Catherine McKenna hopes to bully Jason Kenney into carbon tax submission
Minister of the Environment, Catherine McKenna has fired back at Premier-elect Jason Kenney after his fiery victory speech condemning the federal government’s failure to support the province’s oil industry.
“I don’t want to speculate on what’s going to happen, but we’ve been clear that it should not be free to pollute anywhere in the country and we have a backstop should provinces not have a price on pollution,” said McKenna in an interview with the Globe and Mail.
The former Wild Rose leader, Brian Jean, has encouraged all Albertans to boycott Quebec beer in reaction to the province’s stance on Albertan oil. In particular, Jean asked Albertans to boycott Molson Canadian, the brewing goliath, which was originally from Montreal, Quebec.
Despite the Molson’s relationship with Quebec, their company has become a global organization over the last century. It is headquartered, in the United States and has an international distribution network. As such, it is difficult to ascertain just how successful Jean’s boycott would be.
This is the most recent escalation in a series of incidents that have arrived since Justin Trudeau’s election as Prime Minister. The Liberals were swept in western Canada, without winning a single seat in Saskatchewan or Alberta.
This voting was indicative of the extent to which western Canada was frustrated with Ottawa. This was made clear when the premiers Scott Moe and Jason Kenney, threatened a referendum on the controversial equalization payments, as well as their opposition to the carbon tax.
Disaffected Canadian regions have often used protectionist trade sanctions to state their disapproval or influence other regions. Last year, Jean again called on Albertans to boycott products from Quebec. As well as this, the Albertan government has previously sanctioned all wine produced in British Columbia after they delayed an oil pipeline.
Amidst calls for proactive measures on the global “climate crisis”, 11,258 scientists from 153 nations agreed with the findings in a recent BioScience publication. They warn of “untold suffering due to the climate crisis”.
Unless we commit to reproducing less, “transition” from fossil fuels, cut meat from our diets and end deforestation, the effects will only worsen, according to the publication.
The Liberal Party dogma echoes these sentiments. From using Inuit Canadians as props to giving fictitious sympathies to the prairies (having labelled them as “climate change deniers” in the past), the false moral platitudes undermine attempts for rational discourse.
When that discourse sours to the received wisdom being beyond reproach, and media mix education with indoctrination, society suffers as a result.
Yes, climate change is just that–a serious issue trumped up by alarmist rhetoric.
Like health care, education, and yes, even climate change, contentious issues such as these require honest debate, realistic goals, and a plan to achieve said policy aims. Combating climate change can occur without alienating large swaths of the population or moving to “phase out” entire industries.
While it is no secret that Albertans are the least receptive to coercive climate action, the backlash from a recent poll demonstrates how divisive mere inquiry can be. Suggesting an alternative to the carbon tax even constitutes the label of climate change denier.
Therefore, if it is true that “Scientists have a moral obligation…to ‘tell it like it is’, then, perhaps, the demonizing of one’s opponents, as the political left often does, is not how we save the world from the pending apocalypse.
Effectively, the climate change issue has become a means by which tragedy is politicized, opponents mischaracterized, and the genuine need to educate gone with the wind. It’s all about centralized control, increased taxation, and not the freedom to choose.
The recent High Level fire was not caused by climate change, but arson
The CBC pinned the devastating fire this summer near High Level and Chuckegg Creek on climate change, using wire copy from Canadian Press reporter Corlette Derworiz with the misleading headline “Alberta wildfires linked to climate change, scientist says”.
Despite the fires still raging, the CBC article began by spinning the story in service of the climate change narrative, before the smoke had settled and the cause of the fire was even established.
We now know from the release of the RCMP’s investigation that the largest of the fires around Chuckegg Creek and High Level were caused by arson, something that was made public on Oct. 22.
Of course, climate change will result in more wildfires. Nobody would contend that warmer weather makes for drier conditions, but in this case, the reporting was dishonest. Emphasizing a single factor without acknowledging other causes, including arson, was irresponsible.
The premier’s response at the time included the need for more context as to why this fire season may be worse than others, including but not limited to climate change.
“‘I accept the science on anthropogenic climate change,’ Kenney said in a news conference. “But, in this particular instance, I can tell you we are on the five-year average for forest fires in Alberta… The large one right now is happening in an area where there has not been a fire for 80 years, and so, regardless of other factors, it was due eventually for a large wildfire.’”
In our interview with the CP reporter, she said, “Kenney’s comments aren’t wrong, but fire scientists say they don’t tell the whole story,” which is ironic, given the original story included misleading quotes from the scientist she interviewed.
