Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. Image: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr

Today we will see the results of the efforts of Alberta’s “fair deal” panel throughout the first half of 2020.

We know this because the Kenney government yesterday emailed out one of those media notices beloved of all democratic governments (and some not-so-democratic ones as well) alerting the media to stand by for big news on the morrow.

Cancel your appointments, hold page one or its virtual equivalent, and break out an extra barrel of black ink, you’re going to need it for the headlines, such statements imply.

Sometimes they are justified. Sometimes not so much.

Since we already have a pretty clear idea of what to expect from the eight remaining members of the tendentiously named “fair deal” panel thanks to hints Premier Jason Kenney has dropped all over the province, the reasonable expectation is that this will be an example of the latter variety.

In other words, get ready for your first look at Kenney’s warmed over 20th anniversary commemoration of Stephen Harper’s 2001 Alberta sovereignty-association manifesto, the notorious Firewall Letter. Some version of a provincial police force, a public health care opt-out, a bid to suck up Alberta’s portion of the Canada Pension Plan and other bad ideas are likely to be trotted out.

So why bother signing the tantalizing embargo document proffered by the premier’s spinmeisters when we can all guess the ludicrous details of tomorrow’s big announcement anyway?

Premier Kenney, Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer and the panel’s chair Oryssia Lennie will share the podium. The excitement begins at 11:30 a.m.

Count on it, mainstream media will go for this like a hungry bass that spies a Rapala lure a flickering in the water like a wounded minnow. That is, if they haven’t swallowed the bait hook, line and sinker already.

If everything goes as intended, the predictable foolishness of Firewall 2.0 will suck up all the oxygen in Alberta’s public discourse for weeks.

It will distract journalists and citizens alike from pondering such important stories as public parks for sale or rent, the effort to hijack the judiciary with ideologically approved judges, gross legislative attacks on our Charter rights, public cash for schools run by religious extremists, embarrassments like Kenney’s $7.5-billion pipeline bet on Donald Trump’s re-election, the pathetically furloughed $30-million Alberta energy war room, the inquiry into the enemies of Alberta’s somewhat ethical oil that asks no questions, continuing efforts by the world’s investors to dump shares in oilsands projects, and whatever fresh hell results from the United Conservative Party’s hurry to declare the COVID-19 pandemic over against the considered collective advice of epidemiologists and other doctors.

With a little luck, Kenney will even get an opportunity to lob a few gratuitous insults at Justin Trudeau, who as prime minister of Canada still has the job that the premier really wants in the city he would really rather live in.

Until tomorrow then, remember where you heard it first.

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 his blog,

Image: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr

David J. Climenhaga

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga is a journalist and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. He left journalism after the strike...