Where’s Jason Kenney’s Alberta Energy War Room when you need it? 

Jason Kenney, the United Conservative Party premier who invented the Alberta Energy War Room (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

I’m talking about Donald J. Trump’s Super Tuesday victory speech, wherein he “conjures a dark vision” (The New York Times) and offers “grim visions of an American apocalypse” (The Guardian).

Surely it deserves a response from the War Room, which is officially known as the Canadian Energy Centre and is found at CanadianEnergyCentre.ca if you’re silly enough to be looking for a cyber-geographic location. 

Now, a caveat: Reading the transcript of a Donald Trump speech is an unnerving and disorienting experience – much worse without the unintended hilarity of actually listening to the man rambling incoherently in his disjointedly comedic monotone. 

It’s a nasty job, but somebody from Alberta had to do it, and it might as well have been me. 

You see, it turns out that Mr. Trump – who I’m betting a significant number of the politically active base of United Conservative Party would love to see back in the White House as No. 47 – falls on the tar side of Alberta’s famous and controversial tarsands/oilsands divide.

Canadian Energy Centre CEO Tom Olsen (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

So as soon as he got to talking about heavy oil seven or so minutes into his Super Tuesday Republican primary victory speech in the ballroom at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, not far from the late Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s presumably less palatial home. (Although, to be fair, you never really know, do you?)

Why would Mr. Trump have been talking about heavy oil, you ask? 

Well, like everything else, it comes back to his dystopic view of the world – and the United States’ place in it. And his dislike of foreigners, especially foreigners from Latin America, of course. 

So let’s pick up the theme a few seconds before Mr. Trump, rambling about American energy independence, veered sharply toward “tar oil.” (Bad.)

“So the world is laughing at us. The world is taking advantage of us. Three years ago, we were at a level. We were energy independent. We’re going to be very shortly energy dominant. And today, we’re getting oil from Venezuela. Can you believe it?”

He continued: “And we’re doing numbers on that oil. You know what we’re doing? We’re refining the oil. We have our refinery for that oil. It’s really, I call it tar. It’s not oil. It’s terrible. We have real stuff, but we’re refining it in Houston. So for all of the environmentalists, you ought to look at that because all of that tar is going right up into the atmosphere. You just ought to take a look. It’s the only plant that can do it. We have the only plants that can take tar and make it into oil. And that’s what it is. It’s a shame. But we were energy independent. We were going to be energy dominant. We were going to be supplying oil to Europe all over the world. And then a tragic thing happened during the election. It was a tragedy because you wouldn’t have, think of it, all of the problems that you have today, I don’t think you would’ve had any of them. You’d only have success.”(Emphasis added, of course.) 


But here’s the thing, he’s not just talking about Venezuelan heavy oil, so loved by those refineries in Houston to which Mr. Kenney, Alberta’s previous UCP premier, wanted so badly to build a pipeline that he gave one of his corporate friends $1.5 billion, for which we got nothing. 

They love the Venezuelan variety – notwithstanding the U.S. State Department’s problems with the government of that country – because it’s just a short, cheap boat ride across the Gulf of Mexico, instead of a long, politically fraught pipeline trip through the continental United States. 

But when you get right down to it, Mr. Trump is talking about the same stuff from Alberta’s oilsands, isn’t he? (“I call it tar. It’s not oil. It’s terrible!”

And if you thought it was bad when Mr. Trump threatened to sic the Russians on countries that won’t pay their NATO tax to America’s arms industry, just wait till he sics those foreign-funded environmentalists on heavy oil, because “all of that tar is going right up into the atmosphere”!

You have to know that while they may start with Venezuela, sooner or later they’re going to turn their baleful green gaze northward – all with Donald Trump’s approval and encouragement! 

I mean, Jeez, Louise, if this doesn’t warrant a stiff rebuttal from the War Room, what does? 

Hey Tommy Olsen! Get cracking! 

Join the Conversation


  1. It’s becoming more and more clear that the tar sands oil from Albertan is an undesirable commodity. Danielle Smith will have a hard time getting used to that fact.

