Alberta is dotted with abandoned oil and gas wells (Photo: C.G. Engineering/cgeng.ca).

Like other commentators, in the past few weeks I’ve paid a lot of attention to the United Conservative Party’s so-called RStar scheme to forgive multibillion dollar oil corporations at least $100 million of their royalty payments to clean up oil and gas wells they’re already legally and financially obligated to clean up. Since the $100-million figure is only for a pilot program, the giveaway has the potential to grow to $20 billion if it goes ahead as lobbied for by Danielle Smith before she became premier. I’ve called this “the largest daylight robbery in Canadian history” unfolding before our eyes with the encouragement of the UCP Government. But while most of us are Johnny-come-latelies to this story, environmentalist and researcher Regan Boychuk has been trying for months with his colleagues in the Polluter Pay Federation to get this terrible idea onto Alberta’s public agenda. Well, it’s finally arrived. Look for the funds for the pilot to be in tomorrow’s provincial Budget. In this guest post, Mr. Boychuk outlines some of the recent history of what’s come to be known as the RStar Scam. All the notes referenced in boldface in the text are found here. DJC

The RStar Scam: The sordid history of a suddenly famous subsidy scheme

By Regan Boychuk

The cockamamie idea of using Albertans’ already pathetically low royalty revenue to fund the cleanup of delinquent oil and gas producers’ wells was rejected under the NDP government of Rachel Notley (Denhoff 2022) and again under the UCP government of Jason Kenney, (Savage 2021) but found new life under the curious premiership of Danielle Smith.

Formerly known as RStar, the proposed subsidy scheme has shrunk in proportion to the sunlight it has suffered – from $20 billion in the fevered dreams of Smith’s Special Project Manager Kris Kinnear, down to $100 million in the euphemistically rebranded ‘Liability Management Incentive Program’ under Smith’s Energy Minister Peter Guthrie.

Whatever its size or the latest spin, the scheme earns the moniker #RStarScam because it insults the polluter-pay principle, as well as the statutory scheme industry developed to deal with unfunded oilfield cleanup in Alberta.

Alberta environmentalist and researcher Regan Boychuk (Photo: Regan Boychuk).

The fact this scam continues to threaten the pocketbooks of Albertans raises serious questions about the state of democracy in this province.

In the fall of 2020, Smith had lobbied Savage over RStar, but by June 2021, Alberta’s UCP government had “decided not to accept the R-Star proposal” because it did not align with the province’s approach to “upholding the polluter-pays principle.” (Savage 2021, p. 1)

The day after the Alberta Liability Disclosure Project (of which I was part) published a detailed report on the job-creating qualities of oilfield cleanup, (ALDP 2021; Boychuk 2021a) Jason Kenney’s Energy Minister Sonya Savage confirmed RStar’s rejection in a letter to the Freeholders’ Association. (Savage 2021)

But that soon seemed to change.

By the end of the week, Premier Jason Kenney had personally tasked Danielle Smith and Kris Kinnear with promoting RStar as the “answer” to ALDP’s polluter-pay proposal. Smith told ALDP as much in our meeting the morning of July 27 2021. (Boychuk 2021b)

Later that day, Smith met with Savage again. This time, Savage agreed to a roundtable discussion of potential solutions and wanted to visit the old wells on my family farm and Kris Kinnear’s. “We may be able to do a pilot project on the worst sites to see if we can get some progress”, Smith said. (Smith 2021b)

Two days later, Smith penned a five-page memo to Savage (later leaked), thanking her for agreeing to an RStar pilot in the fall of 2021. (Smith 2021c, p. 3)

I took Smith’s offer to include the well on my family farm in the RStar Scam as an attempt to co-opt me and the ALDP’s strong stance on the polluter-pay principle. I was not interested in skipping ahead in line or being a prop at a press conference; we are trying to solve this crisis for all Albertans.

Nothing more was heard about the scheme for a year, though Smith and Kinnear continued their lobbying, which had included working on the campaigns of 25 UCP MLAs. (Boychuk 2021b) But after dismantling most of the liability management regime and removing all public health measures against the pandemic, Kenney stepped down as UCP leader and Smith swept to victory with Kinnear in tow as a campaign coordinator.

All this despite the details about the RStar Scam that had been dribbling out over the summer and the fact that Smith’s incredibly damning five-page memo to Savage was in the hands of all Alberta media before she became UCP leader.

