Apparently Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is determined to make the flagging Trudeau Liberals look like the grownups in the room!

Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault (Photo: UN Biodiversity, Creative Commons).

What other explanation is there for Ms. Smith’s childish official outburst yesterday assailing federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault for his milquetoast expression of disappointment with Suncor Energy Inc. CEO Rich Kruger’s comments on a conference call with stock sellers that his company has been too focused on the energy transition. 

Characterizing Mr. Kruger’s comment as “disappointing,” Mr. Guilbeault mildly continued: “To see the leader of a great Canadian company say that he is basically disengaging from climate change and sustainability, that he’s going to focus on short-term profit, it’s all the wrong answers. If I was convinced before that we needed to do regulation, I am even more convinced now.”

Ho-hum. “How disappointing” can’t even be called a mild rebuke. 

This isn’t really surprising, of course. In reality, there’s less light between the federal liberals and Ms. Smith’s Alberta United Conservative Party than either side would like you to think. 

At this point, the Liberals are far more concerned about ensuring it looks like major oilpatch corporations are paying attention to global climate change than actually doing anything about it. 

Suncor Energy Inc. CEO Rich Kruger (Photo: Linked-In).

The UCP, by contrast, is mired in open climate change denial, sovereignist defiance, and keeping its extremist Take Back Alberta faction sweet. 

That’s a perspective from which any old fight with Ottawa is considered worth the effort, explaining Ms. Smith’s intemperate statement yesterday – which sure sounded as if it came out of the word processor of Rob Anderson, her office manager and ideological Svengali. 

But from a policy point of view, the effect is much the same.

Ms. Smith and Mr. Anderson may calculate that if this helps elect Pierre Poilievre as prime minister, they’ll be able to get whatever they want from Ottawa anyway. That isn’t necessarily so, but you can see how they might reach that conclusion. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mr. Guilbeault, and their advisors give the impression that, notwithstanding their lousy polls right now, they think the kind bluster emanating from Edmonton will work in their favour, come an election in a year or two. 

Regardless, unless you’re a Q-adjacent Take Back Alberta cadre, it’s hard to take Ms. Smith’s braying yesterday very seriously. 

In Ms. Smith’s overheated official eruption, Mr. Guilbeault’s meek observation becomes “utter contempt for Alberta,” “provocative verbal attacks on Alberta’s energy sector,” and “irresponsible, destabilizing, investment-repelling and ill-informed comments.”

Premier’s Office Director Rob Anderson (Photo: Facebook/Rob Anderson).

An appropriate response to this kind of hysterical pish-posh might be, “Oh, shut up,” or words to that effect. Of course, Mr. Guilbeault will say nothing of the sort, since outside the Prairies he only stands to gain from the role assigned to him by the UCP brain trust – potential adult supervisor in the face of their infantile tantrum.

Ms. Smith spiced up her attack on Mr. Guilbeault with a wholesale broadside against China and its environmental record and current significant contribution to global carbon outputs. 

We can argue about how seriously China is really committed to switching to renewable energy, but this kind of talk by Ms. Smith is likely to ensure there will never be a market for Alberta natural gas in China – which, yes, does have a Communist government – since in addition to the cost and complexity of shipping liquified natural gas, we are now showing the ideological signs of being an unreliable trading partner. 

And we can argue about the constitutional merits of her claim that “Ottawa has no authority to regulate these areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction.”

But I digress, Ms. Smith certainly expresses her government’s true position when her statement says “under no scenario will the Government of Alberta permit the implementation of the proposed federal electricity regulations or contemplated oil and gas emissions cap.” (At least, that is, as long as there is a Liberal government in Ottawa.)

Her statement is probably not as truthful when it says “we stand ready to commence the federal-provincial working group in good faith to align Ottawa’s and Alberta’s efforts towards achieving a carbon-neutral economy by 2050.”

Indeed, the opposite is more likely. The UCP’s intention is clearly to use any stratagem to stall the implementation of carbon reduction measures and any movement toward renewable energy. As 2050 grows closer, it is a certainty that the horizon will recede. 

Meanwhile, ironically, Ms. Smith and her party have been tweeting out pleas to Albertans this week to take it easy with the air conditioning, since in the recent hot weather “Alberta has had some close calls with our power grid.” 

This is the same government that imposed a seven-month freeze on approvals of new renewable electricity generation projects because such power can be intermittent … in the winter.

A note to readers

This won’t be the last post on Alberta for a while, but it’s certainly going to be one of them. 

Since this is essentially a one-person operation, and can be quite a bit of work when stories are breaking every day, I will be taking a break from blogging for most of the month of September, much of which I expect to be away from my computer.