  2. Trump is sort of a modern day Don Quixote. You never know what is going to set him of, its more like a comedy rant at times going on about things like low pressure showers, but his crowd loves it. If he weren’t running for high office we might just dismiss him as a crazy uncle, annoying and at times offensive, but somewhat harmless, at least to those he doesn’t have a grudge against or is trying to swindle.

    The terms he uses often come from the past, which probably says a lot about his age and state of mind. They probably regularly called it tar sands when he was more lucid so that is the term now stuck in his mind. Also, while Alberta did do a great marketing job in getting us to call it oilsands instead, the old term stuck more in the east and probably even more so across the border.

    However, if there is a silver lining here for Alberta, I suspect Trumps animosity is generally more directed towards non English speaking people south of their border. And even Democrats are not that keen on Venezuela now.

    At this point I wonder if Trump remembers he championed that pipeline to transport the tar, oil or whatever you call it, from here to those US refineries. Of course consistency was never his strength. Also, one of the benefits of getting older is you can at times plausibly claim to forget or not hear things when convenient. Useful when it comes to criminal and other investigations too, no doubt for any well meaning forgetful old men. With Trump in particular, its not always clear what is real and what is an act.

    1. Trump knows all about ‘taking the Fifth’. In one deposition he appeared peeved at being forced to answer so many questions, taking the Fifth over four-hundred times. He was probably as much annoyed by the fact that any old witness can take the Fifth, making it not particularly unique, or at least not as unique as a supreme narcissist like him likes.

      He seemed bored with taking the Fifth over and over, but it’s hard to tell how much of his annoyance was genuine and how much he was putting on the kind of aires a self-proclaimed ‘smartest man in history’ would do. For example, when he confirmed that a woman photographed with him whom he’d already identified to DOJ inquisitors as his ex-wife was in fact E Jean Carroll who was suing him for sexual assault, he almost seemed to consider it more important to answer with the kind of haughty, bored disinterest that would befit a princely playboy predator than to simply take the Fifth and not answer the question at all, just like an ordinary rapist would. His defence that Ms Carroll simply “isn’t my type” certainly contradicted this unwitting deposition that Ms Carroll was as attractive to him as his second wife, Marla Maples, mother of his youngest daughter. If the confidently aloof answer was supposed to make him look innocent, it failed to convince the jury which, in summation with other evidence, found that he did sexually assault Ms Carroll; the judge assessed the liability at $5-million which he was ordered to pay her.

      Why didn’t he take the Fifth when asked to identify the woman in the photo, just like he answered hundreds of other questions? It was probably to show-off the discerning eye of a beauty pageant impresario which, presumably, would prove he really does know what type of woman he would ever consider raping—his annoyed confidence a clever touch.

      More boring still is Trump’s große Lüge tactic of repetition—even ad nauseam— when, in this case, he doesn’t fake any regal disinterest. It sure didn’t counter his repetitious peeve of taking the Fifth when deposed (if that was really his considered tactic): instead, his enthusiastic claim, repeated over and over, that “I never saw this woman before,” among other defamations also ad nauseam, eventually earned him an even larger liability —about seventeen times larger. D’oh!

      What good is taking the Fifth for me?—he might have wondered in his astoundingly self-centred ignorance of jurisprudence.

      He might have answered: the Dunning-Krueger effect. Naturally he’d rank himself as the best ever at both overestimating and competence. It wouldn’t surprise much if , testifying in his own defence in the many criminal indictments facing him, he tried to ‘take the Twenty-fifth’—actually the most recent Amendment to the US Constitution which, if he could possibly comprehend it, defines under what conditions a president may be removed from office if somehow incapacitated from doing the job. It’s conceivable that Trump interprets the D-K Effect as a clever way to allow legitimate overestimation of his competence—and him alone—, he could just as likely misinterpret ‘taking the Twenty-fifth’ as a workable insanity plea so’s to get on with beating Obama this November.

  3. You never know what you get with Trump. One minute he’s talking about that nasty “tar oil.” The next minute he’ll be blabbing about how he’s a “great fan” of tar oil. There’s a reason why Putin told Tucker Carlson he preferred Biden over Trump in the upcoming elections in November because Biden was more predictable.

