Alberta Politics
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney touts Canadian Energy Centre Ltd. at the “War Room’s” opening news conference on Dec. 11, 2019. Energy Minister Sonya Savage and CEC Ltd. CEO Tom Olsen flank the premier (Screenshot of event video).

Alberta’s ‘Energy War Room’ appears to be operating in defiance of the Canada Elections Act

Posted on September 12, 2021, 1:21 am
8 mins

Alberta’s “Energy War Room” appears to be continuing to operate in defiance of Canada’s election laws, campaigning against positions clearly identified with a Canadian political party without registering as an election third party.

Greenpeace Canada Senior Energy Strategist Keith Stewart argued recently in a tweet thread that the War Room, legally known as Canadian Energy Centre Ltd., has been engaged in a number of activities during the current federal election campaign that are regulated under the Canada Elections Act and require its registration as a third party. 

Greenpeace Canada Senior Energy Strategist Keith Stewart (Photo: Greenpeace Canada).

“When the Kenney Government set up the War Room as an independent corporation to shield it from Freedom of Information legislation, they made it subject to federal election rules,” Dr. Stewart told AlbertaPolitics.ca. “You don’t get to pick which laws apply to you, even if you are the premier or minister of energy.”

If Canadian Energy Centre Ltd. had been a branch of the government, which arguably it should have been since it was set up to carry out government policy, or even a Crown corporation, it could have done pretty well as it wished during a federal election campaign. 

But as Dr. Stewart pointed out, the United Conservative Party’s strategic brain trust chose to incorporate it in December 2019 as a private corporation, allegedly to provide Canadians with “a fact-based narrative about Canadian Energy.” Its unusual corporate structure, however, was understood at the time to be a gambit to dodge provincially legislated Freedom of Information and Privacy rules about what it planned to do with its just-announced $30-million annual budget. 

UCP officials were were pretty blunt about this at the time. “The CEC’s internal operations are not subject to FOIP, as this would provide a tactical and/or strategic advantage to the very foreign-funded special interests the CEC is looking to counter,” Premier Jason Kenney’s Press Secretary Christine Myatt told the CBC in an email in October 2019. 

“For example, we would not let those foreign-funded special interests seeking to attack our province see our detailed defence plans,” she said.

CEC Ltd. has three directors, all ministers in the UCP Government – Energy Minister Sonya Savage, Environment Minister Jason Nixon, and Doug Schweitzer, who at the time was minister of justice. 

As a lawyer and board member, one would think Mr. Schweitzer, now the minister of jobs, economy and innovation, would be well-positioned to give CEC Ltd. CEO Tom Olsen good advice about the need to register the company with Elections Canada as an election third-party. 

War Room CEO and Managing Director Tom Olsen (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Mr. Olsen, a UCP loyalist and unsuccessful candidate in the 2019 provincial election that brought the UCP to power, is a former Calgary journalist. He also worked for a spell as a spokesperson for Progressive Conservative Premier Ed Stelmach. 

Regardless, as Elections Canada explains on its Questions and Answers for Third Parties webpage, “a corporation carrying on business in and incorporated in Canada” comes under the ambit of the federal legislation if it engages during the formal campaign period in activities that promote or oppose a registered political party or candidate, “including by taking a position on an issue with which the registered political party or person is clearly associated.” Elections Canada’s rules apply to individuals, groups and corporations.

As of last night, CEC Ltd. did not appear in Election Canada’s database of entities and individuals that have registered as third parties. 

In his tweets, Dr. Stewart pointed to a number of activities by the War Room that seem to meet the Election Act’s definition of third party activities.

Former Alberta Justice Minister and CEC Ltd. board member Doug Schweitzer (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Among them:

  • Hosting an online “Stop the ‘Just Transition’” petition on its website that attacks a key policy position of the governing Liberal Party as well as the NDP and Green Party and portrays it as an attack on Canada’s energy industry. 
  • Paying a controversial company run by the Conservative Party’s former national campaign manager $6,000 a month to promote its petitions, which appear in part to be designed to harvest information about potential supporters.
  • Buying “issues, elections or politics” category ads on Facebook to accuse the report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of having an “apocalypse bias” during a campaign in which climate change is a key election issue. 
  • Sending emails during the campaign making the false claim Canada is already meeting its climate objectives, and asking recipients to share them on social media. 
  • Publishing attacks on the Liberal government’s $170-per-tonne carbon tax and clean fuel standard.

