Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday at his Calgary news conference with Mayor Naheed Nenshi (Photo: Twitter/Courtney Theriault).

Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, boyish and freshly beardless as if a summer election is blowin’ in the wind, showed up in Alberta yesterday to bestow $1.5 billion in federal cash on Calgary’s Green Line LRT, a mega-project unpopular with many of the well-heeled donors who support Premier Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party.

Mr. Kenney, whose government demanded a revised business plan from the city of Calgary and then allowed suspense to build about whether it would pay its share of the $5.5-billion price tag for the project backed by outgoing Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, didn’t turn up for the news conference held by the PM and the mayor.

Mayor Nenshi without a mask (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

But the province confirmed it would fork over its share of the dough in a news release apparently rushed out before Mr. Trudeau’s announcement in what seems to have been a not-particularly-successful effort to upstage the Liberal prime minister and the liberal-leaning mayor, both of whom occupy prominent spots on the premier’s lengthy enemies list.

“Alberta’s $1.53-billion commitment toward the Green Line is a massive investment in the future of Calgary, one we are happy to make because we believe our best days are ahead of us,” Transportation and Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver was quoted saying in the provincial press release.

The headline on the release read: “Calgary Green Line LRT awaits federal approval” – which seems churlish given the expected timing of Mr. Trudeau’s announcement minutes later. 

With the UCP down so far in several polls it’s dragging Erin O’Toole’s federal Conservatives into the vortex and has pollsters talking openly about potential for federal Liberal and NDP gains in solidly conservative Alberta, Mr. Kenney must have been particularly annoyed by the media excitement generated by Mr. Trudeau’s visit.

The UCP’s social media troll army was hard at work yesterday attacking the PM and earning scorn and derision from UCP opponents, not all of them Liberals, who pointed out Mr. Kenney’s starring role in his days as a federal politician in Ottawa’s equalization formula, which he nowadays constantly misrepresents and complains about.

This constant whinging earned a sharp rebuke from Mr. Trudeau, a politician who normally acts as though soft words turneth away wrath, in response to a reporter’s question.

“The concerns that Premier Kenney has raised on equalization – he was part of the very government that negotiated and put in place the actual equalization formula that is there now,” the prime minister said. “When came time for renewal, we just rolled over the very things that he had negotiated as part of Stephen Harper’s cabinet. So the fact that he’s now railing against it means he can probably explain better what it is that he disagrees with his younger self on!” 

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

This sums up Premier Kenney’s equalization gaslighting about as neatly as anyone has.

The two men met later in the day. There was a “photo opportunity,” but no questions were taken.

Last night, Mr. Kenney was once again being reported by conservative-leaning political commentators to be ready to announce his impending cabinet shuffle soon, maybe today.

The UCP has been in power long enough and handled the job of governing Alberta poorly enough for the premier to need cosmetic changes to his cabinet enhance his party’s chances at the polls in 2023 – or before, if he can eke out an advantage by calling an early election.

In the meantime, if Mr. Kenney can get any kind of bounce by moving around some of his worst cabinet performers or inserting several congenial new faces into a larger cabinet, perhaps he can do some damage control to shore up the federal Conservatives’ traditional dominance here in Wild Rose Country before it’s too late. 

Inquiry commissioner’s candidate endorsement? No rules were broken

Speaking of Green Line foes and UCP embarrassments, the office of Alberta Inquiry Commissioner Steve Allan is handing out a statement defending his endorsement of a candidate in October’s race to replace Mayor Nenshi.

Alberta Inquiry Commissioner Steve Allan (Photo: Lieutenant Governor of Alberta).

If the idea of the commissioner of a supposedly impartial government-ordered public inquiry endorsing a political candidate while his investigations into who’s been financing environmental opposition to Alberta’s oil sands are ongoing seems highly unusual to you, you’re not alone.

Mr. Allan’s wordy letter endorsing Jeff Davison was based in part on what the inquiry commissioner described as the mayoral candidate’s efforts to get the Green Line LRT project “right sized and de-risked.” That is to say, presumably, at least partly derailed, metaphorically speaking.