    1. Ronmac: Yes, the be-careful-what-you-wish-for rule may apply to Mr. Putin as well. DJC

  4. The babbling Jack O’Lantern is five points ahead of Biden nationwide. Be very afraid Albertans.

  5. Hilarious. Consistency may be the hobgoblin of small minds, but inconsistency is definitely a quality of the hobgoblins and small minds that comprise North American conservatives these days. Or maybe the consistency here is racism; from the south of the border it is tar. Our product is – ahem – a lighter shade.

  6. Only a J.R.R. Tolkein fan would write.. “their baleful green gaze northward”
    Good on you Sensei!

    1. POGO: I was, in fact, thinking of the Eye of Sauron when I wrote those words. DJC

  7. Who are these strange creatures with the dead eyes and unearthly complexions? Spectres?

    Speaking of Donald Trump, did you see the news about the two Michaels? Memories…


    Ah, Venezuela. Here is everything I know:



    The U.S. can’t have that “dictator oil”, now can it? Wait, it’s all making sense. Didn’t Tucker Carlson call Canada a dictatorship before he flew away to shop for groceries in Russia and interview Vladimir Putin?

    1. Just a reminder ;Nicholas Madura is the elected president of Venezuela, they have quite a lively opposition, I think it would take an EXTRAORDINARY leap of judgment to call it a dictatorship. Venezuela is unpopular with America because they tried to coup Hugo Chavez twice, and failed, & now they’ve tried it with Maduro twice, and failed. Long live the Bolivarian revolution!

      Also; Vladimir Putin is the elected President of the Russian Federation, and he has an approval rating somewhere in the 80s last time that I checked. Has an election coming up this very year in fact, I wonder if he’ll be re-elected.

      Just a reminder, I know you wouldn’t suggest either country is a dictatorship without strong evidence as such.

      Just like I wouldn’t call the United States a dictatorship, it’s more of a slow boiling military oligarchy that has the worlds largest police state, has the worlds largest slave population, and has a completely meaningless dog and pony show system of elections that allows one to vote for one of two pre selected candidates from the population of elites who’s policy’s have nary a thread of daylight between them. Oh yah and they bleed their citizens white for health care, that just seems cruel.

      I don’t know why folks would say canada is a dictatorship, it’s not like the federal government bought a pipeline they’re trying to shove down the throats of unceded indigenous nations that don’t want it. It’s not like we have an epidemic of missing women and girls that many community members have blamed on colonial police. It’s not like we sent the military in against water protectors, complete with “lethal overwatch” by masked RCMP snipers, it’s not like CSIS monitors every single
      Climate / human rights action in the city right ? Edmonton police haven’t dragged away and arrested reporters for doing their duty or anything like that right?

      If I’m being too obnoxious, the point I’m making is the “dictator” tag is a dumb canard at this point as the west clamps down on civil liberties, prosecutes and assassinates journalists and protest leaders, and in the case of the United States STILL has the largest population of slaves in the world, making products for many Fortune 500 companies.

      Are Russia and Venezuela the free-est societies in the world? I have no idea, I’m not sure what the baseline would even be, Switzerland? Norway?

      It sure isn’t Canada, the United States, England, France, or japan I’ll tell you that much, Germany isn’t really looking so hot these days either. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, right ?

      1. Bird: Let me explain. A dictatorship is any country that refuses to implement the full neoliberal program of late capitalism, that is, upward wealth distribution, no matter how democratic that country is. A democracy (or, perhaps, and emerging democracy) is any country that does implement full neoliberalism, no matter how dictatorial. Hope that helped. DJC

        1. Russia is arresting people for leaving flowers in memory of Navalny, who was unjustly jailed and probably murdered by Putin’s orders. Sounds pretty dictatorish to me.

          1. Navalny the skinhead Nazi that got his funding from the CIA ? The one that died from a blood clot and who’s body has already been released to his family ? That Navalny ? Why would Russia want to arrest a spy who’s main goal was sedition?

            Once again, I don’t live in Russia; but Canada and our greatest ally really shouldn’t throw stones.

