Joseph R. Biden – when it comes to Alberta’s demands, the new U.S. president can afford to laugh a little (Photo: The White House).

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney wants the United States government to pay off his gambling debts!

I kid you not. In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent yesterday and published this morning on social media, Mr. Kenney demanded the Canadian Government press the new U.S. Administration of President Joseph R. Biden to pay the $1.5 billion the premier lost on his gamble Donald Trump would win the Nov. 3 presidential election and the Keystone XL Pipeline would be completed. 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney with Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Alberta’s worst export to the United States, ever! (Photo: Twitter).

He also said the U.S. should pay reparations to Calgary-based TC Energy Corp. for the money it wasted rushing ahead with the project in the hopes that if Mr. Trump wasn’t elected, Mr. Biden could be bullied into allowing the work to continue on the grounds it had already been started.

Well, no one ever said you have to be connected to reality to be premier of Alberta. Mr. Kenney also lectured the prime minister about how the United States needs to be reminded that Canada is its “longest standing ally.”

Actually, as Mr. Trudeau certainly knows even if our premier missed it, that would be France. The French were sending war supplies to the George Washington’s Continental Army in 1775 when we Canadians, dare I say it, were still loyal subjects of the British Crown and therefore mortal enemies of the American rebels. 

Well, you don’t have to agree with Mr. Kenney about anything to admire the man’s chutzpah – defined by Leo Rosten in The Joys of Yiddish as “that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.”

I am not accusing Mr. Kenney of doing that, of course. It cannot be denied, though, that he recently called the co-chair of Mr. Biden’s campaign “brain dead,” and still tolerates in his cabinet a young man most famous for appearing in a MAGA cap toasting Mr. Trump’s victory in 2016 at a Republican clam bake in New York City.

Mr. Kenney has also appeared in a widely distributed photo with Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Alberta’s worst export, ever, to the United States, and one of the men who along with the former president himself fomented the Jan. 6 attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. Had that coup been successful, it would have prevented President Biden from coming to power and possibly much worse. 

As rare a thing as this may be when it comes to U.S. presidents’ knowledge of Canadian premiers, I imagine President Biden knows exactly who Mr. Kenney is. This is unlikely to enhance Mr. Kenney’s chance of success on this file. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – what do you do with a problem like J. Kenney? (Photo: Adam Scotti, Prime Minister’s Office).

I do admit, it would be nice if President Biden would fork over the dough. After all, it wasn’t Mr. Kenney’s money, it was ours, the people of Alberta’s that is, that was lost on this bet. 

But you have to know — as Mr. Kenney surely does — that this wish is about as likely to come to pass as Mr. Trump’s promise the government of Mexico would pay for that wall along the United States’ southern border. 

Losing $1.5 billion is the price we will have to pay for electing Mr. Kenney’s United Conservative Party government. 

We’re lucky, in truth, that Mr. Kenney’s gamble didn’t cost us more. He was ready, after all, to blow another $6 billion of our money on this project, which TC Energy, the former TransCanada PipeLines, was unprepared to invest itself because of the undeniable realities of the market. 

We should have known things were likely to end badly when back in 2017 we heard Mr. Kenney complain that “when politicians are risking your money instead of their own, you might as well send them to the casino. I mean, they have no incentive to get it right.”

Who would have guessed a guy like that liked the clack of the dice so much? 

It is also highly ironic that Mr. Kenney, a sworn enemy of the trade union movement, is now using the loss of “good union jobs” as a result of Mr. Biden’s completely predictable decision to keep a promise he made throughout his campaign as a key talking point in the effort to keep KXL on life support. 

“Union labour is critical to Keystone XL,” the premier pleaded. Remember, this is the same man whose government is bringing in unconstitutional legislation to hamstring unions, end overtime as we know it, and who, in the 2017 speech quoted above, promised to bring to Alberta “low taxes, a low regulatory regime” and “lower labour costs.”

But then, Premier Kenney’s not a man for irony. He’s also using the same federal carbon-tax policy that Alberta’s lawyers are going to court to challenge to argue Canada’s climate goals and Mr. Biden’s are sweetly in accord, so we should get our pipeline. 

