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Jason Kenney protests Alberta's downgraded credit rating

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Image: Jason Kenney/Facebook

If a tree falls in the forest and Jason Kenney isn't there to hear it, is it still the sound of European environmentalists and the Rockefellers plotting against Alberta's ethical oil industry? Is it still Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's fault?

Your blogger only spent three days on B.C.'s misty and preternaturally warm coast last week and things already seemed kookier by the time he returned to Alberta.

Premier Kenney had just added Moody's Investor Service to his long and growing list of public enemies, moments after it downgraded Alberta's credit rating and stated the reason, which should be obvious to anyone who's been paying attention: It's your dependence on fossil fuels, stupid! 

Or, in the blander language actually used by the respected New York-based bond-rating service, there is "a structural weakness in the provincial economy that remains concentrated and dependent on non-renewable resources -- primarily oil -- which causes volatility in financial performance."

Well, there you go! Who knew?

"Environmental considerations are material to Alberta's credit profile, and Moody's considers environmental risk to be high," the report explained, noting accurately that "Alberta's oil and gas sector is carbon intensive and Alberta's greenhouse gas emissions are the highest among provinces."

This development was genuinely ironic given the way Kenney's United Conservative Party and its predecessor political entities used to moan and wail whenever the same thing happened for similar reasons to the previous NDP government.

Who can forget then-Wildrose finance critic Derek Fildebrandt hyperventilating oh-so-seriously in 2016 about how one such downgrade showed "just how dangerous and out of touch the NDP plan is." Well, that was then and this is now.

Or how about then-Progressive-Conservative caucus leader Ric McIver in 2017 intoning piously that he was disappointed the NDP wasn't making "the tough choices Albertans sent them here to make." Instead, McIver asserted back then, "the truth is that prioritizing front-line services, while exercising restraint in non-essential areas, will not lead to deep cuts or public sector layoffs."

I wonder what McIver, now the minister of transportation in Kenney's government, would say about that today? Probably not much. Probably, like Finance Minister Travis Toews last week, he'd blame the current state of affairs on the NDP.

Still, that's standard operating procedure for the Opposition in a parliamentary democracy, and the players at least understand it's mostly baloney. One wonders, indeed, why the NDP so seldom pointed to the obvious economic incompetence of the previous 44 years of Conservative rule as the reason for all their problems.

None of this had much impact on Kenney, though. According to the premier, Moody's was "buying into the political agenda emanating from Europe, which is trying to stigmatize development of hydrocarbon energy."

And, by the way, he told a right-wing talk radio show hosted by the Wildrose Party's former leader, "I just think they are completely factually wrong."

Moody's decision was based on "distorted, torqued data, provided by green-left pressure groups," Kenney insisted to Danielle Smith.

As if a private-sector bond-rating agency deeply embedded in the structure of the modern Western capitalist economy would rely on lefty Green Europeans for its conclusions, let alone actively conspire with them to advance a supposedly false narrative!

Speaking of which, Matt Wolf, the premier's one-man Greek chorus, pitched in on Twitter, branding environmental activists "watermelons" -- you know, green on the outside but Marxist red in the middle -- bringing the province's political discourse back down to the level of traditional Social Credit-era red baiting.

This is crazy talk, of course, but presumably it sells well with the party's red-meat base and it's on message with Kenney's war room and his other belligerent and inquisitorial efforts to blame Alberta's continuing problems on someone, anyone, other than his government.

Somehow, though, it seems doubtful this is going to help very much in the financial capitals of the world.

This presumes, of course, that our premier doesn't actually believe what he's spouting -- which would be troubling indeed!

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions at The Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Image: Jason Kenney/Facebook

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