Duncan Kinney runs the group “Progress Alberta” which is essentially a PAC with a mandate to attack all things conservative. He has run it very aggressively and it appears that he has finally crossed the line and gotten himself into some legal soup.
Kinney issued a letter of apology and retraction to Dr. Neil Webber and the Webber Academy on Christmas eve. It has the hallmarks of a legal obligation and it looks good on him.
All the same, we need not let this apology languish lost on twitter with such temporary and narrow reach.
That is why I am publishing it here so that folks can reference this apology in perpetuity.
Mr. Kinney would be well served to read it now and then before considering spreading mistruths about others online in the future.
Albertans have finally had enough and they are pushing back. We are no longer passively sitting back and taking it while politicians on all levels throughout the nation use our prime industry as a convenient whipping boy for political virtue signalling. Due to years of lobbying by foreign funded activists followed by utter inaction on the part of the federal government, Alberta has found itself under a virtual pipeline embargo. Our economy is crippled while Trudeau actually increased equalization payments to Quebec. Meanwhile the Premier of Quebec boldly states that he will not allow any new pipelines through Quebec & Trudeau sits back and lets Quebec have this veto.
We can’t change the constitution right now. We can’t force BC to stop hindering our energy projects much less Quebec. We can’t make Trudeau understand or care about the gravity of our situation. One thing we can do that we have not been doing before though is to speak up and speak up in numbers.
Rallies in support of Alberta’s energy industry have been held in different cities throughout the province for months now. Over a thousand people gathered outside of the hotel where Trudeau was speaking when he last visited. While it may not have changed his mind on anything, there is no doubt that he could see that we are here, we are active and we are coming out in defence of our province.
Yesterday in Grande Prairie over 1500 people came out on a Sunday afternoon to express support for the energy industry while hundreds of trucks led a convoy through the city. It was an impressive display of unity and concern in a Northern community usually prone to quietly going about their business.
In pushing back, Albertan’s have had a measurable impact even if the victories are small at times. The Mayor of Whistler BC signed a letter addressed to CNRL which could almost be considered outright extortion. He demanded that CNRL give his town money to pay for the perceived impacts of climate change. It was a ridiculous demand but it was one of hundreds of such initiatives spearheaded by environmental groups over the years who are trying to kill Alberta’s industries in a death by a thousand cuts.
Instead of quietly taking it like we usually do, Albertans struck back hard and fast. The rage on social and conventional media was palpable. Companies began pulling out of an energy conference that had been scheduled for Whistler and CIBC finally cancelled the conference altogether. Within days the mayor of Whistler was backtracking and apologizing. He had been stung and we can be sure that he and many other mayors will never consider taking part in such a stunt again.
Today a pro energy rally was organized by Cody Battershill with CanadaAction and held outside of Calgary’s city hall. It is estimated that well over 2000 people came out. Not bad for a Monday afternoon.
A rare demonstration of unity emerged from Calgary’s traditionally dysfunctional city council as they all expressed support for Alberta’s beleaguered energy sector. A number of councilors were scheduled to speak to the crowd along with Mayor Nenshi. Then things went poorly.
After a couple somewhat short, benign speeches were given by councilors, Peter Demong took the podium and gave a short and catastrophic address which infuriated the crowd.
While spirits had been high with such a great turnout, people are hurting and are sensitive. Clearly Demong didn’t have a clue as he began to lecture the crowd on gender equality and telling us to ensure to go out of our way to support Quebec’s dairy industry by buying their cheese. The exact quote is below as it is almost too obtuse to be believed.
Demong: “We need to be spreading the word about how this industry is a world leader in gender equality. We should be talking about how to support Quebec’s dairy industry by buying Canadian cheese. ”
The crowd of course went wild with shouts, jeers and booing. These people are in economic distress because of Canada’s ridiculous regulatory process which is being remodelled to include among other things, gender equity. These are people who just watched Quebec’s leadership callously dismiss Alberta’s needs while greedily accepting billions in equalization from us. Demong really thought that they wanted to buy Quebec’s damned cheese and accept the loaded gender terms that Trudeau mindlessly blathers at us?
