work. When the election was called that the ndp won, it was called because if the drop in oil prices. The ndp won by promising unicorns and rainbows, but all they provided was debt. So, yes I do agree the political class abrogated their responsibility. But we got rid of them, both the pcs and the ndp.

    • Anonymous

      August 16th, 2020

      Bret Larson: Times weren’t good, when oil prices collapsed in the year 2014. How did the NDP become responsible for the Alberta PCs wasting money in the good times? There was a premier of Alberta, named Peter Lougheed. He was an Alberta PC. How come he was the only Alberta PC premier who knew that the good times don’t last forever? How come Peter Lougheed was able to save money, and not waste it? It’s rather pointless to lay the blame on the NDP for what happened. The UCP have never made anything better. They are rapidly burdening Alberta with record levels of debt.

      Reply
  10. barry derby

    August 7th, 2020

    i left Manitoba when NDP broke that province left Bc for same reason was planning to leave Alberta when the NDP
    got kicked out. their really is a god.

    Reply
    • Athabascan

      August 7th, 2020

      Give it up Matt.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      August 16th, 2020

      Barry Derby: The NDP have held the record in Canada for the most balanced budgets. The Conservatives don’t hold that title.

      Reply
  11. Bret Larson

    August 8th, 2020

    There are unions and then there are unions. Good unions build things. They compete with other unions for work and provide their services in competitive bids. Bad unions, government worker unions, use votes to sway politicians to give them good deals. Rent seekers all, they are a pox on democracy and likely it’s downfall. Unions can be good, but when they are bad they are really bad and are the harbingers of authoritarian rule.

    Reply
    • karl roth

      August 10th, 2020

      and the Kenney/UCP, free market, trickle down (proven to not work), austerity, underfunding of government programs, privatizing agenda with lots of money, tax breaks and support for corporations but none for regular folk all aggressively implemented with casual disregard to roughly 50% of citizens not drinking their koolaid it’s more the than just a harbinger of authoritarian rule it iS already proto-authoritarian rule

      unions got nothing on the Kenney/UCP for what you’re talking about and Kenney and his fellow believers are “a pox on democracy”

      there are none so blind as those who will not see

      Reply

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