September 20th, 2019

Jason Kenney’s winds of anger

By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on May 1, 2019.

Trevor Harrison

The dominant narrative since Alberta’s election is that the New Democrats lost because their campaign was based on fear. There is undoubtedly some truth in this.

But the basis of the United Conservative Party’s victory should not be left unexamined. Some might think that its central theme was “hope.” And, again, hope was part of it.

But the UCP’s central theme throughout the campaign was not an uplifting Obama-like call to one’s better angels, but rather a Trump-like encouragement to populist anger. Jason Kenney re-emphasized and embellished this anger in his speech on election night.

Far from a victory speech, Kenney’s speech had an Old Testament quality; a stern tone of anger and vengeance to be visited upon Alberta’s enemies. Kenney quickly worked his supporters into a near frenzy with repeated promises to go after such, environmental organizations first among them. Many observers, this scribe included, found Kenney’s comments that night singling out these organizations for retribution, and the angry response of his followers, frightening, and frankly far too close to extremist parallels elsewhere, both recent and past.

Alberta has a long and sordid history of going after various groups – what former Premier Ralph Klein never failed to term “special interests,” among them (besides environmentalists), social activists, unionists, and academics. Defining the enemies without – e.g., Quebec, B.C., or Ottawa – is often matched with efforts to seek out the enemies within. Primed with dollops of conspiracy-laced Kool-Aid, Kenney’s supporters drank even more deeply on election night of the anger served up by Kenney.

Anger is not, in itself, a necessarily bad thing. There are many things we should be angry about: child poverty, pointless wars and – yes -global warming.

The anger and fear felt by thousands of unemployed Albertans or by others whose wages have been constrained is understandable. But one should always be certain – factually accurate – in who or what should be the cause of anger and measured in one’s response so that the problem is not made worse.

Much of Kenney’s campaign deliberately spread falsehoods regarding Alberta’s current financial difficulties and those of the oil sector in particular. Economists and others, from across the political spectrum, pointed out repeatedly these falsehoods. Equalization is not a theft of money from Alberta. The carbon tax is not a left-wing conspiracy. (It is, in fact, a policy endorsed by conservative economists and large oil companies.) And Alberta is not saddled with a crippling debt. (It has a debt-to-GDP level the envy of any other province in Canada and most national states).

On the issue of pipelines itself, the hold-up on their construction is not due to a cabal of environmental groups, whose funding is greatly dwarfed by that of oil companies. The idea that American environmental groups worked to lock in Canadian oil so that American oil companies would not face competition is loopy on the face of it.

The causes of a delay in getting pipelines built, which motivated many UCP supporters, are many: technical, jurisdictional, environmental and financial issues. There is also the Supreme Court-mandated need for broad consultation, especially with Indigenous peoples. For many Albertans, the process has seemed slow, too slow. But that’s how modern societies and economies function; indeed, it is how democracies work. Promises to make the trains run on time by merely snapping one’s fingers and cutting all regulations are the lifeblood of authoritarians and con men; see Donald Trump. And, in addition to being politically dangerous, such promises also too often miss the complexities of the real problem at hand.

Anger obscures the serious issues underlying Alberta’s recent elections, notably the province’s continued dependence on oil at a time when global forces – overproduction, slumping prices, and the growing prominence of other sources of energy – make that dependence even more problematic.

Both fear and anger, if unchecked, can have unintended and dangerous consequences. Having tied his promises so heavily to the winds of anger, will Kenney – and Alberta – now reap the whirlwind?

Trevor Harrison is a professor of sociology at the University of Lethbridge and director of Parkland Institute, an Alberta-wide research network.