CEC Ltd. could try to argue its activities are not regulated because they do not identify a political party by name. Still, from a common sense perspective, the War Room’s activities cited above seem obviously intended to benefit the Conservative Party of Canada, the only party, for example, not talking about a just transition. 

Alberta Environment Minister and CEC Ltd. board member Jason Nixon (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

It would be easy and cost CEC Ltd. nothing to register. Allowable spending limits for the current campaign are $525,700.

CEC Ltd.’s problem may be that it would then have to open a separate bank account for the sole purpose of the campaign and report on its activities, when the corporation was intentionally structured to foil provincial FOIP laws and make financial accountability impossible.

The election is scheduled to take place on Sept. 20, and advance polls are open this weekend. 

A contact form for members of the public who wish to make complaints about violations of the Canada Elections Act is found on the Elections Canada webpage. 

39 Comments to: Alberta’s ‘Energy War Room’ appears to be operating in defiance of the Canada Elections Act

  1. Bill Malcolm

    September 12th, 2021

    Crooks, plain and simple, the UCP brains trust and their “issue” including the war room and handing away free money which wasn’t theirs to an oil pipeline company. And the crime mob leader is kenney, a Con operative, who like his progenitor harper on the federal scene, thinks nothing of enacting legislation that is unconstitutional. If that’s not a conspiracy to commit a crime, then what the hell is? All that’s even before you get into detail of kenney’s grossly incompetent and sleazy “governance” as premier of Alberta, well-documented almost daily on this very blog.

    Is Trudeau any better? Nah. These days he IS the federal Liberal Party, having completely disregarded riding associations and party members as Peter Lowry, a former Lib party insider, constantly reminds readers of his blog here on ProgBlog. Trudeau has few influential “friends” left. The execrable Chrystia Freeland is the exception that proves the rule. Judy Wilson-Raybould’s new book recounts yet again the SNC Lavalin affair from her perspective, which screw-up was the second of Trudeau’s three official censures by the federal Ethics Commissioner. These censures he has essentially brushed off as unimportant, after offering excuses and platitudes of “doing better in future” which obviously have amounted to nothing. Stone deaf and blind to his own failings and unwilling to admit errors, Trudeau has no one except some shrill and illogical rah rah nobody boosters left to praise him unreservedly — people also deaf and blind to his nonsense who rush to his defenceless defence, for reasons beyond my ken.

    Corruption is the word that springs to mind when thinking of these grand egos who care not one whit about proprieties, merely themselves. Trudeau shot himself in the foot by not enacting proportional representation in the Commons as he promised before his first election as PM. Now his cancellation of that initiative and breaking of a major election promise all rebounds on his sorry arse., likely for the second time a week on Monday. You reap what you sow, and we citizens of Canada get to wear the crappy result. The plutocracy laughs all the way to the bank.

    Reply
    • Scotty on Denman

      September 12th, 2021

      Correction: JT did not promise to implement proportional representation during the 2015 election campaign: rather, he promised to make that election the last one to use the status quo single-member-plurality electoral system (“first-past-the-post”). He steadfastly avoided naming an alternative—except to ruminate that he personally liked ranked-ballots. Far from a hair-splitting point, that omission is the single most important feature of the whole electoral reform issue during that election and the early part of the Liberal mandate when the exercise was undertaken —except, of course, that the promise wasn’t kept: we didn’t get a new system and, by September 20, we will have continued to use FPtP for two subsequent federal elections.

