Alberta Politics
Pipeline pipe, lots and lots of pink pipeline pipe (Photo: Loozrboy/Flickr, Creative Commons).

Keystone XL, the pipeline that just keeps dying, officially pronounced dead

Posted on June 10, 2021, 1:57 am
8 mins

Keystone XL, the pipeline that just keeps dying over and over again, was officially pronounced dead yesterday.

After TC Energy Corp. issued a statement saying it was walking away for good from the project that has obviously been doomed for months, the U.S. business press declared the pipedream of successive Alberta and Canadian governments deader than the proverbial prehistoric Lake Athabasca mackerel.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney yesterday (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

KXL has been declared dead before, most notably in 2015 when U.S. President Barack Obama said no to it, even though Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper wouldn’t take no for an answer. It happened again last January when just-elected President Joe Biden said no again, just hours after he was sworn into office, even though Mr. Harper’s former understudy, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, insisted pipe must continue to be laid.

But there’s nothing like a press release from the former TransCanada Pipelines Ltd.’s head office in Calgary to put the staff of the Wall Street Journal to work on the obituary. This turns out to be particularly true when Donald Trump doesn’t even have a Twitter account any more to promise he’ll be back on the job in August to hook the electrodes back onto KXL’s neck and jolt it to life one more time.

“TC Energy Corporation confirmed today that after a comprehensive review of its options, and in consultation with its partner, the Government of Alberta, it has terminated the Keystone XL Pipeline Project,” the news release said. The remaining 651 words were just so much corporate folderol. Seriously, read it for yourself!

So even if it ain’t over till it’s over, this would suggest that, this time, TXL really is done like dinner.

Most American business obit writers barely mentioned Alberta, other than as the spot on the map where the ill-starred pipeline originated. Nevertheless, the Washington Post spilled a leaky pipeline’s worth of virtual ink on the fact the entire project was intended to bring crude steamed out of the Athabasca oil sands at considerable environmental expense to the American Gulf Coast.

Hardly anyone south of the 49th Parallel, though, bothered to mention that Mr. Kenney’s United Conservative Party Government sank 1.3 billion free-floating Canadian Loonies into the doomed boondoggle well after its condition could be described as being at risk, if not yet on life support.

“We invested in Keystone XL because of the long-term economic benefits it would have provided Albertans and Canadians,” Energy Minister Sonya Savage said yesterday in a statement. Come to think of it, this is what your blogger tells himself each week to justify the money he spends on Lotto 6/49 tickets – a considerably better investment, as it turns out.

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage (Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

“However,” Ms. Savage continued, “terminating our relationship with TC Energy’s project is in the best interest of Albertans under current conditions.” Well, that part sounds about right, at least.

There were no details about whether the termination deal is going to cost us taxpayers any extra.

The NDP Opposition immediately put out a news release demanding that the government fess up the details of its “failed pipeline gamble.”

“The Premier should release the contents of the failed deal and apologize to all Albertans for so irresponsibly gambling away their money,” NDP Energy Critic Kathleen Ganley said.

“For months, he has been hiding behind confidentiality, refusing to shed any light on this deal for Albertans,” she added. “Now that this deal is dead, it’s time for Jason Kenney to provide Albertans with full transparency.”

NDP Energy Critic Kathleen Ganley (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Well, good luck with that, even though it’s not as if TC Energy should mind. Whatever comes out is going to make them look smarter than their erstwhile business partner.

Albertans, who were already being told they were going to have to tighten their belts and take a haircut, even before the official pronouncement of TXL’s death, are now going to have to make do without that cash too, which is gone like a Bitcoin ransom paid to a hacker in St. Petersburg.

So get ready to lose a little more off the top, fellow Albertans.

Like a little old lady who just gave all her money to the “bank inspectors,” all we’ve got left to comfort ourselves is more conspiracy theories than a book about Jack Kennedy’s assassination or the cover of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

No electorate in its right mind would re-elect a government that perpetrated a financial boondoggle on this scale, regardless of whether it was a bungle or a swindle.

