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Ever since she announced her bid to replace Jason Kenney as UCP leader and Alberta premier, Danielle Smith has brandished the idea of a so-called Alberta Sovereignty Act like it was a loaded political gun. It worked, too, given that it helped her win the leadership of her party and survive a provincial election in May. But she had to know at some point people would figure out the chamber was empty and the supposed weapon she was wielding was little more than a political prop.

On Monday, as she announced its use in order to “shield” Albertans from the federal government’s Clean Electricity Regulations, it became abundantly clear she was firing blanks.

It’s not just that she had to admit the invocation of the Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act (yes, that’s really its official name) was little more than a “symbolic act” designed to attract attention to Alberta’s demands, and it had always been intended as such. It’s not even that she acknowledged it didn’t give the province any legislative powers it didn’t already have. It’s also that her proposed solution here is the creation of a new Crown corporation, one that will supposedly serve as the “generator of last resort” in the province — and be able to ignore the federal government.

Yes, that’s right: Smith’s UCP is effectively creating a government-owned and operated electricity company, an idea that’s anathema to libertarians like her, purely in order to own the (federal) libs.

Again, because it bears repeating: the federal clean electricity standard does not, in fact, require Alberta and other provinces to get their grids to net-zero emissions by 2035. As I’ve written repeatedly, the proposed regulation allows all sorts of natural gas-fired generation to remain on the grid long past 2035, whether it’s as a peaker plant for a prescribed number of hours or one of the more recently built units that are grandfathered in for 20 years. Kineticor’s 900-megawatt Cascade facility, which just came online this year, could operate unfettered under the proposed regulations until 2043.

Smith pitched this as some sort of last-ditch effort to get Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault to back down from their nefarious plans to implement the Clean Electricity Regulations. If anything, though, it’s just going to give them a good laugh — and some added resolve when it comes to implementing other climate policies, like the cap on oil and gas emissions. After all, if Alberta’s way of “fighting back” against Ottawa is to create Crown corporations and get the government more directly involved in the economy, maybe they’ll try to get Alberta to fight even harder. What’s next, a new Alberta Crown corporation in the oil and gas industry?

You almost have to feel sorry for the people who bought Smith’s Sovereignty Act ruse, whether that’s during the UCP leadership race or the provincial election. They bought her argument that Alberta was going to take the fight to Ottawa and put the federal government in its place, and probably thought that meant something other than creating a massive new government-owned business. If this was Rachel Notley creating a Crown corporation, after all, they’d surely accuse the Alberta NDP leader of being a socialist or a communist or some other brand of godless political heathen. But with Smith, they’ll have to suck it up and pretend it’s yet another political masterstroke from a supposedly small-government premier who’s already nationalized one business and imposed a moratorium on an entire industry.

It also sends another fascinating message to delegates at COP28, where Smith and other Alberta government officials will be attending to tell their story, such as it is. Why, exactly, is the province so determined to undercut its wildly successful renewable energy industry, and why is it fighting so hard against regulations that seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation? These are just some of the questions Alberta’s delegates will be busy trying — and, I suspect, struggling — to answer.

In the end, though, this has always been about one thing: supporting the oil and gas industry. Smith got her start in provincial politics with a party, the Wildrose Alliance, that was created to defend the industry’s economic interests, and she’s continued along that path ever since. As premier, her government has been consumed with trying to run interference for the oil and gas industry, whether that’s by undercutting renewables, slow-walking efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or now creating a Crown corporation that gives this province’s natural gas generators a taxpayer-funded out.

For over a year, Danielle Smith has been talking a big game about her "Alberta Sovereignty Act" and how it will put Ottawa in its place. As it turns out, that's all it ever was: talk.

Smith is welcome to continue tilting against her province’s windmills, even as it costs Alberta billions in delayed investment and thousands of potential jobs. Nothing she says or does, Sovereignty Act or not, will change the global energy transition that’s already well underway. But it will delay Alberta’s ability to participate in, and benefit from, the changes associated with said transition. And maybe, in the end, that was the point all along.

