“Alberta has always had close ties to the United States, so it’s painful to watch the bizarre scenes unfolding at the U.S. Capitol,” Jason Kenney lamented yesterday, presumably tweeting from a secure command post atop the office building that overlooks the Alberta Legislature.

“Political violence is always wrong, especially when it seeks to interrupt the peaceful transition of power in a democracy,” Alberta’s United Conservative Party premier continued, contemplating the mobs conjured up in Washington by the Republican president the premier has been banking on returning to the White House for another four years. 

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

Well, it is painful to watch, even for those of us who haven’t cherished the naive illusion that something like the violent scenes unfolding yesterday at the U.S. Capitol could never happen on this continent. 

There’s nothing bizarre, though, about the Washington insurrection by the increasingly violent and anti-democratic North American right, a force that Mr. Kenney, like U.S. President Donald Trump, has tried to harness here to remake Alberta in his ideological image.

Of course it could happen in Washington. 

Sinclair Lewis predicted it in 1935, the year Bill Aberhart entered the Alberta Legislature as premier, for heaven’s sake. For anyone who remembered that author’s novel and has lived through the past four years of American history, It Can’t Happen Here was starting to seem more like journalism than dystopian fiction. 

Of course, It Can’t Happen Here was written as a warning when fascism was on the rise in Europe. But since the Second World War ended that threat for a few generations, the organs of American state security have perfected something called the “colour revolution” as the perfect way to achieve “regime change” in foreign lands that won’t go along with the Washington Consensus. 

Where did we get the idea regime change could never come home to roost in the heart of the American Republic? It’s not as if some other country, or even some bad actor in the much-empowered American private sector, couldn’t figure out how it works. 

What’s the difference between the violent mobs in the Maidan in Kiyv in 2014 and in the Mall in Washington in 2021, other than the language in which curses were being hurled and the colour of the flags? It was the same witches’ brew of demagoguery, right-wing ideology and misinformation that summoned them up. 

Alberta Agriculture Minister and Trump campaigner Devin Dreeshen (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

It was mildly reassuring, I suppose, to hear Mr. Kenney – who has been hiding out in premier Alison Redford’s old Sky Palace in Edmonton from some angry constituents of his own – expressing “hope that order is urgently restored, and that duly-elected President @JoeBiden is certified and sworn in without further disruption from the opponents of democracy.” 

Indeed. It wasn’t so long ago, in 2018, that Mr. Kenney was defending Devin Dreeshen, then his just-appointed agriculture minister, for travelling to the United States two years earlier and pitching in to get Mr. Trump elected. “I think it’s actually helpful to have in our caucus an MLA who can get people on the phone in the U.S. administration,” Mr. Kenney said, implying that Mr. Dreeshen could actually do that.

Well, Mr. Dreeshen’s American connections won’t do us much good now if order is restored in Washington, as his boss says he hopes. 

For his part, all Mr. Dreeshen had to say about yesterday’s Camo Revolution was in a terse statement stating, “Minister Dreeshen denounces all forms of political violence, including what is taking place in Washington, D.C.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden (Photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons).

Last summer, Mr. Kenney bet $1.5 billion of our money on his expectation Mr. Trump would win November’s presidential election and swiftly allow completion of the Keystone XL Pipeline. 

Now the premier has reluctantly admitted that if the Democrat who walloped Mr. Trump in November keeps his promises, “that will likely lead to a significant writedown on the investment.” 

So don’t say our pious Alberta premier hasn’t been praying for Mr. Trump’s victory, not to mention for forgiveness from his own constituency, infuriated at UCP MLAs holidaying in Hawaii and Mexico while they hunkered down as instructed to avoid the coronavirus and COVID-19. 

Narrow though it may be, President-elect Joe Biden now has the majority he needs in both houses of the U.S. Congress, thanks to Georgia turning into a Blue State, to implement his program. And if Mr. Biden’s promises are to be believed, that program includes swiftly pulling the plug on Keystone XL. 

U.S. President Donald Trump (Photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons).

“I am not going to start doing accounting based on a hypothesis,” Mr. Kenney huffily told the Calgary Herald. “It’s our job to do everything possible to keep the project going.” 

Mr. Kenney’s recent disparaging comments about pipelinesceptical U.S. Democrats aren’t likely to do much to make Mr. Biden warm to the merits of the Alberta premier’s case. 

Still, since there’s less light than you might imagine based on U.S. media reports between Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump, there may still be a faint-hope clause for Mr. Kenney’s pipeline ambitions. 

How embarrassing it will be for him, though, to have to rely on his political arch-foe, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who by all accounts has maintained a cordial relationship with Mr. Biden, as the only way to save his bacon. 

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  1. When I read that Mr. Kenney chose the Sky Palace for his office while his section of the Leg was being rehabilitated, I could hardly believe it. I realize his judgment has been slipping a lot lately, but choosing to move to the Sky Palace now? Really, really bad idea. It seems like he is determined to head towards further disaster.