That the electoral fate of Premier Kenney’s UCP Government remains an open question says a lot about the parlous state of this province’s collective mental acuity.

Kenney insiders accused of boozy illegal dinners throughout pandemic

Well, somebody wants to get rid of Mr. Kenney, even if it’s not the Opposition just yet.

Online publisher Derek Fildebrandt, the former Wildrose Party and UCP finance critic, back when he was one or the other (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

The Western Standard, the online news sheet founded and run by fired UCP finance critic Derek Fildebrandt, published a story yesterday claiming several senior cabinet ministers and political advisors have been holding regular boozy restaurant dinners for months in violation of COVID-19 restrictions.

According to the right-wing publication’s report, the clandestine get togethers have been taking place behind closed doors at a restaurant blocks from the provincial Legislature in Edmonton.

The publication says it has several sources for the story of the illicit dinners. Coming in the wake of the Sky Palace patio party revelations, if the story turns out to be true it could be another devastating blow to Mr. Kenney.

Notwithstanding the fact Mr. Fildebrandt was something of a loose cannon on deck and an ambitious burr under the saddle for both former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean and Mr. Kenney, this illustrates that the premier made a big mistake when he fired and publicly humiliated the former MLA in 2018.

He should have remembered the folk wisdom: keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

25 Comments to: Keystone XL, the pipeline that just keeps dying, officially pronounced dead

  1. Dave

    June 10th, 2021

    Yes, you are right. If Kenney wanted to gamble recklessly with our money, perhaps he should have stuck to 6/49 or the Knights of Columbus bingo. He probably still would have lost money, but nowhere near 1.3 billion and at least a church or two might have a new roof.

    It seems to me that Kenney’s secretive approach is also a big part of the problem here. Why they wouldn’t release the agreement with TC Energy at this point boggles the mind. Almost everyone thinks they are fools on this already. It probably can’t be any worse than we suspect. I would think his issues managers have been telling him to come clean, apologize right away and get ahead of the story, but perhaps Kenney was not really listening to them either. He is clinging to his secrets, even after we see through them.

    Secrecy seems to permeate all the recent UCP problems – like the Sky Palace dinner that was supposed to be a private affair and would have been except for someone with a camera, probably in a higher nearby building who happened to notice the odd gathering Now, Mr. Fildebrandt seems to have a scoop on some other covert fine dining activities. Is there a pattern here?

    Its all a far cry from the image they tried to portray as the guy who probably ate take out in the big blue truck. No wonder so many former UCP supporters are so upset now. The curtain has been pulled back and they are realizing all the faux populism was one heck of a bait and switch.

    Reply
    • Mike J Danysh

      June 10th, 2021

      “Is there a pattern here?” Yes, Dave. It’s called “entitlement” (when you’re being polite). Kenney & the Klowns are even more arrogantly sure of their own worth than the Old Tories were in 2015. Absolutely amazing, given they’ve only been in power for about two years.

      An Ontario blogger, Cam Holstrom, said as much in his blog Magpie Brule:
      https://magpiebrule.ca/2021/06/09/back-to-the-start-in-alberta/

      It’s an interesting read, especially when you compare to Mr. Holstrom’s comments on Doug Ford’s suddenly-even-more-shambolic dumpster fire of a government. Example:
      https://magpiebrule.ca/2021/06/09/notwithstanding-this-crap/

      Reply
  2. Anonymous

    June 10th, 2021

    The UCP have made another very pricey error here. The disgusting thing is that Albertans are now on the hook for this. It’s $7.5 billion that is now gone for good. Have Albertans finally woken up and realized that the UCP aren’t any good?

