Capital Power’s Genesee Generating Station in central Alberta (Photo: Jeff Wallace/Flickr, Creative Commons).

The United Conservative Party Government and its supporters appeared to be flooding the zone, Steve Bannon style, today to recover from the embarrassment of the near collapse of the provincial electrical grid during last weekend’s polar vortex deep-freeze.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

There was a stream of meaningless Monday news releases from the government and its friends in electrical generation yesterday – Winter sports! Economic corridors to Alaska! Child care survey! Drought modelling! Nuclear reactors! – and the usual flood of mysteriously pro-UCP troll-bots on the social media site that will surely soon be known as XXX. 

Premier Danielle Smith, meanwhile, was missing in action – apparently on a well-deserved vacation until Jan. 22 somewhere that’s none of our business. (The Smith family condo in Panama is the prevailing consensus on her current location.) 

This isn’t the first time this has happened, but it was the first time she took a vacation just hours after her minister of Seniors ’n’ stuff, Jason Nixon, rudely assailed the mayor of Edmonton for publishing a blog post on the need to declare a housing emergency in the capital city while on vacation

And speaking of that story, with the galleries at Edmonton City Hall packed with vocal members of the public, council couldn’t manage to deal fully with Mayor Sohi’s request for the emergency declaration that so annoyed Mr. Nixon that he said he’d refuse to attend any meetings with federal, city and First Nations representatives. The vote was put off till today. 

Meanwhile, all weekend the Opposition, which had been handed a fabulous stick with which to bash the UCP for its misbegotten decision in 2019 to scrap the previous NDP government’s plan to fix the electrical grid to prevent just such power shortages, sat on its hands and said nothing. 

Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Indeed, at one point, the Edmonton Journal reported: “The Alberta NDP declined to comment on policy questions Sunday.” (Emphasis added.) Has anyone ever read a more bizarre statement in the history of Parliamentary democracy? 

The only reasonable explanation, it is said here, is that the still-undeclared race to replace the still un-resigned Opposition leader, Rachel Notley, has now reached such a feverish pitch that the NDP Caucus is barely capable of thinking about anything except who is going to line up behind which as-yet-unnamed candidates. (Kathleen Ganley, Sarah Hoffman, and Rakhi Pancholi for sure, I’d predict. Others mentioned here and there in the past may have trouble raising the entry fee.) 

Having swung and missed this ball before – so readers should take my predictions with an appropriately large grain of thought – I’d say this situation is almost sure to resolve itself before the start of February.

Still, it’s sad that if the NDP plan – which had been endorsed as necessary by the Alberta Electric System Operator – had become the law of the land, this province probably wouldn’t have either the highest electricity prices or the least reliable electricity grid in the Dominion, which is part of the real Alberta Disadvantage in 2024.

Having let the UCP set the narrative, the NDP finally managed to get a rather bland news release on the topic out yesterday afternoon, too late to have much impact. 

Alberta Opposition Leader Rachel Notley (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Naturally, the Usual Suspects on the lunatic right (that is to say, the UCP base) were blaming the weekend power problems on electric vehicles charging, shuttered coal-fired generation plants, and unreliable renewable energy. 

As if in response, AESO tweeted yesterday morning: “The Grid Alert has ended as increasing wind and solar generation have created some relief on the system.” (Emphasis added, of course.)

In other, only slightly unrelated news, the Edmonton Public Teachers local of the Alberta Teachers Association announced they had overwhelmingly ratified a settlement Sunday afternoon that would avert a disruptive mid-winter strike. In mid-December the Edmonton teachers voted down a mediated settlement and scheduled a strike vote for early this year. 

“We’re very pleased to find a solution that settles many key issues for teachers, including calendar development, off-schedule compensation, substitute teacher professional development and the working conditions of online teachers,” said ATA Local 367 President Heather Quinn. 

And, finally, it would appear the effort by Take Back Alberta loyalists to sell tickets to Premier Smith’s appearance on stage later this month with such luminaries of the right as Tucker Carlson, Rex Murphy and Conrad Black is not going as well as anticipated

In fact, it looks like the boss has gone crazy! … They’re giving tickets away

So, as you can see, Dear Readers, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start amidst the gong show that is Alberta political discourse these days. 

