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