And even though he knows Alberta’s largest export market is the United States, he wants the PM to declare a trade war on the same country that would presumably drive them to buy more of what’s known around here in Alberta as “dictator oil.” This seems, in a word, stupid. 

This afternoon he was spouting the same stuff on Fox News. Mr. Biden’s favourite television station? Probably not.

Of course, as has been said in this space before, none of this has much to do with any realistic hope on Mr. Kenney’s part that the new American president will actually give him his lost money back.   

It’s all grandstanding to somehow get Prime Minister Trudeau to wear the blame for Mr. Kenney’s foolish decision. 

Truly, you couldn’t make this stuff up. 

Join the Conversation


  1. It’s time for someone in the senior ranks of the UCP to take Jason Kenney aside for “the talk”. It’s too late for damage control.

  2. Kenney’s desperate attempts at deflection are NOT working. The comments sections of the relevant CBC articles are running, I estimate, 95+% anti-Kenney. The remaining five per cent read like attempts at deflection, not even defense of Kenney. They’re widely mocked as posts from War Room staffers, when people aren’t poking holes in the weak arguments.

    I’m beginning to hope the UCP rank-and-file will demand a leadership review before the next election. Unless some totally unexpected, miraculous reversal makes Kenney look good (hey, it could happen. The sun could go out tomorrow morning, too.) I’d be surprised if Kenney wasn’t called on the carpet by his own party.

    1. Your comment reminds me of how during the election the UCP was polling higher than Jason Kenney’s personal popularity. It will be interesting to see if any polls come out asking respondents if they would be more or less likely to support the UCP with a new leader.

  3. So…Kenney took his cry angry midget show to the US airwaves c/o Foxnews. The anchor stated something, to the effect, that the Biden Administration was abandoning US allies and foreign leaders. Though I missed the introduction, I suspect Kenney was introduced as the Prime Minister of the Republic of Albertastan, a nation that has been a long-time US ally going back all the way to King Phillip’s War. Judging by the degree of literacy of the Foxnews audience, I’m sure many where confounded when they couldn’t find the Republic of Albertastan on their maps. Have to give them props for having a map, however.

    Kenney’s crying game act on Foxnews had more to do with pacifying the UCP base, getting to stop thinking about lynching Kenney for a little while. Since the UCP base is, like many CONs, addicted to Foxnews, they will believe Kenney more if he appeared on Rupert Murdoch’s boob-tube for CONs. We’ll have to see what happens next once all the details of Kenney’s biggest bet finally surfaces.

  4. All for show. Fox News! Like their viewers are the ones whose minds you need to change. Just far right viewer time for the angry, oily midget. We’re watching a political career in its death throes. He should be embarrassed to appear on that station after its contributions to what happened on January 6. And all Albertans embarrassed and outraged that he purported to do it on our behalf!

  5. Speaking of not being a man for irony, Premier Doug Ford of Ontario has seconded Kenney’s demand for a trade war with the U.S. even as he is appealing to Joe Biden for help in securing more covid vaccine for Ontario.

    1. Someday I’ll write a column on the class signals sent by the way we tie our neckties — which are increasingly irrelevant since almost no one wears a tie any more unless they’re at a lodge meeting or in court charged with a serious criminal offence. Still, it’s very real and, as far as I’ve ever noticed, never spoken about by anyone except me. But how you tie your tie reveals your class, or at least your class aspirations. The half Windsor, worn by these two goofs, is the knot of the upper classes, and, of course, those who aspire to be part of the upper class. To look right, it needs a tie of high quality cloth, preferably silk. It is asymmetrical. As illustrated here, it’s tied the right way, on the wrong ties. The full Windsor, which is symmetrical and when tied properly forms a nearly perfect triangle, is the tie of the working class, even though the working class has lost its class consciousness and therefore imagines it is part of some other class. Given that, the knot on a tie is a more reliable indicator of class than most other signals. I know, Chris, you will have some doubts initially about this. But look at some pictures on Google, then watch the real tie-wearers in your own life, and you will soon see that this observation is correct. DJC

  6. Yes, it does seem that our Premier’s rantings have become even more detached from reality lately. Perhaps with Trump gone from power Kenney figures there is an opening in the delusional leader department.

