Where is the “sky is falling” crew when you need them?

Postmedia, the corporate near-monopoly on Canadian news outlets, is heavily invested in convincing the public that the same austerity which got us into the mess we’re in is the solution to our problems, because the filthy rich owners of Postmedia don’t want to pay taxes. An entire genre of “the sky is falling” hit pieces have graced print media for the past couple years as Canada’s left-wing governments engage in Keynesian economics to keep things running during the recession. Debt and deficit hysteria has given corporate oligarchs a convenient fig leaf, with cries of “but the credit rating!” concealing the grumbling about their dues to society.

By every reasonable metric, the Albertan NDP have been the most competent leadership the province has seen in years.

By contrast, corporate oligarchs are getting exactly what they want in Saskatchewan–and yet, it has not arrested Saskatchewan debt either, causing their credit rating to continue tanking.

Yesterday was the longest day of the year, and Standard & Poor’s chose the summer equinox to downgrade Saskatchewan’s credit rating from AA+ to AA.

It was the second time in the past 12 months Saskatchewan’s credit rating has been dropped by the famous New York credit rating agency, whose pronouncements are taken ever so seriously by conservative opposition parties here in Alberta.

But you could have waited all day and long after sunset – which took place at 10:07 p.m. here in the capital of Alberta, if you were wondering – to see a press release from either the Wildrose Party or the Progressive Conservative Party condemning Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and his conservative Saskatchewan Party government for this obvious failing.

Funny, that!

Because it’s certainly never taken this long for an angry press release to appear from the offices of either of Alberta’s two main conservative political parties when the same thing happened to Alberta’s New Democratic Party Government for the same reasons.

It turns out that increasing debt caused by keeping the lights on in resource dependent provinces in the face of low oil, natural gas and other resource prices has had pretty much the same effect in Saskatchewan governed by conservatives as it has had in Alberta governed by social democrats.

That said, a good economic case can be made that Alberta will be in far better shape as both provinces recover from the downturn because the NDP has not laid waste to health care, education and other public services, as the Saskatchewan Party is doing.

Regardless, when Standard & Poor’s downgraded Alberta’s credit rating for the second time, from AA+ to AA last month, the Wildrose press releasecalled it a “disastrous credit downgrade.”

“This is totally unacceptable,” wailed Wildrose Leader Brian Jean, who is already a candidate to lead the still-unbirthed United Conservative Party.

“Credit rating agencies don’t care what politicians say, they care what they do, and the NDP are doing nothing but dithering while Alberta’s deficit spirals out of control,” shrieked Wildrose Finance Critic Derek Fildebrandt, another UCP leadership candidate.

The real motive of the you-see-pee (United Conservative Party) has nothing to do with the provincial government’s credit rating, and everything to do with the same smash-and-grab that allowed capitalists to loot the public sector during a downturn, leaving the little guy to eat the recession while the capitalists sip martinis in the Cayman Islands.

I hope Alberta’s blue collar recognizes that.

-Shiv

Alberta political roundup

Trinity Christian, the private school that was caught cooking its books by the NDP, have had an administrator appointed to manage their finances while the RCMP conducts its investigation concerning allegations of fraud.

Professional douchebag Fred Henry, a Bishop in Calgary infamous for typical Roman Catholic Church douchebaggery, has resigned from his post. He accused the NDP of breathing “pure secularism” …and meant it as a bad thing.

Progressive Conservative supporters continue to cite the NDP’s progressive income taxation and vice taxation as primary reasons to oppose the NDP. Except both policies were also on the PC agenda. Oops.

The Progressive Conservatives have announced no findings of wrongdoing within their own party following the allegations of harassment by former moderate leadership candidate Sandra Jansen. Never mind that they investigated themselves. Move along folks, nothing to see here.

Brian Jean still has no idea how he’s going to “Unite the Right,” but it’ll be good, he pinky-swears.

-Shiv

The significance of political misogynistic violence on the anniversary of the Ecole Polytechnique massacre

27 years ago, a shooter entered a Montreal STEM school lecture hall with a loaded gun and held a class at gunpoint. He ordered the class to divide itself into men and women. They didn’t comply until he shot the ceiling.

Once separated, he turned his gun on the women. 14 women were murdered and another 20 injured before the shooter would turn the gun on himself. We would dub this the Ecole Polytechnique Massacre.

