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'Blockbuster' job creation in Alberta leaves UCP in search of new talking points about 'job killing' carbon levy

The Calgary skyline in 2016 (Photo: Kevin Cappis, Wikimedia Commons).

Now, about that "job killing carbon tax"

According to the Statistics Canada monthly labour report released on Friday, Alberta's provincial economy is surging, with 26,000 new jobs added last month, a high percentage of them long-term, high-quality, permanent jobs to boot.

That's roughly a third of the entire total of new jobs created in all of Canada in December -- "blockbuster" results nationwide, according to The Globe and Mail, which the paper said economics commentators were calling "spectacular," "impressive," and "unbelievable."

Presumably all this makes the blockbuster results for Alberta alone even more spectacular, impressive and unbelievable.

BMO Capital Markets noted in its monthly labour market report that the fourth-quarter job gains were the largest ever in Alberta history. "That has lifted employment back above pre-oil-shock levels," said those wacky socialists at the Bank of Montreal's investment division.

BMO Capital Markets also noted that the impact of the improving economy hereabouts has seen Calgary surge back into its Top Ten city performance ranking, with the big drop in joblessness helping. "For the record, the city was ranked right at rock bottom at the start of 2017."

For heaven's sake, even the Calgary Chamber of Commerce sounded chirpily upbeat about this, with spokesperson Scott Crockatt telling a local newspaper that 40 per cent of the organization's members expect to hire even more people in the next year.

Obviously, it must be the management of the economy by Premier Rachel Notley's NDP government, hey?

That, of course, is pretty much what the government is saying. On Friday, Finance Minister Joe Ceci told the Calgary Herald that the turnaround shows the NDP was on the right track when the government emphasized economic diversification and refused to cut public services in defiance of the Conservative Opposition's knee-jerk demands for fiscal austerity, which really does kill jobs.

Well, don't expect the United Conservative Party and its semi-professional social media army of meme-makers, bots, trolls, and op-ed fabricators to admit anything like that just yet. But while they're praying to the Almighty God of the Market for a timely 11th hour downturn in the economy, they might want to think about recalibrating their talking points.

On Friday, the social media accounts run by the UCP and its finance-law dodging PACs were screeching about an effort to promote an environmental group in Environment Minister Shannon Phillips' Lethbridge riding -- spinning it as an attack on Alberta cattle farmers.

That was pretty weak, but then, so was the tweet that got it all started, which Phillips swiftly repudiated. Regardless, the vegan whoop-de-doo diverted the attention of the media from the promising economic results for a few hours, so I suppose it must be called a limited success from the UCP perspective.

Yesterday, UCP internet trolls who hate Justin Trudeau's federal Liberal government as much as they hate Notley's Alberta provincial government were desperately trying to give U.S. President Donald Trump the credit for the good economic news in Canada and Alberta.

This will probably prompt more chortles than agreement, but it's nice for Trump, I suppose, to know that there's still at least one place they love him outside Alabama. … Oh. Wait. They don't even like him as much as they used to in Alabama any more, do they? Whatever. Maybe he can open a golf resort in Cardston!

The upbeat employment numbers from Statscan that had the commentariat so enthusiastic were a definite fly in the ointment for Kenney, the UCP, their media echo chamber and the narrative they've all been busily spinning.

Because whatever the NDP's carbon levy is doing, obviously, it's not killing jobs right now. You could almost make the argument it's doing the opposite. You can try to spin the numbers any way Jason Kenney wants you to, of course, but the apocalyptic sense of the NDP-sponsored End Times the UCP leader has been encouraging us to feel as we await 2019's anticipated provincial election will soon evanesce if positive numbers like these keep piling up.

In politics, you've got to be able to turn on a dime, which UCP spokesthingies fresh from Ontario and B.C. can presumably do with ease. But you can't expect the editors of rural newspapers, or even websites, to be so quick -- so we're bound to see a few more versions of the job-killing carbon tax story like the one published by the Eckville Echo Friday just as the UCP's propaganda boffins were trying to create a distraction from Statscan's disappointingly upbeat figures.

Mind you, Kenney isn't one to let the facts stand in the way of a good story -- like his fanciful claims Alberta's population is declining, which it ain't.

Perhaps next year's planned step up to a $15 minimum wage will do the trick. Whatever it is, you can count on the nattering nabobs of neoliberal negativity at the UCP to come up with a new reason that is clearly the NDP's fault to explain why the sky is not only falling, but will continue to fall, or, failing that, at least will fall soon.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca

Photo: Kevin Cappis/Wikimedia Commons

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