Smith brought up RStar the morning before she was sworn in as premier and again at in her first press conference after being sworn in as the sole executive of the provincial government, almost two weeks before appointing her cabinet. Ominously, she also quipped about the thousands of orders-in-councils that were going to be required.

And yet, the media and opposition politicians remained extremely hesitant to raise the issue. The most damning details of her leaked memo are yet to be reported, the media and political opposition failed to raise the issue leading up to an important by-election in November, or during her first session legislating.

This disturbing silence was only broken on the afternoon of February 9, when Scotiabank offered the first critique from deep within the establishment. (Scotiabank 2023) Notley and Smith both held press conferences later that same day that had begun with fellow Polluter Pay Federation director Mark Dorin and me on the Ryan Jespersen Show asking if RStar was a scam.

Mark & I first warned University of Calgary law professor and NDP candidate Shaun Fluker and NDP MLA Kathleen Ganley about the RStar Scam in early July 2022. The fact the official Opposition only found its voice on this more than six months later – and then only behind the coattails of Scotiabank – raises serious concerns about whether Albertans will be offered anything better this May.

If RStar and its apologists had been stopped in the fall, we could be having a debate about offering Albertans something better under the next government. Instead, this much-belated and still error-ridden debate is sucking up electoral oxygen, leaving out anything beyond bandaging the bleeding Smith has inflicted.

The media and political opposition let Albertans down and are yet to offer anything better than merely replacing Smith. This May will provide a spectacular opportunity for Albertans to demand more than a pittance in royalties and more than mere lip service to the principle of polluter-pay.

Regan Boychuk is the co-founder of the Polluter Pay Federation and a researcher with that group. He is energy critic of the Green Party of Alberta and its candidate in the Banff-Kananaskis riding.

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22 Comments

  1. I agree the RStar scheme is a bad idea and a scam. If the Smith UCP regime were a generally competent one, focusing on it would be a good way for the opposition to bring it down.

    However, Smith and her crew are Trump like in that they are just chock full of bad ideas and unpredictable in which they are going to pursue further and which they are not. So, the number of bad ideas are overwhelming and it becomes harder to decide which to focus on.

    Perhaps RStar will be the thing that outrages voters so much that they do not support Smith. There are signs of discontent, even on the populist right side, with this. There is a saying in politics that governments defeat themselves and that will probably be the case here in Alberta where many voters still default to supporting Conservative parties.

    I can understand why Smith initially lobbied for RStar. She was paid to do so. What makes less sense is why she continues to as Premier, long after she should have cashed her last cheque as a paid lobbyist.

    It is not just that RStar is a bad idea and that Smith conflates orphan wells with those which companies own, who have the resources to clean up and are legally required to do so. Surely she is not so naive not to realize she is proposing a huge unnecessary corporate hand out. Hopefully voters are smart enough to see that and that whatever Smiths private interests are, they are not in line with Alberta’s here.

    It is that part of this scam that may be politically fatal. However, in politics one does not want to underestimate their opponents and you don’t always know what they will do or not. This is particularly so for a group like Smith’s gang that are so chock full of bad ideas but also unpredictable in what they say and do.

  2. For starters, this issue was caused by premier Ralph Klein. He stopped enforcing oil companies to fix up their damages, unlike premiers Peter Lougheed and Don Getty. As a result, we have to come up with a very large sum of $260 billion to rectify this issue. In addition, we are out of $575 billion, because the oil royalty rates of Peter Lougheed were not being collected anymore. Now, Danielle Smith wants us to pay $20 billion to look after a matter that was the oil companies responsibility to begin with. These pretend conservatives and Reformers sure don’t care about the needs of anyone, other than their rich corporate friends. Their supporters have the audacity to blame Rachel Notley, or Justin Trudeau for what goes wrong. Where’s the sense in that?

  3. Well, if nothing else, this is a plan to pay for the clean up and decommissioning of thousands of old, leaky, toxic, environmentally damaging wells. They have to be cleaned up. It will cost a pile of money.
    What I’ve not heard is an alternative plan. What I’d like to hear of is a plan that [en] forces industry players to clean up their mess. So far, crickets.

    By necessity, this plan would incorporate what is known everywhere else responsible resource extraction occurs as ‘concurrency’.
    This means operators will only be granted new licenses or permits as long as pervious licenses and permits conditions are being adhered to, front to back. If an operator lags on the later occurring license or permit conditions, such as clean up, they would not be granted another.
    This scheme requires a regulator of much sterner stuff and considerably more honest than what we currently have.
    Again, so far, crickets.

    Of such thoughts and ideas, dreams are made of.

