There were two speeches at the Alberta Legislature yesterday! 

Lieutenant Governor Lakhani (Photo: Legislative Assembly of Alberta/Flickr).

The Speech from the Throne was long, boring, unpersuasive, evasive, unoriginal, and weirdly aspirational in a way that defies the growing international consensus about the role of fossil fuels in global climate change. 

Lieutenant Governor Salma Lakhani looked bored and possibly distressed by the contents of the speech she was required to read to open the 31st session of the Alberta Legislature, and spoke so softly at times it was often hard to hear her over the Legislature’s primitive streaming application.

The Speech from the Gallery, by contrast, was concise, frank, loud enough to hear without amplification, and – while it may not have been the intention of the speaker – could turn out to be a more accurate prophecy of Alberta’s future than the one in the official disquisition.

After starting with an embarrassing pro forma attack on the federal government for allegedly trying to wreck our Albertan way of life along with some threats to use the United Conservative Party’s constitutionally meaningless Sovereignty Act to show the feds a thing or two, the Throne Speech predicted a sunshiny future of perpetually balanced budgets, ever lower taxes, a Heritage Fund stuffed with new billions, “consequences for criminals,” “flourishing new industries,” “massive infrastructure improvements,” affordable housing, more doctors, and Alberta’s emergence as “the greenest energy producer in the world … whether that be conventional, non-conventional, renewable or otherwise.”

Why, in only a decade, the government’s overheated speechwriter enthused, Alberta will have a population of 10 million souls! 

Premier Danielle Smith rises in the Legislature to introduce Bill 1, the Alberta Taxpayer Protection Amendment Act, 2023 (Photo: Legislative Assembly of Alberta/Flickr).

Quoting Ronald Reagan (who was in turn quoting JFK, who was borrowing a page from the Bible) the speech continued, “the best and brightest from all over the world will continue treating this province as a land of promise – a shining city on a hill – where those willing to work hard and contribute can realize their and their families’ greatest dreams.” (Emphasis added.)

Well, as I’ve said before and will surely have the opportunity to say many times again, you can’t make this stuff up – but, this being Alberta, someone else will always do it for you. 

By contrast, the Speech from Gallery, or perhaps from the floor of the Legislature judging from the photo in the Edmonton Journal, involved an unidentified person standing on a chair shouting “We need to stop new gas! We need to stop new coal!” 

Say what you will about the outburst, the protester shouted clearly, and made his point without requiring listeners to wonder what he meant. 

The Sergeant-at-Arms, dashing across the livestream, looked as if he might stroke out. (I hope he’s OK!) Speaker Nathan Cooper appeared nonplussed. 

I’m sure the UCP MLAs who supported the border blockade at Coutts and the occupation of Ottawa last year – Shane Getson! Grant Hunter! c’mon down! – will be suitably appalled at this breach of Parliamentary decorum. 

Speaker Nathan Cooper seemed nonplussed by a protester who had apparently wrangled an invitation to the speech – but you have to admit he has a great hat (Photo: Legislative Assembly of Alberta/Flickr).

Seriously, though, whoever invited the still unidentified protester will have some ’splainin’ to do. 

However, I’m certain that if the uninvited speaker’s wishes come true – as well they might – it will be the result of a decision of the market, not one made by an Alberta legislator of any party or persuasion. 

Indeed, as noted by the International Energy Agency – a respected organization notwithstanding Premier Danielle Smith’s recent disputations – that decision is already being made around the world even as the UCP Government constructs a fantasy future for us to contemplate. 

Returning to the Throne Speech, it was interesting both for its omissions and commissions. 

There was no direct word about Premier Smith’s scheme to hijack half of the Canada Pension Plan investment fund, and there were no details of her government’s plans to bust up Alberta Health Services. Those will likely be the most significant and controversial matters to come before the Legislature in this session. 

There was, though, backhanded acknowledgement that the government has bungled both electricity rates and auto insurance, where gouging by private-sector providers is running amuck.

This will be hard to fix if the UCP truly expects be able to “to work collaboratively” with the corporations involved.

The speech also promised more dough for private schools and home schoolers and “hundreds of new police officers,” while plans for ineffective and probably unconstitutional mandatory “treatment” for drug users proceed apace.

As for economic diversification, well, the Smith Government is determined to dive headfirst into the business of picking winners and losers. Or, as the speech put it, “incentivizing the creation and growth of new industries and opportunities.” What do you want to bet, though, that the new industries and opportunities are all tied to oil, gas and coal? 

Finally, if you’re worried about health care, you should be. “The government will have more to say in the coming weeks on additional action to decentralize decision-making and move additional health resources and professionals to the front lines,” the speech said. 

Well, Happy Halloween. Things are likely to get more ghoulish in the Alberta Legislature from here on, and while there won’t be many treats, there will be plenty of tricks. 

Meanwhile in Saskatchewan …

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe (Photo: Facebook/Scott Moe).

Meanwhile in Saskatchewan, which doesn’t even have a Sovereignty Act of its own, Premier Scott Moe has ordered the province’s Crown-owned gas utility company to stop collecting the federal carbon tax used to heat homes starting on New Year’s Day. 