          2. In general, as applied to countries in most of the world, David’s characterization is correct. The FSU as manifested by Putin’s kleptocracy is a bit of a special case. Nobody’s calling it a democracy, but it falls outside the range of conditions which determine whether a “third world” country should be considered a democracy: namely whether “moderates” are in charge, namely people who do what out elites want them to do. “Favourable business climate” and all that.

        2. Bolivia and definitely Uruguay, should be looked at closely. There are signs of life. Morales is trying a come back and Mujica was a shining light of stability and humble leadership. Uruguay is definitely going in the wrong direction since his retirement, but the indigenous people in Bolivia may just turn the tide. One must live in hope!

  8. It is very telling how little power and what a weak voice Smith has. When she went down to the US all she could find to talk to was fellow conspiracy theorist Rand Paul and coal mine mogul Manchin. Another waste of money. Oh and the Energy War Room is only there to fight cartoon characters. Sadly Kenney believed so much that Trump was going to win he dumped money into a pipeline before the lottery ticket was even drawn. Can you imagine that money building right now in the Heritage Trust Fund. It was the biggest example of how bad of a politician Kenney was. I hope one day Albertans smitten with Smith realize they have been had.

  9. Oh, I don’t know if it’s all that bad. After all, Venezuelan oil come from, you know, Venezuela. In South America. Like, it’s SOUTH America. Not NORTH. North is GOOD. North is HOME. North is THE BEST. Like North AMERICA. America is GREAT, and America is NORTH, so North America is THE BEST. TOTALLY. THE BEST. EVER. ANYWHERE.

    I mean, even if it’s Alberta, that’s like North Alberta. Alberta is north, too. It’s like the furthest north you can go and still be American. Except Alaska, and they got oil, too. Lots of oil, enough for everybody. Alaska and Alberta, they’re like twins. Twin oil twins. They even rhyme, Alaska, Alberta. It’s great to have two states so much alike in the Great North American oil. Enough for everyone!

    (Note to editor: this free-association, stream-of-consciousness stuff is exhausting. I can’t take this any farther. Enjoy.)

  10. I find that these mindless seniors who believe every lie they are fed will never admit that they are wrong. When I told some of them about helping doctors and nurses relocate out of the province because of how they were treated their stupid comments were “ Klein treated them well, but they wanted more money and when Klein wouldn’t give it to them they left”. Of course they refused to accept the fact that he closed hospitals, closed 1,500 hospital beds and cut 5,000 nursing positions that’s how stupid they are.

  11. I fully expect that Queen Danielle, in a fit of her acclaimed brillance, will extend an official invitation to President Trump to visit Alberta, in his capacity of re-elected President of the United States, as well as being the next big thing next to Jesus. Of course, this will be done before the vote in November, establishing that the UCP has no shame at all.

    During the visit, Smith will declare Trump the “rightful and only” President and officially recognize his office, even if it’s not within her powers to do so. There will be a state dinner at Roger’s Place. In attendence will be Jordan Peterson, Tucker Carlson, His Tubbiness Lord Conrad Black, Elon Musk, Roger Stone, and a host of other right-right loonies. It will be Smith’s chance to shine, as PMJT refused to accept her invite. Skippy Pollivere may or may not be there, he’ll be there in spirit. David Parker will likely be there, because you can’t keep him away from a free meal.

    Of course, there’s always a chance that Biden could be re-elected, but it’s not like Smith has any shame.

    1. Lol, there is no way on gods green earth Donald J Trump would ever slum it by travelling to a PROVINCIAL capital. It’s right there in the name. When you’re the hegemon you don’t go visit the vassals, they come to you.

      He probably will be president tho. No one is going to vote for genocide Joe

  12. Econ 101 class; there is a seller’s monopoly and there’s also a buyer’s monopoly.

    When you are the only buyer of a producer’s product then you determine the price, not the producer. Alberta oil exports, tar sands bitumen included, have greatly concentrated to the US over the years and now US refineries are far and away the majority buyers of Canadian O&G products, we depend on them almost exclusively. There are a number of reasons for this, but because of the price discount many refineries on the US Gulf Coast have upgraded to prefer heavy oil and they have even now built deep water loading terminals and re-export our oil to world markets (taking the mark up themselves of course). Almost all of the many new-build refineries in Asia are built to accept heavy oil, even the California refineries take lots of Maya from Mexico which is very similar to Alberta heavy crude.

