Alberta politics started October 31, 2018

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Kenney’s cuts

On Thursday, October 24, the Alberta government released the provincial budget, which was nothing short of a brutal frontal assault on province’s public services, workers and the poor. The government outlined it would cut program spending by 2.8% over the next four years. This 2.8%, the largest cut to provincial program spending in 25 years, will reduce 7.7% of the public sector in the next four years, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs.

Alberta’s Austerity 

The UCP budget will also give a 4.5 billion dollar tax cut to the rich and implement the ‘Alberta Job Creation Tax Cut’, which cuts the tax rate for large corporations from twelve to eight percent by 2022. Albertans will pay for these tax cuts in the form of layoffs, austerity and cuts to municipalities, social assistance and other services.

The budget follows the release of last months ‘MacKinnon Panel Report’, an 84-page document with 26 recommendations of how to “balance the budget” by 2023. The report was written by a six-person board made up of former deputy ministers, people from the academic sector, the CEO of ATB financial, and led by former Saskatchewan NDP finance minister Janice MacKinnon. It recommended cutting the operating budget of the province by $600 million a year off the backs of workers through cuts to Alberta’s public services.

The most concerning aspects of the MacKinnon report targeted education, healthcare and social services for cuts and privatization. The budget followed the recommendations of the report specifically related to post-secondary education, which cuts 5.1% across 26 institutions, with plans to link funding to “performance”, ends the five year tuition freeze, increases the cost of student loans, and allows institutions to increase tuition yearly by 7%, which could result in a 21% raise in tuition fees over the next three years. Private Christian post-secondary schools however, will be exempt from the cuts....  

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Tar Sands Trial boosted: Beaver Lake Cree awarded advance costs

This week, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench granted advance costs to Beaver Lake Cree Nation to allow it to proceed with its “Tar Sands Trial” treaty case against Canada and Alberta.

It’s a huge breakthrough for a case that’s been called ‘a gamechanger’ for Indigenous rights in Canada. Now, after years of fundraising and pulling funds from critical community development initiatives to fund the case, Beaver Lake Cree will have the majority of the resources they need to mount a vigorous, well-researched case.

Why? Because the Court ruled that a case that aims to determine just what treaties are worth in the face of rapid industrialization is of “national importance”.

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With this advance cost award, Beaver Lake Cree Nation will have the financial resources  to pursue a case which could transform “business as usual” in the oil sands, slowing expansion and forcing every project to be evaluated according to impacts on treaty rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Tar Sands Trial would force regulators to consider cumulative effects of industrial development, including fracking and in-situ oil sands extraction. At its core, the case is about upholding the treaties – which enshrine powerful Indigenous rights – ahead of approving projects, such as tar sands extraction, that could render those rights meaningless.

Today, we are one giant leap closer to setting a legal precedent that will uphold the treaties that this country is founded upon.....

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Corporation that received $55 million tax handout from Kenney relocates to the U.S.

Earlier last week, Canadian fossil fuel giant Encana decided to move its corporate headquarters to the United States. Premier Jason Kenney was quick to lay blame on the federal government. Encana’s CEO dismissed the notion that the move was a political decision.

Interestingly, what has been overlooked is the fact that Encana decided to make the transition despite incentives offered by Kenney’s own government.

Earlier this year, Alberta’s United Conservative government rolled out a tax cut for large corporations. The “Job Creation Tax Cut” was meant to appease companies that increasingly see Albertan oil and gas as a bad investment.

According to Encana’s internal documents, the decrease to the corporate tax resulted in them pocketing a cool $55 million.  Their departure from Alberta illustrates why government policy alone does not dictate corporate decision-making. Indeed, Encana’s CEO himself revealed that the move was made in order to tap into greener pastures in the United States.

Kenney had presented himself as the candidate that would return Alberta to an era of prosperity. His corporate tax cut, he promised, would lure investment and retain disgruntled corporations. So far this has not panned out.

quizzical
Pondering

He is playing. It is meaningless political theatre. He wanted to get a rise out of Kenny and he did. Interestingly it will play out well in their respective provinces for them.

There will be no new pipeline through Quebec. 

quizzical

Kenney is whacked and over played his hand. 

Albertans aren't paying attention to what he said about this.  they are too busy being pissed about the new social conservative back bench bill. michelle rempel has even weighed in on it.

oh don cherry.

voice of the damned

quizzical wrote:

 michelle rempel has even weighed in on it.

mentioned here...

https://tinyurl.com/rjtewn6

 

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Did you know there's a $1.6-billion federal bailout package for Alberta's oil industry?

Canada's $1.6-billion bailout package for Alberta's battered oil industry is well underway but with little transparency about who is getting the money and for what.