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The Danielle Smith clown how just keeps on rolling down the road to nonsensical oblivion.

And it in no way is a yellow brick road.

The Danielle Smith Clown Show needs to change their slogan to "Standing up for Oil & Gas", which is more in line with who she really is working for. It certainly isn't for Albertans.

Quite frankly I at a place where I think we should put together a new organization called BOA. That would stand for Boot Out Alberta, and we would advocate for a national vote to remove Alberta from Confederation, sever all ties to Canada, and force them to leave Canada, and stand alone.
For a province that owes its very existence to BC, Ontario and Quebec, who agreed to create an Equalization Plan to keep, it from falling into bankruptcy, before the tar sands had been developed. They also owe every tax payer in Canada a debt because it was US who paid to develop those tar sands, and we got nothing in return for that investment except being dumped on by every Premier and politician in Alberta has had for the last 50 years,
Instead of them threatening to leave so they can have their way like spoilt kids, let’s turn the tables and start threatening them with being thrown out of Canada because they seem incapable of living together with the rest of us and dislike our ideas of what a Confederation. should be.

FYI- sarcasm, but with a hint of exasperation,

Interesting take. It shows how timid the feds are in their lack of adequate counterpunches to the bald-faced misinformation.

I would make one exception for Peter Lougheed as premier whose principles defended the people's interests over industry's before climate change became known, and who warned Alberta that climate needs to be taken seriously 20 years after he left office and when the science and climate impacts became everyday news.

But yeah, it's been downhill in intelligent discourse and uphill in buffoonery and circuses ever since.

Hey Albertans,
Can you say ‘PetroAlberta’?
But ‘ElecroAlberta’ is ok?
The Rest of Canada

On the energy front, the Alberta Government (UCP or NDP brand makes no difference) is not acting on society's behalf, but to further the interests of (largely foreign-owned) corporations. A deliberate confusion of corporate interests with the public interest.
Calling Smith's antics "socialist" only deepens the confusion.

There is nothing libertarian or socialist about Smith's interventions on behalf of the energy industry. She is a neoliberal through and through. Creating a Crown corporation is not an exception to Smith's alleged libertarianism, but just one more example of her radical neoliberalism.

Smith's pet project RStar is a $20 B giveaway to O&G companies to clean up old wells, as they are already legally obligated to do. Corporate welfare, blatant subsidies, taxpayer-funded cleanup, and propping up industries and markets when they fail — that's classic neoliberalism, not libertarianism or socialism.

Unlike neoliberals, libertarians support the polluter-pay principle. Unlike libertarians, neoliberals support government intervention and subsidies.
Government intervention is not an aberration of neoliberalism — it's a feature.

"Neoliberalism is sometimes confused with libertarianism. However, neoliberals typically advocate for more government intervention in the economy and society than libertarianism. ... Neoliberals often do not oppose measures such as bailouts of major industries, which are anathema to libertarians." (Investopedia)

"Under neoliberalism, the role of government is to create and enforce markets and prop them up when they fail." Shovelling public money into corporate pockets. Neoliberalism doesn't help working people. It helps the rich get richer at the expense of working people. That's not socialism.
For neoliberals, government for the people is the problem. Government for corporations is the solution.

"Danielle Smith does socialism to own the libs"
"In the end, though, this has always been about one thing: supporting the oil and gas industry."

Exactly right. O&G lobbyist Danielle Smith will do whatever it takes to prop up the O&G industry.
And for that reason the headline should be revised: "Danielle Smith does neoliberalism to own the Libs".

At the front end, the public is increasingly forced to pay for and backstop new projects and factories. Trans Mountain pipeline. Carbon capture. SMRs in the oilsands. Investment in upgraders and refineries. Tomorrow a Crown corporation to operate fossil-gas generators.
At the back end, taxpayers are forced to cover industry's business expenses (e.g., emissions reduction, carbon capture, cleanup and reclamation).
In between, companies demand tax breaks and gobble up subsidies.