      The issue was not a “major election promise” —as any thoughtful voter would have understood by the very fact that no other detail was proffered: no alternative system, no hint of how any alternative(s) might have been nominated nor by what political licence it might be implemented. Naturally, Liberal rivals try to work JT’s unworkable promise into a major lather deserving of sharp consequences but, like electoral reform itself, the attempt simply makes voters’ eyes glaze over

      Only the most dedicated pro-reppers (for that particular set of systems dominated such debate as there was) insisted the Liberals were democratically, ethically and morally bound by a single, obviously ill-considered, off-the-cuff promise among the many more substantive and important promises typical of any party’s platform. Only the most gullible imagined any governing party would impose a new system without referring the matter specifically to voters by way of referendum. Meanwhile, JT and every other politician of every other stripe understands that, of the several electoral-systems referenda conducted in Canadian provinces, none resulted in a new system. Only the most idealistic are blind to the fact that electoral-systems referenda campaigns are subjected to provocative, controversial claims, divisive hyperbole and emotional contention not worth the consistently unchanging outcomes. British Columbia, for example, has had three such referenda over a decade and a half, all rejecting change from the status quo.

      These truths have been evident in both subsequent election campaigns since 2015: the Liberals and their leader weren’t ‘punished’ by voters for not implementing electoral reform, even though they promised it—in fact, they won incumbency in 2019 and probably will again in 2021. In addition, candidates gave electoral reform very short mention during the 2019 campaign and, so far, virtually none in this campaign—indicating what pollsters have concluded about all electoral reform exercises: a well organized, articulate and loud minority promotes electoral-systems change but, for the vast majority of Canadians, it is a low-priority issue not worth troubling to understand.

      It is much beyond voters’ ken and, if there’s any punishing to be done, it would probably be against whichever party starts flogging the dead horse of electoral reform again. Even the NDP and Greens, the parties which have actually made pro-rep official policy, give it the cold shoulder on campaign: the more they do, the more voters are relieved.

      Reply
      • jerrymacgp

        September 13th, 2021

        Re electoral reform, single-member plurality – aka ”first past the post” – proportional representation and ranked or preferential ballot: Mr Trudeau publicly, on the record, announced “this [the 2015] election will be the last one conducted under first past the post“. But it wasn’t. No weasel words, no ifs, ands or buts: simple, unambiguous promise, simply & unambiguously broken.

        Now the reasons for this are legion, and some are legitimate — but some are merely excuses. Of course, the most important reason was that Mr Trudeau’s preferred model, a ranked ballot/preferential ballot/single transferable vote/instant runoff – all different names for essentially the same thing – heavily favours the Liberals as most Canadians’ second choice, even if their first is Conservative or NDP. Proportional Representation, on the other hand, offers supporters of smaller parties more opportunity to have their votes count, but is far more likely than either STV or FPTP to lead to minority parliaments and the need for true coalition governments.

        In my humble opinion, the biggest barrier to implementing PR in Canada, as in any Westminster-style Parliamentary system, is the loss of that one-to-one relationship between an electoral district and their elected representative. If you talk to any back-bench MP or MLA, whether government or opposition, most will tell you their biggest time suck is “constituency work”: that advocacy with the bureaucracy on behalf of individual constituents, making every MP or MLA a sort of super-Ombudsman. PR in its purest forms would jeopardize that relationship, leaving constituents uncertain where to turn. Of course, if government processes weren’t so opaque and impenetrable, this kind of work might not be necessary, but that’s a conversation for another day. MMPR might also mitigate that concern.

        Reply
      • Michael

        September 13th, 2021

        It is true that the electoral reform commitment in the 2015 election was vague, and did not specifically mention any form or proportional representation. However, the committee that was struck, and which hear opinions across the land did endorse PR, and their report was ignored and shelved on the spurious grounds that nobody was interested any more (not true !) – more likely because Trudeau’s preferred solution, ranked ballots in single member constituencies (a boon the Liberals !), was dismissed.
        A referendum is not required to change the way we vote. I don’t think lowering the voting age, giving women the vote, or (finally, and much too late) reforming voting access for first nations was ever subject to referendum, and nor should it have been. Some countries (eg. NZ in 1992 ) have had referenda about introducing some form or PR, others (eg . Germany) have not. It is not as if systems other than the current first past the post have not been used in Canada before, and even Alberta, in both municipal and and provincial elections.
        I do think Trudeau’s back-tracking on this cost him at least a little bit at the polls in 2019. It certainly cost him my vote.