Before being pulled from the microphone, Demong petulantly spat to the crowd: “Wow. Really? And you guys call yourselves Canadians? Wow,”
Yes you jerk!
Most of the people in that crowd call themselves Canadians. It is in calling themselves Canadians that they passively let hundreds of billions of tax dollars leave Alberta to be poured into Quebec for decades. It is in calling themselves Canadians that they are trying desperately to make the needed changes to our nation’s practices in order to preserve their economic well being within Alberta and to maintain national unity. Albertans are clearly the most patient and giving Canadians in the country and they certainly don’t deserve to have their status as Canadians questioned by a myopic twit like you Mr. Demong!
Nenshi quickly took the stage and only managed to make tensions even worse. He spoke shortly before beginning to speak in French. As the crowd erupted into boos again, Nenshi condescendingly chided the crowd on both the rationale for speaking French and on climate change concerns. He made few friends today.
Such a great rally was organized only to be ruined by the truly tone deaf ruminations of the Mayor and one of his councilors. How could they have possibly thought that their speeches would be well received by this crowd? It was made abundantly clear that they had no understanding of the gathered people or of their concerns. They showed no interest in learning as they hustled back into city hall at the first possible opportunity.
The Mayor and his councilors could quite easily have gone and mingled with the group as it gathered before the event. They could have chatted with people and gained some clearly much needed insight into the minds of these gathered Albertans. Alas, in their arrogance they assumed they knew it all before taking the podium and demonstrating in spades that they didn’t know much at all.
The rallies will continue. The events and pushing back against eco-groups and the politicos that support them will continue. I suspect however that we will not be seeing more invitations expended to the ivory tower elites of Calgary city hall in the future as their cloistered and comfortable world within the world of municipal government has made them incapable of understanding what is making thousands of Albertans come out to these rallies much less speaking to them.
Albertans will take the reins and take us where we need to go with true populism. After the display we saw today from Calgary’s municipal leadership, we should be thankful that this movement remains grassroots in nature. Reaching out to existing political leadership hasn’t proven fruitful.
Ever since Pierre Trudeau raped the West with his NEP we have seen Alberta separatism ebb and flow as one federal incursion or another earns the ire of Albertans. Canada’s constitution and geographic layout pretty much ensure regional alienation as federal parties and their leaders work the system to ensure that they maintain that ever critical political support in Central Canada. With Alberta’s relatively low population and large amount of resources, we have always had a large target painted on our back.
While Albertans become enraged periodically to the point where separatism begins to rise in the polls, we inevitably will calm down and settle grudgingly back into our role as confederation’s milk cow as soon as a possible escape hatch is presented.
In the 1980s separatism was becoming relatively mainstream as Alberta elected a separatist MLA in Olds in a by-election. Doug Christie led the Western Canada Concept into some popular Western support and they were gaining steam.
The showdown between Lougheed and Trudeau led to hope however and popular support for separatism dropped as fast as it had risen. Alberta’s lone elected separatist, Gordon Kesler crossed the floor to the party in power and quickly faded into political history.
In 1986, Brian Mulroney reawakened separatism in the West as he awarded a lucrative CF-18 maintenance contract to Canadair in Quebec rather than to Bristol Aerospace in Winnipeg despite the western bid clearly being the better deal. It was gross and typical political pandering to Quebec and it infuriated the West again.
Just as Western separatism was gaining steam again, Preston Manning appeared on the scene with the Reform Party in 1987. The battle cry was “the West wants in!” and Western separatism faded yet again as people put their hopes into a EEE Senate and having a strong regional voice in Parliament.
After more than a decade of effort, the Reform Party had pretty much gotten nowhere. The initial principles fell by the wayside as Manning moved into Stornoway and MPs en masse chose to take part in the gold plated pension plan that they previously had shunned. The concept of a EEE Senate was proven to be a pipe dream and the party morphed into the Canadian Alliance in order to contest Eastern seats. Our regional voice was lost.
