Good morning! It’s James Keller in Calgary.
In just a few days, Alberta will have a new premier, a new cabinet, and, once again, a conservative government.
Premier-designate Jason Kenney and his cabinet will be sworn in on Tuesday, two weeks after his United Conservative Party won a decisive victory over the governing New Democrats. Rachel Notley will return to her role as Opposition leader in a province that has effectively become a two-party system.
And we know a lot about how the next several weeks will unfold.
Mr. Kenney has already said his cabinet’s first order of business will be to proclaim a law, which was already passed by the legislature, that would give the province the power to cut off oil supplies to British Columbia in retaliation for opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Expect B.C. to file a lawsuit almost immediately.
The legislature will return in late May, with the first series of bills already laid out:
– Bill 1 will repeal the province’s carbon tax (and set up a legal and political fight with Ottawa over the federal carbon tax).
– Bill 2 will reform labour laws, cut the minimum wage for workers under the age of 18, and launch a review of all of the province’s regulations.
– Bill 3 will reverse a farm-safety law brought in by the NDP that prompted farmers to stage protests at the legislature.
Mr. Kenney will also set to work on a campaign to push back against perceived opponents of the oil industry.
Along with the threat to cut off oil shipments to B.C., Mr. Kenney plans to target what he has described as “foreign-funded environmentalists" and later hold a referendum on equalization if there is no progress on Trans Mountain.
He plans to fund pro-development First Nations and create a Crown corporation to help Indigenous communities purchase a stake in the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and other projects. With that in mind, Justin Giovannetti looked at how First Nations communities are reacting to Mr. Kenney’s win.
Mr. Kenney warned his caucus yesterday that the challenges ahead won’t be easy and that they must be “laser-focused” on the party’s platform to turn around the economy. He said voters will judge their success in the next election.
This is the weekly Western Canada newsletter written by B.C. Editor Wendy Cox and Alberta Bureau Chief James Keller. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for it and all Globe newsletters here. This is a new project and we’ll be experimenting as we go, so let us know what you think.
Around the West:
Losing the tech race: Governments across the country have spent years wooing the tech industry and proclaiming strategies and programs to help innovators succeed. The B.C. NDP’s new minister in charge happily donned virtual-reality glasses in 2017 to open Vancouver’s Cube facility, an incubator where nascent tech entrepreneurs could be nurtured along their paths toward commercial success. But as Justine Hunter reports, the verve died fast.
This month, as the federal government announced millions in financing for projects in Ontario. the Cube said it must close because the provincial government failed to reach a sharing agreement with Ottawa to keep it going. As Justine Hunter reports, for startups trying to get across the “valley of death" – which in the tech industry means developing an innovation into a commercial success – the journey is getting easier in Ontario, and just got harder in B.C.
Eyes online: Vancouver entrepreneur Roger Hardy is back in the eyewear business, Sean Silcoff reports. Five years after selling his publicly traded Coastal Contacts Inc. for $430-million, Mr. Hardy’s investment firm Hardy Capital announced it has purchased privately held LD Vision Group. LD Vision is a 17-year-old Richmond, B.C.-based company that Mr. Hardy described as North America’s second-largest independent direct retailer in eye care through such websites as OptiContacts.com and ContactsExpress.ca.
"The more we looked, the more we sort of saw that optical still has a great opportunity. Customers are still underserved. It was time to see if we could do something in the space,” Mr. Hardy said.
Key to the deal: Technology that allows customers to do their own eye tests online.
Early fire season: As parts of Ontario and Quebec struggle with spring floods, residents in central Saskatchewan were contending with an early brush fire. Several farms were within a kilometre of the wildfire burning near Biggar, Sask. Provincial fire commissioner Duane McKay said the fire west of Saskatoon was no longer a threat by Wednesday, but he noted the fire was expected to burn in the underbrush for “some time.”
Pickleball: Calgary writer Allan Maki introduces readers to a sport that’s a little of everything: “It’s a badminton-size court that lulls players into thinking they can cover every speck of it, return every shot. They can’t. You look at the wooden paddles, bigger than the ones for table tennis but smaller than the paddles pizza makers use to slide their pies into the oven. Then you look at the plastic ball with holes cut into it so the air will slow it down or make it flutter like a Phil Niekro knuckleball. Lump all this together and you have a game that is not badminton, not tennis, not table tennis, not paddle tennis. What you have is pickleball,”
Because We Are Girls: The documentary premiering next week at festivals in Toronto and Vancouver follows the story of the Pooni sisters, three second-generation women from a close-knit Punjabi Sikh immigrant family. As correspondent Jagdeesh Mann reports, the siblings were repeatedly sexually assaulted over their adolescent years by an older male family member. As women, the sisters sought to be heard, pushing back against resistance from family, the authorities and cultural conditioning in coming forward to expose their abuser. Each small victory has bolstered hope and reinforced their confidence.
Filmmaker Baljit Sangra said the story of the Pooni sisters is a pivotal #MeToo moment for Canada’s South Asian community.
Globe editorial board on Canada’s declined dominance in hockey: “Canadians have become inured to the blossoming of spring with no Canadian NHL teams to cheer. Instead, we cling to the glow of Olympic gold won in 2010 and 2014, denied in 2018 by an NHL boycott and dreamed of in 2022 – if the NHL returns to the Olympics. But given the evolving state of the sport, gold is far from guaranteed.”
Richard Albert on Jason Kenney’s equalization referendum: “The critics are wrong, and Mr. Kenney is right. Holding a referendum on equalization is a good idea that would strengthen Confederation, and a much-needed move to remind Ottawa that it does not hold the only set of keys to open the Canadian Constitution.”
Preston Manning on the Alberta election: “Because the NDP government in Alberta could not run on its record – massive deficits, tax increases, unaddressed unemployment and mismanagement of the energy file – it turned to attack politics and focused most of its campaign on Mr. Kenney personally. He and the UCP were also in attack mode, but their focus was the government’s performance, not its leader. This resonated well with uncommitted voters who considered the Premier to be well-meaning but heading a party that never expected to win the 2015 election and was therefore unprepared to govern.”