        Reply
      • Neil Lore

        September 13th, 2021

        You make many salient points, but for me, JT will be remembered for a broken promise of electoral reform. Not just a broken promise, but one broken in a profoundly cowardly, dishonest, shameless and cynical manner. I have to remind myself of the good things he has done, because I am so angry at the guy that it’s hard to remember he’s done many things I agree with. For decades I wanted a change away from the FPTP system, and when we finally elected someone claiming they would change it, he welched on it. For me, this was bigger than SNC, blackface, the India trip, and all of his other missteps combined (except his choice to refrain from invoking the Emergency Measures Act early in the pandemic). If it wasn’t a “major election promise” for you, I assure you, it was perceived that way by a lot of voters, especially voters younger than the boomers who are sick of being unable to elect anyone who reflects our values or willing to address our concerns. Finally, I would argue any change to how we conduct elections is definitionally a “major election promise” – changing how we elect our politicians is a pretty big deal.
        Many of your claims are technically correct, but in the eyes of our politically semi-literate (at best) electorate, Justin promised he was going to change it, we all understood that he was going to change it, and then suddenly he wasn’t going to change it anymore, and to top it off, one of his arguments boiled down to, “If we had proportional representation, Canadians would elect a bunch of crazy nutjobs”. So he didn’t just welch on it, he blamed us for his choice to welch on it. Wow I am getting super mad typing this. Mad at him not you though. I wouldn’t trust JT for the time of day if he were given a clock suppository. Instead, I would expect him to do whatever senior Liberal party staffers tell him is in the best interest of the Liberal party.

        Reply
    • Death and Gravity

      September 13th, 2021

      All I hear in your comments are the desperate cry of the Conservative operative: all the politicians are equally crooked, so vote Conservative.

      You really need to update your list of grievances. A book which “recounts yet again the SNC Lavalin affair from her perspective” adds exactly zero mustard to that nothing burger.

      Reply
  2. Anonymous

    September 12th, 2021

    The UCP clearly has an agenda, and it includes not supporting democracy. What do you expect for a party that cheated its way into power in the province of Alberta? I’m sure Postmedia has something to do with this too. When the head honcho of the UCP has been doing undemocratic activities like the robocalls shenanigans in his former political home in the CPC, it’s not a surprise.

    Reply
  3. Expat Albertan

    September 12th, 2021

    Copy edit: “UCP officials were were pretty blunt about this at the time”

    Reply
    • jerrymacgp

      September 12th, 2021

      … but not this one …

      Reply
  4. Verify date

    September 12th, 2021

    Please check date for typo

    “October 1991”

    Thx

    Reply
  5. Abs

    September 12th, 2021

    It should have been called the “war chest”, not the “war room”. I wonder what they’ll do with all of our money in 2023?

    Reply
  6. CuJo

    September 12th, 2021

    “… Press Secretary Christine Myatt told the CBC in an email in October 1991.”

    1991?

    Reply
    • jerrymacgp

      September 12th, 2021

      Looks like he fixed this one …

      Reply
  7. Keith McClary

    September 12th, 2021

    They need to proof-read their petitions.:

    “As of January 2021, some 201 coal plants were under construction globally, in addition to 345 coal-fired PLANS in the pre-construction phase.” [My emphasis]

    Reply
  8. A little bird

    September 12th, 2021

    Complaint filed, now let’s just see if the federal authorities actually care about this at all.

    Reply
  9. Alan K Spiller

    September 12th, 2021

    My conservative father and his friends in the Peter Lougheed government must be turning over in their graves over the insanity being displayed by these phoney conservative Reformers. It is unbelievable what they have done to this province and Canada in general with the support of really stupid people. Sadly a large percentage are our fellow seniors who should be a lot smarter, but aren’t. But then seniors have a horrible reputation for being easy to fool as our retired RCMP friends will tell you.