I expect to return to my normal blogging schedule at the start of October, or perhaps in the last week of September. Those of you who have donated money to help with the operation of this blog, for which I am very grateful, do not despair. I expect to be back and hope to return to commenting on Alberta politics refreshed and reinvigorated.

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  1. Glad you’re taking a break but will miss your insights and scoops. You will keep an eye on things, right? A lot can happen in a month.

  2. The stupidity in the position of Ms. Smith is if you do not try, you will not get even close to any targets. With the essential scrapping of renewable projects, there is no chance of meeting Federal targets, whatever they might be. Maybe Ms. Smith should watch a little bit of television to see BC burning, NWT burning, 8500 record temperatures set in the US in July, Hawaii burning, record heat wave in Europe and so on. Maybe her hope is to burn down the whole planet so the oil and gas executives can get a good bonus and shareholders reap nice dividends?
    Well deserved break David, enjoy your time away from all this madness.

  3. Danielle does the insolent teenager act well. You can’t tell me what to do!
    Oh and can I have my allowance now?

  4. Typical Smith hysterics. She sounds like a six-year old pitching a tantrum because she can’t have dessert.

  5. What else can a dedicated, committed hydrocarbon extraction lobbyist do? “Bite” the hand that both feeds and butters the bread?

    An individual cannot become self interested Stephen Harper rich by biting the hands of benefactors. That much is elementary and that is the example that is supposed to be strictly followed and adhered to by the disciples, without question.

    Further, the nursery school that the lobbyist was raised in has a certain pedagogy, curriculum, and ‘core values’. One such ‘core value’, ‘Commandment’, or pronouncement states that:

    “We cannot keep 174 billion barrels of oil in Alberta locked in the land and do nothing about it,” . . . “This is wealth that was God-given to Canada.”

    The adoption and full implementation of that ‘core value’ rejects the basic physics and the known negative global environmental/atmospheric outcomes that are the direct result of burning hydrocarbons that have both been known for decades by fossil fuel industry insiders and are accepted scientific fact, for e.g.:

    “At an old gunpowder factory in Delaware – now a museum and archive – I found a transcript of a petroleum conference from 1959 called the “Energy and Man” symposium, held at Columbia University in New York. As I flipped through, I saw a speech from a famous scientist, Edward Teller (who helped invent the hydrogen bomb), warning the industry executives and others assembled of global warming.
    “Whenever you burn conventional fuel,” Teller explained, “you create carbon dioxide. … Its presence in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect.” If the world kept using fossil fuels, the ice caps would begin to melt, raising sea levels. Eventually, “all the coastal cities would be covered,” he warned.”

    The shareholders financing the infinite [economic] growth lobby wish to avoid ‘the nightmare of stranded assets’ at any cost, even as, the costs [“Insured losses from natural catastrophes have increased 250% in the last 30 years, with perils such as wildfires and storms, seen as particularly impacted by climate change, causing an even faster rise in insured losses.” “In terms of underwriting, on one scenario, the economic cost of weather losses could reach over 1 trillion USD in a single year by 2040. The impacts will be worse in developing countries.”] , disruptions, and negative spillovers are going to be massive and highly detrimental for a global community that relies on a relatively stable and predictable temperature and precipitation conditions.

    The impending future ‘wild ride’ is just beginning.

    Finally, the proverbial expression, ‘a picture says [is worth] a thousand words’, can be in this instance summed up as:

    The corporate lobbyist operating from inside the Legislature is being ‘rode hard and put away wet’; while, waiting for the guaranteed cheques and future payoffs that are ‘in the mail’, so to speak.

  6. Calling China communist is pretty hilarious. Considering that the country boasts more billionaires than the rest of the world combined, not to mention the fastest growing middle and consumer classes in the history of human civilization, they make the US look like Haiti. But since I’ve never set foot in a mega church what do I know?

    1. JM: Well, you know, President Deng called it “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” and President Xi still does. You might, I suppose, call it Communism that works pretty well. But here in Alberta, we have freedumb. DJC

    2. Whoa whoa whoa, billionaires, maybe, but what constitutes a billionaire on paper is always debated in these lists. China had the second highest number of dollar millionaires in the world according to a business insider write up from February of this year, at 780k the United States has nearly seven times that number, and a much smaller pop.

      Honestly I don’t understand the obsession with the wealth of China, it is one of the great world empires, it’s existed for much longer than the west, it’s possible they know things were don’t !? I guess most liberals prefer poor communists who are always having their means of production conquered, instead of ones that can challenge the global hegemony on its terms ; capital.