    In any event, I suppose his most recent extended silence was getting a bit uncomfortable so he had to pop up and say something. Oh look what’s happening in Washington today! A nice distraction for Kenney to focus on perhaps.

    Of course, there is that somewhat related pipeline problem that might become one of the next things in Kenney’s annus horriblis, but I suspect Kenney really doesn’t want us to dwell on the details of that. In any case, the amount of Alberta taxpayer money to be written off on the Keystone XL pipeline if Biden cancels it as he promised will probably become apparent fairly soon, if things unfold as expected.

    Yes, US exceptionalism got hoisted on its own petard today as it became even clearer how dysfunctional their political system has become. Perhaps they will gain a bit of humility from the jarring experience of today. Humility is perhaps a theme this week, as it seems to have become a time of reckoning for some of those who are powerful and self important, but whose power and importance is slipping.

    Just a final bit of advise for Kenney – you really are tempting fate with that odd Sky Palace office choice. Think WWRD (what would Redford do) and maybe consider suitable space on a lower floor or somewhere else. Even a trailer on the Leg grounds would have better political optics, don’t you think?

  2. There is one person in Washington, D.C. that Jason Kenney can get hold of now, and that’s Keean Bexte of Rebel, who lists accreditation with the Alberta Legislature, Court of Queen’s Bench and White House on his Twitter account. You see, Keean travelled by plane for Wednesday’s events, and now he’s stuck in a hotel with police trying to get in. He said earlier that he can’t fly back without proof of a negative Covid test, and apparently no one wants to help him get one, not even Air Canada. Those Tweets seem to have disappeared, so maybe someone already phoned to help him out, someone high up?

    It’s nice to see someone getting some use out of the jinxed Sky Palace, isn’t it? There’s nothing like doubling down on elitism, and counting on the 24-hour news cycle to forget. I suppose the CBC article was right. It will take the people as long to forget #Alohagate as it would to forget not being able to attend their own mother’s funeral. For some people, that’s 24 hours.

    What’s that? Muttering about the carbon tax again? #Alohagate, #Alohagate, #Alohagate.

  3. It was horrifying to watch the mob violence in DC yesterday. On the other hand you gotta love it. The US govt, with bipartisan support of both parties, has been inciting mob violence and subverting democratic institutions around the world for decades. Chickens coming home to roost.

  4. David, please, name the sources on which you based your evaluation of the Orange revolutions in Ukraine.

    The Ukrainians call the ousting of the Yanukovych regime the Revolution of Dignity . Putin and Lavrov would agree with you that it was , ‘a witches’ brew of demagoguery, right wing ideology and misinformation’, orchestrated by the CIA.

    As someone who can actually follows the news in Ukrainian and Russian and has a clue or two about the history of that part of the world, I find your version of the events in Kyiv disturbingly similar to the versions provided by Russia Today , the TV propaganda arm of the Putin regime. And Russia today is available in English.

    It might be less embarrassing , David , to both you and to your loyal readers like me , if you were to write about things for which you have enough knowledge of language, culture , politics and history to reasonably comment upon.

    On the other hand , your simplified understanding of a distant and very complex situation will encourage me to question your interpretation of local events . I need to thank you for that.

  5. I am going to be seriously pissed off at Trudeau (again) when he wastes a bunch of Canada’s political capital on that stupid #[email protected] pipeline.

    One fact that mainstream Albertans may never realize is that Trudeau took a lot of political heat, and continues to take that heat, for spending Canadian tax dollars to buy a failing pipeline and force it upon the semi-willing (at best) populace of BC. He sacrificed his environmental credibility and a great deal of the credibility he had built up regarding reconciliation. In the aftermath of the RCMP (wearing military gear and backed by snipers with orders to use “lethal force” against any resistance as per the Guardian) storming the Wet’suwet’en blockades (which were on lands that, according to Canadian law, Canada does not have sovereignty over and never has), Indigenous people in BC were referring to assault rifles as “reconciliation sticks.” There were also some pretty savagely on-the-nose memes circulating, my favourite of which was a monopoly gameboard entitled “Canadian Indigenous Monopoly” where every square said “Go to jail.”

    I could go on, but the point I’m trying to make is that JT sacrificed real, tangible political capital and goodwill to come to bat for Alberta and to try to make good on his stupid, nonsensical “We can extract more oil while also polluting less because REASONS” compromise. I was in Edmonton at the time and I didn’t read or hear a single appreciative thing said about the guy. It was more like, “psssssh, whatevs, we’ll believe it when we see it.”

    When politicians sacrifice their interests for yours and get blown off like they did nothing, it really discourages other politicians from doing anything for you.

    1. Ok. I’m not a big pipeline fan either, what’s the alternative…Rail. How safe is that? It seems to me there is a rail line going right through the Wet’suwet’en lands, a rail line that they depend on. When a pipeline is finished all that’s left is a cleared right of way. It has no effect on anything. As far as the governments handling of the crisis I thought they showed amazing restraint compared to what the right wing folks were saying.
      In my view the point you were making about JT was spot on the money.