Mr. Davison soon tweeted that, no, he supported the entire Green Line project. Mr. Allan’s many critics wondered how he found the time to write such a lengthy letter when he’s had to ask for four extensions to complete the inquiry’s report, which was originally due in July 2020. 

Regardless of how this appears, though, Commissioner Allan has an excuse, one that’s truly evergreen in UCP circles: No rules were broken. 

“The Commissioner is not considered a part of the Alberta Public Service, and is not subject to the Code of Conduct,” said Energy Minister Sonya Savage, in a statement sent by Mr. Allan’s office to reporters who asked.

“The Commissioner’s contract does not prevent him engaging in political activities as an individual, unless they were to interfere with his obligations and role as commissioner,” Ms. Savage’s statement said. “The letter in question does not in any way involve the Inquiry’s mandate nor does he cite his role in the Inquiry, and as such, there is no conflict.”

End of story, or so Ms. Savage says. Move along please, folks.

Join the Conversation


  1. No matter how much the federal government helps Alberta, the conservative die hards in Alberta come up with all kinds of crafty, and crazy claims to criticize this help. It’s buying votes! Justin Trudeau is trying to save his hindquarters! There is a federal election coming up! I recall a political columnist by the name of Mark Lisac. In one of his published books, he exposed the hypocrisy of the citizens of Alberta, (mind you, we all can’t be painted with the same brush). He mentioned that Albertans were complaining about federal government vote buying, and they didn’t take issue with it, when the Alberta PCs were doing exactly that. Steve Allan is now meddling in a municipal election. The rules don’t apply to him. His empty report on environmentalists going against the oilsands in Alberta, likely won’t see the light of day. The UCP’s potential cabinet shuffle is akin to shuffling chairs on the Titanic. The UCP is full of blunders, contradictions, doublespeak, and shenanigans that are costing Albertans a fortune. It is astonishing how Albertans can continue to put up with this.

  2. There’s nothing that gets a bigger chuckle out of me than a pic of Premier Crying & Screaming Midget wearing a hard hat and pretending he actually knows that real work is, other than plowing a way through that massive stockpile of cough syrup he hides back at the Sky Palace/Bat Cave.

    Kenney was upstaged by PMJT and Nenshi and denied the only form of mass transit he’s interested in: pipelines to everywhere.

    The UCP and the CPC have made a ton of fodder out of attacking the Greenline, which they treat as proof that Venezuelan Social is just around the corner. Now, that the UCP has had to pitch in their support for their favorite collectivist wind mill, one wonders how afraid they are that Alberta is about to slip out of their grip?

    Kenney has been doing his darndest to destroy everything that resembles civilization and he’s paying for it now. (I have a suspicion that Stephen Harper isn’t returning his phone calls, btw.) Now that Erin O’Toole has decided to join the ranks of the Liberals (in policy and thought if not an actual party membership) Kenney must be wondering how much of his nonsense people are willing to bear?

    Considering that, during the last federal election, Kenney was campaigning in Ontario, in the place of the forcibly side-lined Doug Ford, and managed the extraordinary feat of losing 27 of the 28 ridings he was campaigning in, it may be time to consider that Kenney’s best before date has passed.

    If the Calgary Stampede turns into the super-spreader event of my hopes and dreams, you made he able to put a fork in Kenney’s political career soon enough.

    1. The liberals ran against Doug Ford last time, Just Me. This time they’ll be running against Jason Kenney. They already started.

  3. Incredibly, 31% of Albertans still support Jason Kenney. Which would be worse – if they understood and supported his policies, or if they were willing to support anyone labelled “conservative” no matter how incompetent, entitled, dishonest, and even blatantly stupid they behaved?

    1. Mr Lore: sadly, I fear the latter is the case. I recall some research done by political science professor Jared Wesley of the University of Alberta, which showed that when you survey Albertans on public policy questions, they tend, like most Canadians, to be broadly centrist in their politics, albeit with perhaps a slightly more rightward tilt than the Canadian average. But they are certainly not the kind of rabid, foaming at the mouth right wingers that anyone looking at the Alberta political scene might infer.