  7. Actually, David it’s hard to take her or anything she says seriously. She’s a total embarrassment to all Albertans. Yet, she embodies the values of misinformed rural voters who think she represents their interests. She answers only to her oil & gas overlords.

  8. [In Ms. Smith’s overheated official eruption, Mr. Guilbeault’s meek observation becomes “utter contempt for Alberta,” “provocative verbal attacks on Alberta’s energy sector,” and “irresponsible, destabilizing, investment-repelling and ill-informed comments.”]

    This sounds like projection by Smith of the things she is doing: utter contempt for Alberta, provocative verbal attacks on Alberta’s renewable energy sector and irresponsible, destabilizing, investment-repelling and ill-informed comments. Perhaps she should pause and look in the mirror. Something deep in her psyche must have triggered this overreaction to the word “disappointing”. Let’s just say that Danielle Smith’s time in office has been “very disappointing indeed”.

    If Danielle Smith keeps hitching her dead horse to the lost and unworthy cause of climate change denial, the horse might give one last spasm and buck her off.

    Enjoy your break.

    1. Hi Abs. It oughta be funny, but at best it’s sad, that right-wing politicians accuse left-wing politicians of doing things right-wing politicians do routinely. Even when they don’t. ESPECIALLY when they don’t.

  9. I will miss your smart, humorous and extremely relevant commentaries.
    I am also aware of the effort and stress involved in such a venture as your blog.
    You have made a huge contribution to interpreting the Alberta political scene. I, and I’m sure, many others are very grateful for the light you have shone.
    Enjoy the break; you have more than deserved it.

  10. Have a wonderful, restful break, Dave.
    Thank you for all your work and dedication, I appreciate what you do on a daily basis!
    Take care, and see you in the future.

  11. Hard to take this article seriously. Shortest article ever, “what has federal gov’t done to better the lives in western canada in last 8 years”. Guilbeault’s and extremist with no buisness in canadian politics. Thinking that canada can save the world by reducing emissions is laughable, these are the same people that were shipping all pur garbage to desperate 3rd world countries instead of dealing with it properly, maybe even recycling…

    1. Difficult to take alt-rights seriously when they just react emotionally and eschew facts like buying a pipeline.

    2. We have among the highest emissions in the world per capita, and we pretend it’s because of winter, which is laughable. They have winter almost in the entire hemisphere. I mean I love paying wildly exorbitant energy rates and never knowing how much revenue the government is going to take in because we are a tiny bob on the sea of world oil
      Prices but what I really like is living in a province where regular folks want to shoot themselves in the face every day, just to give un fathomable amounts of wealth away to foreign oligarchs who use that wealth to further oppress us and hollow out the paucity of democracy we have left. I love that. I especially love those folks for trying to tell me what to think for the past 40 years. Just because you’re gullible doesn’t mean we are and it surely doesn’t mean those exploiting this province are either.

  12. Everyone even Superstars need to take a break and recharge. It’s completely understandable. I wish for you Strength and Peace while you hopefully enjoy some time to yourself and those important to you in your private life.

  13. The blame Ottawa strategy seems to be a go to one for conservative governments in Alberta. Kenney was a master of it too. However, it works, until it doesn’t work.

    One of the problems is the province’s powers are more limited than the Feds. So provinces can huff and puff a lot, but in the end they can’t make the Feds do anything or stop them. Particularly ones where there are few potential votes for the current Federal government. Some conservative voters in Alberta may not be the swiftest, but even they eventually figure out all this fighting and conflict is not accomplishing much. Of course, they will still blame Ottawa, but then they also start to blame their own leader for being ineffective.

    The other danger is the reaction this can cause in the rest of the country. If the Feds seem reasonable and Alberta’s conservative do not, that can start to taint the Federal Conservatives. O’Toole lost the last election, in part by his flip flopping and vague positions on carbon taxes, but what really did him in was not being able to distance himself from Alberta’s Premier at the time on COVID restrictions.

    So watch out Danielle and Poilievre. Yes, this sort of thing works in the short term, but it can be a double edged sword.

  14. Hello DJC and fellow commenters,
    It’s unfortuante that Danielle smith doesn’t do something productive, for example, addressing the expensive housing by helping to provide housing good quality housing at a lower cost for residents. According to the press, the Alberta government is now expected to have a budget surplus.
    DJC, we will miss your observations during September but, at the same time, understand that you would like a short break from producing comment. Looking forward to when you are back.