In the late 1990s oil prices dropped below $10 per barrel. Thanks to high natural gas prices, the effect was not as catastrophic as the 2008 crash or today’s pressures. It did hurt Alberta though and as an oilfield worker at the time I remember quite well seeing our contracts literally being shut down mid progress. Many of us were tossed into unemployment and the response from our federal government was typical. We were told to suck it up and they continued to milk us through over taxation while pouring the money into Quebec through equalization and other transfers along with huge subsidies to companies such as Bombardier.
While oil did recover by 2000, the political situation did not. Jean Chretien had been in power for quite some time and he did little to hide his disdain for Albertans, even outright stating that he didn’t like dealing with them. In the fall of 2000, a very divisive federal election was held. Alberta was demonized while Quebec was catered to and as usual it worked. Chretien won another majority and Alberta was left yet again without representation while footing the bill.
We were furious and felt helpless. Separatism began to rise yet again.
At this time a dashing young separatist entered the scene with the Alberta Independence Party.
We were something different. Most of our board was 30 or under. I turned 30 while leading the party into the 2001 provincial election. We weren’t mired on social issues. We didn’t care about same sex marriage or religious matters. We simply wanted out. We were political types who had concluded that it was time for Alberta to pull the plug on confederation and that we needed a provincial political party in order to do so.
We exploded onto the scene as we held a packed founding convention in Red Deer which was attended by a couple MPs and a senator in waiting. We made national headlines as pundits alternated between calling us selfish assholes or a visionary young group. We sold thousands of memberships which was quite a task when one considers that we had no formal party organization and only perhaps 20% of our members had email addresses at that time.
We knew what we wanted but we really didn’t know what the hell we were doing.
Ralph Klein called the provincial election weeks after our founding convention. While we had gathered a great deal of attention and momentum, we hadn’t organized well enough to get the required petition signatures in order to register as a political party. We entered the election race with 14 independent candidates and while we made a relatively good showing as far as independent candidates go, we didn’t even come close to contention in any seats.
Our party then fell apart within a year due to infighting and yes, my inexperienced leadership. I just couldn’t hold it together.
The other thing that killed our support was the “Alberta Agenda” which was a plan released just as our party was formed. This was a plan for incremental provincial autonomy which was hatched by Stephen Harper, Tom Flanagan, Ted Morton, Rainer Knopff, Andrew Crooks and Ken Boessenkool. The plan called for Alberta forming its own pension plan, police force, collecting our own taxes and pursuing more health care autonomy while pushing harder for senate reform. This was packaged into a letter which was sent to Ralph Klein. The letter was later coined as the “firewall letter”.
Separatism was quelled yet again. I remember the frustration of calling supporters only to hear: “We don’t need the Alberta Independence Party now. We can make change from within with the Alberta Agenda”.
It should be noted that while the primary author of the Alberta Agenda became our Prime Minister for years and while 17 years have passed, not a single goal of the Alberta Agenda has been achieved.
Unless the goal was indeed to kill separatism and in that it succeeded in spades.
What I learned then and have learned since is that Albertans are reluctant separatists. They are furious with our abuse within confederation. They see the futility of change from within. They will speak out in favor of secession and will begin to poll favorably in support of it for a time. When given any possible lifeline however whether through the Reform Party or the Alberta Agenda, Albertans will quickly cling to it. Most folks really don’t want to go.
I saw this when the Alberta Independence Party held its founding convention. A motion passed to embrace the phrase “separation if necessary, but not necessarily separation”.
We neutered ourselves right out of the gate. This was akin to trying to bluff in poker while showing your opponent your cards.
I don’t think for a second (nowadays anyway) that we would have succeeded had we stuck to a pure separatist platform. At least though we would have shown we were serious. It means nothing if you don’t really mean it. Myself and our board were ready to go. We were sorely disappointed with the watering down of our goals. It was clear though that while hundreds were willing to pack a hotel in Red Deer on a cold January day to form a separatist party, most of them didn’t really want to separate.