      However, he also found that “conservative” is as much an identity, a brand, for many Albertans, regardless of their political preferences. So, it’s the party label that’s more important than the policies. (I’m oversimplifying, of course, but I’m sure you see my point). Hence we have the phenomenon that Alberta voters would elect a mailbox to the legislature or to Parliament as long as it is blue. Conservatives have to really pi$$ off the electorate to get beaten, as they did in 2015, helped along by divisions between the moderate conservatism of the Prentice PCs and the hard-right Wildrose under Brian Jean, which gave the Notley-led NDP an in in many seats.

  4. “The Commissioner’s contract does not prevent him engaging in political activities as an individual, unless they were to interfere with his obligations and role as commissioner,” Ms. Savage’s statement said. “The letter in question does not in any way involve the Inquiry’s mandate nor does he cite his role in the Inquiry, and as such, there is no conflict.”

    That seems a little rich, considering the UCP twitter trolls and their treatment of one Jeffery Nichols. This ruling came down yesterday:

    As for the premier trying to “scoop” the PM on the Green Line, are you sure you didn’t mean “childish”? No thanks to Kenney and his elitist rich friends who presumably don’t commute to work by public transportation, the southeast will finally get its long-awaited LRT line. In case anyone was paying attention, the city’s master plan some years ago called for completion of that line in 2025. If the premier hates the people of the northeast, surely the southeast quadrant of Calgary is a close second. Let’s not get our hopes up for the Green Line yet though. As noted, Jeff Davison is running for mayor and with friends like Steve Allan and his friends, a win by Davison might just put an end to it before shovels hit the ground.

    The rumored cabinet shuffle has Tyler Shandro remaining as Minister of Health. Maybe he’s made up with Kenney for running away with the security team and leaving the Shandro family to deal with an angry mob? Leela Aheer, who spoke up about a racist attack on her daughter, is out. Tanya Fir has been reinstated as a cabinet minister. Alohagate forgiven.

    Finally, gloves and a hat were de rigeur for ladies in the early 1960s, but it’s a step too far these days, and one might add, dreadfully out of touch. Leave the white gloves for another century, I say.

  5. At one time, Mr. Kenney was the supposed golden boy of Conservatives who could do no wrong. Over this last year, everything he touches seems to turn to crap. He now seems to have the reverse midas touch.

    The Calgary fiasco, as I will call it, illustrates this yet again. The Green Line was always problematic for the UCP. It was initially supposed to be partly funded by the Alberta Carbon Tax, but of course Kenney scrapped that, leaving the provincial government a few billion short. I suspect the UCP’s fall back plan was to delay it until perhaps a more friendly Calgary mayor and council came along after this fall’s election and have them kill it, or help kill it, somehow.

    Of course, that was before Mr. Trudeau planned to show up in Calgary yesterday. Perhaps the geniuses in the UCP figured they would finally approve it late in June, too late for Mr. Trudeau to have something to announce on his trip and they could now at least blame him for the delay. However, perhaps much to Kenney’s surprise, the Federal government can work very quickly, or at least much more quickly than his. The comparison in speed is not flattering for Kenney. In the end Trudeau also got the photo op and the credit from the grateful mayor of Calgary and Kenney got nothing, but the bill.

    Of course, while Kenney and the UCP were dithering like Hamlet on this for over a year, the Feds were probably already reviewing the project, so the apparently quick approval is not surprising. Of course, while in Calgary Mr. Trudeau also took a moment to talk about Mr. Kenney’s equalization referendum, to helpfully remind everyone that Kenney was in the previous Federal government that last revised it. So in essence, Kenney will be campaigning in that referendum against his younger self. Perhaps this is a preview of the next possible political fiasco for Kenney and the UCP.