      1. I agree that pipeline are better than rail cars. If I were in charge, I would be developing other sources of energy. What if the subsidies currently going to oil companies went to more responsible forms of electricity? If oil is so profitable, why does it need to be subsidised? If the Alberta government has a “spending problem”, why is it spending money on subsidies for some of the most profitable companies on Earth? What is the difference between subsidising oil companies to “create jobs” and subsidising solar panel manufacturers to “create jobs”? I totally understand that solar isn’t magic and it isn’t perfect, but it will improve as we invest more into it. Research and development is very expensive. At this point in time, I’m even willing to have a conversation about nuclear power, which scares the bejeezus out of me.

        Even if we don’t end up exploiting all bitumen, that resource will still be there. The day will come when technology will allow us to extract it more safely. Even if we somehow end up in a world where there is no need for the internal combustion engine, we are still going to need a lot of oil for plastics. For what its worth, I’m not saying, “we’re going to pretend that resource doesn’t exist.” I’m saying “let’s wait until we can develop that resource safely and responsibly.” Chances are, if we need to use extralegal police violence in order to develop it, we are not doing it ethically.

        The pipeline will cause pollution while it is there. It will cause more of the world’s dirtiest oil to be mined, which affects every living organism on the planet. It will increase tanker traffic off the coast of BC sevenfold. All it will take is one tanker spill to wipe out all of the “economic gains” that BC isn’t going to see any of. There will always be the potential for leaks and spills in the pipeline itself. Alberta has a shameful history with “safety” in its thousands of miles of pipelines going under farmers’ fields. It seems unreasonable to think we’ll have a safer pipeline going through the rocky mountains than we do going over the nice, safe, flat plains of Alberta. https://globalnews.ca/news/571494/introduction-37-years-of-oil-spills-in-alberta/

        Finally, according to Canadian law, Canada does not have sovereignty over Wet’suwet’en lands. What legitimacy can we ascribe to a government that doesn’t obey its own laws?

  6. Seems to me that JT has been ‘saving JK’s bacon’ over several issues for that past while, despite the whining and frothing at the mouth of so many Albertans about the federal Liberal ‘elites’. While never having voted Liberal, at least this time they have come through with the $$$’s needed for some Covid induced problems. It is JK and fools who refuse to access millions offered to compensate health care people who are doing all the work while JK and fools whine and froth.
    Yes, agreed. What happened in the capital of the Excited States was, and probably will be again, inevitable. Forever courting complicity with corporatism at the expense of 90% of the population (to which we are NOT immune!) has to lead to reprisals, whether at the voting booth or at the demonstrations. Seems you can only drive down the prospects of so many people so far before some sort of SHTF.

  7. Events similar to those in Washington yesterday have been telegraphed for months yet were allowed to happen It’s perpetrators appeared to have been incited by a President and handled with kid gloves.

    Albertans would do well to understand how this occurred and not be complacent about our future. Jason Kenney and Blaine Calkins have endorsed Trump Lite [Lite for the present that is] Erin O’Toole as federal leader. Tough economic times will breed more anger and more political extremes. Freedom is a wonderful concept but sadly not well understood or appreciated. It has gradually become a word hijacked and cynically used by these tricksters.

    1. Imagine if, instead of white people charging a seat of government, that had been black people charging a Wal-Mart. The Americops would have finally gotten to use some of that surplus military equipment they love playing with so much!

  8. As some of my fellow seniors have pointed out. Wouldn’t you think Kenney would have been smart enough to make an arrangement with Joe Biden to meet and discuss what he thought about the Keystone XL pipeline before he blew all our money on the pipeline?

    Wouldn’t you think he would have been smart enough to read what the former TransCanada Pipeline executive, Dennis McConaghy was saying about Harper refusing to implement a Carbon Tax so Obama would have likely approved it?
    ” The Card Canada Never Played To Get the Keystone Pipeline Approved”

    It’s no secret that while these Reform Party fools tell the world that they don’t believe in Global Warming or the massive pollution Alberta is creating , when the world does care,. They are literally destroying our oil industry.
    The MLAs from the Lougheed era were right Reformers aren’t smart enough to govern properly and their track record proves it. Not one of them has been smart enough to suggest the obvious solution to our financial problem , like Notley did. Collect proper royalties, taxes , and health care premiums and run this province properly like Lougheed did and Norway and Alaska are doing.

    With the scene from Washington I can’t help but recall the words of the late comedian George Carlin
    “Never Underestimate The Power Of Stupid People in Large Groups.

    The Germans saw it in the 1930s with Hitler. Albertans saw it with Klein and Kenney and the Americans saw it with Trump. You would think we would learn but we don’t.

  9. And the hits just keep on coming. Expect the War Room to tweet “more in sorrow than in anger” about the Biden administration’s unfortunate fixation on global warming….

  10. Well what can I say? Circus Washington imploded yesterday and circus Alberta is getting there.
    Talking to Justin Trudeau?
    If I was Justin Trudeau I would buy the same type of ear plugs Jason Kenney bought for his caucus to wear in the legislature.

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