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31 Responses to “Jason Kenney’s winds of anger”

  1. Dennis Bremner says:

    So it would appear you are more comfortable with a Party that talks Climate Change, and in fact Rants about it, but basically hands out low flow showerheads or lightbulbs as their solution? For all the ranting about how the Climate is Changing, which the Nutbars have selectively created the term Climate Change beause Global Warming did not work for them, they really achieved nothing of any value whatsoever. Of course there are the “PR” moments when you can announce 300,000 homes to be powered by a new project, which in actual fact is far less than 60,000. Or you can hide your own government data and not admit that the Medicine Hat Solar project is shut down from November to April every year. You can also avoid using terms like “actual generated power” and use Tally Plate Power so you can continue to BS the entire population that Solar Energy or Windmill Energy is “cheap”. You can pretend you have a plan when in fact your plan is the Ontario Plan of throwing as many windmills and Solar Panels at the problem until you are broke, and then find out…well that didn’t work!!
    You can, as a Party, have NO solution and continue to promote the only solution that has proven to fail miserably and when questioned use the “we’re savin the planet” platitude. You can as a party ignore the Oilsands and disregard the fact that we continue to buy conflict oil and do so at a rate that increased by 60% over the last 5 years because “you have a better plan”, which actually was no plan at all!
    No Mr Harrison, the reason there are no pipelines to sustain the Canadian Economy and the handouts that Alberta Creates for Ottawa is because of the “whats in it for me”. In fact Denny Coderre said that very thing while dismissing a Pipeline East. Canada has become a collection of groups who all have agenda’s and all need the appropriate “bribe” levels or Canada does not work. Thats why I find SNC Lavalin amusing. They got caught doing what has to be done to get ANYTHING done in Canada now, but we now get to pretend its the righteous high road thing to do….. pretend we are disgusted!
    If its not Socially Acceptable for a minority, or, if its not Politically Correct for a politician trying to get a Pension, then it is “oppose, oppose, oppose and it does not happen.
    Canada is now totally dysfunctional, and you make excuses for it by hiding the real problems of selfishness behind the facade of “technical, jurisdictional, environmental and financial issues”. What this is, was and always will be is “whats in it for me”! The mere fact you don’t identify it, tells me you don’t understand the problem, like your NDP cohorts. There is no longer the function of “the greater good” so we have dissolved into bickering over even the smallest of things. The greater good used to be sorted out by high level think tanks. Special interest groups now dominate ANY decision to the point of total stupidity. The greater good is now relegated to anyone person or group who can open a website and come up with a “New Special Interest” and OBJECT! You may call that democracy, I call it total idiocy creating a total dysfunction in Canada!
    When you have a boychild in Ottawa who couldn’t make a decision if he had clue, you get what we have. We get egotistical leaders who believe that they are Supreme Beings put on this earth to oppose, not to cooperate, but to oppose. The adversarial system of democracy has become adversarial in all facets of life now. If you are to participate in the development of Canada and intend on doing so, there are groups that will appear on your door step telling you just how offended you “really should be” and, how you should be holding out for a higher bribe level, or at least as a minimum, be more indignant and interfere as much as possible, while talking!

    The winds of anger are whirling about for good reason. Everyone wants to be on the take, no one wants to work together and eventually you say ENOUGH and take whats yours before someone relieves you of it! Sorry, but you and your NDP friends don’t and didn’t understand the problem, and its why they are out!

    PS- As for your understanding of the Oil Industry supporting a Carbon tax, it does not surprise me you see that as some sort of “righteous endorsement”! (strangely so did the NDP) Why? Because the Oil Industry also supported the conversion to the Metric System. Why? Because they saw and jealously observed what the Metric System did for Brent pricing and refinery margins in Europe, and saw the distinct monetary advantage. You see, humans are rather simplistic. We will throw out a perfectly good government for proposing a 16c a gallon price hike but accept daily swings of 3.5c a litre without complaint… At $2.50 a litre for gas and $2.75 for Diesel (thats what you will be paying within 3 years) they can afford to pay lipservice to a Carbon Tax, in fact I am surprised they are not DEMANDING ITS INSTITUTION ASAP, but that would be too obvious. Better to be seen kicking and complaining, lest people get a clue, why they are for it, right? I am rather amazed at your rather narrow understanding of economic motivation. Its all about the money, its not about the endorsement as if it really is for the greater good!
    PPS-I think the most amusing part of the Carbon Tax is that the Liberal Spin Doctors are trying to convince Canadians that they will actually “make money or break even”, which has to be the biggest Con in Liberal History but some will swallow it, you obviously have. When you are paying double for literally EVERYTHING including home heating oil and Electricity, it will be very little comfort to receive a cheque for $400 I can assure you. Canadians should fully expect that within 5 years they will be “down about $1600 a year” to the “revenue neutral Carbon tax”. I presume Professors could afford the $1600 but I am pretty sure there are many many many Canadians that cannot!
    But no matter, remember “the MOST important thing here” is to save the world from our 1.4% TOTAL GHGs and likely cripple our economy in the process! Its best to be seen punching above our weight and be among the righteous, than actually have a plan, right?
    I am sure, you agree with Mckenna’s concern, when she heard a think tank said Canada is warming faster than other countries. The Carbon Tax now has SIGNIFICANT purpose! It appears the total reason Canada is warming faster, is our 1.4% GHGs which she has determined to be somehow “captured within our Canadian Boundaries”! Now we can disregard the 98.6% GHGs created by all the other countries, it’s literally a sidebar to our Canada killing 1.4%!!! McKenna’s think tank and brain trust obviously have determined for the “simple minded Canadians of lessor thought processes” that the other 98.6% never comes up north or crosses our borders!! It’s a phenomena that only a Liberal space cadet with max access to think tanks, could come up with !