    It was a well known fact in our family that Lougheed had no respect for Ralph Klein what so ever and refused to appear anywhere in public with him. Don Getty told me in 2003 that inviting liberal Ralph Klein into the Conservative party was the dumbest thing he ever did, and I bet Lougheed was furious with him , I know my father certainly was. It’s no secret that Klein’s own father and daughter tried to help us vote him out. They knew what he was doing to us.

    Too bad so many Albertans didn’t . We still hear ignorant seniors telling us how wonderful he was. Lawyer friends taught us to ask them to give us a list of all the wonderful things he did for them and watch the stunned look on their faces , they can’t do it. There is nothing they did that didn’t cost all of us a lot more money. Our children will be paying for his orphan wells mess for ever.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      September 12th, 2021

      ALAN K SPILLER: These seniors duped the younger generations to vote conservative. These pretend conservatives and Reformers aren’t like the true conservative we had under Peter Lougheed. I know people who are seniors, and people who aren’t seniors. They think Ralph Klein was great. One person I know, who isn’t a senior, thinks that Ralph Klein got Alberta out of debt. If that were so, how come we have an infrastructure debt that is as high as $30 billion to $40 billion, and we also have to pay $260 billion or more to cleanup orphaned oil wells in Alberta? Also, what did Ralph Klein do to Peter Lougheed’s Heritage Savings Trust Fund? Experts in economics were saying we should have $575 billion, but we don’t. Also, so many nurses and teachers in Alberta lost their jobs because of Ralph Klein. Ralph Klein surely wanted to privatize healthcare in Alberta. You can bet that the UCP and even the CPC, under Erin O’Toole, will stop at nothing to get there. Where’s the sense in this?

      Reply
      • Alan K. Spiller

        September 13th, 2021

        You and I certainly think a like. What part of rural Alberta did you live in. As a royal bank manager I worked in 16 different branches and many were in rural Alberta.

        Reply
        • Anonymous

          September 13th, 2021

          ALAN K. SPILLER: Eastern Alberta, in between Edmonton, and Lloydminster.

          Reply
          • Alan Spiller

            September 14th, 2021

            The farthest east I worked was Fort Saskatchewan and Camrose, so wouldn’t have been in your area.

  10. Kang

    September 12th, 2021

    Allan: Klein and the Getty Cons were instrumental in destroying single-desk agricultural marketing boards in Alberta and the current Trump-loving ag minister boasts of destroying the Canadian Wheat Board as well. Many Alberta pig farmers are now wanting their marketing agency back and grain farmers have never stopped calling for the same thing.
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-pork-2021-summer-drought-1.6170358

    As you have pointed out, if the Tool gets to be PM, we might soon wish we had medicare back, although the UCP are anticipating their pleasures by gutting Alberta’s medical system in advance. Too bad about all those gravely ill high school kids.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      September 13th, 2021

      KANG: Under neoliberal policies (think the Fraser Institute, Preston Manning, Ralph Klein and Mike Harris), you cut funding for something that is in the public realm, and when it can’t sustain itself any longer, you have the perfect excuse for privatization of that service, such as healthcare. There is another way of doing this. With their frequent botch job of managing the Covid-19 pandemic in Alberta, the UCP wants the hospital system in Alberta to be overwhelmed, so they can make the case that private for profit healthcare would be the option. We only have to look at America, with private healthcare and rising Covid-19 numbers, to see what a disaster that is. If Erin O’Toole has his way, we would have private for profit healthcare in Canada. As someone who does have origins on a farm in Alberta, I can tell you that the selling of the Canadian Wheat Board to Saudi Arabia, by the CPC was a very foolish thing to do. Farmers in t have been suffering from the worst drought they’ve experienced in years, and they don’t need problems compounded by a government that does not care.

      Reply
    • Alan Spiller

      September 13th, 2021

      Kang I will never forget how Klein helped the Packing Plants cheat the farmers and ranchers out of millions of dollars with the way he handled the BSE crisis. What really upset me was how they responded by helping him get a bigger majority in the 2004 election.