Almost $1 billion of the package of loans, guarantees and government grants announced last December is in the hands of companies but details are available for just a small fraction of the spending.

Two Alberta petrochemical projects each received $49 million for new facilities to turn propane into a type of plastic, while about $37 million flowed to various oil and gas companies to develop or buy technology to reduce their environmental impact.

The funds are flowing as pressure is mounting on Canadian banks and investment firms to reconsider their backing of fossil-fuel projects as major national banks in Europe have begun to flee the sector, citing climate change risks and a transitioning global economy.

Export Development Canada, which set aside $1 billion in the national bailout for loans and loan guarantees, said earlier this year it was getting out of the coal business but would continue to aid oil and gas companies.....

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Jason Kenney’s UCP Under Fire For Accusing High School Teachers of Being Disloyal to Oil Industry

Alberta’s Minister of Education is receiving low marks for her performance after she offered an anonymous, unverified high school test as proof teachers are engaging in subversive activities.

The antics began when UCP MLA Richard Gotfried told the Alberta Legislature that an unnamed parent sent him a copy of a grade 10 test from an unnamed high school containing “deeply concerning anti-oil and gas rhetoric.”

Gotfried claimed the anonymous test contained unspecified “attacks on capitalism,” including questions that suggest the development of Alberta’s resources could lead to the “destruction” of “forests.” He also said the test promotes the idea of placing unnamed “restrictions” on oil companies.

Reading from a script, LaGrange called the anonymous test “troubling” and asserted that “educators have a duty to tell the truth about our responsible energy industry.”

“This type of ideology has no place in our schools,” the education minister added.

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The Alberta Teachers Association, which represents the province’s 40,000 teachers, issued its own statement questioning why LaGrange would not release a full and complete copy of the anonymous test.

The ATA also expressed concern that Kenney’s education minister was trying to “undermine faith in the public education system.”

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Seniors, family members struggle as UCP kicks tens of thousands off prescription drug program

Albertans are demanding the UCP Government reverse their cruel decision to kick tens of thousands of people off the Seniors Drug Benefit Program in order to pay for a $4.7-billion corporate giveaway.

The cruel Jason Kenney budget passed through the Legislature this fall will cause 46,000 Albertans to lose their drug coverage - Alberta Health officials confirmed this during estimates debate a few weeks ago..... 

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Crazy Days in Alberta: The Poison Wells File

The province let oil and gas firms create a $100-billion disaster. They expect you to foot the bill.

Gary Mar, when an Alberta politician, helped shield the oil and gas industry from having to deal with old, leaking wells. Now as an industry lobbyist, he says all Canadians should pay for the mess.

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Inside another kind of ‘war room’ — meet the Alberta climate activists who say they’re not scared of Jason Kenney

When Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced his government would be creating a “war room” during the spring election campaign, a local activist group, Climate Justice Edmonton, saw an opportunity. 

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The day after the election, on April 17, Climate Justice Edmonton launched its counter-attack — an online fundraising campaign for “A ‘War Room’ to Beat Kenney’s War Room.” 

The group’s initial goal was “30 hundred dollars” to combat Kenney’s $30-million investment in the war room. They laid out their plans: town hall meetings to work on a green new deal in Alberta, support for art and high school climate strikes and a “rapid-response fund to protect our allies and frontline communities as they come under attack from Jason Kenney’s politics of austerity and hate.”

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The group would go on to far exceed their “30 hundred” goal, raising nearly $20,000 for a “war room” of their own — and they’ve been busy ever since.

nicky

There was a poll out yesterday putting Notley’s NDP at 46%, 4 points ahead of the UCP

Ken Burch

That's a higher vote share than the party received in 2015.

Aristotleded24

Wow! I expected that the NDP was well-positioned to land blows against Kenney's UCP, but I didn't think they would take a lead in the polls this quickly. Kenney himself still remains quite popular, but it looks like people don't like what the government is doing and expressing it as such.

Anyways, for now, good job NDP, but there is still a long way to go. The NDP in Saskatchewan led in a couple of polls this term, only to drop back to their historic lows. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Be smart. Talk to people outside your political bubble. Make a compelling case for your principles, and when something is worth fighting for, go all the way, don't back down.

This also has implications for federal politics too. Over the long term, we need to tear down the firewall that Ralph Klein put up. Instead of thinking that it's Alberta and your wins might be confined to a few seats in Edmonton, it's important to look at each riding and clumps of ridings, the demographic make-up, local communities etc, and work with people there to create a platform that speaks to their needs. Could you imagine the shockwaves that would move through federal politics if even half of the seats in Alberta were suddenly in play and the Conservatives could not necessarily take them for granted? On the provincial scene, I was certain the Liberals could keep their Edmoton seats, and also their 2 Calgary seats had the MPs not been discredited, simply because those seats have similar demographic make-up of other left-leaning anti-conservative urban areas in the rest of the country.

voice of the damned

Ken Burch wrote:

That's a higher vote share than the party received in 2015.