As University of Alberta economics professor Andrew Leach pointed out, Mr. Moe is instructing SaskEnergy officials to commit a criminal offence. They’d be smart to ignore him. 

University of Calgary political scientist Lisa Young has a good commentary on this on Substack. 

“Ironically,” Dr. Young observed, “the Alberta premier can’t issue a similar order because there’s no crown corporation responsible for selling natural gas to customers in Alberta. It’s not every day a conservative premier is secretly jealous that she doesn’t have a crown corporation handy!”

Join the Conversation


  1. Now that we are all officially living in the End Times, it may be prudent to get right with the Flying Spaghetti Monster because that’s the only deity I believe in. In any case, this reminds me a lot of my RPC days and the mindset that prevailed in that weird, weird world.

    For one thing, I discovered that some of the more hardcore Evangelicals in the bunch seemed to be of the belief that it doesn’t matter what goes wrong, because the world is going to end.

    Yes, that was the guiding principle behind their policymaking. You can be as Pro-life as you want to be, but don’t forget that dealing with social and environmental ills is for suckers, and Secular-Humanists.

    Jesus want you to drive that big gas-guzzler because that’s all part of the plan. Use everything up and don’t worry about the mess, because Heaven awaits. Well, actually, not for everyone. You see, God has already decided who is getting into Heaven based on the size of the respective mega-church. So, it really is a matter of whoever has the most toys wins.

    So, for the 10 M people who are going to miraculously come and live in Alberta in a decade’s time, don’t forget that Ontario and B.C. are going to get that much bigger as well. As for where they are going to live and all that missing infrastructure, living in a Dodge Ram pick-up truck maybe become the new normal.

    ‘Berta Uber Alles.

  2. The danger is an aspirational speech like this can go a bit overboard. Well that seems to be what happened here somewhere between Kennedy, Reagan and 10 million people, things became very detached from reality.

    As the saying goes if someone tells you who they are, believe them. And boy did they tell us, so much so that they should seriously consider changing their name to the United Delusional Party.

    Alberta can be a bit of a political bubble, impervious to the rest of the world. Change is unsettling and threatening to some, especially those that are doing well with the way things are. I suppose they can convince themselves if we just change things in Ottawa, everything would be fine, ignoring the rest of the world. Perhaps they really believe threatening to run off with a disproportionate share of the CPP fund will bend the rest of the country to their will. However, it is not just about the money as those whose homes in BC and the NWT will attest. There are other problems in the world that are relevant, but unfortunately seem to be ignored in this speech.

  3. It’s another hot air throne speech from the UCP, and nothing more. That’s all that this is. The Heritage Savings Trust Fund will not be fattened up, healthcare will be privatized, corporate tax cuts will be further lowered, robbing us of billions more, without any added job gains, public education will get cuts, while support for private education will grow, poverty will increase, and so will crime, utility costs will go up even more, and the environment will be further compromised. Nobody wins with pretend Conservatives and Reformers in power. Scott Moe is just trying to detract himself from his failures as premier of Saskatchewan.

  4. Hello DJC,
    A short comment on the 3-year delay in charging carbon tax on fuel oil in the Maritimes. The cost of fuel oil is very high, making it much more expensive to heat a home with fuel oil than it is to heat a similar home with natural gas. In Nova Scotia, there is no infrastructure to deliver natural gas to homes. The attempt to use highway rights of way for construction of a natural gas delivery system was denied by the province. Many people use wood, including pellet stoves, to heat their home. There is some electric heating in newer homes. Installing heat pumps can be very expensive. Many homes, especially in rural areas, are older and it may not be possible to add insulation to the walls.

    1. Hi! Christina… Having lived in Nova Scotia, and worked on a few projects( unilaterally) installing the pipelines, the biggest beef was that it was supposed to be such a bonus to Nova Scotians , yet the first people to get the benefit of the pipelines were the people in Maine… go figure. and the line to NS Power (Emera) ,which coincidentally serves power to Maine, switched from gas to oil, depending on price (?) .
      Anyone within a few block radius of the plant hated the switch because of the ash causing burn marks on vehicles, and people questioned why they couldn’t stay with the natural gas. It’s been a few years, so I can’t speak to current conditions, but heat pump price there was about the same as what it was in BC at the time.>availability
      Natural gas availability map
      Eastwood Energy delivers natural gas to homes and businesses in Halifax, Dartmouth, Amherst, Oxford, New Glasgow and Stellarton.

      Our governments work in mysterious ways when you’re paying attention, if you’re not, you find out too late that you’ve been snookered.
      ie: Ducptba and Moesp.

  5. Perhaps by deus ex machina, the power and internet connection at my home went down yesterday. Naturally, I assumed Dani was carrying out her threat to make us freeze in the dark. It wasn’t -30° C., but the first day of the fall session of the legislature seemed on point for hell freezing over.

  6. Does anyone else think it’s nice that Lieutenant Governor Salma Lakhani wore green for this occasion? Just saying that women throughout history have chosen clothing to communicate their beliefs and intentions. Or maybe she just likes green?