    “Canada Killing 1.4%” it has a nice ring to it…I should trademark it for posterity’s sake!

    So it’s blatantly obvious, and I can now see, why a Carbon Tax is paramount, and worthy of risking crippling our economy and driving lessor Canadians into bankruptcy because, it’s really our “Canada Killing1.4% ” that is the problem, not the rest of the planets 98.6%, who-da thought? Certainly not me!!What a remarkable day indeed it will be when we can say we are “GHG Zero” and Canada will automatically cool, right?? right???…hello…hello??????

    • Fescue says:

      Wow, Dennis … the metric system? You’re still mad about the metric system?

      BTW. Emissions know no boundaries. When 0.5% of the world’s population produce 1.4% of the emissions, you have people taking more then their fair share of the atmospheric commons.

  2. Dennis Bremner says:

    So Fescue, do you want to solve the emission problem or be seen to be attempting to solve the emission problem? There is a difference but you just don’t see it. So will you be a pleased little Canadian if you fail miserably to meet 2030 requirements but you are spending twice as much to live as you spend today? At what point do ordinary Canadians get a clue, that you are signing up to a “flawed deal”? Obviously you won’t change because you don’t see the flaw because “something is better than nothing” right?

    • Fescue says:

      I do know that doing nothing guarantees failure.

      What I am ‘for’ is the spirit of experimentation. Henry Ford didn’t begin by producing the GT; it was a wagon with an engine strapped on. People learn by doing; people do with a vision in mind. The vision here is to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels.

      This will likely raise the cost of living, as we begin to pay for the costs of pollution (costs that we have been externalizing from economic pricing to date). This will require some support for the most vulnerable.

      I do agree that we will miss our emission targets – mostly because we have (and continue to) delay action. This is likely because of the success of corporate efforts to politicize science; and, as biff has said, because of the pathological quest for quarterly profits at the expense of everything else.

      • Dennis Bremner says:

        Actually, we will miss the emissions targets because Trudeau knows that the only way you can meet emission targets is to have the Carbon Tax at $150+ per tonne. Why is that? Well its simple really, its the point where the major polluters have all packed up and moved to third world countries. Then like a good little Treehugger you can claim success and Carbon Taxes work and aren’t we swell people to the planet. And, of course Mr Dressup gets a job saving the planet elsewhere. Thats the flaw with the mental midget treehugger scientists that say Carbon Taxes work! The treehugger scientists that say they do work have never tried to find out if they met targets because high polluter companies closed up shop and went elsewhere. You will not see that data included in any treehugger study, its because if that data was included suddenly people would hold them responsible for “CO2 shift” and realize Carbon Taxes work because polluters leave and go elsewhere. So the Treehugger sees the environmental load shift to 3rd world countries but forgets to mention it…just a small oversight, honest! Countries with far less stringent enviro policies then Canada end up getting the companies the huggers force out of their domain! So its deck chairs on the Titanic X 10 for the 3rd world country!