Doesn't surprise me. The impression I've got is that swing-voters in Alberta like Notley personally, and are largely okay with the NDP generally, but found one or two aspects of their economic policy unacceptable(and no, I'm not saying that those objections were correct, just that they're a pretty big part of the reality). So I can imagine some of them quite willing to entertain the possibility of returning them to power, if disenchantment with the UCP gets going in a big way.

That said, it's easy for someone with reservations about the NDP to say "Sure, I'd vote NDP, to get rid of that clown Kenney", when that voter won't actually be having to make the decision for another four years or so.

Aristotleded24

The Angus Reid Premier popularity rankings for March are out, and they show a very dramatic shift. After less than one year in office, approval for Kenney has fallen to 47%. This is a party that represents a united conservative movement, has the advantage of incumbency, is facing an opposition party uncertain about its leadership future, and can easily scapegoat the federal Liberals for Alberta's underperforming economy and his base eats it up. It looks like the corruption investigations and the cuts to public services are taking their toll. But after less than one year? That's very quick for the UCP government to burn its political capital the way it has.

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An Open Letter to Justin Trudeau from a Real Oil and Gas Worker

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

Earlier this week, Jason Kenney tweeted out an article with the caption, “A must-read open letter for Canadians from oil and gas workers.” As an oil and gas worker myself, I opened it to find that it was actually a letter signed by 14 CEOs and Presidents demanding a multibillion dollar bailout from the federal government. It came just days after Kenney laid off 26,000 education workers in the province only to announce a $7.5 billion dollar handout to the Keystone XL pipeline.

While working families are being asked to sacrifice their public services and dig into their savings to make ends meet, some of the oil and gas industry’s wealthiest CEOs — many of whom make more money in one year than any worker can make in a lifetime — are demanding that the federal government give them a multibillion dollar bailout by purchasing their accounts receivable. As an actual oil and gas worker, I can think of no worse investment than to hand over billions of dollars to an industry with a very bleak future.

For the past 11 years, I’ve been a machinist in Edmonton, working in the oil and gas sector. I began my apprenticeship immediately after high school graduation in 2008, during the thick of the global financial crisis. There was a lot of uncertainty then about what kind of future my classmates and I were entering into. As bailout packages began to roll out across the country and around the world, I remember feeling no sense of relief as I watched governments hand billions to the banks responsible for the crash, while leaving hard working families to clean up their mess. From Bay Street to the Canadian auto industry, the 2008 bailouts left Canadians footing the bill for CEO bonuses and stock buybacks, while working people struggled to rebuild their retirement funds and recover from a gutted job market. And despite the billions doled out, manufacturing plants across Ontario are still shutting down ten years later.....

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Alberta Government Turns Hard to the Right

The Alberta United Conservative Party (UCP) Premier and his Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange have announced they are redirecting $128-million of K-12 education funding to the province’s COVID-19 response, following their decision to close schools on March 15th. Ms. LaGrange said “COVID-19 has changed both how we provide student learning, and the operational needs of the education system.”

The result will be the layoff of 25,000 education workers across the province, 16,000 of them educational assistants. The Minister’s press secretary said “[a]ny staff who are affected by this temporary funding adjustment are encouraged to apply for the federal government’s enhanced employment insurance program, as well as other support programs for Canadian workers.” Most of these workers, including office employees, were engaged in preparing online education resources for students. Principals and office workers were reaching out to families to assess the level of technology that families have available. In particular, the educational assistants were working hard preparing learning packages for students with special needs, many of which were going to be delivered to homes of students without access to technology.

Cuts to Education

“This is pure cruelty,” Sarah Hoffman, NDP Opposition Critic for Education said in a statement. “Jason Kenney is doing harm to students with complex needs, their families, and to tens of thousands of Alberta workers.” The NDP said this announcement comes just days after the UCP’s austerity budget would be cutting funds to post-secondary schools and municipalities in the province, resulting in thousands of layoffs: “Instead of standing by these hardworking Albertans, as he has asked private employers to do, Jason Kenney is pushing thousands of people onto a massively overwhelmed federal program.” They will also lose their benefits and salaries if they are laid off.