It all seemed quite strange that the quotes from Dr. Mike Flannigan, who has a Ph.D. in Plant Sciences, and who specializes in fire’s interaction with climate, would give such a lopsided take on the northern Alberta wildfires. His quotes, peppered throughout the article, read like climate change propaganda, which, now having talked to him, are deeply misrepresentative of his views.
A quote like “We are seeing climate change in action,” makes it sound like Dr. Flannigan is speaking on the northern Alberta wildfires, and like other quotes, are lacking in context, suspiciously short, and do not reflect something a respected environmental scientist would claim while a wildfire is still burning.
When we called Dr. Flannigan to ask why he seemingly had attributed the fires solely to the increased risks from climate change, the ensuing discussions pointed our concerns back to Derworiz’s piece that the all-too-credulous CBC published because it fit the public broadcaster’s confirmation bias.
Upon questioning him, it was soon evident that Dr. Flannigan is very detailed in the way he handles the issue of forest fires. The quotes included were tailored down to meet the CP’s and CBC’s climate change narrative.
As Dr. Flannigan put it:
“Media like sound bites of ten to thirty seconds, where, unfortunately, you can’t get into all that you know, but you try and hammer home the major points and often I do try. But it doesn’t always make it because things get cut, that the amount of human activity in northern Alberta has increased significantly. And so we’re seeing more impact because more people are living and working in the forest as compared to 40 years ago. So that’s why we’re seeing more Chuckegg Creeks, Slave Lakes, and Fort McMurray. It’s because there are more people there, and they’re starting fires.” Dr. Flannigan
When we followed up with the CP reporter to question the editorializing in her news article, she said it was unfair to expect her to get the cause of the fire correct as she had less information when she wrote the article. This misses the point entirely.
The issue is that CP wrote a story about the northern Alberta wildfires and linked them to climate change before having all of the evidence. Even if the cause of the major fires around Chuckegg Creek and High Level had been strongly linked to climate change, it would still not be correct to write the story before confirming that as factually accurate.
If you don’t have the information, then you don’t write the story. That’s how journalism works.
On the call, the reporter pivoted her position from climate change being linked to the fires to climate change, generally making wildfires worse, which is a palatable position, but not one that was portrayed in her article.
She deflected criticism of the information she presented back at Dr. Flannigan, stating, “I’m not giving you different information. The prof is the expert. He’s the guy that you should talk to.”
Dr. Flannigan told us, “I don’t usually like to go to individual events and say, yes, that’s a direct result of climate change.” That contradicts the premise of the article which broadly links all the fires, including those close to Chuckegg Creek and High Level, to climate change.
Again Dr. Flannigan had said that he doesn’t just give soundbites nor link causes or factors to fires while they are still burning. He will provide extensive information to anyone who comes looking for his expertise.
“Media wants a hook, and the more sensational, the better. So, I can sometimes talk for 40 minutes, and it will be reduced down to thirty seconds or twenty seconds, and they [only] take snippets. And sometimes it’s out of context, or at least it’s not complete. It’s incomplete. And yeah, I mean, it’s a very complex issue, and to reduce it to one point is–yeah.”
The CP reporter responded to us when asked if it was okay to run a story before getting in all the evidence, saying, “Well, I don’t think that is any different than Premier Kenney making statements about what he thinks caused the fire at the time.”
Having mentioned Premier Kenney’s response to the fire, she claimed her article was a response to his “strong statements.”
“I believe that is why we did that story at the time,” she states.
Though the author isn’t wholly to blame, the CBC is dogmatic on the climate change issue and gladly publishes alarmist rhetoric on their website regularly. Those opposing the so-called “climate crisis” are ex-communicated as “deniers”, while Greta Thunberg is given sainthood.
Based on this editorial trajectory, it isn’t a shock that the CBC has set up an incentive structure that could result in a biased, inaccurate piece being published without sober second thought.
It doesn’t seem to matter to them that a misreporting of the issue could impact the lives of people living in northern Alberta. People need to know accurate information on what caused a fire to be able to make an informed decision on continuing to live in the area or not.
For the record, the CBC never updated the original article or made any retraction of the information provided within.
Since CBC receives well over a billion dollars of taxpayer money annually, it would be nice if Canadians could rely on accurate information, especially in stressful situations like wildfires or extreme weather events where evacuations occurred.
While CBC and CP mislead Canadians, The Post Millennial provided quality coverage of the region, even before the fires
The importance of shining light on underreported issues with a large platform or spotlight is crucial—especially so as we make concerted efforts to mend historical injustices.
And speaking truth to power, including the mainstream, is vital for the free press to do so consistently, and to do right.
Alberta is making changes to the law that will prevent property owners from being sued if they injure a criminal on their property. These amendments will be introduced imminently, making Alberta’s legislation on this matter retroactive to the start of 2018, according to Global News.
