Creepy Uncle Covid, the man of the year in Alberta politics, and politics everywhere else (Photo: Government of Alberta).

Today marks the 13th anniversary of the first post published on this blog, known at the time as St. Albert Diary, and later, for a spell, as Alberta Diary.

So, by the standards of the Internet, this makes an institution.

Premier Jason Kenney, striking an avuncular pose himself (Photo: United Conservative Party).

There’s no question that here in Alberta, as pretty much everywhere else, the dominant story of the year has been the global coronavirus pandemic. As a result, 2020 has met pretty well everyone’s definition of annus horribilis. 

The need to cover COVID-19 has overshadowed a lot of Alberta political stories that deserved, and deserve, more attention: among them, the apparent last gasp of the fossil fuel economy and what we’re going to do about it. It won’t come soon enough for many, but in the absence of any plan except to blame the federal government, it’s certainly not good news for Premier Jason Kenney, his United Conservative Party Government, or, really, most of us who struggle to earn a living in Alberta. 

The UCP strategy of confronting the inevitable by yelling at the clouds borders on criminal negligence, but I’m willing to bet it still enjoys considerable support among Albertans. 

There’s also been that inquiry into “anti-Alberta” environmentalism that never seems to report and the War Room that doesn’t know what it’s supposed to be doing, the incipient Wexit rebellion within the UCP caucus, and those pipelines that keep not getting built, all generating heat like a pile of oily rags, but never actually bursting into flames. At least so far. 

They, along with the government’s inconsistent and not particularly effective response to the pandemic — which seems to please no one — have contributed to another story that has become apparent in recent weeks. To wit, the rehabilitation of the NDP’s reputation among many voters who supported the UCP in 2019 — if not quite yet the resurrection of the Opposition party’s electoral hopes.

And there are the Kenney Government’s troubling wars — on doctors and health care workers, on workers’ rights, on addiction strategies that save lives — and its strange lack of enthusiasm for confronting those who would intentionally sabotage efforts to control the spread of the virus. 

So there will be lots to write about, without a doubt, in this blog’s 14th year of publication. 

The author’s copy of the 1976 edition of the Globe and Mail Style Book, not Stylebook (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Over the years, the blog seems to have established a mostly loyal readership, plus a couple of people who hate it so much they read almost every single post and leave their publishable or occasionally unpublishable complaints behind. Many commenters of all political stripes also act as my editors, tirelessly correcting me — for which I am extremely grateful, even on those occasions when I’m not actually wrong. 

I lost one of those able proofreaders this year, my sister Joan Margaret Millar, who died at 75 in September. Her trenchant observations, delivered soon after a post was published, saved me from embarrassment on many occasions, and I miss her contribution enormously.

Over the past year, has had about 2.5 million page views and has been regularly reprinted in a number of places, including, Alberta Views Magazine, and The Tyee.

No doubt this level of interest is encouraged by the unquestionable fact that ever since Ed Stelmach resigned as premier in 2011 — making way for Alison Redford, Dave Hancock, Jim Prentice, Rachel Notley and Jason Kenney — there’s scarcely been a boring day in Alberta politics, which was once upon a time guaranteed to be the dullest political scene in Confederation.

And who knows, give it another year or two and there may be more: Ms. Notley again? Jason Nixon? Shannon Phillips? Travis Toews? Drew Barnes in the role of the Dominion’s Carles Puigdemont, pondering following the footsteps of Louis Riel into American exile? Who knows? 

Thanks to all of you, dear readers, for continuing to enjoy and respond to my frequent ramblings, and for tolerating my determination to be the last Canadian standing who abides by the rulings of the 1976 edition of the Globe and Mail Style Book. God knows, the Globe and Mail doesn’t bother any more. 

Importantly, many thanks to the generous donors who continue to help pay for web hosting, website repairs and the occasional redesign, not to mention the inevitable costs of research and staying connected in a digital age. I am extremely grateful to all of you. You know who you are.

Have an annus mirabilis in 2021! 

Join the Conversation


  1. Congratulations, David. Your blog has been my go-to source for news on the Alberta political front for years. It reminds me that there are sane political voices back home and that the rabid right-wing is really just a noisy minority in Wild Rose Country.

  2. Congratulations on thriving in the tumultuous world of online blogging for all this time. No doubt Jason’s boys and girls keep close tabs on your every word. Uhh, you wouldn’t be interested in moving to Ontario, would you?

  3. Congratulations on another great year, David. I really hope Jason Kenney’s shenanigans don’t burn you out! I appreciate your insight into our political affairs; I am sure they are entertaining to Canadians not living in Alberta. For those of us living here though, it is too close to be entertaining.