  4. Alberta is one of the few North American oil and gas jurisdictions without a time limit on abandonment of inactive oil and gas wells. There is no excuse for leaving a well idle for 20 years. The obvious long-term solution is a time limit, not a royalty give-away. Given the backlog in Alberta, the time limit might have to start at 10 years and then ratchet down. In Texas, inactive wells must be plugged and abandoned within a year after drilling or operations on them cease, unless the regulator approves an exception. We could avoid a flood of exceptions by setting strict conditions for them and charging significant fees.
    “Abandonment” refers to plugging the wellbore and removing surface equipment; “reclamation” is the decontamination and restoration of the well site to the equivalent of its previous usability. The oil company’s liability for reclamation and rental payment to the landowners for surface rights continue until reclamation is complete. Reclamation typically takes at least several years to complete after abandonment. People often confuse these terms and conflate the two steps as “cleanup.” (I co-authored a book on this subject in 2016.)
    There’s a long story behind Alberta’s lack of a time limit on non-producing wells. The underlying reason is undoubtedly the large number of low-productivity wells–especially natural gas wells in southeastern Alberta–that are only economic when prices are high and that sit idle the rest of the time. The owners and their lobbyists surely bent some ears whenever politicians or regulators hinted at time limits. There were two major revisions of reclamation regulations, in the 1970s under Lougheed and the 1990s under Klein, but obviously a time limit did not make it into them. Texas has plenty of low-productivity wells, so there’s really no excuse for Alberta’s lack of a limit.

    1. Thanks, Robert. I really appreciate you contributing your expertise to this discussion. For readers who are interested in following up, Robert’s book is called “Footprints: The Evolution of Land Conservation and Reclamation in Alberta,” and a copy can be downloaded at: file:///Users/davidclimenhaga/Downloads/FOOTPRINTS-20-E2-80-93-20FINAL.pdf DJC

  5. It appears that where being a petro-state is concerned, they’re two paths to follow …

    One is the path of the House of Saud, where a single owner can end the entire resource, not to mention the entire country it’s located, and picks and chooses its partners based on how much tribute they are willing to accept from the House of Saud.

    Another is to follow the path of Norway, where national ownership of the resource is considered a primary concern and its development is maintained by established standards of ethics, technologies, and a forward thinking vision.

    And there’s Russia, where the resource is owned by a single leader, who then appoints favoured oligarchs to serve the will of the leader, and dispense resources according to the leader’s interests.

    Where is Alberta on this scale?

    It did point in the direction of Norway, but since has moved the needle toward Russia’s path. At some point, I expect Alberta nationalize the industry while paying a handsome and excessive premium for the ownership.

    1. I think you might have confused Russia with The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ?

      I dunno for me ? Seems like Dani is acting like someone who knows they are going to lose the keys to the kingdom so they are raiding everything that isn’t bolted down. She strikes me as a person that craves power but dislikes responsibility, I imagine her sights are pointed at becoming more of a JP style celebrity than staying in government.

  6. Boychuk’s claim that the Alberta NDP failed to raise the issue last Fall is false.

    For example, an excerpt below from a CTV News story dated October 31, 2022:

    “Opposition New Democrat Energy Critic Kathleen Ganley said the plan reverses the foundation of environmental law.

    “It’s a violation of the polluter-pay principle,” she said.

    Ganley said there are no guarantees the program would create new work. Nor would it be open to scrutiny.

    “There’s no clear, straight line that it would start new work as opposed to work that’s already underway except the public would be paying for it. And they would be paying for it in a way that’s not clear to them.”

    Boychuk should have stuck with being an activist and researcher where he has done some excellent work. All he is doing by running for the Green Party in Banff-Kananaskis will be to drain votes away from NDP candidate and noted conservationist Sarah Elmeligi, thereby helping the UCP to retain the riding.

    1. How come NDP didn’t dare like a tweet, let alone raise R* during November’s by-election or Smith’s first session?

      There is no way to credible claim the topic was verboten until Feb 9th.

      The answer to why NDP shot itself in the foot again, it would appear they preferred to campaign against a vicious neoliberal provincial budget — but Smith didn’t fall for the trap.

      The NDP ia free to do better any day they think they are losing too many votes. Partisan apologetics aren’t helping anyone but out-of-touch elites.

  7. Could it be any other way in a Province dominated by petro state politics the apparent regulatory capture of both the political class and its subservient political bureaucracy?

    It has already been observed that, “They’re taking public money and giving it to oil companies to do work they are already legally obligated to do and they’re doing it at a time of high oil prices,” Ganley said.”

