Alberta Politics
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney at yesterday’s ‘citizen initiative’ news conference (Photo: Chris Schwarz, Government of Alberta).

Jason Kenney doubles down on the War Room’s War on Bigfoot Family; also mentions ‘citizen initiative’ bill

Posted on March 17, 2021, 2:21 am
8 mins

The United Conservative Party Caucus is going to be busy now that Premier Jason Kenney has doubled down on the Alberta Energy War Room’s plan to review animated kids’ movies.

After all, the entertainment industry hasn’t done a positive take on the oil industry since the Beverly Hillbillies TV sitcom, which between 1962 and 1971 persuaded a generation of youngsters you could get rich by shooting at some food anywhere up from the ground might come a bubblin’ crude. (Oil, that is.) 

The Beverly Hillbillies, the last entertainment industry product with a positive take on the oil industry (Image: Wikipedia).

That’s a heck of a lot of movies and TV shows to pan! On the bright side, getting ink for yelling at lame children’s movies is better than getting yelled at for your lousy policies and glacial COVID-19 vaccine rollout. 

The makers of Netflix’s Bigfoot Family, the targets of Mr. Kenney’s ire, certainly won’t care. Being what the premier calls Hollywood types, even if they are from Belgium and France, they’ll understand Oscar Wilde spoke the truth when he famously observed that the only thing in life worse than being talked about is not being talked about. 

Not that most members of the UCP Caucus are likely to know much about the greatest wit of the 19th Century – hint, he wasn’t the Oscar after whom the film-industry awards are named.

Anyway, presumably thanks to the international ruckus sparked by the War Room’s Wile E. Coyote inspired antics, Bigfoot Family, which had been languishing, has soared into Netflix’s Top Ten!

Canadian Energy Centre Ltd., as the War Room is officially known, launched its already notorious petition last week attacking the Netflix cartoon for being mean to fossil fuel companies. This generated international chuckles and eyerolls at the expense of Alberta’s government, which now seems provincial in every sense of the word. 

Asked a question about it yesterday at a news conference with Justice Minister Kaycee Madu on the UCP’s new “citizen initiative” bill, Mr. Kenney, true to form, went all in. 

He accused the makers of the animated feature of having “developed content designed to defame in the most vicious way possible, in the impressionable minds of kids, the largest industry in the province.”

Energy Minister Sonya Savage (Photo: Government of Alberta).

“We can just pretend that’s not a reality, just ignore it, just say that Big Hollywood operations should be able to depict the oil and gas as, in the words of Netflix … evil, that oil and gas companies plot to murder people, and are organized purposefully to destroy the environment,” Mr. Kenney huffed. “Albertans and people who defend our oil and gas workers, have every right to set the record straight, to put a spotlight on that, on those kinds of outrageous lies, and that kind of defamation.”

If they’re “accusing oil companies of basically being the Mafia, of, of, of, of conspiring to murder people, including kids,” he exclaimed, “I think that’s pretty darned serious!

For a man who so often favourably contrasts Alberta’s “ethical” oil with the tyrannical dictator variety he says is found in most other places, Mafia-like behaviour by some oil companies and their enablers in foreign governments seems like an odd thing for Mr. Kenney to get exercised about.

But listen for yourselves. The clip starts at about the 26th minute of the news conference. 

Author, poet and noted wit Oscar Wilde in 1882 (Photo: Napoleon Sarony, Library of Congress).

At times, Mr. Kenney looks and sounds like a man whose grip on reality is slipping. That said, there’s no reason to think that means he won’t continue to be successful. Willian Lyon Mackenzie King had a tenuous grip on reality too – he not only talked to his dog, he talked to it after the dog was dead – and he was nevertheless the longest serving prime minister in Canadian history. 

But we’re not here to talk about Willy King, notwithstanding his passing resemblance to Alberta’s premier. 

Energy Minister Sonya Savage also savaged the Netflix movie yesterday, although with considerably less enthusiasm than her boss. “Not everybody is going to agree with every single tactic of the Canadian Energy Centre. I don’t either,” she told the Standing Committee on Resources Stewardship. “We have to find a way to counter … the significant misinformation that is targeted at our energy sector, and discredits the hard working men and women of Alberta who work in it.”

