Progress Report #192
Your weekly update on Alberta politics for November 12, 2019
The UCP’s ‘Wexit panel’ is the perfect distraction to draw attention from Alberta’s brutal new austerity budget–but packaged with it is something direly serious.
Appointees to the panel include some of the UCP’s least-impressive backbenchers–I don’t think any good idea has ever emerged from Drew Barnes and Tany Yao sitting at a table together–as well as conservative hanger-on and unhinged blog-poster Donna Kennedy-Glans and Preston Manning, who will continue to afflict us forever, apparently.
The ideas the panel will consider range from absurd to awful.
Some are laughable in different ways than others–like the irony of suggesting Alberta create its own police force to replace the RCMP, when the RCMP are still investigating the UCP for electoral skulduggery.
Or the suggestion that Alberta ought to push out the CRA and collect its own taxes, a gigantic duplication of work that economists estimate would cost around a half-billion dollars a year. (That’s enough to pay for Kenney’s cuts to AISH about fifty times every year.)
But most chilling is the mention of the Alberta government taking over your pension.
Don Braid was floating this idea earlier in the week–surely not at anyone’s behest, right Don?–which involves the provincial government taking everyone’s pensions and handing them over to the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) to be administered by them instead.
It’s bad enough that AIMCo has consistently shown worse returns than the Canada Pension Plan–which would mean pensions would be much less sustainable. No, there’s one very ominous line in Braid’s piece:
Government officials suggest there could be a strategic advantage for Alberta development. With many lenders shunning oil and gas, AIMCo might buy more stakes in the industry.
I can’t think of a more disastrous turn for Albertans than Jason Kenney raiding everyone’s pensions to prop up the floundering business ventures of his donors. But it’s the only thing of substance this new Wexit panel is actually discussing–and it’s a lot of money. A fortune. Do you think they won’t try to get their hands on it?
Bill 207 a big payoff for Kenney’s so-con campaign backers
Do you remember just after the election when anti-choice agitators The Wilberforce Project (a.k.a. The Alberta Pro-Life Association) were boasting of having elected “the most pro-life legislature in decades, and maybe ever”?
Well it looks like that investment is about to pay off.
UCP MLA Dan Williams says his opposition to women’s right to an abortion has been “a deeply held belief for a long time,” has been spotted at anti-abortion rallies and was one of several UCP candidates promoted by the Wilberforce Project during the election.
Now he’s introduced a private member’s bill, Bill 207, that would make it radically more difficult for Albertans to access abortion, gender reassignment surgery, hysterectomies, assisted dying, and basically anything any bigoted doctor feels personally opposed to.
Medical professional associations and human rights advocates are already decrying the legislation. But in its first reading in the Legislature last week, not a single UCP MLA voted against it. They have a majority–expect them to ram it through.
- Alberta’s getting back in the habit something we were all pretty sick of–juicy patronage appointments for political hacks. A couple of the latest: Janice Harrington, former executive director of the UCP and a person with as far as we can tell no experience in the medical sector, has been appointed to two health advocate positions; and donor Duane Monea, who contributed to conservative political parties in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2018, has been appointed to chair the Real Estate Council of Alberta.
- Edmonton is slashing hundreds of public transit routes as it redesigns its transit system. Rather than substantially increasing funding for transit, the city is vastly reducing how much of the city transit will cover. Particularly distressing are the mentions of ‘innovating last-kilometer solutions.’ Are we going to have to stand up and beat back that horrible Uber voucher proposal again?
- The UCP’s anti-environmentalist inquiry hasn’t accomplished anything yet, but that hasn’t stopped it from spending nearly a million dollars, reports Janet French in the Edmonton Journal. The project–which more and more is looking like a slush fund for UCP-friendly lawyers and accountants–is supposed to cost at most $2.5 million. At this rate they’ll sail right past that number in just another month or two.
- This Remembrance Day we tried to spread awareness of Canada’s original anti-fascists–the Mackenzie-Papineau battalion who fought fascism during the Spanish Civil War. The Mac-Paps were heroic volunteers, but upon their return to Canada (and not all of them were allowed to return!) they were treated as domestic terrorists, distrusted and surveilled by the government as ‘Communist sympathizers.’ Learn more about the Mac-Paps on this week’s episode of the Progress Report podcast.
- Next Monday in Edmonton students will be marching from the University of Alberta to the Legislature to demand Jason Kenney roll back his cuts to Alberta’s colleges and universities. If you’re a student planning to attend, be sure to come up with a suitable excuse for your prof, like “I will be busy marching to make sure they don’t replace you with one of those McDonalds kiosks.”
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