This comes after the notable Edouard Maurice incident in 2018. In that case Maurice shot and wounded an intruder who had been robbing his truck on his property in south Calgary. Although charges were never pressed, the intruder is currently suing Maurice.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has long been vocal in his support for protecting property owners. After Maurice was sued by his assailant, Kenney helped fund the cost of his legal fees.
In the most recent Alberta election, rural crime was a hot topic amongst the political debate. Due to this, Kenney’s UCP promised to enact legislation aimed at combating it. These measures included reforming the role of over 400 peace officers.
The Alberta government intends to train these peace offices so that they can assist on emergency calls in rural areas.
In the criminal code, all self defence massacres must be both “proportional” and “reasonable.” Some critics are concerned that this new legislation will be misunderstood by some Alberta citizens who will then believe they can legally use excessive force on trespassers. In the United States, the “Stand your Ground” law in some states have resulted in cases of excessive force causing death.
Alberta's agriculture and forestry minister leads way in fiscal responsibility in province's new budget
The United Conservative Party of Alberta is taking getting the provincial government’s fiscal house in order seriously.
Leading the way in fiscal restraint in Alberta is 31-year-old Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen.
“At agriculture and forestry we’re cutting 38 percent over four years, over half a billion dollars, which again, is just trying to get us to spend within our means and to find efficiencies…” said Dreeshen in a phone interview with The Post Millennial. “[We’re looking] at how the bureaucracy actually functions and how we can streamline processes so those who do have to interact with government are getting it done in a timely manner. So ultimately running government like a business.”
This fiscal year Dreeshen’s ministry is spending $967 million, but by next year the ministry’s operating budget will be down to $879 million.
The former Alberta NDP government under Premier Rachel Notley greatly expanded government spending.
“There was over $30 million–there was a liquor manufacturing program that the previous government brought in, which again, had no real government goals. It wasn’t increasing economic activity, it wasn’t creating more jobs, and so that was a program that we just eliminated right off the bat,” said Dreeshen.
“Overall with this budget, we inherited a mess from the previous NDP government, and they had us on a trajectory for $100 billion in debt. But on top of that, we currently spend $2 billion a year on interest payments,” Dreeshen explained.
Unlike Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government, which faced severe backlash for initial cuts, including skyrocket disapproval ratings, Premier Jason Kenney’s government is staying steadfast in reducing overall government spending and getting its books in order
“…To me, [the NDP] saddling Alberta’s next generation with debt is something that is irresponsible. And that’s why, I think this is the first provincial government in a couple decades that’s actually cut overall spending totally.”
Even with major cuts in the agriculture and forestry ministry and a few other ministries, the UCP government won’t fully balance the books until 2022-23 with a modest surplus of $600 million. The latest budget will still run a projected $8.7 billion deficit.
Despite the UCP cutting overall spending, both the health ministry and community and social services ministry are increasing their budgets. Education spending is staying at a similar level. In the past, cutting back on these ministries have lead to severe backlash from the general public, unions and press.
“When I went to estimates, and they’re saying ‘look at these cuts you’re making to these programs.’ And so I just countered with, ‘No, that’s a tax cut because Albertans aren’t getting taxed in the first place to have the carbon tax in order to sprinkle out these programs.’ So I think we had four within the department that were completely, specifically tied to the carbon tax, which we eliminated on May 30.”
“We’re looking at how we can reform how the province does ag. research. And so we’re going to be partnering, we’re looking at ways to partner with private sector research, also discussing and consulting with academia to see how the universities can be more involved in ag. research. But at the end of the day we campaigned on farmer-led research, not government-led research. So we want to make sure that farmers are the decision makers on the type of research that the province does fund.”
Consultation with agriculture industry stakeholders will happen in December and Dreesen hopes to have a plan in place by early in the new year.
“It’s big because we have regional research groups, we have commodity organizations that help fund research, we have the life science private companies that are in the space doing a lot of research, we have universities, some of them are doing the research. So we’re trying to piece together the whole research spectrum, to make sure we come up with a new way of doing research that ultimately gets better results for farmers.”
NDP agriculture critic Lorne Dach was no fan of the reduced spending.
“We don’t want to lose these scientists; we need them more than ever,” he said. “We are facing crop pests and clubroot, and we need these scientists to help solve these challenges.”
Dreeshen says part of the problem now with the province’s research grants is there are some projects that are duplicates or redundant to other research projects within Alberta or other parts of the country.
Cuts weren’t across the board, however. The ministry under Dreeshen increased spending by $5 million in combatting the mountain pine beetle, which has devastated some of Alberta’s forests.
“We’re still spending a lot of money in very important, strategic areas.”