Jason Kenney is Unfit to Govern Alberta

Here’s a list of reasons why Jason Kenney is unfit to govern Alberta. First, he’s unfit because he cheated and lied to his own party members. If he cheated and lied to them, how can other Albertans trust him if he’s elected Premier?

Jason Kenney is unfit to govern because his values are out-of-step with modern Alberta; and because he gives safe habour and encouragement to racists, bigots, homophobes and even white supremacists. This is dangerous for society. And it is NOT who we are.

Kenney is unfit to govern because his “big ideas” on the economy have been tried by conservatives around the world; and they’ve made things worse, not better. For example, tax cuts for corporations have ALWAYS delivered pain for ordinary citizens, not increased investment or jobs.

Kenney is unfit to govern because deregulation (“red tape reduction”) has ALWAYS hurt citizens. What Kenney calls “red tape” are really protections for consumers, workers and the environment. Cutting them would be dangerous. Can you say ‘Walkerton’ and ‘Global Financial Crisis’?

Kenney is unfit to govern because his big cut to taxes on corporate profits would decimate health care and education and lead to as many as 85,000 job losses. This will suppress the economy, not ‘re-ignite’ it.

Here’s the choice: we can spend the next few DAYS stopping Kenney from becoming Premier, or we can spend the next four YEARS fighting as he re-opens divisive social debates and lays waste to our public services (as his BFF Doug Ford is doing in Ontario).

Kenney is ALSO unfit to govern because he has the WRONG diagnosis of what’s ailing our oil and gas sector and, as a result, he’s offering the WRONG prescriptions.

ALL major oil sands companies (who, collectively, produce 85 percent of our oil) support Notley’s energy policies – not because they’re socialists or tree-huggers, but because they understand these policies will help them compete in an increasing carbon-constrained world.

Other experts agree that the key to the future success of the oil sands lies not in “war rooms” but in reducing emissions to ensure our oil will remain attractive to new markets with increasingly stringent emissions rules.

Kenney doesn’t get it. The real reason we’re hurting is because the global oil & gas economy is in the midst of a sweeping transformation, starting with the US fracking boom. This is not mentioned once in the UCP platform.

The US fracking boom has upset the global supply-demand balance for oil, driven down prices, suppressed investment worldwide, and turned our biggest customer into our biggest competitor.

Kenney hasn't mentioned the US fracking boom even ONCE in this campaign. How can we take him seriously on the economy when he either doesn’t understand or acknowledge such a fundamental issue?

The US fracking boom led to an unprecedented price collapse, exacerbated by Saudi efforts to drive US competitors out of business. Prices recovered slightly in 2017 and 2018, but they have fallen again. This is not an excuse; it’s reality.

Kenney has been lying to Albertans when he suggests the collapse in oil investment is unique to Alberta. The truth is that investment in the oil and gas sector has ALWAYS marched in lock-step with the price of oil. Kenney is betraying his dishonesty or his ignorance when his ignores this fact.

Kenney says “it’s all Rachel’s fault.” But the truth is the global price collapse caused by the US fracking bubble led to a collapse in oil and gas investment all around the world. It was NOT just Alberta.

What about Kenney’s argument that investment is fleeing from Alberta to the US? Again, this is misinformation. Low oil prices (ironically caused by the US fracking boom) have led to lower investment in US oil and gas, too.

The second big change that is transforming the global oil and gas sector is automation. In response to low prices, companies have figured out how to produce more with fewer people. So, whether it’s Alberta or Texas, there are going to be fewer jobs even as production climbs.

How many Albertans knew Texas lost far more oil & gas jobs than we did, even as they cranked up production? That’s automation at work! And it’s another thing Kenney has conveniently neglected to mention.

Of course, another big issue, unique to Alberta, has to do with pipelines. Almost all of our pipelines go to the US (now an over-supplied market). And those pipelines are essentially full to capacity. This is a very serious issue. But it’s not the ONLY issue.

The lack of pipeline capacity is the reason why the Notley government strategy of curtailment (in the short term); rail cars (in the medium term); and pipelines to coast (in the longer term) makes sense. Kenney’s opposition to Notley’s rail car strategy is a head scratcher.

Alberta needs pipelines. But there’s a strong case to be made that Kenney’s belligerent approach is LESS likely to get them built than Notley’s more statesmanlike approach.

And how many people knew the federal government’s approval of the TMX pipeline was based explicitly on Notley’s Climate Leadership Plan? Kenney has promised to tear up that plan, which would put the pipeline in jeopardy.

The final dimension of the challenge facing Alberta’s oil & gas sector has to with the fact that the world has started the move away from fossil fuels. If the Paris Accords are implemented, demand will drop by 30 percent by 2040 and prices will collapse.

If a CEO only made business plans based only on the base-case scenario, he’d probably be fired. But that’s what Kenney is doing. He’s basing ALL of his promises on the (increasingly unlikely) scenario that the world will continue to underperform on climate change.

The truth is that, as author and energy journalist Markham Hislop concludes in his new book, “The New Alberta Advantage”, the Notley government’s energy policies are actually exactly what the oil sands need, right now.

So, what does the Alberta economy – especially the oil and gas sector – really need? Exactly what they’ve been getting from the Notley government: help getting access to new markets; help reducing emissions in order give potential customers what they want; and diversification, both within and beyond the oil & gas sector.

How many times did Jason Kenney mention diversification in his platform? Zero. How many times did he mention carbon competitiveness? Zero. How much does he understand the problems actually facing Alberta’s oil & gas sector or the solution favoured by oil sands producers themselves? Apparently zero.

A politician who doesn’t understand that the global oil & gas industry is being transformed…and who has no plans for diversification … is not fit to be Alberta Premier at this crucial moment in history.

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