Good morning! It’s James Keller in Calgary.
Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government has won re-election, ensuring Brian Pallister will join a list of anti-carbon-tax premiers to push back against the policy during the federal campaign.
Mr. Pallister fended off a challenge from the NDP, led by former musician and broadcaster Wab Kinew, and secured a second term. The Premier called the election a year early, sending voters to the polls after just three years.
The PCs won 36 seats, securing a firm majority, the NDP won 18 and the Liberals three, losing official party status in the process. The Greens, who were hoping for a breakthrough and win at least one seat have been shut out.
Mr. Pallister used the campaign to cast himself as a champion against the carbon tax and attempt to tie Mr. Kinew to the policy. He accused the NDP leader of having a secret plan to significantly increase the carbon tax.
The Progressive Conservative government initially planned to introduce a provincial tax but reversed course last year. That prompted the federal government to impose the national tax in Manitoba this past April.
Manitoba launched a legal challenge earlier this year, in addition to constitutional cases under way in Saskatchewan, Ontario and Alberta.
The tax is also expected to be a significant issue in the federal election campaign, which is set to begin today.
There were few sparks during a four-week campaign, though it was marked by a barrage of mudslinging between the two main parties.
The NDP raised eyebrows with ads where actors appeared to use an expletive to describe Mr. Pallister, though the sound cut out as they began to say the offending word.
The Progressive Conservatives ran ads attacking Mr. Kinew for his past criminal convictions, for which the record was suspended, and an accusation of assault from a former girlfriend, which he has denied.
The ads also publicized offensive lyrics sung by Mr. Kenew during his rapping career.
Mr. Kinew acknowledged a “difficult period” in his life and apologized in a book published before he was elected to lead the NDP in 2017. He has said the incidents, which happened more than a decade ago when he was in his 20s, don’t reflect who he is today.
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:
Carbon tax: Carbon emissions in British Columbia have barely budged in the 11 years since British Columbia introduced North America’s first carbon tax, but climate-change advocates say that’s because a carbon tax alone cannot solve the problem.
Merran Smith, executive director of the Clean Energy Canada think tank, based at Simon Fraser University, said emission results released this week reflect inaction by the province’s NDP government beyond maintaining the carbon tax, enacted by a previous BC Liberal government.
According to data released by the provincial environment ministry this week, carbon emissions in B.C. in 2017 were only slightly below 2007 levels despite a long-running strategy to fight climate change, which includes the carbon tax enacted in 2008.
The data released Monday measured 64.46 million tonnes of greenhouse-gas emissions in 2017 compared with 64.76 million tonnes in 2007.
Bill C-69: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is pressing ahead with his promise to challenge federal environmental-assessment legislation in court. Mr. Kenney announced the legal challenge just before the federal election campaign, which is expected to begin today. Mr. Kenney argues Bill C-69, which was passed into law in June, will make it impossible to build another pipeline or large resource project.
Libertarian students: A libertarian student group has developed a growing presence in law schools, where it seeks to shake up a legal culture it views as devoutly uncritical of the Supreme Court and established Canadian legal norms. From a tiny group on a handful of campuses three years ago, the Runnymede Society now has a presence on nearly all of the country’s 18 law campuses where it is fighting for the hearts and minds of young people who will go on to careers in legal practice, academia, politics and business, and as judges.
“Obviously the Canadian legal community is a small community, and the game is influencing the influencers,” says Joanna Baron, a Runnymede founder and now the executive director of its parent group, the Calgary-based Canadian Constitution Foundation.
Vote meddling: A federal report confirming the use of false social-media posts to try to manipulate last spring’s Alberta election points to dangers for the coming federal vote, political scientists say.
On Friday, Global Affairs Canada released a report from the Rapid Response Mechanism, intended to help monitor and understand how the manipulation of social media can influence democratic politics. Because the environment was expected to play a large role in last spring’s Alberta election, the agency decided to examine the province as a test case for the federal ballot. It found significant, organized use of fake social-media accounts.
BC finances: British Columbia’s finance minister is downgrading economic projections with a forecast of lower growth and a reduced budget surplus. Carole James presented the revised financial forecast in her first quarterly budget update. She says global economic uncertainty, the struggling forest industry, dips in commodity exports and lower retail sales have prompted the economic revisions.
Missing family: A renewed search by RCMP for a British Columbia family who vanished three decades ago has found no trace of them on several properties. Officers and civilian consultants used ground-penetrating radar and heavy equipment to search several properties around the Prince George and Vanderhoof areas.
Police say the latest probe on the Saik’uz First Nation near Vanderhoof wrapped up at the end of August with no evidence found of Ronnie and Doreen Jack or their nine- and four-year-old sons, Russell and Ryan. The family was last heard from on Aug. 2, 1989, when Ronnie Jack called his mother in Burns Lake to say he and Doreen had been offered jobs at a logging camp.
Daylight Savings Time: More than 93 per cent of respondents to a recent B.C. government survey didn’t want to turn back their clocks in the fall. The Premier’s office says 223,273 people responded to the survey and a strong majority of them supported moving permanently to daylight time. But 54 per cent of those surveyed also said it was “important” or “very important” that the province’s clocks align with neighbouring jurisdictions.
Jeffrey Jones on Alberta’s probe of environmental groups: "The Kenney government, in its quest to get its foes to be transparent, made sure the probe is not subject to the same. Mr. Allan won’t be conducting media interviews during the process. Also, the investigation has been protected against any nosiness from the media or others who would seek to glean details through access-to-information legislation.
A publicly funded investigation, driven by a government that has said what it believes the conclusions are, conducted without public scrutiny – that’s not just anti-democratic. It’s anti-Albertan."
Gary Mason on B.C.'s high gas prices: “Mr. Horgan’s government will soon have a decision to make as to what to do about it all. Just as he seems to be averse to regulating the market, neither is the Premier in favour of cutting gas taxes to offer relief – and rightly so. Why should the province subsidize profits being made by oil and gas companies? I suspect there could be a showdown coming.”
Alex Bozikovic on buildings as critical infrastructure: “Last year, Calgary got a new central library. The building is a wonderful piece of architecture. But it’s also a place that brings people together, with programming for kids and teens, film screenings and talks, and advice on everything from how to build your career to how to live with depression. And this, according to the American sociologist Eric Klinenberg, makes it ‘social infrastructure,' critical to our collective future.”