By Letter to the Editor on December 19, 2019.
I have to say I did wonder how long it would take for the wheels to begin to come off Jason Kenney’s response to the broader challenges of his office, and for the grinding sounds of cognitive dissonance to appear. I wonder no more. He is now gibbering and squawking like an out-of-sorts hen demanding to know who has laid the egg she finds suddenly under her. Looking closely at recent news reports, I’m pretty sure I see wisps of smoke coming out of his ears. Smell that? Early signs of meltdown.
And what is the source of his disquiet? Well, it seems the premier has been told by Moody’s Investor Services, a bastion of fiscal probity, that our province is negligent in its financial affairs. Now, if there is an agency closer to the sclerotic heart of market capitalism than Moody’s, I can’t imagine what it might be. This outfit is the very gatekeeper of capital investment, brandishing its flaming sword of credit-worthiness in readiness to cut down any and all pretenders. Mr. Kenney, as a good Jesuit-trained boy, should know that you cannot fudge Saint Peter. The heart of the sinner is ever transparent.
Yes, Moody’s has knocked Alberta back from an Aa1 to Aa2 credit rating – a sour little smack-down meant to reflect our ongoing deviance from fiscal orthodoxy. The culprit is an overly narrow economy based heavily upon the always-capricious hydrocarbon sector. What Moody’s, the very voice of sobriety, says is this: Alberta’s economic over-dependence on an increasingly flimsy and volatile hydrocarbon sector, coupled with concomitant risk adjustments associated with floods and fires (themselves manifestations of profligate fossil fuel usage – i.e. climate change outcomes) render it an increasingly shaky candidate for would-be investors, be it bonds, equity or just fast profit.
Wow. I had pretty much got used to the reactionary mantras about George Soros and the international eco-liberal agitators messing up Alberta’s otherwise ultra-sensible and righteous adherence to a dying and dangerous industry, but this new wrinkle is quite the thing. The very market mechanisms so often touted by Premier Kenney and the UCP as being the ultimate arbiters of social and economic well-being are telling us that we are on the wrong track, and that we’d better see to our own house accordingly. Well, well. Who will he flail at next? Maybe the Grinch.