Oh, Alberta

There used to be a rule in my province: if you worked overtime, you could be compensated in two ways. Either your boss would pay you 150% of your normal hourly rate for those hours, or they could give you an equal number of hours off in a future shift. The loophole is obvious: pressure your workers into taking time off, and you don’t have to pay them that extra 50%. The New Democratic Party plugged that loophole over a year ago, bringing us in line with other provinces.

In their election platform, the United Conservative Party pledged to reintroduce the loophole, allowing employers to fleece their employees again and hurting the bottom line of hundreds of thousands of Albertans.

The UCP also pledged to remove the provincial “carbon tax.” This also takes money from Albertans, as the tax is proportional to the amount of carbon everyone consumes. Since industry is by far the greatest polluter, it’s easy to use the taxes on them to offer rebates for ordinary citizens. Indeed, roughly 60% of us paid little or no carbon tax thanks to that trick. To make matters worse, removing the provincial carbon levy doesn’t mean Albertans are free of said “tax.” On the contrary, our federal government imposes a carbon tax if your province doesn’t have one. The UCP solution? Sue the federal government, on the grounds that… they can’t collect taxes, I guess? The UCP is almost certain to lose in court and charge the legal fees to the taxpayers of Alberta.

Oh also, the UCP want to cut the minimum wage. Not for everyone, mind you, just the workers that people don’t care too much about. Meanwhile they want to cut the business tax rate, despite Alberta already having the lowest business taxes in all of Canada, and are aiming to slash the province’s debt, at a time when we also have the smallest debt in all of Canada. Social service cuts are sure to follow.

Their platform, in sum, kneecaps most Albertans. So how on Earth can you hope to win their votes? All you USians in the crowd can probably guess this one. From the UCP platform:

  • Establish an ‘Energy War Room’ to respond in real time to the lies and myths told about Alberta’s energy industry through paid, earned, and social media.
  • Seek out and support Alberta energy companies that are willing to challenge the campaign of defamation by anti-Alberta special interests, similar to Resolute Forest Products’ defamation suit against Greenpeace for $300 million in damages.
  • Launch a public inquiry under the Inquiries Act into the foreign sources of funds behind the anti-Alberta energy campaign. The inquiry will have the power to compel witness testimony, and have a $2.5 million budget.

That’s right, the UCP is proposing a “war” against foreign environmentalists. Local ones either don’t exist, or are “fake” Albertans under foreign influence. It’s a fanciful conspiracy theory, built right into their core platform. Add in some identity politics (Campus free speech! Trudeau sucks!) and grandiose claims of chickens in every pot, and you’ve got most of their election strategy.

The missing bit is something USians are also familiar with, but may not have guessed.

The leader of the new United Conservative Party (UCP) is already promising not to act on a resolution passed over the weekend at the UCP’s first policy convention. Members voted in favour of parents being notified when their child joins an after-school club, including a gay-straight alliance. But Kenney quickly poured cold water on the idea. […]

“Let me be absolutely stone-cold clear: a United Conservative government will not be changing law or policy to require notification of parents when kids join GSAs,” Kenney said.

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United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney on Tuesday defended his pledge to proclaim the Education Act (2014), which would remove the prohibition on parental notification if a child joins a gay-straight alliance.

Kenney has faced backlash from LGBTQ advocates, teachers and parents since he announced the UCP education platform on Monday. A UCP government would proclaim the former Progressive Conservative government’s Education Act (2014) to replace the NDP’s amended School Act.

Technically Kenney didn’t lie, in the same way that Alabama technically didn’t ban abortion or William Barr technically summarized the contents of the Special Council Report. On other topics, however, he steals directly from Trump’s playbook.

Kenney’s repeated insistence Monday that the change would simply align Alberta with overtime laws in “in every other province” is not true. In every province and territory where workers can bank overtime, employers are required to pay out those hours at 1.5 times the hourly wage. In B.C., it goes up to 2.0 for anything exceeding 12 hours of overtime.

“This does not affect overtime pay. I repeat — it does not affect or diminish overtime pay,” Kenney said Monday when asked about the line in the UCP platform which he unveiled over the weekend in Calgary.

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“The NDP, of course, is running a fear and smear campaign,” Kenney said. “All we are proposing is that we return to exactly the same [overtime] rules that existed for, as far as I know, decades in Alberta without any, as far as I know, reported abuses.” […]

[Christina] Gray rejects Kenney’s contention that no one complained about the old rules. “I heard people complained during the consultations,” she said. “I know that many workers felt that it didn’t make sense for Alberta to be out of step with the rest of Canada.”

Those South of the ’49 tend to view Canadians as more enlightened and sensible. But Ontario knew who Doug Ford was via his brother Rob Ford, knew they were getting someone who ran their own partisan fake news organization, knew of all the scandals and personality cult surrounding him, knew that in Canada majority governments can do whatever they want, and yet they still handed him a clear majority. Alberta’s United Conservative Party were plagued with scandals over homophobic and racist candidates, and Albertans didn’t like the party’s leader all that much, yet also handed the UCP a clear majority. In the USA, the people involved with their horrific family separation policy could forever be tarred by the association; in Alberta, we just rewarded the guy in charge of our horrific family separation policy with high office. The government of the province next door, Saskatchewan, is looking to follow the lead of Alberta’s UCP. Out of ten provincial governments, in fact, seven skew conservative. At the federal level, the Conservative party is likely to win the next election, thanks in part to systemic racism.

It’s slowly dawning on me that Canadians are no more progressive than our US friends. And now, with the NDP officially out of power and the United Conservatives firmly in, I’m about to get a four year dose of conservatism. “Hellberta,” indeed.