  15. Hi DJC. A good story on Danielle Smith’s wonderland attitudes, I can’t see the federal Liberals being concerned at all about what she does or thinks. The Liberals are just not going to win seats in Alberta and surely JT sees that now. Right now the Conservatives are looking to get every seat in AB & Sask, except maybe Ms. McPherson’s spot in Edmonton. I will postulate that the best thing for JT to do is ignore Alberta and DS which will really wind up the UCP/TBA and probably make them say more stupid stuff.

    JT spent a bunch of our money buying a pipeline for Alberta and I suspect it cost the Liberals votes and maybe seats in the Rest of Canada. At the time of purchasing TMX, JT said “Today, we’ve taken action to create and protect jobs in Alberta and B.C…” Well what did that get for the Liberals? In AB & Sask they got wiped out in the next election and it certainly cost them seats in BC & QC.

    This is just my view from the Left Coast of course but Ms. Smith’s rants are for local consumption and likely hurt not help the federal Conservatives.

    Enjoy your time off DJC, you’ve earned it…

  16. It’s so disheartening when all of the major speakers in a political conversation are talking nonsense – mostly for the purpose of ‘dog-whistling’ their percieved supporters. Guilbault lacks the credibility to even be a Federal Minister. Premier Smith rarely even makes a cogent argument about anything, and doesn’t seem to have any idea what the public wants from her. They both came from jobs where they represented extreme positions, and offered no workable solutions that could gain public support. At a time when wildfires should be at the top of the agenda, they are both nattering about nothing that is timely. Smith wants SNRs, public money for orphan wells and coal mines on the eastern slopes. (We seem to have the High Rivers’ village idiot running the show.) It may be time to show these fools (and their assistants) the door before they do some real damage. The UCP cut firefighting budgets recently, when it is clear that they should be increased at least three-fold. Will it take a fire in High River or Calgary to make them take notice? The greenhouse gas emissions in fires-of-thousands-of kilometers is truly enormous. OTOH, Kruger from Suncor is just cozying up to the shareholders and probably cares more about how his hair looks than whether Suncor survives for another 25 years. He’ll walk away with a sack of cash in a few years, and reside in the Bahamas – far away from any of this nonsense.

    1. I am in the midst of reading John Vaillant’s book about the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire, ‘Fire Weather’. It’s a sobering account of not just the savage ferocity of a conflagration that behaved much like a malicious living thing, but also of how human civilization got to the point where such events could even occur.

      The author documents how the first scientific research demonstrating that humanity was rapidly warming the planet was published 164 years ago, in 1859, by Irish physicist John Tyndall, building on work done by American inventor & suffragette Eunice N. Foote in upstate New York in 1856. So, from the perspective of science, “global warming”, aka climate change, is not at all a novel concept.

  17. We are in a horrific mess, because we let these phony Conservatives and Reformers destroy what Peter Lougheed created for us.

  18. DJC— Thanks for all your hard work, you more than deserve some time off, so enjoy and reenergize….take the Mrs out for dinner, and a toast to her for sharing your time for us.
    Take Care !!!

  19. First, many thanks for the, dare I say incisive, analysis you offer us every day! Your articles and analysis will be missed. Not sure what I’ll do for my first read of the morning! Enjoy the well deserved sabbatical. I look forward to your return later in the fall.
    BTW, interesting Orchard article on Notley and her party this morning.

  20. Have a nice break, David. I’ll miss my morning Alberta Politics reading for the next month, but I hope that you enjoy your rest.

  21. Enjoy your very much earned time away, David. Writing quality content takes a lot of effort, and with the likes of Danielle Smith and Jason Kenney bumbling through the province, there is a huge amount that can be written, so it really is easy to overextend yourself.

    As is evidenced by the significant number of positive comments from people who don’t normally comment, your work is very much appreciated by a large number of people.

  22. Here’s how insidious the UCP messaging can get, or am I just being paranoid? We live in a 200 unit condo in Calgary. Recently, we received notification from the mgt company that our monthly fees would increase by (on average) 25%. TWENTY FIVE PERCENT.

    Why? The e-mail explicitly blames the increase on the increase to the carbon tax. Nothing else. No mention of de-regulated electricity markets. No mention of sky high fees charged by utilities. I could go on.

    I am not implying that our management company is a silent agent of the UCP but they could have deleted that sentence. And no mention of the carbon tax rebates we’ll be receiving in the future.

  23. Well, the recent influx of arrivals from all parts of Canada due to the high cost of housing in other parts of the country, may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. As they move here and get hit by the high electricity costs plus the high auto insurance costs and probably soon, high house insurance costs, they maybe will start looking for anyone except another Conservative government at our next election. Fingers crossed that the rural vote gets crushed in four years and we can bid adieu to the right wing extremists that are yanking that woman’s chain.

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