Danielle Smith’s petulant afternoon “readout” from Friday’s Calgary Stampede meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggests Alberta’s premier didn’t get very far trying to bully the feds into abandoning their energy emissions targets.
In other words, my assessment yesterday of what was likely to happen once the doors closed and the smiles came off at their private meeting was pretty much spot on.
This prompted some rather overheated and threatening grumbling in the readout – a faddish Washington term to describe a self-serving description of what happened in a closed meeting – and some outright hysteria from another of Postmedia’s political columnists, all of whom are now gratefully back in the United Conservative Party’s media corral with the threat of an NDP government behind them.
“Trudeau DOES NOT budge on where he’s headed with Alberta,” screeched Calgary Sun bloviator Rick Bell.
Holy crap! The apocalypse, probably!
Dial it back there, Big Guy! If she sticks with her present strategy for real – as opposed to random threatening readouts and declarations to impress the rubes – she’ll soon find that, constitutionally speaking, her government is all hat and no cows, to stick with the Stampede metaphor.
In the meantime – as predicted in this space – Ms. Smith will continue trying to Own the Libs, and Mr. Trudeau and the Libs will continue trying to find a formula to win the next election against the dislikeable Pierre Poilievre’s federal Conservative Opposition. He may well succeed, thanks in no small part to what Ms. Smith says and does.
As previously reported, Alberta and the feds have struck a “bilateral working group” that will “work on an aligned framework to incentivize investment in carbon capture, utilization and storage as well as other emissions-reducing technologies.” (That’s bureaucratic babble for look busy and churn our anodyne platitudes, which is what Ms. Smith clearly hopes the committee will do. If she were serious about it reaching consensus with Ottawa, she’d call it a “task force.”)
There will be rules for building “small modular reactors,” a dubious idea favoured by both the feds and the province. Other than the working group, that seemed to be about all the sides agreed upon.
According to Ms. Smith’s readout, though, that was “constructive.”
Apparently not constructive, according to the premier, was the fact “the federal government has yet to formally recognize Alberta’s exclusive jurisdiction to set its own emissions-reduction targets and milestones on the path to a carbon-neutral energy sector and electricity grid by 2050.”
That’s probably because the premier’s claim of jurisdictional exclusivity is constitutionally questionable at best, and likely to face stiff headwinds in the courts.
Also, her statement said, “they continue to set targets for a 42 per cent reduction in energy sector emissions by 2030 and a net-zero electricity grid by 2035.
“Both of these targets are unachievable,” she claimed, hyperbolically. And that, she insisted, “will drive billions of investment out of Alberta, massively increase electricity costs and result in the loss of tens of thousands of Alberta jobs.”
Well, that’s her story, and she’s obviously stickin’ to it, so detailed analysis needs to follow.
Ms. Smith also demanded “more time” for Alberta to clean up its electricity generation practices, a standard tactic of petroleum-industry captured governments everywhere. In truth, had the NDP led by Rachel Notley won the election, the rhetoric would have been softer, but the ultimate strategy would likely have been much the same.
The readout carries on like this for a while. Readers are encouraged to read it themselves.
Eventually, Ms. Smith got around to threatening Ottawa with application of her Alberta Sovereignty Act, at least that’s most logical readout of her assertion that “if Ottawa does not recognize and support Alberta’s exclusive right to regulate these sectors of our economy, our province will have no choice but to use alternative policy options to protect our rights independent of federal interference.” (Emphasis added.)
One can only hope she does. That will settle once and for all that the Sovereignty Act is, to borrow from the Bard, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Cue the sound effects!
Not much new in premier’s statement on B.C. waterfront strike
Meanwhile, yesterday the premier’s staff assembled all her previous talking points about the dockworkers’ strike in Vancouver into another melodramatic statement directed at the PM demanding immediate federal action to end the labour dispute.
There is almost nothing in this statement that we haven’t heard from various UCP officials and their cheerleaders in media in the past few days, including the whingey complaint that Ottawa acted more quickly to end a strike on Montreal’s docks in 2021.
The statement’s closing line was interesting, though. “While proactive federal measures could have prevented this current situation, I urge your government to develop a new process for addressing the risk of work stoppages at ports in the future. The federal government must ensure labour stability and support a resilient supply chain to protect our economy and the Canadians who rely on it.”
One wonders what she has in mind. Have the Navy load the ships?
The constitutional right to bargain collectively is pretty well established in Canadian law now. Perhaps Stephen Harper, patron political saint of the United Conservative Party, can ask his buddy Viktor Orbán for some ideas from Hungary’s “illiberal democracy” to pass along.