    In any event, Trudeau is now more popular in Alberta than the Federal Conservative leader and there are suspicions Kenney and the UCP are helping drag down support for their Federal counterparts in Alberta. At the moment Kenney seems very preoccupied with a cabinet shuffle. Maybe it will help a bit, but I wonder if at this point it may not. I believe the time to make these changes was around a year ago.

    Kenney reminds me a little bit of another golden boy politician of another party, whose hype far surpassed how things actually turned out. He eventually dithered his way to electoral defeat.

  6. Remind me……are we in Mississippi, Alabama, or perhaps Oklahoma or do we live in Alberta, Canada. The politics seem identical.

    No wonder our Okie transplant MP in Ottawa Michelle Rempel Garner feels so comfortable in Alberta….even if it is only by remote communication.

    1. Michelle Rempel Garner’s continued tenure in the H of C is questionable. Now that everyone knows she’s mockingly called the “MP for Oklahoma”, I suspect that she may be stepping aside shortly. Unless PMJT calls a snap election this fall, Rempel may have to run, if she has no challenges to her nomination. Since Rempel seems to be (weirdly) one of the more progressive minds in the CPC caucus (only where LGBTQ2+ rights and Reconciliation are concerned) she’s is something of an outlier compared to the SoCON wing of the CPC. I’m sure there’s a challenge or two brewing one of the mega-churches in her riding. Besides, wouldn’t rather seek a seat in the statehouse of the Red State of her dreams?

      As for where Alberta rests compared to other US states, as much as Alberta wants to believe it’s comparable to Texas or Arizona, it has much more in common with crazy that comes out of Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Florida. Wait until Alberta meets these states on the poverty and the flooding.

  7. K-Boy’s brief-to-non-existent sojourn with liberal Calgary Mayor and Liberal Prime-Minister-of-Canada-with-a-big-fat-cheque-for-a-billion-and-a-half-smakeroos rather looks a lot like the campy, 1960s Batman TV series—especially the BIFF!!, SOC!!!, KA-POWEE!!!!, ARRRGH!!! part. At least he makes a good, stout stunt man for Burgess Meredith’s portly “Penguin” character. Gawd!—sooooooo maudlin it’s off the Richter scale. Alberta would do better with Caesar Romero’s character in control. There’s always stilted cordiality between the belligerents of Gotham City—and K-Boy got it just perfectly!

    As for Commissioner No-Rules-Were-Broken, he either flubs his audition for Frank Gorman stand-in as the “Riddler” or is on the short list as one of the scar-faced, neckless goons with blackjacks and brass-knucks who regularly get clobbered in one of the series’s stock, expletive-splattered punch-up scenes after which “The Boy Wonder” always catches one of his gloved fists in the palm of the other and says something like: “Holy Alberta Inquiry, Batman!” Whence Adam West’s “Caped Crusader” quips stiltedly: “Yes, Robbin, I guess you could say, ‘All’s well that oil’s well’ —while Sonya Savage’s “Cat Woman” escapes out the War Room window to offend another day in Mayor Nenshi’s Gotham City.

    One thing’s certain: K-Boy’s anti PMJT rhetoric is getting as repetitive as the lyrics (or ‘lyric’) for the iconic Batman theme song—not counting the expletives/imitatives: “Na-na Na-na Na-na Na-na…” which precede “Batman!” (…except Jason’s Prairie Redoubt twang comes off more like “Nya-nya Nya-nya Nya-nya Nya-nya…”)

    As Batman and Robbin always remind, my Alberta friends: there’s a good reason they wear their masks. Be safe out there and all best.