    Your blog reached a threshold this year with your ability to sell advertising, and congratulations are in order. My hope for next year is more European singles and less ear wax.

    Finally, condolences again on the loss of your sister.


  4. Congratulations on the anniversary. I always enjoy reading your blog, even on those rare occasions when I disagree with you — most commonly on matters of geopolitics. You are erudite and well-informed, and your opinions are always grounded in well-researched and fully sourced facts. And yet, you always have your tongue firmly in cheek, adding a frisson of humour to the topics being discussed. In your case, the portmanteau word “infotainment” is no slur, since the emphasis is always on the “info-“ component.

    May you continue informing & entertaining for a long time to come.

  5. Thank you for all you do, and congratulations on the 13th anniversary of your blog! That seems like an entrely appropriate number for this year. I’m sure there will be no lack of subject matter until 2023.

    In the meantime, the CMOH guessed that we had 500 new cases of Covid yesterday. I guess we’ll hit zero new cases by Dember 31 at this rate. Out with the Covid, in with the Ouija board for 2021! My guess is as good as anyone’s, and I might be just as credible. Of course, Health Canada won’t question my dartboard (is that what they really meant by “dashboard”?).

    In other wild predictions, Angus McDuck will replace SAIT and NAIT with used car sales school, for males only. How am I doing so far?

  6. Congratulations, David! A sane, intelligent and knowledgeable voice in the Post-Media desert. Please, keep up the great work. Happy 2021 to you and to all of us.

  7. Thanks, David, for this public service. Since AB became politically interesting, I’ve appreciated your diligent reporting, along with that of Andrew Nikiforuk, to help me make sense of the province that I haven’t lived in for more than 30 years.

    What someone – perhaps a consortium? – needs to do is a compare-and-contrast study of the regional flavourings of how the various provincial NDPs are failing to deal with the climate crisis, say from SK west. This seems to be latest version of How Social Democrats Lost Their Souls – doing for climate what Janice MacKinnon did for economic policy.

    There are many currents in play, perhaps starting with wariness about getting too far ahead of what local electorates can accept. But despite the resulting compromises, we then saw that two months ago the NDP lost every northern BC riding which hosts any part of LNG development and its supporting pipelines and gas extraction infrastructure.

    We hear NDP politicians mouthing the same platitudes about “balancing” economic and environmental imperatives that we hear from Trudeau and the federal Liberals, and behaving as if CO2 in the atmosphere was some kind of restive ethnic group that might be placated with a bit of symbolic pandering.

    I used to think that part of the problem was the lack of any science training in the career preparation of politicians, but then I watched the SK NDP cheerleading for more pipelines under the leadership of a doctor. And after that, he barely won his own seat. And for all of her similar behaviour, Rachel Notley was successfully demonized by the UCP as being insufficiently enthusiastic about the oil industry.

    Here in BC, Premier Horgan can adopt a failing megadam project, undermine his own climate targets with LNG, feebly go through the motions of opposing TransMountain, and get overwhelmingly re-elected. I can just imagine him now asking in private how many divisions the Greenies really do have?

    So there is much to consider, diagnose, and discuss.

  8. My o’ my! That’s a lot of words! And a huge library of very fine commentary.

    Alberta has not spawned too many institutions but I am very pleased to agree that Climenhaga’s AlbertaPolitics is an Alberta Institution. Of the first order!

    Some contemplations:
    “Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences.”
    –Sylvia Plath
    “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
    –Anaïs Nin
    “The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.”
    — Robert Benchley

    Congratulations David. Best wishes for the New Year

  9. Congratulations David on 13 years of an excellent blog. Not read every day but I end up reading pretty much every post and it’s great stuff even when I don’t agree with it, which is seldom. Maybe it was because the opposition was so entertaining but from where I am it seemed the NDP govt years were the best for blog fodder, another good reason to have them back.

    Coincidentally I noticed today that my bookmark is called “Alberta Diary.” All the Best for the next 13+ years…

    1. Mickey: The older bookmarked URL should continue to work as I have left it in place up with a redirect. DJC

  10. Thank you David for taking the time to write well about things that matter.

    All the best to you and yours in 2021.

  11. I really hope 2021 will be a better one. I think the sentiment 2020 was horrible was fairly bipartisan or multi partisan.

    You may become more of an institution than the UCP, which aspires to be the successor to the previous PC natural governing party. I think their hopes are becoming more tenuous as they face more obstacles including all the ones you have mentioned and perhaps also important they are becoming their own obstacle. When they destroyed the PC’s, I think they perhaps unintentionally destroyed part of the formula to governing long in Alberta.

