Progress Report #198
Your weekly update on Alberta politics for January 7, 2020
Jason Kenney has been working hard to transfer control of Albertans’ pensions to AIMCO, the Alberta Investment Management Corporation. Over the holidays we got a bit of a preview of what’s in store for those funds.
The Financial Post reported on December 27th that AIMCO has purchased a gigantic stake in the Coastal GasLink Pipeline. Yes, that’s the very same pipeline that Wet’suwet’en people are protesting over in BC. The same pipeline that, as The Guardian reported on December 20th, the RCMP were willing to kill over.
It’s a fraught place to put public money. As far as mere dollars and cents go, I don’t have great confidence this project will ever get completed. The hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en are extremely opposed to the project and have dug in and put up barricades. If the project is completed, it’s likely not going to be without brutal colonial violence.
The UCP administration argues that completing this pipeline and exporting the gas from the Montney shale (equivalent to about half the gas reserves of Qatar) would paradoxically be a climate win, as the gas might be used in place of coal. I’ve yet to see convincing data to support such a bold claim. It’s true that natural gas burns cleaner than coal. But there’s more to this than that simple comparison. You have to extract the gas, first of all, a process which we now know produces extreme levels of ‘fugitive’ or unaccounted-for methane emissions. You have to transport it, too, which is energy-intensive. And even when it arrives at its destination, there’s no guarantee that it will displace coal. The buyers might just end up burning the gas and the coal.
Between the likelihood that this investment will just flop, and lose all the money–the perpetuation of colonial violence against Indigenous people–and the potential climate damages–there are a lot of reasons to be shaking your head about this GasLink deal. Alberta’s media, unfortunately, seems to be letting this one pass uncritically.
We’re doing some heavy research into AIMCO right now and I look forward to sharing the findings with you soon. Stay tuned.
- The Alberta NDP came out swinging this week against Jason Kenney’s ‘war room’–the Canadian Energy Centre. Calling it a “costly, ridiculous failure,” the NDP are calling for the $30-million-a-year publically-funded oil-and-gas PR operation to be immediately shut down. If you’re a long-time subscriber of the Progress Report you’ll already be familiar with the war room’s growing list of ethical lapses and incompetent bungles. So I won’t recount the whole litany. What I will point you to is the Alberta Advantage holiday special, which tears the CEC’s cringeworthy launch video to shreds. Happy New Year!
- Australia has been wracked by hellish wildfires, which have destroyed thousands of homes, slaughtered wildlife, wiped out at least a couple of endangered species, and no doubt traumatized an entire generation. Over at the AlbertaPolitics blog, David Climenhaga points to this as a tipping point–the days of media refusing to mention climate change when discussing these disasters is over. The world is getting fed up, and these climate catastrophes have become undeniable.
- The Medicine Hat News, one of the few major newspapers in Alberta with the journalistic passion to seriously criticize this government, has come under fire by the Canadian Energy Centre and Kenney’s aggressive pack of press secretaries and issues managers. And they’re not going to take it anymore. Have a read and marvel at the slimy misinformation the UCP government tried–and failed–to slip past these reporters.
Please share our newsletter with any friends or family who you think would like political news and commentary from a progressive point of view. If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, you can sign up for it here. Donations to support our ongoing work are always welcome and if you’re interested in volunteering with us, just reply to this email.