      One beef producer who agreed with me said it best “I can’t believe how stupid many of my friends and relatives are. It doesn’t matter what Klein does to us they just keep supporting him. I’ve got fence posts who are smarter than them.”

      A lawyer told me that they had it on good authority that Klein had shares in those packing plans, but they wouldn’t be able to prove it in court. The shares were in street form , making it impossible to prove who owned them.

      My senior friends and I are definitely concerned Reformer O’Toole will get elected and Albertans will once again help him. He has enough support from Reformers in Alberta, Sask., Manitoba, and Ontario to destroy our Public Health Care System and it’s no secret that’s what Reformers are wanting to do.

      Former MLAS taught me that Reformers were the enemy of the people and that nothing would financially destroy seniors faster than Privatization of our health care system. Looking after their rich friends is all they care about, it buys votes.

      We were told that it was Preston Manning and former Ontario premier Mike Harris who spent a year travelling Canada promoting a Private for Profit System. Canadians weren’t buying it.

      Reply
    • Death and GravityB

      September 13th, 2021

      But for one glorious moment, some southern Alberta barley-farmer was able to get $0.20/bushel above the Wheat Board price, by arbitraging some local purchaser in Montana. Turns out it was Cargill, for whom his kids are now tenant farmers.

      Reply
  11. alkyl

    September 12th, 2021

    Aside from the cynical use of the tried and true political tactics associated with scapegoating

    [“It is part of the nature of scapegoating, as the late French theorist of mythology René Girard argued, that the target is not chosen because it is in any way responsible for society’s woes. If the target does happen to be at all responsible, that is an accident. The scapegoat is instead chosen because it is easy to victimise without fear of retaliation.”

    https://theconversation.com/the-dirty-politics-of-scapegoating-and-why-victims-are-always-the-harmless-easy-targets-66963 ]

    and the deliberate application of the paranoid style in politics

    [For example, “Hofstadter tells us that, at its core, the paranoid style uses conspiracy to engage in subversion. The political paranoiac can’t stomach society as it is and thus seeks to destroy it under the guise of some looming threat: a deep state, antifa, migrant caravans, transgender bathrooms, an international pedophile ring. Perceived persecution runs deep, and those taken with the paranoid style channel their victimhood by believing the world is one vast conspiracy. But here is the key idea: it is not just personal grievance. The paranoid style is the paranoid style because it manages to take victimhood and transmit those feelings of personal injury onto the nation’s fate. One person’s paranoia thus becomes an attack on a culture or a way of life, turning a lone loony into a proud member of a “silent majority” — a collective firewall against something that needs no firewall.”

    https://www.lareviewofbooks.org/article/the-paranoid-style-rereading-richard-hofstadter-in-the-aftermath-of-january-6/ ]

    , the Alberta ‘Energy War Room’ has already been completely debunked, has it not? Where, “Steve Allan’s anti-Alberta energy inquiry has found the accusations against them to be a complete sham.” It is clumsy propaganda for the ‘base’ consisting of soft headed true believers.

    https://www.nationalobserver.com/2021/07/30/analysis/clear-their-names-jason-kenney

    An uncontroversial and safe observation would conclude that, the “Energy War Room” is a separate propaganda arm directly affiliated with and controlled by of both the UCP and its corporate allies.

    Reply
  12. Just Me

    September 12th, 2021

    Well, of course, it is.

    It’s a third-party partisan group financed by the Alberta taxpayer to promote the CPC and protect the UCP and its various O & G donors.

    I have no doubt that a portion of the War Room’s funds also paid for Erin O’Toole’s CPC leadership campaign, and they could even be providing funds for the various anti-Trudeau demostrations. Where do all these people come from unless they are paid to be there to throw gravel?

    Reply
  13. pogo

    September 12th, 2021

    Oh my heaven! The toxic right wing wants to game it’s way to power? Give me a break! That’s all they care about!

