Previously, on As Alberta Turns: Premier Danielle Smith was warning of a coming apocalypse if Ottawa introduced legislation designed to help energy workers gain the skills necessary to transition to a green economy.
Even though she admitted to not knowing what was in the pending bill, she was certain it would spell doom for the goose that laid the golden egg known as Alberta’s oil sands. That, of course, has always been the secret agenda of the central Canadian elites who run this country.
And then, lo and behold, she got the evidence that proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that is precisely what is afoot – or so she told herself.
Welcome back to Canada’s greatest soap opera.
This week, Ms. Smith announced that she had gotten her hands on a secret federal government memo (which was freely available on the internet) that she said indicated Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government planned to eliminate 2.7 million energy jobs across the country, including more than 180,000 in her province. She actually tweeted this out, doubtless to the alarm of many of her citizens.
It was all there in black and white, she insisted.
Except it wasn’t.
What Ms. Smith was talking about was a briefing package for Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson from last June. Included were figures that showed the total number of workers in sectors that could ultimately be affected in some way by the inevitable transition to a green-energy world from fossil fuels – not the number of people who were going to lose their jobs. In fact, an official in Mr. Wilkinson’s office told the National Observer that the federal government does “not intend to eliminate a single oil and gas job.”
Someone in Ms. Smith’s office clearly misread the materials. Unfortunately, by joining with the Alberta commentariat in fear-mongering about the memo – the Premier claimed to have “felt a pit in my stomach” when she read it – even more hysteria ensued.
Politics in Alberta today is so badly broken it’s almost difficult to fathom.
Ms. Smith, despite surely knowing that what she is saying is not just horribly misleading but flat-out wrong, is doubling down. There will be an election in four months, and Ottawa’s coming Just Transition legislation is a winning issue for her. If she can make Mr. Trudeau out to be a woke, oil-hating kleptocrat from the Laurentians who wants Alberta to suffer needlessly, all the better.
“Albertans aren’t going to sit back and be devastated again by yet another Trudeau,” Ms. Smith said, in reference to the hated National Energy Program that was brought in by the Prime Minister’s father, Pierre Trudeau, only to be ended after being loudly protested by Alberta’s then-premier, Peter Lougheed.
It doesn’t matter that the need for oil will begin to recede in favour of cleaner forms of energy. Or that planning for the potential effect of this trend line on Alberta’s economy might actually be a good thing. Or that some oil sands executives have come out in favour of helping workers transition to a low-carbon future, saying that Ottawa’s plan is about creating more jobs, not killing them.
Doesn’t matter. There is a provincial election coming, and the best way for the gaffe-prone Ms. Smith to win is to stoke fear in the hearts of Albertans.
Even the provincial New Democrats know that the Premier is on to something. Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley called on the federal government this week to ditch the Just Transition legislation and scrap the emission targets for the province’s oil and gas sector because they are unrealistic.
I know that in her heart Ms. Notley understands that the Just Transition legislation is not designed to hurt Alberta but to help it down the road. But she doesn’t dare say anything that sounds like support for such a program because Ms. Smith would make her pay dearly for it. This could prove to be the deciding issue of the election – even if it’s all based on a fiction.
Politics in Alberta has become so small that there is outrage even over the words “just transition,” which the political class in Alberta finds demeaning. Forget that the content of the bill is designed to help people in the province out – let’s get mad about the name. And forget that “just transition” has been used ubiquitously by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to describe a philosophy that embraces the idea that no one should be left behind in the transition to a low-carbon economy. In Alberta, that’s dismissed as virtue-signalling nonsense.
Meantime, next on As Alberta Turns: Ms. Smith exposes a nefarious Liberal plot to make all rodeos gender-equal, including the animals.