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Danielle Smith Is Really Mad — Again

Ottawa’s plan to manage oil-and-gas emissions draws a furious response in Dubai from the premier.

David Climenhaga 7 Dec 2023Alberta Politics

David J. Climenhaga is an award-winning journalist, author, post-secondary teacher, poet and trade union communicator. He blogs at Follow him on Twitter at @djclimenhaga.

Is Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s United Conservative Party government now planning to introduce a new, tougher Sovereignty Act to fight Ottawa’s proposed emissions regulations?

As is well known, the plainly unconstitutional Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act has been shown to be a meaningless joke.

So this morning Smith and her environment minister, Rebecca Schulz, who lately has been reduced to the role of an insignificant cheerleader for the premier, published a belligerent statement about the proposed federal “de facto production cap” in which they vowed to “develop a constitutional shield in response to this and other recent attacks on our province by what is fast becoming one of the most damaging federal administrations in Canadian history.” The cap on oil-and-gas emissions was announced by Federal Environment Minister Steve Guilbeault today.

Wasn’t the Sovereignty Act supposed to be a “constitutional shield”? What will this new Sovereignty 2.0 Act be, then? The Alberta Sovereignty Within a Somewhat Less United Canada Act?

Or are we going to skip straight to a unilateral declaration of independence, as no doubt the premier’s separatist Svengali and office manager, Rob Anderson, would prefer and the threatening tone of today’s broadside suggests?

Anderson, of course, is Smith’s former Wildrose Party House leader and a co-author of the Free Alberta Strategy, a separatist screed.

I mean, seriously? “This proposed cap also undermines the unity of our country. Albertans will not tolerate it,” Smith says. “Our province is simply done with what amounts to a steady stream of economic sanctions and punitive measures thrown upon our citizens and businesses to intentionally damage their livelihoods and the economic engine that disproportionally powers our national economy and the programs that Canadians rely on.”

What are we planning here? A protection racket? I’m in Victoria this week and feel as if I should wander around the streets accosting passersby and telling them they’ve got a nice little country here, so they’d better do what we want, or something might happen to it!

The passage quoted above is utter pish-posh, of course. We all know there have been no economic sanctions or punitive measures taken against Alberta. There have been policies the UCP government and its sponsors in the fossil fuel industry don’t like. And the contribution of the energy industry to Canada, while important, is exaggerated by bad actors like Smith and Anderson to leave us with the impression There Is No Alternative.

Well, there is no alternative to global electrification, but that’s a story for another day.

Anyway, we can’t ask Smith or Schulz about this. They’re not scheduled to fly back into Alberta’s sovereign airspace until next Tuesday, having been conveniently at an energy industry lobbyists’ convention, or whatever it was that COP28 turned into, in Dubai.

Being out of the country is convenient, giving the premier and her excessive entourage the opportunity to ignore the tough questions recently asked in the legislature and elsewhere in Alberta about the economic sanctions and punitive measures against health-care workers by the UCP government.

It also raises an interesting question about the whereabouts of Brian Jean, Alberta’s increasingly hirsute energy minister who neither accompanied the premier to Dubai nor affixed his name to today’s inflammatory statement.

Is Jean just bored or, as a former member of Parliament in the Harper Conservative government, is he troubled by the increasingly anti-Canadian tone of the Smith government? Or does he sense things unravelling in Edmonton and want to be in a better position once again to offer his services as leader and premier?

As someone observed on social media recently, if he shaves off that Grizzly Adams beard, it’ll be a sure sign he’s making another run for the top political job.

There is much more in today’s statement that deserves analysis. I never thought I’d see the day that Smith would be bragging about Alberta’s carbon tax — although, to be fair, a carbon tax is only a carbon tax when it’s imposed by Ottawa. When implemented by Conservatives in Alberta, it’s a “price for carbon.”

Calling the federal environment minister an eco-extremist is just abuse, of course, and ironic coming from an extremist government like Smith’s. But it does have the merit of distracting from the UCP’s plan to hijack our Canada Pension Plan and use its assets to prop up the foreign-owned fossil fuel industry as the world electrifies — and perhaps to clean up the epic mess it leaves in Alberta when it walks away from the oilsands.  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics, Alberta

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