    Reply
  14. Scotty on Denman

    September 12th, 2021

    There’s a fine line between systems-gaming and cheating. Making the “War Room” a private corporation is gaming the system—in this case, to keep it unaccountable to the public which pays for it. Using the War Room to publicize partisan election campaign propaganda without it being duly registered with the electoral authority is, on the other hand, cheating.

    Systems-gaming and electoral cheating are practically the UCP’s calling cards but, as much as the upstart party avails political features with which Alberta is naturally endowed (remote, Western, landlocked, single-industry dependent, historical redoubterism—indigenous nomads, Mormons, Métis, East European religious communalists, Atlantic Canada economic refugees, White Christian libertarians—and politically conserving), those two sins are very much as immigrant as the UCP is: for almost all of Alberta’s 116-year existence, securely durable governing parties (only two cover three-quarters of the post-confederation era) haven’t needed to resort to them. Rather, these two bad habits have been engineered in the clandestine laboratories of the HarperCon regime when it got into trouble and brought back to the foothills redoubt of the beset vessel of the Canadian neo-right—which is also in trouble. Coincidence?

    Conservatives fretted they were getting out-gamed by socially progressive Boomers in the 60s and 70, so they invented academia-shadowing think-tanks and converted the math of science into the stats of advertising to facilitate gaming domestic economies and politics by way of fiscal charlatanism.

    The Soviet collapse, the internet, and 9/11 opened the world to a hurricane of neoliberal greed, the speed of change facilitating stealthy, neo-right systems-gaming on a global scale: shady trade-deals, untraceable electronic money transfers, erosion of democratic sovereignty, shifting manufacturing to low-wage countries, crony-favouring privatization of public enterprises, and massive tax evasion. The domestic results—poverty, ecological illness, social injustice—began to challenge the “end of history” hegemony stateless corporatocracy was trying to lock-in for itself. Where policy-gaming sufficed hitherto to counter policy concerns, electoral cheating would have to be resorted to hereafter to counter the neo-right’s sagging popularity.

    Harper was typical of the neo-right’s basic strategy: while citizens reeled from his knee-to-groin greeting, he tried to get unpopular foreign-investor protections irreversibly installed before before they recovered and voted him out. According to this theory, systems in which neo-right sabotages could be completed inside a term or two (presuming a limited opportunity to get things locked-in) were gamed more blatantly than ever.

    And they were gamed, all the way from “inducing” Chuck Cadman’s wife to run for the same CPC which had refused to sign her late husband’s nomination papers (Mr Cadman’s balance-of-power confidence vote saved Martin’s Liberal minority) to nearly precipitating a constitutional crisis by bullying the governor general into granting him a prorogation to avoid a confidence vote he would have lost, on to beggaring StatsCan’s census continuity—and many, many more. But CPC hubris hadn’t figured on realities which began threatening its odds of re-election. The resulting resort to electoral cheating is illustrated by a list too long to mention here. Suffice to say, fines were levied and culprits were convicted and, for all that, the CPC was smoked in the 2015 and 2019. (Harper also failed to get his main projects nailed down before his party’s ignominious end came.)

    No reminder needed that Jason Kenney came from this gaming-cheating culture. No surprise he came to execute the same in Alberta, a province with a strong Redoubter history and sentiment, but also one going through sudden, earth-shattering changes. There’s no doubt he’s deploying, perhaps even more intensely, what he learned at the blue-sweatered one’s knee, but it’s still a fair question whether he can pull it off. Sure, a series of PCP governments gamed Alberta’s petroleum royalty system, perhaps even with progressive foolishness, but not beyond the letter of the law, even if beyond its spirit to husband public resource revenues for when they inevitably run out. K-Boy has amped the blatancy of gaming so far up that a lot of it is plainly unconstitutional, even (as with the War Room’s political campaigning) illegal—almost as if with impunity. As with the hash he’s made of the Covid pandemic, one has to wonder if this, at least here in Alberta, the final resort of the neo-right movement: The Rapture.