Join the Conversation


  1. I recall, recently, the PM of Australia, one Scott Morrison, decided to go on a one-month vacation to Hawaii with this family. Meanwhile, in Australia, the entire south region of the country (or continent) was engulfed in a massive cascade of vicious wildfires. Much of NSW was threatened with a maelstrom of fiery destruction never seen before. Amid the endless media reports of hundreds of thousands being evacuated, and the skies turned dark at midday, it was reported that there was an urgent message to Morrison to be an PM and return home. He refused, because he was on vacation. Finally, he grudgingly returned, when his government caucus threatened to oust him. Morrison returned to an endless tide of public criticism and abuse. Once he did a few photo-ops with some angry victims, he returned to his vacation and let Australia burn.

    Morrison is no longer the PM of Australia. While he remains an MP, Morrison has been officially censured for his conduct while in office, and is considered to be unemployable if he should ever leave politics.

    Who knew that a politician going on vacation would determine the end of their careers? Danielle Smith should take note.

  2. Albertans have nobody to blame for the horrific mess with our power generation system in Alberta, but these phony Conservatives and Reformers, such as Ralph Klein, and also the UCP. It was Ralph Klein who began this mess with allowing electricity deregulation to happen. Power prices shot up, as a result of that. PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements), is another one of Ralph Klein’s major mistakes. Combined, these two things exceed $40 billion in cost. TransAlta was doing nefarious activities, by manipulating power prices, got caught, and we ended up paying the price for that. What TransAlta was doing, over 10 years ago, was related to economic witholding. The UCP brought back in economic witholding, in 2020, which is now over twice the cost of electricity deregulation and the PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) combined. The removal of coal fired power plants is a CPC construct, that goes back to around 2008. Jim Prentice held the portfolio of the Environment Minister and this was his intent for coal powered generation plants in Canada, becauseof pollutionissues from them. After Jim Prentice left the CPC, and took a break from politics, he became the leader of the Alberta PCs, and said that he wanted coal fired power generation plants removed in Alberta, because they were causing problems with pollution. In fact, eight years ago, there was a provincial election in Alberta, and the political parties were saying the same thing in their election campaign. They knew coal fired power generation plants were polluting, and they were seeking green energy alternatives. These aren’t related to why power prices in Alberta are the greatest in Canada. When there is a complacent media, who ends up bowing down to these phony Conservatives and Reformers, this is what you wind up getting. There have been power engineers who openly admitted that electricity deregulation was a very stupid thing to do. I recall reading about MLAs who were in Peter Lougheed’s government, who also said that electricity deregulation was dumb. With these phony Conservatives and Reformers, it’s all about making their rich friends even richer. Nobody else matters.

  3. Dani and the 3 Stooges wasn’t a complete sellout like Parker claimed ?? Really? I’m shocked!! So is this going to covered under the new increased gift amounts for MLA’s etc. or can we still see who is spending what on their expense accounts?

    Condo in Panama? So the chances of it being the Trump International are …..??

  4. I believe another reason for the NDP refusing to tie a can to the TBA/UCP coalition for the electrical grid debacle is the NDP are afraid of angering TBA/UCP (It’s time to put the letters in the correct order of authority) and Post Media. As an aside, have the NDP ever mentioned or acknowledged the involvement of TBA?

  5. It was a weak show by the ndp no matter what their excuse. Grid issues handed to them on an orange platter. This often the case. Too little too late. Need to own the narrative with a new strong leader. Why not Brooks Arcand Paul? Re Schmucker and Duh gong show, know anyone wanting tix and then mysteriously not go? Pass it along…

    1. MI: No. It’s because people in Alberta are politically ignorant and believe the lies that these phony Conservatives and Reformers have been feeding them for so long, and when we end up with a horrific mess, they blame someone else for it. Peter Lougheed knew that Reformers can’t be trusted, so why are Albertans letting them fleece us in every way possible?