    Reply
    • Carlos

      June 10th, 2021

      Anonymous – unfortunately not – still 30% of Albertans think they are the best people to run this province.
      It will take them not being able to survive here before they abandon their cult

      Reply
  3. Scotty on Denman

    June 10th, 2021

    Oh! I do know something about throwing good money after bad—and then doubling down with the same result.

    My Farmers’ Almanac once published the odds of winning for a number of popular Canadian lotteries and scratch tickets. The veteran 6/49 was of particular interest to me since I’d probably spent hundreds of dollars on tickets that turned out duds. In fact, I’d never won a penny—until I read, beside a prediction for summer weather (which didn’t pan out), that the odds of winning something at 6/49—from ten bucks to the jackpot—is one in fifty-three.

    To cover the odds, I bought $53 worth of tickets (in those days they were only a buck apiece). And I actually beat those odds by double: I won $20 but lost $33. It was last time I tried that ‘system.’

    But at least it was my own money, I had $53 to spare and the $33 loss didn’t hurt me none.

    How Kenney figured a much riskier gamble at much higher stakes using —and losing—money hard-pressed Alberta could have spent elsewhere better is beyond me.

    But, as I confess, I’m really not a good gambler. Just better n K-Boy.

    Reply
  4. tom

    June 10th, 2021

    A threatened defamation suit against the Western Standard should give more oxygen to the story–which is apparently the strategy for these guys.

    Reply
  5. Bob Raynard

    June 10th, 2021

    One point three billion divided by a population of 4 million people, works out to $325 each. I guess we are going to give back most of the $400 Ralph Klein gave us.

    Reply
  6. Just Me

    June 10th, 2021

    Talk about “zombie campaigns” let’s talk about zombie premiers.

    It seems that there maybe no end to the amount of shame and scandal that is hitting Kenney right now. A day doesn’t go by without some revelation of unbridled stupidity or naked corruption; yet, Kenney rolls along, gaslighting to no end.

    It’s said that these days in the face of massive opposition, the best thing for leadership to do is fight. Gone are the days when resignation was the better part of valour. Trump and Bill Clinton showed that standing and fighting, lying, and doing whatever else will be hailed as brilliant action, drawing adoring fans and accolades.

    Given all that Kenney has done and all that may yet be revealed, it remains to be seen if he is done or survives.

    Albertans are the stupidest people alive, so Kenney’s odds are still good.

    Reply
  7. Alan K. Spiller

    June 10th, 2021

    You didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand that to the American Presidents no meant no, you just had to be smarter than these Reformers Harper and Kenney. Talk about two of the dumbest people you could elect and Albertans did it and we still have some of our fellow seniors making up idiotic excuses to try to defend them. As a lawyer friend used to say You can’t be any dumber than them.

    Maybe we should look at banding together and suing Kenney and company for the billions they have given away, including the corporate taxes?
    We know Notley was on the right track by gradually increasing corporate taxes and royalties back up to the Lougheed levels. It’s the only way we will ever get out of this mess these Reformers created for us and our children.

    Reply
    • Just Me

      June 10th, 2021

      One thing that voters still cannot get their heads around is that doctrinaire ideologues make the worst governors. It can be expected that those who sing from the hymn book and quote scripture from the pulpit are utter idiots when they are trusted to actually take responsibility. When you’re inclined to believe that you can run to your favorite invisible avenger for help and salvation, maybe you not the sort of person who should be in charge of anything, let alone your own bowel movements.

      Kenney is a CON in the mold of Newt Gingrich and a mouth in the guise of Rush Limbaugh. The problem is that when Gingrich was actually called upon to do something other than recite from his favorite CON hit piece, he was reduced to being a babbling idiot. As for Limbaugh, he was no more that a conduit for the cranks’ anger and pulling b.s. from his arse, all the while being thoroughly looped on Vicodin. (Pulling things out of your arse causes long term pain, btw.)

      Should anyone be surprised that Kenney is more interested in indulging in his massive stash of cough syrup than actually being rational?