  8. 1) The Federal commitment to the Green Line is not new money. It was originally announced by Kenney in the run-up to the 2015 election: Low infromation voters will few yesterday’s announcement as a win for Trudeau

    2) The Province is rightfully concerned about cost overruns on the Green Line. The City has been disingenuous in pursuing a costly downtown tunnel, knowing full well that if the project encounters technical issues, the Province would be in a Catch-22 of halting an unfinished project or providing more funding

    3) As conceived, the Green Line doesn’t really go anywhere. It will connect a transit garage in a SE industrial area to an inner city area not far north of downtown. No one coming from the north is going to transfer to LRT for the final few minutes into downtown. A much better plan would have terminated the project downtown and diverted the resources into building out the south segment to Seton, servicing the South Health Campus and populous suburban areas. Infrastructure is supposed to be useful, not provide photo-ops for politicians. Again, the City is being disindenguous in building a white elephant that will require additional funding in the future to become useful

    4) Attributing the equlization formula to the Harper government (and Kenney) is only partially true. The current formula emerged during the depths of the 2009 financial crisis. The narrative becomes misleading in neglecting to mention that the formula was up for renewal in 2018 and the Trudeau government resisted renegotiating with the provinces as the the formula favored the regions where politics aer highly transactional and therefore Liberal friendly: How can anyone defend a formula where equalization continues to increase while the gap in economic performance between the provinces continues to decrease?

    5) Michelle Rempel Garner grew up in Manitoba, not Oklahoma, and worked for the U of C before entering politics. Of course the truth doesn’t fit the narrative from the left

    1. 1. Where to start… Jason Kenney announced that the federal government would provide 1.5 billion towards the green line “in the run up to the 2015 election”. I believe most people would call that a “stunt” and wait to see the cash. The best part of your attempt to give Kenney credit for something someone else is doing comes at number –

      2. Kenney is concerned about cost overruns and that explains all the resistance to funding the LRT expansion he’s been giving the city. Why was he willing as a federal minister to provide financing when there were even more concerns about cost overruns, so much so that the whole project was reviewed again to revise plans to bring down the cost? Either he was incompetent as a federal minister or he is incompetent as a provincial premier (or he’s incompetent at both, he’s just definitely not successful at both). Either way, your attempt to make him look serious about controlling costs (he needs to recoup the billions he’s given away to the rich and comfortable) because there may be cost overruns that the city is being disingenuous about, please point me to any provincial project undertaken by the Kenney government that came in on, or under, budget. It’s not that they may not exist, but I’m genuinely ignorant of any such project or Kenney’s attempt to stop a project because of the potential of increased costs. As premier, Kenney is the text-book definition of “sunk-cost fallacy” by his non-existent pipeline financing, corporate tax-cutting behaviours.

      3. You’re not even trying. If they built a station in Douglas Glen and another in Riverbend and put a train on that line, it would be going somewhere. The current plans call for a line that goes from Shepard in the south to 16th ave in the north, with 13 stops in between. Saying that this line “really doesn’t go anywhere” is demonstrably false, so much so that it crosses into the “not even wrong” territory. Do I need to mention that they have expansion plans for the line already in place, mostly the part of the initial plan that was pared back when city council reassessed the original plan the Kenney had already endorsed without being concerned about cost overruns, and that those plans sound suspiciously like what you’re proposing they do initially without providing a connection to downtown or other LRT lines? I wonder if you would complain that an LRT line that didn’t go downtown or connect to other LRT lines “doesn’t really go anywhere”

      4. I’m curious as to who had said that Michelle Rempel Garner grew up in Oklahoma. Seems like you spent some time to build a straw man just so you could knock it down. Talk about your low information voter… I guess that it’s harder to find truth in the left’s narrative when you just make up the “left’s narrative”.

      1. 1) A re-announcement is always more stunt than the orginal announcement

        2) If you understood municipal governance in Canada, you would know that municipalities borrow from their respective provinces. If the Green Line goes over budget, the extra debt incurred will be on the Province’s books. The Feds face no risk

        3) I used to live in Douglasdale. As planned, the Green Line barely services the vast deep SE suburban population. It need only go a bit further south to expand its potential ridership by tens of thousands of residents, and to reach the employment hub at Seton. Connecting Quarry Park to DT is OK, but is that really worth billions of dollars? The stop at Ramsay/Inglewood services an emerging inner city area that is close enough to walk dt. The stops at 26th Ave and Highwood are in industrial areas. The one at Shepard is in a giant strip mall. The ones at Lynwood, Ogden and South Hill are at the interfaces between industrial and residential.