        So in Treehuggers haste to save the planet they shifted the environmental load from places like the Oilsands to places like Baotou Mongolia, where their is no real accounting of CO2 or enviro destruction. But because Baotou is not in Canada’s backyard…well then there is no problem.Mind you its a problem for the poor people of Mongolia who are suffering terrible diseases but Treehuggers get to claim “Alt energy Green Green Green” when they are killing poor people who have no defence on the otherside of the planet. But again, if you can be a Prof or Scientist, and do a half-ass study, then its in vogue to pretend you actually give a crap! It gets you invited to more parties of other people that are pretending to give a crap. And, you wonder why I have no time to bother with these AIR HEADS! You can con most of the people most of the time. Trudeau, Mckenna, Liberals and the NDP took the con and bit hook line and sinker!
        Ask any Treehugger Scientist in BC how many companies closed up shop over the period that they claim drops in CO2 and they can produce that data. Ask them how many tonnes of CO2 those same companies took with them…..they say they don’t know, when you and everyone else knows those tonnes were added to the reduction column. Ask them how many of those companies set up elsewhere and they draw a blank! Why? well it ruins the global CO2 story and how there just “savin the planet”! Answering that question forces them to confront their roll in the environmental shift to less fortunate countries which of course they will deny till you give them more money to study it! The study should take them to retirement! But hey, who gives a crap, right, its tough for Mongolia and India and other places but it gives them jobs, right, even if it does kill them, whats the beef, they have lots of people??? They should be thankful we are sending them these jobs, right? Eventually you people will get it but only after you pay out an arm and a leg for your stupidity! By the time you do figure it out Goldman Sachs will be bigger than Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft combined….they own 80% of the world Carbon Credits! So biff may not like big business and the world conjobs, but step right up people and make sure you bring lots of vasoline because you are about to experience pain! All courtesy of your friendly treehugger and the mindless support of the Canuck people that insist “something is better than nothing”. At some point I would hope some of you actually think. Is it better to have 1.4% under environmental control or the 1.4% become 10% in a third world country with no enviro control? Sometimes, just sometimes doing nothing is BETTER!

        • Seth Anthony says:

          Well said Dennis.

          I love it when people cut right through the bullshit, the propaganda, and the lies that are spewed by our government —cough— corporate overlords. It’s worrisome that the vast majority of people don’t have the ability to see the sham.

  3. Montreal13 says:

    Often disappointed in Mr. Harrison’s editorials,so one sided and unbalanced for a academic. He often leaves me feeling like there is something missing or that there is a void of some kind to the story. Not that I don’t agree ,sometimes. But, I think , in this case,anyone who wasn’t in a complete echo chamber would see how much fear and or alarm to create anger or fear ,that the NDP employed in this and last election.

    • sikorsky says:

      Mr. Harrison, speaks from protected job, makes as much money as four people in my job. I fear students do not learn work from this man. Big schools here teach student how to get most money for lest work. This does not build country very well

  4. biff says:

    it may be, mtl13. then let us agree that the election was a battle to instill and arouse the fears in all voters, by all sides, and hope to present one’s gov’t as the saviour. kenney’s 3 pillars read so easily, and yet the same issues stand in the way; notley pushed for the same things; so unlike a real social gov’t. kenney will confront the same old issues that vex every govt today that oversees social programs: they are too expensive when relying solely on taxation, particularly when big corp takes more than a fair share of govt handouts/welfare, and when we lose so much wealth to compounded interest debt.
    in fact, govt must not be permitted to give away public monies to private business and “development” interests. any money diverted as such must instead be made as an investment. moreover, govt must gain ownership in the primary sectors of its economy; it must also own its utilities and banking. it is only in this manner can govt – the people – be able to better control its economy, and cover the costs of its collective needs.
    meanwhile, we do have polarisation on many fronts and issues – which kenney does indeed foment and exploit. the difference with the ucp is we can expect the social elements of alberta to be systematically strip mined away – at least all facets that prove profitable for well placed private sector folks.
    the writer is quite on the mark in this case.

  5. ReallyReally says:

    M13 I agree that Mr. Harrison’s remarks are perhaps too “limited” in detail… however in forums such as this you must condense the ideas or lose the audience; this is not a peer-reviewed journal.