  6. BWAHAHAHA Those are the tickets DK addled David Parker was trying to flog to TBA cult members for double face value.

  7. If there’s one thing to be learned from all this, it’s that our provincial government doesn’t care. Whether we’re housed or unhoused, we’re on our own. Help is not on the way from Freeze-in-the-Dark Dani. How’s the weather in Panama, anyways?

    If we’re housed, we need rooftop solar panels with on-site battery storage, as many as our rooftops can accommodate and our budgets can afford. Furnaces run on electricity. Cold-weather heat pumps with gas furnace backup are a secondary consideration, IMO. Electricity first. None of this happens instantly and not in the middle of a cold snap. Heed the warning signs. We still have years and winters to go with this government. They told us what they would do to us with those freeze-in-the-dark cube vans and billboards. Believe them.

    If we’re unhoused, we need heaters and ice fishing tents and somewhere to put them, ASAP. We need emergency hotels and 24-hour warming stations. We need creative and urgent solutions from humans who care because our provincial government doesn’t. They intend to do absolutely nothing but let the dead bodies pile up.,act%20as%20a%20warming%20facility.

    Alberta is at the crossroads. Do we let our provincial government carry on with this inhumanity and reckless disregard for the safety and well being of all of us? If we don’t stand up for ourselves, no one else will.

  8. The NDP government of Rachel Notley left a policy in place to ensure sufficient reserve capacity in the grid to prevent this type of event. The UCP removed this policy as too expensive. As Jim (the late) Prentice did say, look in the mirror. Words for Danni and Jason K. Yep Alberta Free and Freezing in the dark. What more needs to be said?

  9. So David, as a long-time politics watcher, who do you think has the best chance at toppling the UCP now that Ms. Notley is gone? My heart sank when I heard the news. Are we doomed to more Conservative governments in the years to come?

    1. Serious question; what has changed since the last two elections that would cause you to continue to think of Notley in this way ? I’ve always been one of her biggest boosters, but I agree with her own assessment that she’s become too polarizing to be secure an a win in the next election.

      A huge part of being a capable leader is knowing when to pass the reins & I don’t think we are anywhere close to her final act.

      For my money Rakhi Pancholi is the smart candidate, and fwiw she has a similar story, a lawyer, hard nosed and capable politician, seemingly has the juice fundraising, turned a notoriously conservative stronghold to win her seat, and most importantly, the Notley administration proper pre-dates her, so it’s harder to tar her with that brush. ( they will try).

      FWIW I feel her being a woman of colour is an asset as well, specifically because the UCP base will be incapable of saying the quiet part loud.

    2. It will depend upon how high the pile of bodies becomes in Alberta and whose corpses are in the pile. If the bodies are those of the unhoused, most of Alberta won’t care that much. If its lack of health care which causes the middle class and up to die, well we could see a change, if not parties, then leader of the UCP.

      1. I dunno, albertans care about their material interests over anything, Read; MONEY, SECURITY.

        Albertans voted out the PCAA because they stopped believing they represented those material interests, they voted in the UCP BECAUSE THEY THINK* (not thought) THEY DO.

        Erroneous or not, it’s the Job of the incoming NDP leadership to articulate how they’ll represent those material interests (helpful hint, start talking about the minimum wage, A LOT bosses hate it but they’re a tiny minority, and fuck them)

        If they can’t do that, they’re lost, trying to brand yourself on social issues (woke) and not material issues, is a non starter.

        No one (functionally, electorally) cares about anything other than their family and loved ones. You can’t guilt folks into voting the “right” way

  10. Well looks like you’re right on about Notley’s announcement. Sorry to see her go…she will be to the Alberta NDP what Peter Lougheed was to the conservatives…a hero who showed Albertans a better way. On to leadership of the federal party!

  11. There is a wise old strategy in politics that when the government is shooting itself in the foot that the best thing the opposition can do is stay out of the way and let them do it. So perhaps that is one part of the reason the opposition is not more vocal at the moment. The UCP is currently doing a fairly good job in making the case against themselves, all by themselves.

    In fact, one mistake I feel that was made in the last provincial election, was the opposition let the spotlight start to be on it, rather than the UCP. Vigorous attacks energize partisans, but can turn off other voters and oddly they can start to bring negative attention to those making the attacks, rather than on those being attacked.