    And it has also been stated that “the Alberta government manages those resources on their [the citizens of Alberta] behalf.” What are the remedies available for decades of apparent mismanagement? If there are none available then that is a gross structural failure of the legal/political framework.

    Further, if it is assumed that legal obligations already exist, then it seems that a certain type of breach of contract is being created, managed, and fulfilled by a deliberate attempt to violate the agreement already in place between the Government of Alberta and industry.

    [ See, “Smith as CEO Alberta Enterprise Group to Savage: 29 July 2021- “RStar”

    https://abpolecon.ca/2023/01/30/smith-as-ceo-alberta-enterprise-group-to-savage-29-july-2021-rstar/ ]

    And where, “When a party to a contract violates the agreement by failing to adhere to the terms of the agreement, this is called a “breach.”” Further, “Canadian law recognizes the enforceability of promises, oral or written, provided there is “consideration” flowing from the promisee to the promisor or a mutuality of promises.”

    It is also noted that, “Fraud involves dishonest and deceptive conduct by a person or a party for the purpose of obtaining an unfair and unlawful gain.”

    That is, “But the deal between Bellatrix and the numbered company also raises concerns about a murky practice in the corners of the oilpatch. Companies have been using the bankruptcy process to separate their profitable assets from their unprofitable ones, dumping the old and unwanted wells in a shell company bound for bankruptcy, which more often than not causes the wells to end up in the care of the Orphan Well Association (OWA).”

    “‘Blindsided’: Alberta farmers fret as regulator eyes moving bankrupt company’s idle oil wells to new insolvent firm”

    https://financialpost.com/commodities/energy/oil-gas/blindsided-alberta-farmers-fret-as-regulator-eyes-moving-bankrupt-companys-idle-oil-wells-to-new-insolvent-firm

  8. Obviously this is a tricky business. $100 million dollars is only half a percent of the $20 billion cited and, while I appreciate the suspicion that something much more sinister might be afoot, the case could be made that half a percent of the total clean up bill is not too much to ask of Alberta taxpayers who have benefitted so much from the operation of these wells before they were abandoned. But naturally that would depend on whether the remainder is paid for by industry. I agree: it’s bigger than it looks.

    Just broaching such an idea is plainly fraught with political and politically partisan problems which are viewed differently by governing parties and those working to become government than it is for parties whose point of view isn’t from the elected Assembly but, conspicuously, from the gallery. The NDP’s reticence in raising the issue doesn’t mean it is negligent. Rather, the once (and hopefully future) -governing party shows how it learned the difference between being a party of protest and one which is a viable alternative to the UCP —something the Green party, for example, might not understand or need to understand, never having elected its advocates to any representative body in Alberta, municipal, provincial, or federal. The NDP is doing the art of the possible.

    Indeed, in light of the fact that the UCP campaign is going to target and gin simplistic analyses of the abandoned wellheads by, for example, conflating it with the future of the industry and/or with its lizard-brained hyper-partisan enmity with Ottawa, it is plainly prudent politics for the NDP to avoid being cast a character in this base demagogic narrative. Had Rachel Notley beat this drum (abandoned wells) in 2015, her party might not have won its surprise upset victory. The challenges revealed to the NDP once it gained access to certain particulars kept discretely from the public by the previous, 44 year-long regime surely showed—as any thoughtful observer already suspected—that the many-faceted problems with the province’s dominant industry would require many terms of government just to get a handle on. It meant that the NDP had to consider how efficacious raising or acting on the issue of abandoned wells during its first—and let’s admit, accidental—term could possibly be: had it bitten off such a large chunk, as laudable as that might seem from a narrow environmental point of view, the NDP government probably would have become a flash in the pan, a one-hit wonder, a punching bag for industry, the partisan right and its increasingly radicalized voter base.

    (BC’s NDP Premier Dave Barrett left lasting legacies for BC citizens— public auto-insurance and the Agricultural Land Reserve, for examples—but, after passing a record-setting several hundred much needed bills in just three years, it got smoked in its first incumbency bid and 18 years of corrupt BC Socred government followed before the Dippers got another shot at government. Cƒ: the one-term wonders of Dippers Rae and Dexter as their respective Ontario and Nova Scotia governments show.)