  7. The throne speech did mention the pension withdrawal, but they used the words “retirement savings” instead. Here is the excerpt:

    “Albertans will reap the benefits of these tax cuts and consumer protections. They will keep more of their hard-earned money for the things that are important to them, whether that’s nutritious food, hockey fees, dance lessons, further education, family vacations or retirement savings.”

    1. Cam — ” retirement savings “, as in back to that old playbook ( Aug 23-2015)
      {Document raises questions about Harper retirement policies. }

      Money for important things:
      1. nutritious foods
      2. hockey fees
      3. dance lessons
      4. further education
      5. family vacation
      6. retirement savings

      imho- that list says alot about what the priorities of the UCP government are & were these from another wasted taxpayer money poll ? Even Barbie & Ken would have had the pool in the top 3.

  8. “but you have to admit he has a great hat.” The price you must pay for occupying the Speaker’s chair.

  9. Holy hell, what a brain-dead bunch of ignoramuses modern conservatives have turned out to be. Lougheed be spinning in his grave! Although I do wish he’d come back a-la Jacob Marley and haunt some sense into these ding-dongs.

  10. There are the fantasies and wishful thinking of (UCP) political PR narratives . . .

    “the Throne Speech predicted a sunshiny future of perpetually balanced budgets, ever lower taxes, a Heritage Fund stuffed with new billions, “consequences for criminals,” “flourishing new industries,” “massive infrastructure improvements,” affordable housing, more doctors, and Alberta’s emergence as “the greenest energy producer in the world … whether that be conventional, non-conventional, renewable or otherwise.””

    . . . and then there are the ongoing steady state realities that exist in a fledgling petro-state that wishes it was more globally significant than it really is.

    The virtual (political) dead silence and inaction that accompanies those realities is revealing . . .

    “The Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) has conducted a member survey identifying that as of December 31, 2022, approximately $268 million in property taxes currently owed to rural municipalities by oil and gas companies have gone unpaid. This represents a 6.1% increase from amounts reported for the 2021 tax year, and a whopping 231.5% increase from the 2018 tax year, which was the first year that the RMA collected such data. After four years of requests for government to act in the public interest to put a stop to this unethical behaviour, rural municipalities continue to be treated as a piggy bank by some oil and gas companies, even as industry profits and government royalty revenues soar.”

    1. Why would Smith want to upset her O&G Masters by insisting they pay their municipal taxes? Smith knows these rural municipalities will ALWAYS vote for her regardless of how badly they are getting screwed. Win, win as far as Smith is concerned. All Smith has to do is mention Notley or Trudeau for the non payment and she will get a Pavlovian response.

  11. Hello DJC,
    I very much agree with you about carbon taxes.
    I think that those complaining about the announcement of a 3-year delay in imposing the carbon tax on home heating oil in the Maritmes are either uninformed about the high home heating oil costs in the Maritimes and the lack of cheaper natural gas option or, are attempting to score political points by saying that the federal government is playing favourites and neglecting to mention the fairness issue.
    I have read that only about 3% of Canadian use fuel oil to heat their homes.

    1. Christina, they are very definitely trying to score political points on Trudeau. He made it easy with this hasty excuse for a plan. A national “inflation-relief” plan that just incidentally included a rebate for heating-oil users would have been a much better choice.

  12. The “shining city” quote originated with Puritan John Winthrop, a founder of Boston and later governor of the Massachusetts Colony, in a lay sermon aboard the flagship Arbella en route across the Atlantic in 1630. In the sermon, titled “A Modell of Christian Charity,” Winthrop proclaimed that “we shall be as a city upon a hill.” Beginning in the 1970s, Ronald Reagan placed that line, from that sermon, at the center of his political career. Tracing the story of America from John Winthrop forward, Reagan built a powerful articulation of American exceptionalism—the idea, as he explained, “that there was some divine plan that placed this great continent between two oceans to be sought out by those who were possessed of an abiding love of freedom and a special kind of courage.” In 2012, American exceptionalism—as summarized by the phrase “city on a hill”—became an official plank in the platform of the Republican party.
    For more, see

    So, not the Bible, but a graven image.

    1. Bob: I’m stickin’ with the Bible:

      Ye are the light of the world. A city
      that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

      – Matthew 5:14


  13. Further re “city on a hill” quote: Winthrop may have been inspired by Augustine’s 5th century work comparing the Earthly City with the City of God. According to Wikipedia, “The City of God is marked by people who forgo earthly pleasure to dedicate themselves to the eternal truths of God…. The Earthly City, on the other hand, consists of people who have immersed themselves in the cares and pleasures of the present, passing world.”

  14. Is there no one in Alberta trying to force Smith’s resignation? If she is defeated on a confidence matter (reply to the throne speech, the budget, for example) in the near future, she’s out. The LG will appoint someone who can command the confidence of the majority of MLAs, and Alberta will have a new UCP government PDQ. There wouldn’t be a fresh general election until the new premier asked for one or resigned. Surely there are at least 6 cognitively unimpaired UCP MLAs who would join with the NDP to bring down the clown princess before she does much more harm.

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