Justin Trudeau boxing Patrick Brazeau
Underdog Liberal MP Justin Trudeau lands a punch on Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau in their March 31, 2012, charity boxing match, which the future prime minister won convincingly. Credit: YouTube Credit: YouTube

Danielle Smith comes out swinging. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals do the rope-a-dope. 

Remember, though, in addition to being prime minister, Trudeau is an actual boxer, and the son of a judoka to boot. So he understands the rope-a-dope strategy, about which there is nothing dopey. 

Rope-a-dope is a famous boxing technique in which one contender leans against the ropes of the ring, covers up, and draws harmless punches until the other is exhausted enough to defeat. 

How better to describe the federal Liberals’ response to the Alberta premier’s hysterical sallies against the federal government’s “just transition” program and just about everything else that happens in Ottawa?

You must stop saying Just Transition, Smith bellowed in a performative letter to the prime minister posted to the Alberta Government’s website Thursday.

READ MORE: Alberta’s UCP says ‘just transition’ is a divisive, polarizing term

After all, just transition implies there will be a transition and a rare point of agreement for the disunited United Conservative Party (UCP) is that there must be no transition from oil and gas, no matter what, forever and ever, amen. 

“Immediately drop the verbiage of ‘Just Transition,’” the premier’s letter demanded. “Rename the ‘Just Transition Act’ to the ‘Sustainable Jobs Act.’” (Never mind the iffy grammar here folks; there’s no time to go down that rabbit hole.)

Ottawa’s response, delivered via social media: Sure. OK!

“Dear Premier Smith,” came the prime minister’s response, channelled by Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan, and Tourism Minister and Edmonton MP Randy Boissonnault.  “We thank you for the letter. Much of what you outlined is very much in line with what the federal government will bring forward – including the preference for the term ‘Sustainable Jobs.’”

The premier’s punch lands softly, leaving no bruise. 

Smith further demands: Ottawa must “vow that all provisions of any forthcoming legislation will be designed to incentivize investment” in the oil and gas sector. 

Ottawa’s response: Sure. OK.

“We will always support and make sure Alberta continues to be a global energy leader, now and for generations to come,” the letter from the federal trio says soothingly. 

The premier’s letter also claims, falsely, that the Just Transition program if implemented “will risk a full 25 per cent of Alberta’s economy and 187,000 jobs in Alberta.”

The federal letter responds gently, “as many of Canada’s and Alberta’s major unions and industry have said, if we work together and get this right, it will create huge opportunities for workers across the province.”

The premier’s letter: Dammit! I want a meeting with you about this! Right away! In February! (OK, that’s your blogger’s summary of what she said.)

Ottawa’s response: Hmmmm maybe … 

“We have been working productively and closely with Ministers Savage and Guthrie,” the federal message gently notes. (Environment Minister Sonya Savage and Energy Minister Peter Guthrie, that is; some emphasis was added to make the three Liberals’ point perfectly clear. Sly smiles not shown.)

“We look forward to continuing our ongoing work with you, your cabinet, unions and all partners on this important work.”

No provincial Conservative’s head has exploded yet. But one imagines that the pressure in building. If that happens, there may be no need for anyone in Ottawa to “execute devastating offensive punches,” as the Wikipedia entry on the rope-a-dope puts it, for the win. 

Just remember, though, as Senator Patrick Brazeau can tell you, if Trudeau decides to get off the ropes, he’s got a pretty good right, and a pretty good left too. 

Tyler Shandro conduct hearing to go into overtime

After hours of testimony and many delays yesterday, Tyler Shandro’s Alberta Law Society conduct hearing will have to continue later. Scheduled to end yesterday, the clock ran out on the three-day hearing into three complaints of unprofessional conduct in 2020 with more cross-examination of the Alberta justice minister required. More dates will be announced later by the Law Society. 

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...