As with all atrocities, promises were made to never forget–certainly many Canadian feminists, myself included, observe the day of mourning. Yet it would seem that many in Alberta’s political landscape have a selective memory indeed, given that mere days ago an entire crowd worked itself into a frenzy to speak of our female Premier, “Lock her up!

It certainly puts Alberta’s conservative leadership in an awkward position. Their previous big tent success has always worked only with the cooperation of their snarling, reactionary dickhead vote, in which virulent misogynists have had their home for decades. Now they are tasked with keeping this vote whilst condemning violence spun in the same cloth that occurred on this day, 27 years ago.

Of course this isn’t the first time Brian Jean, leader of Alberta’s right-wing Wildrose Party, has had to contain this feral portion of the conservative voting bloc. He has gone on record to condemn them multiple times, yet they don’t seem particularly convinced by his ineffectual bleating. Maybe it’s because he’ll turn around in 3 months to start courting their vote again, but only before issuing another disingenuous apology about how wrong violence against women is. You’re not fooling your drooling bloodhounds, Jean, and neither are you fooling me.

How fundamentally perverse it is that the authoritarian jackboots can make their proclamations that the Premier ought to be jailed, simply because they dislike her, mere days before an occasion which reminds us all of the cost of patriarchal entitlement. If that’s a “joke,” you’ll have to explain it to me.

-Shiv

Rebel Media spokespuppet throws shoes at Legislature

I’m only laughing to numb the pain. Content Notice: Homophobia.

Despite claiming he’s not a lobbyist, Neal Hancock–perhaps better known by his character “Bernard the Roughneck”–sure collects a lot of money from oil lobbyists to talk about oil. The Quebecois theatre student and political science graduate would have you believe he’s the voice of Alberta’s average joe. Because, you know, the hotbed of ill-advised Western separatism is just teeming in abundance with French Canadian drama and political science?

Of course, no reality-denying quackery is complete without the chronically libelous Rebel Media. In a rally where “the Roughneck” went on record to suggest foreign agents should hack the NDP databases (man, where have I heard that one before), the average joe spokesman decided the best way to make his political statement about the NDP’s carbon tax was to throw his shoes at the Legislature. Seconds later after Hancock’s impassioned (and possibly treasonous) speech, Ezra “Not a Journalist” Levant said without the slightest hint of irony to the frothy-mouthed crowd:

As Hancock wandered away from the podium to retrieve his shoes, Levant reminded the crowd to “obey the law,” adding that “our side does, but the other side does not.”

Yes, because the man found guilty of libel is the sort of reliable law-abiding figure whose even-handed judgement you can trust. Like bringing in an arsonist to lecture you about safety.

Oh look, more libel!

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Jason Kenney doesn’t have to steal your info (because he already has it)

When last we picked up the stench of the Jason “I don’t get caught up in the details” Kenney Campaign, we observed some very Nixon-esque debris flying from Alberta’s right-wing movement. Now it seems Kenney has gone on record to deny any involvement by claiming he doesn’t need to steal your data, because he already has it.

“Kenney also suggests he doesn’t need to steal anybody’s list, even if he wanted to, because “when I entered this I already had a database of 60,000 people who have contacted me over 20 years as a Member of Parliament’.”

Former Progressive Conservative Deputy Thomas Lukaszuk notes:

Kenney’s campaign quickly tweeted that when Kenney said he had the names of “60,000 people who have contacted” him over his years as an MP, he was talking about names collected from his personal website

But the fishy thing about that explanation is how that squares with another Kenney controversy from last week.

Conservative supporters had complained that they were receiving letters from Kenney’s PC leadership campaign, despite having never given their personal information to either Kenney or the PCs.

Meanwhile, the Dickweed Wildrose Party is overdue for a bit of flailing over their data breach.

To wit, the Journal reported: “A Wildrose source said caucus members were not briefed separately on the robbery, rather they received the same email sent to supporters.”

The break-in was not a robbery, of course, but a burglary and theft. Just the same, it is not clear yet how the break-in and the purloined party membership lists are related, if they are related at all. It’s quite possible the party lists got into Tory hands the old-fashioned way, via a disloyal member.

Regardless, Opposition Leader Brian Jean apparently just went ahead Sunday afternoon and emailed the now famous letter to Wildrose supporters outlining the startling developments. It remains murky when the break-in happened, when it was reported to the police, whether the police are still investigating, or why Mr. Jean chose the afternoon of the Grey Cup game to issue his startling statement.