For his part, Mr. Kenney proceeded to read from the pages of The Sun, Rupert Murdoch’s notorious British tabloid, which included a pedestrian story on the Alberta brouhaha seemingly for the opportunity to repeat Bigfoot puns. 

A typical front page of The Sun, Jason Kenney’s new favourite newspaper (Image: The Sun).

Thanks to The Sun, the premier rambled on, the story is “is in front of millions of readers in Europe right now, and it has flagged for them this effort to mislead kids and accuse the oil industry of being a bunch of murderers.”

Anyone who has picked up a copy of The Sun will understand that it is a journal you don’t necessarily want on your side if you wish to persuade respectable people of the merits of your argument. On the other hand, sometimes all one can ask for is any old port in a storm. 

As for Bill 51, the Citizen Initiative Act, the supposed “on-ramp to the legislative process” would require promoters of petitions to add or amend a law to gather signatures from about 280,000 people in two thirds of all electoral districts within 90 days. A constitutional referendum would require about 560,000 signatures in the same time frame. 

This sounds like grandstanding unlikely to result in any meaningful change not desired by the government of the day, which has the tools in the bill to checkmate any proposal it doesn’t want enacted. Expect it to be used only by right-wing lobby groups working hand-in-glove with the government.

NOTE: This post has been edited to add Jim Storrie’s inspired reference to Wile E. Coyote, while I read on the Progress Report this morning. 

17 Comments to: Jason Kenney doubles down on the War Room’s War on Bigfoot Family; also mentions ‘citizen initiative’ bill

  1. Dave

    March 17th, 2021

    Yeah sure, Mr. Kenney, that apology letter from Netflix will be in the mail any day now. If you believe that, I have some never used, now surplus, pipeline to sell to you for $1.5 billion … a bargain really, I’m sure, with a side helping of jobs and economy thrown in guaranteed to please the grassroots,

    Any day now, perhaps those Hollywood people will be calling with a new better idea – Springtime for Kenney. Alberta will be free! Any more delusions you would like to indulge, Sir?

    If the oil industry doesn’t want to come across as villans, one thing they need to do is to give the heave ho to ridiculous politicians who claim to be helping them, but only come across as strangely inept and villainous at the same time.

    Perhaps being ridiculed is worse than not being talked about after all.

    • Neil Lore

      March 17th, 2021

      The oil companies, and the politicians they own, have painted themselves into a corner. Anything they say that will sound reasonable to the rubes who believe their rubbish sounds ludicrous at best, hateful at worst, to the rest of the world. Anything they say that will make sense to the rest of the world will contradict the lies they’ve been telling their rubes.

  2. Bill Malcolm

    March 17th, 2021

    The really funny thing is the kenney idea that the world gives a rat’s ass about Alberta. Or him, or what he thinks, does and says. He is completely irrelevant to the world’s daily life. The only people who have to put up with his bullshit all the time are Albertans, and secondarily Canadians.

    When you are paranoid enough, apparently you believe that even people in Woola Wonga Oz or Bucktooth New Mexico or Lower Sniffley Bucks are interested enough to follow your every move religiously. And then are out to get you because they might have an interest in climate change and your denial of it. Ha ha ha! Right. Dream on.

    Not only is the world at large completely uninterested in Alberta, the province only makes the radar when it can be lampooned as backwoods redneck land. When even the notoriously plutocratic Murdoch’s dimbulb newspapers or media take a bite out of your sorry ass in order to give their cross-eyed readers a chuckle at your expense, your best move is to shut the **** up. But did kenney ever have a “best” move?

  3. tom

    March 17th, 2021

    When Jason Kenney broached the idea of a war room, gullible Albertans thought he was serious about saving O&G. In fact, he was just opening up another front in the culture wars. Think Green Eggs and Ham.

  4. Dave in Sask

    March 17th, 2021

    Historically oil companies referred to oil as it came from underground as ‘crude oil because it needed to be refined in order to be useful. And that is still the case.

    How in the world did one territory’s oil become ethical?

  5. ronmac

    March 17th, 2021

    Am I missing something here? This is really a good news story for Alberta since the action takes place in Alaska and the evildoers are American oil companies. If the movie succeeds in generating young activists who show up at protests at US national park areas over proposed drilling plans then this is all the better for Alberta since it opens the door for increased oil exports for Alberta.