    Or maybe it’s just another episode of the Keystone Cops…

    Reply
    • Phlogiston

      September 13th, 2021

      Another example of gaming the system is the upcoming and odious Bill 32, which moves Alberta labour law closer to the labour laws of the “right-to-work” (aka, right to enslave) jurisdictions in the United States. In Bill 32, among the numerous backward-looking changes, is a clause that will require a voluntary opt-in for dues related to union advocacy, as defined by the government. Granted, Notley had it right by treating unions and corporations alike regarding political donations. But, this is different. It will effectively hamstring a union’s ability to advocate for the benefits of unionization or to lobby against laws that would harm workers. Corporations, governments, and political parties are meanwhile able to spend freely to spread their anti-union and anti-worker propaganda everywhere without any limits or control.

      Reply
  15. e.a.f.

    September 12th, 2021

    My take on it is, Jason and his friends just think the laws don’t apply to them. They know best and therefore they will do as they believe they must. If the Cons form government it is doubtful this will ever be looked at. If the Liberals are elected, it depends upon what they have going on.

    Reply
  16. Hammer

    September 12th, 2021

    Every dog has its day. The election is less than 540 days away,lets turf these scoundrels!

    Reply
    • CovKid

      September 13th, 2021

      However, the real question is “How did this dog ever have its day?”

      Kenney and his UCP scourge had advertised that they were prepared to devour funding to healthcare, education, the environment, anything involving federal relations and then expecting that all would be well, yet the blunderbuss of the Alberta electorate allowed them in to accomplish their ambitions.

      Unfortunately, this province is hooped: there are too many doofuses.

      Reply
  17. Roger

    September 13th, 2021

    Filed a complaint. Thanks for the link.

    Reply
  18. Neil Lore

    September 13th, 2021

    Stick-tap for the solid journalism on display today. Hard to imagine what it would be like to live in a society that had an independent and effective press instead of a bunch of wageslaves licking the wrist of whatever billionaire or government they’ve agreed to create propaganda for. I imagine there would be articles like this in actual newspapers, or even on TV, warning people of something that is happening right now and giving them the information they need to try to do something about it. I also contacted Elections Canada with a big old ‘wtf bro? do u even lift?’ Seems pretty unlikely anything comes of it, I mean, Jason Kenney has been able to get away with everything so far even while being “investigated” by the RCMP, so Elections Canada kind of seems like a bit of a placebo. Still, how can I not try?

    Reply
  19. Just Me

    September 13th, 2021

    I’m just waiting for the David Staples column that attempts to rebut this charge with bafflegab and UCP talking points.

    Carleton University grads …

    Derek Alexander Gerhard Fildebrandt

    David Staples

    The institution must be so proud of this alumni.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      September 14th, 2021

      Now, now, the author of this blog holds a Carleton University degree as well. DJC

      Reply
  20. Alan K Spiller

    September 13th, 2021

    I wonder why it is so hard for Albertans to understand that these are not conservatives, they are REFORMERS , and are nothing like the true conservatives we proudly supported under Lougheed and Getty? The former MLAs I knew certainly knew it. They have proven how easy it is to fool Albertans, many bought the lies Jason Kenney fed them and now Erin O’Toole is trying to fool the rest of Canada , like Andrew Scheer tried to do. I hope the results are the same. There are a lot of seniors who can’t afford a private for profit health care system, and it’s no secret that that’s what they want.

    In 2001 I met a man in Chicago who told me he was 72 years old and couldn’t afford to retire. His wife had a lot of health care issues and his employer was paying a large portion of their private health care insurance. Him and his wife could never forget afford the costs on their own.

    Reply
  21. Bret Larson

    September 13th, 2021

    You’re not trying if you don’t skirt the line on occasion. And, no greenpiece is not a reliable source. No trouble with Trudeau deciding that protests should be illegal? Or is totalitarianism just part of the end goal that you may as well make it public.

    Reply
  22. Dave

    September 14th, 2021

    What is it about this energy War Room? It just seems to lurch from one mishap or disaster to another.

    Whose bright idea was it anyways and why is it still around?

    The War Room must be one of the most counter productive things this UCP government did and that is quite a feat to accomplish in itself.

    Reply

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