Those halcyon days now appear to be over. A couple of weeks ago, the often fractious Derek Fildebrandt – the high-profile Wildrose finance critic Mr. Jean tried and failed to fire last spring for endorsing a homophobic Facebook comment about Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne – published what blogger Dave Cournoyer called “a 743-word treatise on his Facebook page decrying ‘hysterical political correctness.’”

At the time Mr. Jean tried to kick him out of caucus – enraging the Wildrose Party’s most rightward fringe – Mr. Fildebrandt promised to behave himself and curb his social media excesses.

But on Nov. 16, citing the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, Mr. Fildebrandt argued “that smug, condescending, political correctness will spark a backlash” – comments that seemed to be aimed directly at Mr. Jean, and to amount to Mr. Fildebrandt’s personal declaration of independence from his party’s leader.

I wrote about the incident in question back in May. Of course, Fildebrandt’s idea of “political correctness” is that Brian Jean is far too polite to minorities in Alberta, even as the platform promises to shit on us nonetheless. I won’t say I told you so, Albertan conservatives, but I totally fucking told you so. (emphasis added)

You need to soul search, because it’s rapidly starting to look like the fiscal-conservative-socially-progressive types aren’t going to have a party in the next election. Kenney is slated to win the PC leadership and he has been very, very open and forthright about his intention to absorb the Wildrose back into the fold. The problem is that it isn’t the respectables at the helm anymore. It’s the deplorables. The ones who are serious about being socially reactionary. The ones who think death and rape threats are a legitimate vehicle of criticism. The ones Brian Jean has been trying to contain like a beleaguered dog-owner pulling back on the chain of his rabid pup: You know, the ones making targets of the Premier, mocking victims of domestic violence and the assassination of labour-rights politicians, and publicly approving denigrating posts about gay politicians, because there’s apparently not enough policy to criticize?

That was 18 days before any of this came to light.

Notley must be popping the champagne.

-Shiv

Take a Break from the US Election: Laugh at Albertans instead

I figure my American readers need someone to laugh at given the nauseating campaign they’re enduring right now. So, here, laugh at some Canadian political theatre. At least this clown isn’t calling for the extermination of Mexicans.

Or, at least, that’s my best attempt to describe this surreal chain of events, which David Climenhaga describes as “political performance art.” And honestly, it’s kind of difficult to disentangle the timeline here, because Conservative lobbies–ranging from the Wildrose Party to various far right-wing media outlets–all uncritically dove in face first to a character that represented the anxieties of Alberta’s shiny new progressive government. The corresponding mess ought to leave any reasonable person with at least a mild headache, and no janitor is paid enough to clean it up.

What is this political performance Climenhaga refers to? Why, it is none other than the lovechild of confirmation bias and political opportunism: Bernard the Roughneck.

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Expert bloodsucking party talks bloodsucking

The Dickweeds Wildrose returns with a vengeance! Not content to go longer than a few days without saying something asinine, the Wildrose are seriously proposing that Canadian Blood Services ought to pay Canadians for blood. See if you can spot the irony:

Accusing Ms. Hoffman of “hypocrisy” and of wanting to “get in the way” of improvements to the system for ideological reasons, Mr. Barnes claimed “paid plasma is every bit as safe” as blood products donated by volunteers, and that paying for blood is a “safe, common, widely endorsed and crucially essential practice.”

Then…

The Wildrose push seems to be in response to intensive lobbying by Canadian Plasma Resources, a Saskatoon-based for-profit company.

Canadian Plasma Resources is now buying plasma from donors in Saskatoon for $25 a pop – paid with a gift card or a charitable donation to get around rules prohibiting cash payments for blood products. The company became controversial in Ontario in 2014 after its plans to profit highly off of plasma collection there became known.

“Ideology,” eh? Is that what we’re calling your wallet, now?

Yes, obviously the solution to poverty is to attach strings, like their blood, to hand-ups. That’s the crux of pay-for-blood policies. Nobody well off ought to be convinced by a $25 incentive, so the main people who would use this “opportunity” would be people struggling to make ends meet. Oh–unless you’re gay or trans, in which case, cooties. So instead of advocating for a functioning social safety net to actually take care of welfare problems, you want to coerce poor folks into giving blood for a bit of extra grocery money.

Priorities. The Wildrose have them.