    I don’t really care if the mayor is in Hawaii, or Smith is in Panama, but it does seem a very odd time to bring up a homeless emergency while one is on vacation. The word emergency does tend to give the impression of being present and working hard. So, Nixon is probably not the only person to notice the mayor is at least not very politically astute here.

    The New Year seems to have brought a flurry of activity from the UCP, so perhaps they are more productive with Smith away or like some politicians she is trying to distance herself from certain potentially controversial things, or maybe it is just a coincidence. But lets not forget nothing irks those citizens who can not afford, or who are not able to get a break from our winter, more than hearing about our well paid politicians taking a winter vacation. Lets not forget, it wasn’t so long ago several Alberta cabinet ministers and MLAs lost their jobs for doing so.

  12. Wow! Tucker (Larry), Moe (Rex) and Lord Almost (Curley) rubbing elbows on the same stage. Free tickets? One would think the TBA geeks would fork over at least fifteen cents.

  13. Hello,
    Has anyone ever heard of carbon dioxide batteries. If not check out the following video and the others for some potential alternatives to store more electricity in Alberta utilizing greenish methods. Say no to unnecessary nuclear power in Alberta to subsidize the oil patch heavy oil production along with nuclear storage in your neighborhood.

    Italian style carbon dioxide batteries:
    Second largest battery in the world

    Air battery

    The best government Albertans could possibly generate is one that taps into the greatest minds in Alberta utilizing the legalization of real democracy, where the people have the legalized right to introduce and vote on government bills electronically. This is how we control our anti-democratic politicians and produce legislation that reduces inflation, like the UCP inflated electricity prices. With the legalization of real democracy, then people like David Climenhaga can help turn this Province around by bringing in bills for the people to vote on from the convenience of his own couch.

    Would it be nice to have legalized real democracy so all Albertans could have a vote on nuclear power which will subsidize the oil industry? I think so.

    I would like the next New Democratic Party leader to actually live up to its party name and bring in the legalization of real democracy so people can introduce and vote on government bills because the NDP name does not truely live up to what the party is about currently and we need more truth in our politics, not the ongoing BS.

  14. “As we enter a period of great uncertainty, as we embark on a voyage into the unknown, in which the only thing that everyone seems to be agreed upon is that there are choppy waters ahead and that landfall may be a very long way off…” Rachel gave so much to so many.

  15. Smith is in Panama? Who goes to Panama? Well the Panama Papers were there, but really a Premier. In B.C. politicians go to Maui. Ontario, Quebec–Florida, mid country–Arizona, It might be fun for some ink stained member of the press go have a look see. The other vacation spots are from time to time places the press go on vacation at the same time the politicians do.

    Nice story about the Australian P.M. The difference might be Aussies do tend to want their politicians to work and in Alberta its all about keeping the socialists out. O.K. some of the UPC base might be too stupid to think about this until they’re freezing in the cold. If others freeze, not a problem

    OMG, those 3 coming to Alberta. Yikes. Wonder who thought that misery up.

    1. The lack of intelligence in the above post shows why we need be concerned about the clueless socialist crowd. Who cares where people go on vacation? The aussies want their politicians to work and Alberta wants to keep the socialists out – isn’t that the same thing?

      1. Rochelle Rochelle: The ones that have no clue whatsoever are the UCP, and their followers. The hypocrisy is clear. They slam Justin Trudeau for going to Jamaica, but won’t utter a peep about the money wasted by Danielle Smith and her entourage going to Dubai, that had absolutely no gains for Alberta. Danielle Smith has to go on another vacation, because she works so hard, with the least provincial legislative sessions in the entire country, and all the photo-ops she does. The power problems we have are from these phony Conservatives and Reformers in Alberta, starting with Ralph Klein for electricity deregulation, and the UCP allowing economic witholding to happen, which has cost us so much money. But sure, socialism is the issue, not these phony Conservatives and Reformers, and how they make more problems, day by day. Peter Lougheed warned us about these types, but people didn’t listen to him. Where’s the sense in that?

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