    Fescue I respect your comments and idea that we need to “experiment”, we simply need to try… no great discoveries have been accomplished without an effort beyond mer thought and discussion, especially when that discussion is so narrow-minded and rhetoric driven as D.B.’s. Sorry Mr. Bremner but you offer no solutions to anything… not even to cooperation to resolve our society’s obvious pollution and climate disaster issues. And you remain steadfastly uniformed despite so many similar opinion article forums and a wealth of information available that counter so many of your statements. You routinely offer insults, but You Offer No Plan D.B. Notta.

    Mr. Harrison I agree with your premise for this op-ed. Mr. Kenney has constantly been a source of “division” between citizens and has demonstrated first and foremost that he was willing to say or do damn near anything to get elected. I came away from the past months recognizing that Mr. Kenney is not a statesman, he is instead a parasite on our system. He is not even an intelligent enough individual to be considered a consummate politician, but he is wily enough to mimic others who know how to “drive the rage among their base”. Already he is back-tracking his promises, which he knew before he even offered them were lies or unachievable. While not the brightest bulb on the political scene, he has been around long enough, in the shadows of manipulators far more intelligent then he will ever be, to be able to play this game of “divide and rule”… Mr. Kenny did exactly what you have suggested he did during the election campaign and he will focus on more bullshit as he had and has No Plan beyond firing off shotgun blasts hoping something will hit a positive mark even if the rest of the pellets cause a mortal wound elsewhere. Beyond the development of catch phrases for his base to suckle on and later rant Kenney is witless. He will spend at least as much time seeking excuses as he will solutions.

    Any progress coming was already in the making, any financial gains in the offing will be the result of the hard work of those who actually were statespeople and leaders before him, and the result of movers and shakers far his superior already following their long-term plans.

    • IMO says:


      All of what you write is obvious to those who are not mesmerised by bread and circuses.

    • Tris Pargeter says:

      Agreed. Excellent summation.
      Dennis Bremner is increasingly frustrated that the solution to it all lies in a nuclear option that doesn’t seem to be on the radar, which in itself makes it highly suspect of course. The lure of the “inside track” beckons to the ego. He accuses all and sundry of stupid half-measures, but Fescue is right, it is experimentation with false starts, but how we have always moved forward. To attribute calculating and despicable self-interest to everyone in government that is remotely progressive arises more from the conservative “playbook.”
      I often think when I hear their bitter condemnations, “I know you are but what am I?” They bold-face steal our language and our attitudes and use them against us. How else do you explain the assessment that Rachel Notley’s campaign was based on FEAR? And conservatives instead offered HOPE? What a complete reversal of the truth! The media has a lot to answer for in this too, acting like both sides were equally believable, and that all the NEGATIVITY was based on anything other than totally negative truths about Kenney and his cohort. She was right about trust too. Being a woman though, she couldn’t win. Women just don’t have “a head for business” don’t you know?
      And then there’s the casual dismissal of extensive, sophisticated science on climate change, along with what most of us already can sense personally. This is where women just shake their heads at the vastness of the male ego, and many of us understand that they actually think themselves gods, never mind just low-level superheroes, as I have said before. It’s a parallel-play situation, something that happens with toddlers, where they just have blinders on when it comes to what other people are doing because they’re FOCUSSED on their own thing. They like the side by side, just no real contact…
      You’re right about Kenney. He is an unsavoury, opportunistic and fundamentally dishonest person, probably a closet gay himself as he gleefully pulls the rug out from under school-age, gay kids, many who are burdened with their parents’ narrow religious views in this backwards bible-belt.
      Also, he is dangerously skewed toward the “supernatural” himself at a time when the natural, which is US, is in such desperate need of a united focus. So definitely NOT a leader for our times. And a nasty, pugnacious little prick to boot.

      • Dennis Bremner says:

        So, I may be a bit ticked that few are thinking Nuke but the few are slow, so I will give them a year.

        But, I must admit I am enjoying you being ticked off! I quote ;

        Tris says: You’re right about Kenney. He is an unsavoury, opportunistic and fundamentally dishonest person, probably a closet gay himself as he gleefully pulls the rug out from under school-age, gay kids, many who are burdened with their parents’ narrow religious views in this backwards bible-belt.
        Also, he is dangerously skewed toward the “supernatural” himself at a time when the natural, which is US, is in such desperate need of a united focus. So definitely NOT a leader for our times. And a nasty, pugnacious little prick to boot.