    I think oil prices will recover somewhat after COVID and the end of fossil fuel will not happen as quickly as expected. Progress on pipelines is slow, but some are moving ahead while some may not. Overall, by 2023 Alberta may be in a bit better economic position, but I think the green shoots may not be enough to satisfy voters that the UCP really did what they promised.

    Transitions are hard and I don’t fault those that have or had good jobs in the energy for being hesitant to embrace a leap into the unknown. However, I do fault governments that take the politically easy route and promise we can go just back to the past – we can’t. As time goes on, I suspect it will become clearer to more and more Albertans that the UCP is not being honest about this and pandering to people to get votes.

    Their lack of economic vision, leadership and competence is also becoming clearer as time goes on and I suspect this will be what ultimately makes them a one hit wonder and not a dynasty.

    1. “Transitions are hard and I don’t fault those that have or had good jobs in the energy for being hesitant to embrace a leap into the unknown.” Indeed. There has been a lot of discussion about transition to a greener economy less dependent on fossil fuels, and by & large this needs to happen. There will be jobs created by this transition — for example, drilling for geothermal energy instead of oil or gas.

      However — and this is where this idea hits a third rail — those jobs won’t be where they are now, and may not be as lucrative as oil patch jobs of the past. For example, look at Fort McMurray & the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, often described — with good reason — as the world’s largest work camp. Without the oil sands, virtually nobody would live there. If the oil sands shut down, whether by government fiat as the Greens would demand, or by market forces as many have predicted, it will devastate that city even more than the 2016 wildfire. Not only will there be no jobs there, and so no reason for anyone to stay, but their homes will have zero value. What plans are there to transition the entire population of RMWB to a green energy economy?

      1. Why do we have to finance their transition? What have the oil workers of Alberta done for anyone except themselves? Now that they can’t make 6 figures pumping oil that doesn’t belong to them and creating pollution that they are somehow not responsible for, the rest of us have to come and bail them out? The richest workers in the country are so destitute that the rest of us need to give them free education or else they might become…. gasp…. less rich? There aren’t enough WTFs in the world.

        Maybe they should take some of that Personal Responsibility they like so much. Maybe they should take their own advice, and Pull Themselves Up By Their Bootstraps? Show the rest of us what how it’s done.

        “I can’t change your life, Fort McMurray, only you can do that.” (Hopefully the Big Lebowski reference translates)

        I’ve seen a similar thing happen with loggers and fishers in BC. When the times are good for them, they don’t do anything for anyone else, while claiming that if others were willing to “work hard”, then others would also enjoy their standard of living. When times are bad for them, they start shrieking about how the entire community needs to rally around them because otherwise there won’t be anyone in the community with their spending power, and the local economy will suffer. Meanwhile, the trees and fish their jobs depend on do not belong to them.

        For what it’s worth, I’m just as against bailing out the richest workers as I am against bailing out the richest owners.

  12. Fintan O’Toole the Irish Times editorialist observed that “Democracy is a system for the rational articulation of ideas about the public good.” As he says of Trump, the Kenney UCP have “set out to lay waste to that whole system, from the bottom up, poisoning the groundwaters of respect for evidence, argument and rationality that keeps it alive.”

    So, thank you David Climenhaga for working to keep that essence of democracy, the rational articulation of ideas about the public good, alive here in Alberta in the face of a Provincial Premier and his UCP caucus who are determined to poison that ground water both literally and figuratively.

  13. Happy New Year for Your commentary is a good balance to much of the right-wing propaganda and disinformation that we usually read in the mainstream media. The news of the vaccine is very hopeful and even if in a year we still have to wear our masks we can feel a lot less anxious about COVID which has been particularly challenging over this year.

  14. Congrats on the milestone, David! For better or worse, the dark days of UCP rule certainly provides plenty of fodder.

    Keep fighting the good fight, those of us that haven’t drank the Kenney Kool-Aid need you to remind us that not all of our fellow Albertans are brainwashed drones.

  15. I’m a newcomer here, but am quite enjoying your coverage. I would love to see gigantic mass media empires broken up to allow us to have actual journalism again, instead of the disgusting blend of sensationalism and profit chasing that has become the norm. Failing that, I guess I’ll settle for another year of making this one of my main news sources. Keep up the good work!

  16. thank you, thank you, mr Climenhaga for your great, insightful blog,
    a very much welcome contribution to the AB media landscape

    a treat and to read and for me an exemplar of engaging and effective writing, (aspire to write so well when i grow up LOL !!)

    also enjoy many of the regular commenters

    best wishes and many ever more successful years

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