    In the circumstances after 2015, Premier Notley was wise to move cautiously on the petroleum file—perhaps disappointing some supporters of a party which typically harbours many idealistic, protestant members. Even though the NDP was defeated after a single term, it’s retention of an Opposition caucus several times larger than it had previously and its promising pole-position with respect the upcoming race suggests caution has paid off. In the present situation, waiting for Scotiabank—no champion of socialist parties—to condemn RStar is not simply lucky, it takes considerable heat off of the party—and a cross-hair target off its back as it forms up for the approaching battle. Fortunately, it allows Notley to focus on the UCP’s terrible healthcare record and plans while deferring the abandoned wells to democratic fora, whatever they might be (public inquiry, plebiscite, and other psephological means) if or when the UCP is defeated.

    IMHO, it behooves the NDP to maintain a pragmatic approach rather than broach philosophically arcane criticism of the undemocratic nature of the UCP. Notley might instead acknowledge the problem and reiterate that her party will let all Albertans have their say about what (not “if”) to do about abandoned wells—that is, how will it be paid for. She is carefully building the party to have much greater influence on petroleum-policy than it has ever had. It’s a longterm thing which the Greens and other fringe parties have so far appeared oblivious due to their naive conceptions of politics and their hyperbolic idealism. Nevertheless, this report is similarly handy for the NDP without necessarily getting dusted for prints.

    Mainstream news media certainly have been remiss on this issue. But naturally, news media aren’t running candidates in this or any election. Happily, Notley is too prudent to accuse them of being “fake news.” She doesn’t have to be Kari Lake (as much as the UCP would like her to be—not without delicious irony).

    The UCP is plainly trying to pull a fast one. Rather than getting tangled in analytical minutia or hateful rhetoric, it’s sufficient for Opposition to counter with simple principles of fairness and democracy, and avoid being tarred as a “globalist.” And the facts are pretty simple: industry can afford to do much better if it can get the money from the black honey—at least until the job is substantially completed.

    1. SD wrote: “the case could be made that half a percent of the total clean up bill is not too much to ask of Alberta taxpayers who have benefitted so much from the operation of these wells before they were abandoned.”

      Really?
      It is not up to the public (taxpayers) to fund any company’s business expenses, including O&G industry clean-up. Free-market, remember?
      O&G companies can clean up without assistance from taxpayers. No need for Albertans to lose out on royalties.

      Oil and gas companies are not entitled to dump their cleanup costs onto the province or taxpayers.
      Canadians benefit from the revenues created from all profitable industries — but that does not entitle industry to royalty credits or a return of tax dollars. Paying due taxes on your income or royalties on production of crown resources does not entitle you to a rebate or return of your tax dollars.
      All profitable companies pay taxes. Resource extraction companies also pay royalties on crown assets. Do they all deserve public dollars to cover their business expenses?
      Where does this corporate welfare end?

      Smith’s RStar giveaway sends industry exactly the wrong message: Delay clean-up long enough, and you will be rewarded. No reward for companies that clean up their wells in good time and meet their legal obligations.
      Backwards, as usual.

      Sending the wrong message rewards deadbeat companies for bad behavior — while providing no incentive to responsible companies to clean up in timely fashion.

    2. 2) Even if Notley never becomes premier again, she will have made her mark. Most fascinating (and alarming) is Notley’s success in shifting Alberta progressives on energy/climate policy.
      Most NDP supporters in 2014 would be aghast at the prospect of the NDP’s pushing oilsands pipelines, rejecting “just transition”, sabotaging Canada’s climate targets, embracing Vivian Krause’s conspiracy theories, dismissing science, criticizing environmentalists, and attacking the federal NDP leader for “elitism”.
      In 2023, these same NDP supporters don’t blink an eye at such antics. Tribal to the last, they are ready to follow Dear Leader over the climate cliff. They call it “pragmatic” environmentalism.

      Neoliberal Premier Notley threw billions of dollars in subsidies at the O&G industry. Further pandering to the oilpatch is not out of the question in a second NDP term. It was poor politics then, and it’s poor politics now.

      SD wrote: “The NDP is doing the art of the possible.”
      Less loyal observers call it selling out. For little, if any, tangible reward.

      SD wrote: “…had [the NDP] bitten off such a large chunk, as laudable as that might seem from a narrow environmental point of view, the NDP government probably would have become a flash in the pan, a one-hit wonder, a punching bag for industry, the partisan right and its increasingly radicalized voter base.
      Which pretty much describes what happened despite Notley’s ardent cheerleading for TMX.
      “Lock ‘er up!”