        4) Someone mentioned Oklahoma in the context of Michelle Rempel Garner, probably because her husband is from there and by extension she must be a kooky southern Republican.

  9. PMJT’s robust challenge to Kenney’s equalization nonsense is particularly destructive for Kenney and the UCP.

    Kenney supported the current formula when he was in the federal cabinet. There’s even video evidence of Kenney’s statement defending the current program, which makes the up coming referendum on equalization (which will be declared by Kenney Alberta Independence Day) kind of an obvious attempt at gaslighting Alberta again.

    So, if this supposed equalization mess is all Kenney’s fault, what’s the point of the referendum?

    Step up David Staples to provide the definitive defence of the referendum…

    Staples in a recent column declared the referendum, which is completely non-binding and not recognized by the federal government, is designed to convince Ontario to support Alberta’s initiative.

    Say what? First, Quebec is the problem for stealing from Alberta. Now, Ontario is the problem because they don’t (could) support Alberta and need to be convinced. Jeez, pick a lane already!

    Staples’ nonsense is becoming as confused as Kenney’s. I’m convinced they share a brain.

    1. How was it robust? Kenney supported the formula in 2009 when Alberta’s per capita GDP was significantly higher than that of any other province. Kenney wasn’t in Cabinet in 2018 when the formula was up for renewal and the GDP gap had narrowed. Again, JT appeals to the low and no information voters who light the last name, expensive suits and handouts.

  10. Great photo of Kenney. He looks dressed to direct traffic in North Korea or Tokyo. On the bright side O’Toole is going to unilaterally change the equalization program to Western Canada’s benefit only that should be a vote getter in the ROC.

  11. Steer Wrestling: A One-Act phantasy courtesy of

    Dramatis Personae: Justin the Cowboy; Jason the Steer; Erin the Hazer

    It’s cowboy vs the clock-in this event which requires coordination and strength. The steer wrestler waits on horseback behind a rope barrier. When he gives the nod, the steer is released and gets a 12-ft. head start. The cowboy chases the steer, then drops from his horse, and grabs the horns to bring it to a halt. The steer must be on its feet before being rolled to the ground. Once on its side with all legs extended, the official time is taken. An extra horse, ridden by a hazer, is required to keep the steer running straight.

  12. The UCP cabinet has been shuffled …

    Leela Aheer is out of the cabinet for publically challenging Kenney’s behavior concerning Patio-gate.

    Ron Orr, MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka, becomes the minister of culture
    Muhammad Yaseen, MLA for Calgary-North, becomes associate minister of immigration and multiculturalism
    Whitney Issik, MLA for Calgary-Glenmore, becomes associate minister for the status of women

    Splitting Aheer’s meager portfolio among three people sounds more like patronage than anything else. I’ve noticed there was an expansion of the cabinet and new portfolios were created. So much for efficiency and eliminating waste.

    Shandro gets to keep terrorizing and destroying the health care system and La Grange gets to keep failing upwards.

  13. Feds help Albertans? Not at all. Mostly they show to give their supporters in Alberta payoffs for being turncoats.

    1. Well all that means is that Alberta should vote in more Liberals.

      But since they are the stupidest people alive, more inclined to vote a blue-painted brick into public office, the better option for Albertans should be to move to another province where the living is easier.

      I’m sure the lure of living in a real civilization in B.C. Quebec, or Ontario would do Albertans immeasurable good in their evolution as primates.

      1. Out here on the West Coast we have a lot of immigrants from Upper and Lower Canada, and from Alberta. It’s been my experience that they do bring their politics with them—but it wears off pretty quick, especially now that BC has a ordinary good government without continuous scandals, crony-parasitism, or partisan bellicosity the previous governing party demonstrated.

        There is political peace, order and good government —there is a future after leaving the death-grip of ultra-partisan enmity. It’s sooooooo refreshing it’s enough to knock the piss and vinegar out of any Quebec nationalist, self-centred United Empire Loyalist, or rugged individualist Albertan cowboy.

        There is hope!

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