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Support for the Oil Industry

The Alberta Premier then turned around and committed $7.5-billion in government funding to the oil industry, investing $1.5-billion directly and guaranteeing a $6-billion loan to get the Keystone pipeline built. Its purpose is to ship highly toxic tar sands oil to Texas. This comes at a time when oil is not doing well; the price is crashing to less than $5 a barrel – less than the cost of a pint of beer – and oil insiders predict “energy market Armageddon.” Here’s what Andrew Grant, of the influential UK think-tank Carbon Tracker, said about propping up the oil industry: “It’s not a bet I would want to make.”

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Cuts to Healthcare

A third disastrous measure has been to cut doctor’s salaries by 30%, forcing them to lay off staff in 400 clinics, cut the number of services they deliver and pull back on the subsidies formerly paid for malpractice insurance. Some have been forced to close their practices. The UCP government also wants to pay doctors 20% less for the services they deliver in hospitals. A number of doctors have decided to seek employment in other provinces, and are already receiving offers. This has delivered a real blow to the quality of public healthcare, with a number of vital services, such as obstetrical care, unavailable to many.

Jason Kenney stands alone among Canadian premiers as one who cuts jobs and services in the midst of this pandemic.

Arbitrary Powers for Cabinet Ministers

To top it all off, his United Conservative Party (UCP) just rushed a – very likely – unconstitutional new bill through the Legislature on April 2nd. Bill 10, the Public Health (Emergency Powers) Amendment Act enables any current Alberta government minister to create and implement laws without consultation. It was introduced on March 31 and pushed through the Alberta Legislative Assembly less than 48 hours later. It stays in place as long as a public health emergency is declared.

jerrym

COVID-19 is cutting a deadly swath through Alberta long term cares, just as it has in other provinces. 

 The real scandal is that “Everyone knew this could happen,” said Doris Grinspun, president and CEO of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario.  “It’s like somebody sat in a room and said, ‘This is a population we can live without.’ ”

In the Calgary nursing home, Nina Vaughan watches her father survive. ...

Lorne Vaughan has COVID-19. He lives in McKenzie Towne, where 21 fellow residents, including his sister-in-law, Doreen Gauvreau, have died of COVID-related conditions. Another 60 people, the same number that jam inside a TTC bus during rush hour, have tested positive for the virus.

Given the number of deaths at Toronto’s Eatonville Care Centre, reporting 27 as of Tuesday, Bobcaygeon’s Pinecrest with 29, or the 31 at Quebec’s Résidence Herron, odds are that a lot more will die in Vaughan’s home, too. ...

York University professor Pat Armstrong wants long-term care to move from provincial control to the Canada Health Act, the federal legislation for public health care. With national care priorities defined in legislation, Armstrong said federal money for nursing homes could require proof of improvement in a system that has long been underfunded and staffed by part-time workers.

“I think (governments) have got to realize that long-term care needs to be an integral part of the health-care system,” said Armstrong, known for her research into long-term care.

“They need to be doing the same thing (in nursing homes) as they are doing in hospitals. That means we need a new piece of national legislation, a national long-term-care act,” Armstrong said.

https://www.toronto.com/news-story/9952198--everyone-knew-this-could-hap...

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Alberta insults taxpayers, shreds polluter pays and shorts workers 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney plans to feed federal dollars to zombie oil and gas companies, as well as to the oil giants still capable of funding their own cleanup.

Recent guidelines confirm how the province plans to spend $1 billion in COVID-related federal aid for inactive wells announced April 17. Unveiled just a week later, Alberta’s Site Rehabilitation Program is an insult to taxpayers and the legal mandate that polluters pay.

What’s worse, thumbing our noses at the polluter pays principle also diminishes the benefits of cleanup spending. It means far fewer desperately needed jobs will be created and far less overdue oilfield cleanup will actually get done.

If we invested that same billion in short-term loans for cleanup, instead of no-strings-attached grants, we could leverage 10 times our investment in industry spending.

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Officials looking for law-abiding alternatives should consult the nascent Polluter Pay Federation’s Redwater Approach.

COVID-19 and the supply glut have acted as triggers, but the underlying cause of many looming bankruptcies is the increasingly unprofitable maturity of our oil and gas fields. And with maturity comes retirement.

Outside the wildly profitable and mostly foreign-owned oilsands, Alberta’s crude oil and natural gas industries have not turned a profit in a decade and have no savings or profits left to fund their retirement of wells, pipelines, and facilities. Companies have spent $50 billion more than they’ve earned since 2010 and have accumulated more than $100 billion in unfunded cleanup obligations for approximately 300,000 wells, about 400,000 kilometres of pipeline, and 100,000s of oil and gas facilities.....

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..lots of important info on this site 

Polluter Pay Federation​

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Ken Burch

Please tell me he's wearing shorts under that barrel.

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