      Notley’s petro-progressivism is not a winning strategy. Pandering to fossil fuel dinosaurs just feeds the right-wing frenzy. Stoking Albertans’ perennial resentment over pipelines and everything else under the sun only helps the UCP. Most pipeline boosters would not vote NDP if Notley built a billion pipelines. Right-wingers who want oil industry flunkies in power will vote for the real thing. Notley’s shift to the right only alienates progressives.

    3. 3) Goaded by jibes from Danielle Smith, Notley’s flip-flopping on energy/climate issues has made the NDP look even weaker.

      Notley’s new NDP climate plan:
      ●Drop the federal ‘just transition’ plan.
      ●Drop Canada’s 2030 emission reduction goals.
      ●Invest even more in oilsands CCS projects.

      Instead of hauling her party clumsily to the right whenever D. Smith barks, Notley needs to find some principles and stick to them. She also needs to fire her ill-advisors who have led her down this dead-end path.
      The federal ‘just transition’ plan has been in the works for years. Climate change has been on the agenda for decades. Notley’s advisors couldn’t see this coming?
      The NDP does not have a climate plan, much less a science-based response to climate change. Poor leadership and poor politics.
      Alberta’s petro-progressive climate champion, fighting against her grandchildren’s right to a healthy planet to the bitter end.

      Pandering to fossil fuel dinosaurs just fed the right-wing frenzy. Stoking Albertans’ perennial resentment over pipelines and everything else under the sun only helped the UCP. Most pipeline boosters would not vote NDP if Notley built a billion pipelines. Right-wingers who want oil industry flunkies in power will vote for the real thing. Notley only alienated progressives.
      The more Notley fought for pipelines, the more she fanned the flames of anger among Albertans. [Underlining her own failure on the file. All Albertans seemed to get out of the deal was a detested carbon tax. The blame for all our ills, real and imagined, fell upon Notley and Trudeau.]
      A pipeline project became the rallying flag for Albertans, whose sense of grievance against Ottawa burns eternal. Fuelling the right-wing rage machine.

      As pundits and politicians recognized at the time:
      David Climenhaga: “Indeed, the more [Notley] fights for the pipeline, the stronger Mr. Kenney seems to get because the file is seen, however wrongfully, by too many voters as a United Conservative Party strength.
      “Sounds as if the Trudeau Liberals are listening to their Natural Governing Party lizard brain, finally” (19-Feb-19)

      UCP Leader Jason Kenney: “I’ve never believed there is a large number of Alberta voters whose ballot question is energy or pipelines who are likely to vote for the NDP. The NDP electorate is not people who get up in the morning passionate about pipelines and energy.”

      Reakash Walters, federal NDP candidate in Edmonton Centre 2015: “As one of two people who nominated Rachel in 2015, I am truly disappointed in the direction the provincial party has taken and that they have chosen to prioritize oil extraction in the middle of a climate crisis.”
      “What was Rachel Notley suggesting when she said she’s not committed to voting for Jagmeet Singh’s New Democrats?” (Alberta Politics, 2019)

      David Climenhaga: “Arguably, the law allowing Alberta to blockade shipments of fuel from refineries here to force B.C.’s government to ignore the concerns of its own voters and knuckle under to Alberta’s demands for a pipeline was a moral and political failure by the NDP.
      “Democracy depends on a consensus not to abuse power, and drafting legislation known in advance to violate the nation’s constitution, putting that consensus at risk, amounts to moral failure.
      “Hoping the belligerent attitude demanded by Mr. Kenney’s Conservatives would persuade die-hard right-wingers to grant the NDP another term in office in gratitude for legislation that horrified many of its most loyal supporters was foolhardy.”
      “Court’s decision to turn off Alberta’s turn-off-the-taps law should surprise no one”, Sep 25, 2019

      Naomi Klein (06-Feb-18): “Alberta has a left-wing political party in power, one that has somehow convinced itself it can beat the right by being a better suck up to Big Oil.”

      Markham Hislop: “Exploiting industry difficulties for political gain helps no one but Kenney and the UCP.”

      1. Also true Geoff, but a truth neither side of the political divide out here on the flats wants to accept.
        It’s plain obvious that the rightist nutjobs and looney-tunes at the UCP want to just take, take, take like the criminal mafia they are. There will be nothing left but a wasteland for future generations – who cares!
        For some reason it’s not so obvious that when a smart and educated bunch of progressives follow the same policies that the same outcome happens. Appeasement never works! We have thousands of years of history to demonstrate that.

        Courage to propose the public control of public resources for generations to come is what’s required.
        Paradoxically, it’s also what’s missing.

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