I think Alberta is in the same place today. Oh I have no doubt that there are many committed separatists who truly want out of confederation. I believe that this number of true separatist is growing too. Every time Alberta tries and fails to make change from within, we create more lifelong separatists. I just don’t think we are at the tipping point yet.
Albertans still want a lifeline. They still want to explore every avenue before taking the path to full independence.
Right now that path lies in holding a referendum on equalization as Kenney has promised. Along with that, we need to pursue and implement the Alberta Agenda. I expect that the federal government will fight and stop most of these efforts. In doing so though, they will create those true separatists who can tip the scale.
For those who are committed to secession, I suggest that they form an advocacy group for that cause. Do the research. Put out the numbers. Lay out the path. In such a group you can maintain focus on the end goal. You can reject all efforts to water it down. Pursue Alberta’s independence and mean it. Nothing less will be taken seriously.
For a party to embrace secessionism would be political suicide and wouldn’t represent nearly enough Albertans. Don’t ask them to.
Forming a separatist party will come with all the complications and dilution of the message that the Western Canada Concept and the Alberta Independence Party tried to deal with. We don’t have the cultural & linguistic unifiers that Quebec does which lets them keep parties together while purporting to support secession.
Alberta and perhaps other provinces may indeed eventually secede. They will only do so after every other avenue of change has been explored. Lets start checking those avenues off our list now.
As for those who want nothing less than secession, get a group going, make that the mandate and stick to it
Kenney made the promise to do this over a month ago. It really didn’t gain the traction that I would have expected at that time. It was of course pooh poohed by the usual pundits as they loftily explained that this isn’t how equalization works yadda yadda yadda.
Our equalization system is indeed complex and it is indeed constitutionally entrenched. Equalization is often mischaracterized as being some sort of system where Alberta literally cuts a cheque directly to the federal government as well which is not the case. Equalization does however give the federal government a mechanism with which they can keep shorting Alberta on return transfer payments from revenues taken from the province and use those dollars to buy Quebec’s love. It is a system of interprovincial economic welfare and it has long stunted the natural development of our nation.
Despite Alberta languishing in a protracted economic downturn due to the federal government essentially allowing us to have our main industry embargoed by pipeline cancelations and despite Quebec doing rather well economically lately, the federal government still milks Alberta’s economy by billions per year and gives it to Quebec where their premier is still shitting on the prospect of Alberta getting a pipeline to the East.
It is a gross system of economic theft for political gain and it has to end at some point.
Listen below to Jason Kenney at the 15 minute mark on this. He is pretty clear on this and I am thrilled to see this kind of political clarity from a leader for a change.
Kenney understands that an Alberta yes vote to end equalization may still not lead to an end to equalization. Holding such a referendum sure would shine a bright light on the regional disparity and unfairness that our confederation has to offer Alberta right now though.
While a lot can change in a short time in politics, the good money right now is on Kenney becoming Alberta’s next Premier while Trudeau unfortunately is later re elected as Canada’s Prime Minister.
Even if Andrew Scheer miraculously finds the leadership ability to win a federal majority within the next 9 months, he has made it clear with his repugnant capitulation to the dairy cartels that his lips will remain firmly locked on the collective asses of Quebecers,
Whether Alberta is looking at Prime Minister Scheer or Trudeau, it is pretty clear that we are on our own.
As Kenney mentioned in the interview, there is some precedent that can be applied through the Supreme Court reference on Quebec secession and with the Clarity act.
Our constitution is not written in stone. Referendums can be a valid tool in working towards constitutional change and we dearly need it.
Alberta as a province has few tools enabling it to take on the federal government. Referendum however is a powerful one and we should apply this as soon as possible.
Lets put equalization on the table and start a true national discussion on its merits.
If a Alberta votes strongly to end equalization and that vote is completely rejected by the federal government, then perhaps it will be time to hold a second referendum on exactly what the Clarity Act has addressed.
Confederation is broken right now and nothing less than a national shakeup can possibly fix this.
Kenney’s promise of a referendum may be exactly what our province and nation needs. I am looking forward to the campaign already.