  6. Seth Anthony says:

    Fescue states:
    I do know that doing nothing guarantees failure.

    What I am ‘for’ is the spirit of experimentation. Henry Ford didn’t begin by producing the GT; it was a wagon with an engine strapped on. People learn by doing; people do with a vision in mind. The vision here is to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels.

    Are you implying that “wind and solar is better than nothing”? Seriously Fescue? You’re smarter than that dumb ass argument.

    Also, If that’s what you’re implying, then your analogy is meaningless. Ford already knew his product was viable, and that’s why he deployed the product. In contrast, we already knew wind and solar would be a failure at grid level, yet we went ahead and deployed it anyway.

    • Seth Anthony says:

      Tris said:
      Dennis Bremner is increasingly frustrated that the solution to it all lies in a nuclear option that doesn’t seem to be on the radar, which in itself makes it highly suspect of course.

      The reason it isn’t on the radar is because the majority of voters (like you), are completely clueless in the aspects of energy production. Said cluelessness results in “wind and solar good”, “nuclear bad”. Anyone who knows a thing or two about energy production, knows that such a position is disturbingly ignorant and destructive.

  7. Pecker says:

    What a pair of boneheads it’s not on the radar because most people don’t want a power source that can can turn into a Chernobyl.

  8. Seth Anthony says:


    Ya, so?????

    Also, you said (in regards to solar and wind), “What is interesting is that these values are dropping in time with better and more innovative designs.”. That is where your bias comes in. Note that you didn’t mention the better and more innovative designs of nuclear, which BY FAR exceed those of wind and solar.

    In regards to your comment of, “As for safety, I’d rather have a solar panel on my house” goes. Seriously Fescue? You’re smarter than that to make such a dumbass comment 🙂

    • Dennis Bremner says:

      Actually Seth, thats the only place a solar panel is useful. So give him credit for at least picking the correct scale of usage lol

      • Seth Anthony says:

        Dennis, I was referring to Fescue’s comparison to home solar and home nuclear (which is just stupid).

        With that said, there is indeed some merit for home solar to run low current devices. However, the cost is astronomical when you consider panel replacement, battery replacement, inverters, etc, etc.

        From what I understand, a typical Calgary home would need an initial investment of about $30,000, and that of course does not include recurring costs, and you still have to be hooked up to the grid and pay all those grid fees.

        I’ve been waiting for about 30 years for home solar to become viable. I desperately want it, and will be at the head of the line if and when it becomes viable.

  9. Pecker says:

    Sure can’t disagree that the Russians were at fault but using technology that can render large areas uninhabitable is just plain dumb. We don’t have another planet to move to yet.When you have someone build and operate a nuclear power plant you are placing a lot of trust in everyone involved in the process. In our greed driven world I don’t trust anyone that much. We are probably going to be hit with a pandemic at some point so do the plants shutter themselves when the operators all drop dead? When the stakes are so high even the smallest chance of a failure is to big.

    • Seth Anthony says:


      You obviously didn’t fully read my points in the post, and fully read the articles I posted.

  10. zulu1 says:

    “The idea that American environmental groups worked to lock in Canadian oil so that American oil companies would not face competition is loopy on the face of it.”

    Mr. Harrison has obviously never read the investigative reporting of Ms. Krause, a journalist who did meticulous research over a period of years which proved that opposition to the oil sands was largely funded by a series of US liberal foundations including the the Tides Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation , and others . Millions went to aboriginal groups, The Pembina Foundation, David Suzuki Foundation and others. Like many things in life one has to follow the money and realize who might benefit from stranding Canadian oil sands oil. The prime beneficiary is the US oil industry, the sole buyer, at present, of this oil, and at a discount no less.
    If that seems “loopy” to Mr. Harrison, perhaps he simply has not connected the dots.

    On the question of equalization payments, yes, this is a federal program, but one would be wise to remember that revenues in excess of federal program payments from the federal government to Alberta funds a substantial portion of these excess funds.

  11. Seth Anthony says:

    Dennis said (in regards to Fescue)

    So give him credit for at least picking the correct scale of usage lol

    I think Fescue is female.