    However, it didn’t end well for Trump and as much as he tried to will his self constructed delusions on everyone, he did not triumph and it eventually all sort of collapsed on itself. All the deceit and lies eventually do catch up. On that note, things don’t seem to be going so well for Kenney now either, do they?

    Perhaps one successful thing Kenney observed Trump do was when things are not going well, create a ruckus, the bigger the better, to take attention away from and distract from what ever you want. Look here, not there. Isn’t sleight of hand one of the tricks of a good con man?

    I am guessing the one thing, Kenney does not want us to focus on right now is the $1.5 billion or more he lost on this foolish gamble. Heck, I suspect he would babble gibberish incantations in Latin, if he thought that would do the trick right now. So, no it really does not matter whether Canada is the US’s oldest ally or not, just as long as it sounds plausible or appeals to enough people’s preconceptions. The truth is optional here for him.

    After years of problems and struggle, it took the US an election and some to rid itself of its persistent scourge. I would not be surprised if it happens similarly here in Alberta. Kenney doesn’t even have a career in business or reality TV to go back to, so I suspect he will cling to power as desperately as he can and will use every political trick he knows to hang on.

  7. My understanding of those who would build the KXL Pipeline is incomplete. Since its American section is proposed to run from the Montana border to Nebraska, a distance of 1408 km, which country’s “good union jobs” is Mr. Kenney so concerned about?

  8. Let me get this right.

    President Biden cancelled the Keystone pipeline and it is Trudeau’s fault?

    Is Kenney in some sort of alternate universe?

    Does he really believe that Alberta voters are so stupid that they will accept this, let alone truly believe it?

  9. Excellent take profiling the lying and hypocrisy of Kenney and the UCP. Please look into the RCMP investigation into Kenney’s leadership selection.

  10. Spot on the money. When he first gave TC his/our money he said it would create 5000 jobs. When Biden pulled the plug Kenney said we were losing 2000 good union jobs. Now I read in the paper TC is laying off 1000 workers. He reminds me of that character in the old TV show Dallas, Cliff Barnes I think his character was… the one that kept getting stiffed by J.R.

  11. In Jack Mintz’s piece that David linked to a couple of days ago, Dr. Mintz referred to the cancellation of KXL as a ‘gut punch’, a phrase Jason Kenney liked so much that he parroted it when he held his press conference to talk about it.

    The phrase ‘gut punch’ conjures up an image of an unexpected attack, but the truth of the matter is the markets were already expecting the cancellation. If you look at the graph showing TC Energy’s stock price, you can’t even tell which day the pipeline was cancelled.

  12. The lawyer for the fellow dressed in horns and furs known as the QAnon Shaman who stormed the US capital was on Fox news saying his client was misled and should be pardoned. Premier Kenney was just on Fox News saying much the same thing. After all he believed Trump to the tune of $1.5 billion Alberta tax payer dollars and now he wants compensation for the lost bet from the Biden administration.

    As our host is fond of saying: “you can’t make this stuff up.” But have a heart! The poor little things believed the big bad man! Who could have imagined the effrontery of the Biden administration not wanting a pipeline carrying tar diluted in solvent coming into their territory and going over their largest freshwater aquifer and worse, winning an election on that platform? Where is Bernard the Roughneck when Kenney needs him?

    Hard to imagine who is more gullible: Premier Kenney for placing a $1.5 billion bet on Trump or PM Trudeau for building a $12 billion tar pipeline to the BC coast. It all proves if you tell a big enough lie, often enough, the rubes will bite.
    If any of you can think of a substitute for a democracy of dunces, I’m all ears and I really do not care how you tie your tie.

  13. Hey, American corporations are successfully suing governments around the world for lost investments due to annoying inconveniences like labour and environmental policies. The process is called an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). Canada even had the right to do the same under NAFTA, though it’s waived that right under USMCA, the new version of the agreement, probably because it never won any of its suits against the US. Kenney just wants back in on that action.

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