    Suppose Trump does extend his concern about tar sands oil to Canadian exports as DJC posits and actually does something about it (I doubt he would) then everyone who earns a wage to support their family from the O&G industry would be very glad to have TMX. Not withstanding all the other arguments about TMX there is no doubt that it will reduce our dependence on the US and increase the selling price of Alta oil, all grades. As it is right now they have us over a barrel, so to speak.

    And in all the hullabaloo we don’t hear enough from MSM about the UCP gifting $1.5B to TransCanada as it was called then – one of the worst and most expensive blunders in Canadian history. That one alone should have banished the UCP for a long time to wander in the wilderness with the also-ran parties.

  13. The premier of the Albetarian Bitumen Mines will have to respond, if not to Donald F Trump, then to pesky reporters. That of course keeps the Peter Pond-corn popping!

  14. Where I grew up there was a saying.

    Roughly translated from French it was ‘when politicians and faith leaders get in bed together it is the voters who get screwed’

    It was true sixty years ago when I was young. It is still true today. In spades.

    You do not have took very hard or very far to see examples of it today.

  15. Well sure, Alberta tar oil also goes up into the atmosphere, but the “beneficial off-set” as the incels in short pants like to say, is that we put the rest of the pollution into “settling ponds” which then get flushed away by the Athabasca River. And who cares about a bunch of deformed fish or a few sick people? Everybody else wins and from a utilitarian perspective that makes it “ethical oil”!

  16. It’s weird to me, what is considered a dictatorship, like Russia and China for some reason, but not allies, like Haiti.

    Venezuela, but not Colombia, not Brazil, not Mexico. Afghanistan, but not Pakistan, not India. Not Bangladesh.

    Very strange imo.

    1. It’s hard to keep track of who is what when we’re almost eighty years into the US counterinsurgency against the world, which has entailed the overthrow of literally dozens of governments, and the installation of puppets running the gamut from Armas to Zelensky. The Pewtin devil himself owes his political fortune to the theft of the 1996 Russian election by the apparatus of the US. Perhaps somebody should have grabbed a clue when champion of democratic values Syngman Rhee in South Korea had 100 000 or so opponents machine-gunned to death in various pits and ditches.

      1. It’s a feature, not a bug. We didn’t realize that what was happening in WW2 was not a war against fascism, but a war against communism. After all the British, and the Americans were principle bankrollers of the reich. It only stands to follow they would have done so after their campaign to bankroll the whites and INVADE the Soviet Union proper completely failed.

  17. Politicians…by that I mean ALL POLITICIANS are political animals, metaphorically speaking of course.

    With a few notably metaphoric exceptions such as Putin in Russia. He stalks and kills his prey like a Ravenous Wolf, metaphorically but also very literally. Being thrown out the window of a 13 story building is usually the favorite Russian way to silence his opponents. He has many others of which the world is fully aware.

    In the tamer parts of the political world such as North America where murdering your political opponents is still just only wishful thinking and not actually allowed at the present time, the animal that the politicians usually like to emulate is the Chameleon.

    Those brightly colored reptiles often change color to warm up or cool down. (Turning darker helps warm the animals because the dark colors absorb more heat.) They also switch shades to communicate with other chameleons, using bright colors to attract potential mates or warn enemies.

    Now who does that description remind you of, figuratively speaking, in the political world?

    No one politician has a monopoly on being a Political Chameleon. Danielle Smith is the closest example in Alberta I can think of. Trudeau and Singh are cut from the same cloth but aren’t they all? Donald Trump has chameleon like qualities but his biggest political Achilles heel appears to be that he tends to suffer greatly from Foot in Mouth disease. His brain is not often engaged when he puts his mouth in gear.

    If you are ever able to find a politician who is pure as the driven snow, always honest and a straight shooter, and never changes their political color to suit their own self-serving interests then you may very well find yourself in Hell that has frozen over.

    The game of politics is often figuring out who is the lesser of all the evils that are out there.

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