"Alberta has always had close ties to the United States, so it's painful to watch the bizarre scenes unfolding at the U.S. Capitol," Jason Kenney lamented yesterday, presumably tweeting from a secure command post atop the office building that overlooks the Alberta legislature.
"Political violence is always wrong, especially when it seeks to interrupt the peaceful transition of power in a democracy," Alberta's United Conservative Party premier continued, contemplating the mobs conjured up in Washington by the Republican president the premier has been banking on returning to the White House for another four years.
Well, it is painful to watch, even for those of us who haven't cherished the naive illusion that something like the violent scenes unfolding yesterday at the U.S. Capitol could never happen on this continent.
There's nothing bizarre, though, about the Washington insurrection by the increasingly violent and anti-democratic North American right, a force that Kenney, like U.S. President Donald Trump, has tried to harness here to remake Alberta in his ideological image.
Of course it could happen in Washington.
Sinclair Lewis predicted it in 1935, the year Bill Aberhart entered the Alberta legislature as premier, for heaven's sake. For anyone who remembered that author's novel and has lived through the past four years of American history, It Can't Happen Here was starting to seem more like journalism than dystopian fiction.
Of course, It Can't Happen Here was written as a warning when fascism was on the rise in Europe. But since the Second World War ended that threat for a few generations, the organs of American state security have perfected something called the "colour revolution" as the perfect way to achieve "regime change" in foreign lands that won't go along with the Washington Consensus.
Where did we get the idea regime change could never come home to roost in the heart of the American Republic? It's not as if some other country, or even some bad actor in the much-empowered American private sector, couldn't figure out how it works.
It was mildly reassuring, I suppose, to hear Kenney -- who has been hiding out in premier Alison Redford's old Sky Palace in Edmonton from some angry constituents of his own -- expressing "hope that order is urgently restored, and that duly-elected President @JoeBiden is certified and sworn in without further disruption from the opponents of democracy."
Indeed. It wasn't so long ago, in 2018, that Kenney was defending Devin Dreeshen, then his just-appointed agriculture minister, for travelling to the United States two years earlier and pitching in to get Trump elected. "I think it's actually helpful to have in our caucus an MLA who can get people on the phone in the U.S. administration," Kenney said, implying that Dreeshen could actually do that.
Well, Dreeshen's American connections won't do us much good now if order is restored in Washington, as his boss says he hopes.
For his part, all Dreeshen had to say about yesterday's Camo Revolution was in a terse statement stating, "Minister Dreeshen denounces all forms of political violence, including what is taking place in Washington, D.C."
Last summer, Kenney bet $1.5 billion of our money on his expectation Trump would win November's presidential election and swiftly allow completion of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Now the premier has reluctantly admitted that if the Democrat who walloped Trump in November keeps his promises, "that will likely lead to a significant writedown on the investment."
So don't say our pious Alberta premier hasn't been praying for Trump's victory, not to mention for forgiveness from his own constituency, infuriated at UCP MLAs holidaying in Hawaii and Mexico while they hunkered down as instructed to avoid COVID-19.
Narrow though it may be, president-elect Joe Biden now has the majority he needs in both houses of the U.S. Congress, thanks to Georgia turning into a Blue state, to implement his program. And if Biden's promises are to be believed, that program includes swiftly pulling the plug on Keystone XL.
"I am not going to start doing accounting based on a hypothesis," Kenney huffily told the Calgary Herald. "It's our job to do everything possible to keep the project going."
Kenney's recent disparaging comments about pipeline-skeptical U.S. Democrats aren't likely to do much to make Biden warm to the merits of the Alberta premier's case.
Still, since there's less light than you might imagine based on U.S. media reports between Biden and Trump, there may still be a faint-hope clause for Kenney's pipeline ambitions.
How embarrassing it will be for him, though, to have to rely on his political arch-foe, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who by all accounts has maintained a cordial relationship with Biden, as the only way to save his bacon.
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.
Image: Government of Alberta/Flickr
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