April 12th

lLet’s take a walk around Alberta and see what is happening..

Jason Kenney, who tells us he is the Premier of Alberta, is polling lower than both former Premier’s Stelmach and Redford just before caucus asked them to step down. If an election was held this afternoon (we can only hope), the Alberta NDP would form a majority government. The Kenney pantomime which began with a big bang could easily end in a whimper.

Kenney is having to deal with revolting members of his caucus. They don’t like the new “kind of” restrictions he has imposed in response to growingly bad COVID-19 data. Rather than wanting a tougher restriction and real enforcement – which is what they should be demanding – they want more to die unnecessarily. Kenney is reported to have told them that dissent is fine, but encouraging civil disobedience is not.

Adriana LaStrange, who says she is Minister of Education and can read, has defended an indefensible draft K-6 curriculum which those who understand and can spell “curriculum” and differentiate between learning and remembering say is bullshit. The largest school boards in Alberta have said “no” – they will not pilot this, since it’s a flight about to crash. Defending the plagiarised nonsense, the Premier says he is fulfilling an election promise and getting rid of learning in the curriculum. His aim: lower the performance of public education so he can privatize it.

Doctors have turned down the new contract offered to them by the Government of Alberta. These are the same doctors who voted almost unanimously last year that they had no confidence in the Minister of Health, Tyler Shampoo. They are fighting a heroic battle against COVID 19 with no real help from government in terms of sensible public policy.

Reeling from losing a battle with the Federal Government in the Supreme Court of Canada over the carbon levy, the Premier indicated that he had no “Plan B” (in fact, he had no real Plan A). A smart leader would reintroduce the tax he scrapped within seven minutes of taking office so that the funds collected could be used exclusively in Alberta to support the energy transition. Instead, his pomposity and dimwittedness means the money we pay in CO2 taxes supports these investments across Canada.

Refusing to recognize that he is losing the plot, the Premier is dumbing down. This he finds not difficult. He is surrounded by plenty of already dumb people. Several members of his caucus are considering leaving and joining a truly dumb party called The Independence Party of Alberta, which seeks secession from reality. They are against any restriction on individual freedom (such as public health restrictions), in favour of compulsory stupidity and gun carrying and see a merger of Western Provinces as essential to making leaving Canada possible. They used to be known as the Wexit Party and believe that Canada hates Alberta (except for its beer and Rocky Mountains). They have their annual gatherings on the Big Island of Hawaii.

The Provincial net debt, which Kenney vowed to eliminate in a single term, is anticipated to rise in 2021-22 to $82.2 billion (24.5% of GDP) from $62.5 billion (20.3%. of GDP) in 2020-21. When he came to power is was $24.7 billion (8% of GDP) and was the second lowest per capita debt in Canada. He promised in March 2019 a budget surplus in excess of $600 million by 2023. This is fiscal conservatism in action. He can now see “no path to balance”, which he is disturbed by. So he is cutting supports for the most vulnerable, those in need and those who could be learning. This at a time when interest rates could not be much lower and the need for support higher. Even some of his own constituency chairs are asking for a leadership review now rather than the one which is planned just five months before the next Provincial election in 2023.

Part of the challenge for the UCP (it stands for unable to comprehend people) is that they parachuted Kenney into Alberta from Ottawa because there was no one in Alberta conservative enough to satisfy the needs of the rabid right. It is clear that they got the wrong man (the second time conservatives in Alberta have done this). When we look around the current UCP MLA’s, leadership and imagination are not words that quickly come to mind. Several clearly see themselves as having “what it takes to lead”, but the flock of sheep they could lead live on Ramsey Island off the Welsh coast in Pembrokeshire.