    If I was in charge of the CEC I would be funding more of this drama where the Bigfoot clan shows up at a fracking site in Texas and start battling evil Wall Street types intent on inflating a bubble to lure in investors with tales of fabulous wealth to be had with this new dangled technology called fracking.

  6. Abd

    March 17th, 2021

    I hope Tyler Shadro will take issue with Wally Gator for trying to escape the zoo, like so many doctors and young people fleeing Alberta.

    Think of the filth that has infiltrated the impressionable minds of a generation. Drain the cartoon swamp!

  7. Jimmy

    March 17th, 2021

    The premier and the war room’s appointed MLA directors continue to promote this farce. Their petition is headed ‘Tell The Truth’, a familiar line used extensively since 2018 as a slogan by Extinction Rebellion. Provincial tax money buys borrowed logos and borrowed one liners churned out from these unimaginative clowns.

    Wanting to see the film will necessitate renewal of my Netflix subscription. Should the war room snoops learn of this they’ll possibly flag me as a green urban terrorist lefty hell bent on endangering North American stability. Maybe that’s already been done? There’s little public knowledge of what the war room actually does. Its continued modus operandi of secrecy suggests the possibility of some cloak and dagger activities.

    Can we can expect the education minister to order a purging of school library materials related to environmental destruction and toxicity? Don’t put it past this bunch.

  8. pogo

    March 17th, 2021

    Now. When do we turn away and run for cover? When the dimmest bulbs in our chandelier of excellence sputter and fail? Oh no! We’ll attack cartoons! That’s the ticket!

  9. Just Me

    March 17th, 2021

    It’s rare that I read the UK SUN tabloid for any news regarding the Alberta oil patch and its never ending struggles with the Hollywood Elites. I tend to head straight for Page 3 and the bevy of the most stunning buxom totties the Britons have on offer. Boo-yah and think of England.

    As for the Crying & Angry Midget’s state of mind, there can be no doubt, given his fevered search for another distraction, Kenney has been plowing through his supply of cough syrup. Blaming your existential political woes on an cartoon about environmentally conscious Sasquatch, just proves what a cartoon Kenney himself has become.

    I have never been more entertained by watching the endless UCP-sponsored crazy that is filling my social media feed. I believe that we are witnessing Kenney’s own nervous breakdown in real time.

  10. Scotty on Denman

    March 18th, 2021

    Interesting how Kenney referred to Canada as an “economic union.” This after blathering about how his government has done such a great job of protecting Alberta from Canada—and cartoon characters who murder real children.

    Equalization referendum in October? Alberta’s gonna vote to protect itself from Canadian equalization?

    Wait until October because why? Ohhhhhh, of course! “Leverage” has to built up.

    Can the K-Boy be believed when he says stuff like this—then says he and the vast majority of Albertans believe in a united Canada? Right!…and Alberta needs its own constitution, too.

    Daffy, Porky, Elmer and Sylvester all rolled into one…

    …for the leverage…

    • David Climenhaga

      March 18th, 2021

      Naw, it’s all about the municipal election in October. The UCP can’t count on its base bothering to get out to vote against Mayor Naheed Nenshi in Calgary. So the referendum has been ginned up to engage their feeble minds and get them into a polling place. DJC

      • Scotty on Denman

        March 18th, 2021

        Thnx, DJC, for enlightening the distant observer—otherwise Alberta might seem all ulterior decorating!

  11. Bob Raynard

    March 18th, 2021

    Perhaps the War Room’s mandate should be expanded so it protects ALL Alberta businesses. With oil activity down, many Albertans from the more remote areas have fallen back to guiding hunters. Sport hunting certainly provides livelihoods for many Albertans, and that industry is also deserving of protection from our fearless provincial (provincial in every sense of the word – good one DJC) government.

    Clearly, then, the War Room also needs to go after Bambi. Look how bad the makers of that movie make hunters look!

    • Hana Razga

      March 18th, 2021

      They might go after “Fern Gully” next. 1992 animated movie about clear cutting

  12. Hana Razga

    March 18th, 2021

    Someone on Alberta at Noon today mentioned that Jason Kenney might use the Bigfoot Family attack for fundraising


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