      Reply
      • Scotty on Denman

        June 12th, 2021

        Your graphic description of how it could be possible that Kenney is the love child of Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh is, perhaps, a little too much information.

        Reply
    • Anonymous

      June 10th, 2021

      ALAN K. SPILLER: If this dumb move by the UCP doesn’t make Albertans think again about how bad the UCP are, I don’t know what will. I am reminded of the many costly shenanigans Ralph Klein was involved with, yet Albertans, young and old, continued to support him, even people I know. This isn’t good at all.

      Reply
  8. Abs

    June 10th, 2021

    The good news is that TC Energy is donating a small portion of its bitumen bounty back to the Stampede. Surely that will mollify Kenney’s critics. It might even be enough to convince voters that this was a Fair Deal.

    No wonder Kenney was hell-bent on removing Covid restrictions before the July event. If there is any positive spin from all this, he must be praying that will be enough. However, TC Energy’s sponsorship was nowhere near $1.3B, so the Stampede has been forced to seek additional loans to the tune of $10M. Also, TC employees won’t be taking part, due to “unnecessary health and safety risks for our people and business partners”, according to a company spokesperson. At least somebody knows about acceptable levels of risk.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/tc-energy-no-stampede-1.6052374

    As for our premier, will voters forgive him this $1.3B (and how much more) crapshoot? They did give the PCs 44 years worth of “second” chances. Why should rural hospital closures, job losses and this squandering of $1.3B convince them that they’ve been taken for rubes? Vote for the blue pickup truck, they said. Self-flagellation at the polls is an Alberta thing.

    However, if Jason Kenney has a $16 glass of orange juice anywhere in his public expense account, that is a gamechanger. Or perhaps a $55 hamburger…

    Reply
  9. Dave in Sask

    June 10th, 2021

    That Kenney is still premier makes me wonder if there might be some unseen group like billionaires ( the elite) who really run the US in their own interests still behind him as long as he does their bidding. Is there any group like that here in Canada Calling the shots? Could Kenney be just a figurehead for big money interests Just doing a hat he is told to do ((not including patio parties)j?

    Reply
  10. Neil Lore

    June 10th, 2021

    Jason Kenney didn’t make a “failed gamble” of money belonging to Albertans. He made a “successful steal” of money belonging to Albertans.

    Reply
  11. brett

    June 10th, 2021

    Our premier, Jason Kenney, invested our money in Keystone. A project that was dependent on US politicians. One of the main contenders for the US Presidency had been saying for 18 months that if elected he would stop Keystone. He was elected, he did stop Keystone. No surprise to anyone in the industry. Kenney threw away our money simply to make a bit of a headline splash. And when Keystone was cancelled the first thing Kenney did was blame Justin Trudeau. Go figure.

    The PM, Justin Trudeau, invested our money in a Canadian pipeline. A pipeline project over which Canadians have far more control from a legislative, environmental, and financial perspective. It is being built as we speak. It will be completed.

    Which was the more prudent investment?

    Albertans should think about how many schools could be built with $1.3 Billion. How many additional RCMP members could we fund to fight rural crime on an ongoing basis. How this money could have been used to shorten hospital waiting times or perhaps fund some sort of daycare program.

    Instead, Kenny flushed $1.3 Billion of our tax dollars down the drain simply to get a headline and some promo photos in the newspaper.

    I doubt that even Licia Corbella will be able to write pro UCP column on this fiasco. But one never knows.

    Reply
  12. Thomas Rhodes

    June 10th, 2021

    Just like an episode of Dallas. JR (TCEnergy) bet heavy on a doomed pipeline. JR spends the entire episode sweating bullets until after the last commercial, hapless Cliff Barnes (Jason Kenney) shows up to bail out JR and take the fall.