PS. By the way, I’d happily donate, but you know, Spontaneous Cooties Syndrome.

-Shiv

Canada’s right wing radicals

MacLeans has a review of Canada’s very own alt-right, filled to the brim with ignorant white voters spewing a constant fountain of hate and violence:

It became such a concern for Brian Jean, the leader of Alberta’s populist Wildrose Party and the leader of the province’s official Opposition, that he stopped his relentless criticism of the province’s left-wing NDP government long enough to ask his Facebook followers to stop threatening to murder Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.

“Over the last few days, I’ve seen far too many hateful and even violent social media posts directed toward our political opponents,” Jean wrote in a Facebook missive two weeks before Christmas. “This needs to stop. These kinds of comments cross all bounds of respect and decency and have absolutely no place in our political discourse. This is not how Albertans behave.”

Jean says he felt compelled to go public after being struck by the number and nature of the threats against Notley. They began, Jean said, shortly after the Notley government introduced a farm safety law that extended compensation rights to farm workers. Bill 6, as it is known, sparked demonstrations from Alberta farmers, who worried it would prohibit them from hiring temporary labourers and recruiting volunteers.

“I’ve never had to do anything like this in my political career,” says Jean, a 12-year veteran of federal and provincial politics, of his note. “There was open hatred and actual threats of life. I even got threats myself after I posted the message. It shows the level some people will go to. It’s not helpful. It absorbs the importance of the discussion itself.”

You made your bed, Brian Jean. Now sleep in it. If your supporters act like monsters, it’s because every time the Dickweeds step up to the plate you engage in stochastic terrorism.

-Shiv

Wildrose Party: We care about the taxpayers (unless we can antagonize the NDP instead)

The Dickweed Wildrose Party is at it again.

If you live in Alberta, you’ve probably heard of the scandalous energy clause that the NDP have been challenging in court known as the Enron Clause. As the NDP have been gradually repairing decades of PC damage, the Enron Clause is one such skeleton that the previous “Progressive” Conservative government tried to bury quietly approved–probably because it privatizes energy sector profits but socializes the business risk to consumers. But the most notable thing about the Enron Clause isn’t merely its unprincipled consequences–it was buried so deep passed so quietly that the NDP didn’t even know of the Clause when they raised the penalties for exceeding carbon emission targets for energy producers.

On Aug 18, 2000 a regulation (Reg 175/2000) was filed with the Registrar of Regulations.  It contained the AEUB’s Order approving the original PPAs plus “errata” letters setting out mathematical changes and the Enron Clause.

This regulation was not supported by a Ministerial Order or an Order in Council—it just materialized out of thin air. 

A month later Cabinet passed a regulation burying Reg 175/2000 (and the Enron clause).  It said Reg 175/2000 was available in printed form to those who wanted it and it was too big to go into the Alberta Gazette.

Let’s think about that for a moment.

Yes, the Reg containing the PPAs and Enron clause can be purchased from the Queen’s Printer for $246 or ferreted out of a legal data base if you have a subscription and an experienced law librarian handy—but you need to know the Enron clause exists in the first place before you can go looking for it and you won’t know it exists because you can’t read about it in the Alberta Gazette or search for it on CanLii, a standard free legal database.

So good luck trying to find it.

It appears the only people who knew about the Enron clause were those who were involved in the PPA auction (including Enron), the AEUB and Klein’s Cabinet (none of whom are in the Legislature today).

When the NDP finally discovered this loophole that had been built by the PCs, they promptly sic’d their lawyer attack dogs on it to challenge the clause as unlawful.

It makes perfect sense that the PCs are loudly complaining about the NDP challenging the Clause in court, considering it was a product of their posterboy, Ralph Klein. But as the Dickweed Wildrose Party has on multiple occasions stated it intends to “unite the right,” it makes little sense for them to also oppose the NDP’s challenge. This is a prime opportunity to discredit the PCs and move so-called moderate conservative voters to your reactionary party.

Instead, the Wildrose does what it always does: Knee-jerk reactions and unsubstantiated whinging into the microphone, cuz the ‘dippers are eeeeeeevil. Strange that people buy their whole “we’re on the side of the taxpayers” schtick, considering the Wildrose are trying to antagonize the closure of a scummy corporate loophole that would leave taxpayers holding the bag for bad business decisions.

-Shiv, Fashionable Communist, Annihilator of Man