    The funny thing is Jason Kenney fancied himself as a JR Ewing, a ” Player “. A “Big shot” champion of the Western Canadian Sedementary Basin. Liitle Big Man. He doesn’t have a clue about the oil and gas industry. The oil patch was about making deals as much as drilling and no oilman is going to walk away from a good deal, especially when a Rube walks into the office with a bag of free cash with no strings attached.

    Jason Kenney sent the Bible Thumper Dave Rodney (Who gave up his seat for Jason Kenney) to represent Alberta’s interests in Houston Texas. Zero experience in the oilpatch. Not only did Jason Kenney lose all our cash he has made Alberta a laughing stock in the process.

    Jason Kenney doesn’t understand Alberta,Albertans or the Alberta oil patch. He is a Grifter and a Rube, the worst possible combination for a ” Deal Maker”.

    Reply
  13. Mickey Rat

    June 10th, 2021

    What an expensive mess, yet totally predictable at the time the $1.3 billion “investment” was made.

    The interesting quote here for me is “That the electoral fate of Premier Kenney’s UCP Government remains an open question says a lot about the parlous state of this province’s collective mental acuity.” I’d like to see some analysis from you Albertans of why/how the UCP have any support at all. Just calling all Albertans “stupid” doesn’t do anything for the situation except harden already hard positions. There’s clearly an urban-rural divide for example and BC has some of the same thing. Why does Conservative/UCP incompetence work for the rural voter? That’s the nut the NDP has to identify and work on – and maybe they are.

    Compare the reactions to NDP legislation to protect farmworkers to the reaction over Kenney blowing away $1.3 billion. Obviously the biased MSM has a lot to do with it and they will always side against progressiveness but rural voters are just as intelligent as urban voters, so why do they see it differently? I’d be very interested to learn what the NDP candidates hear while on the campaign trail in those “solid” Conservative/UCP ridings.

    Will Albertans “forgive and forget” come 2023?

    Reply
  14. Mike J Danysh

    June 10th, 2021

    I was going to opine that, with KXL officially terminated by TC Energy, maybe we can move on. Stupid me. Since we don’t know what, exactly, were the terms of Kenney’s deal with TCE, we can’t know how much more this will cost.

    With luck (and I think now a 6/49 win would be a LOT more likely) the relationship really is “terminated.” We’ll probably never know, but I suspect this sale was not a simple $1.3B purchase of shares, with options for another $6.2B later. I have a sick feeling the “deal” included locked-in loan guarantees, which means TCE could legally demand a big chunk of the total $7.5B package.

    Our only hope is that the board of TCE is intelligent enough to realize they’d be in FAR more trouble if they tried to collect. Kenney would catch most of the blame, but there’d be enough outrage to cause TCE a huge PR headache. A smart CEO would settle for the money Kenney and Savage handed over already, and simply tear up the contract and walk away.

    Reply
  15. brett

    June 10th, 2021

    Any thoughts out there on what gimmick Kenney might come up with to try and switch voter attention away from the $1.3B Keystone disaster???

    Reply
    • Abs

      June 11th, 2021

      Later that same day…a vaccine lotto is coming!

      Bribe taxpayers with their own money. It worked for Ralph, and he has “Ralph Klein Memorial Swamp” in southeast Calgary named after him now. I took my dog there to christen it, but apparently dogs aren’t allowed. Oh well. Just knowing that sewer water collects in Ralph’s swamp is satisfaction enough.

      Reply
  16. Gillian Steward

    June 10th, 2021

    In regards to the boozy dinners reported by The Western Standard.
    Why is the WS not insisting that the people making these accusations be named?
    Apparently, they are cabinet ministers and MLAs. Not exactly vulnerable people who need the protection that citing “anonymous sources” is intended to protect.
    Put them on the record or refuse to print their accusations.

    Reply
  17. tom in Ontario

    June 10th, 2021

    Kenney’s crew should have snuck away to his mother’s basement in Calgary. Fildebrandt’s snoopers would never have spotted them there.

    Reply

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