The list of fossil subsidies in Canada runs decades long and billions of dollars deep. Consecutive Alberta governments have thrown billions of dollars in subsidies at the industry. The giveaway party that never ends.
Both provincial and federal governments are deeply entrenched in the O&G industry -- and no Conservative, Liberal, or provincial NDP party wants to change that.

Paying for industrial production and corporate profits without ownership — a perverted form of socialism for the rich. But profits flow exclusively to shareholders. The corporate welfare state. This is neoliberalism, not socialism.
Privatize the profits, socialize the costs. The triumph of neoliberalism. The rich get richer, and the rest of us pay the bills. A massive upwards transfer of wealth. Concentration of wealth and power at the top. Increasing wealth gap, inequity, and social division.

Neoliberals support corporate welfare, except for industries they oppose, e.g., renewables.
Neoliberals believe in neither the free market nor small government. Their business model depends on externalizing costs: sticking someone else with the bill. Stealing from their grandchildren. Let future generations pay for their extravagance, pollution, waste, environmental mayhem, and climate change disaster.
Neoliberals pillage and plunder the public good for private profit.
The gospel of thieves.

Alberta's oil industry is branded as the icon of free-market capitalism. Nothing could be further from the truth
Former AB Premier Jason Kenney: "We are the beating heart of free enterprise values in the Canadian political culture. We are the heart of Canada's enormous energy industry."
"A free market is one where voluntary exchange and the laws of supply and demand provide the sole basis for the economic system, without government intervention." (Investopedia)

Is any government more interventionist? Is any industry more dependent on subsidies, visible and invisible, than O&G?

Let's not downplay libertarianism, which would be absolutely deadly in almost every social program that involves human well being. Pure libertarianism in the healthcare system, for example, would cut loose public funding for the treatment of chronic disease.

Expensive federal procurement contracts for an array of COVID vaccines at the beginning of the pandemic literally saved tens of thousands of Canadian's lives, perhaps hundreds of thousands. Yet that act could legitimately be called either neoliberalism (public largesse for private industry) or socialism (for the people).

This is why it's extremely important to not omit social policy when considering voter's choices on climate policy.

My post neither supports nor opposes libertarianism. The point is that libertarianism and neoliberalism are different species.
Smith's consistent interventionism on behalf of the O&G industry is neoliberalism. Not an exception to her alleged libertarianism. Therefore, not socialism.

In face of the Trudeau Liberals' abysmal failure on climate, Mr. Botta seems to find consolation in the fact that the Liberals and petro-progressive NDP provincial governments still support social programs. As if the Liberals' progressive policies on other files somehow excuse or mitigate their failure on climate.

Not so. Climate change is not one issue of many. Climate change does not rank with healthcare, childcare, EI. Climate change is existential. Climate is the lens through which all economic and quality-of-life issues must be viewed.

Six hundred of Alex Botta's neighbours perished in June 2021's unprecedented heatwave. They no longer have to worry about healthcare, childcare, and EI. More than a billion marine organisms perished.
Many Canadians can survive, for better or worse, with or without Liberal social policies. We can't survive, much less thrive, amid ecosystem collapse, which is where petro-progressive climate policies are leading us.

If your house is on fire (and it is), what is your first and overriding concern? The fire or healthcare, childcare, and EI?
Would you rush to rescue your children, or worry about whether the daycare centre has space for them?

Climate failure under the Liberal banner is just as deadly as the Conservative brand.
Mr. Botta comforts himself with the notion that by voting Liberal he is also voting for healthcare, childcare, EI, etc. Enjoy your dental plan while you watch your house burn down.

As you know I'm sure, Max used the term "socialism" because it's the most common understanding of what "socialism" is, i.e. government ownership of a corporation as opposed to private so is of course counterintuitive when the UCP is primarily bent on privatization of everything.
The "isms" aren't well understood by most people is the thing but I'd say that since we've got a solid basis of comparison now about their relative workability AND their respective effects on human societies, the winner at this unprecedented juncture is "liberalism," but to put the "isms" in perspective, apparently our version of that here evolved from "continentalism" and "imperialism."
And on your usual false equivalency of Liberals and Conservatives, I certainly share your existential angst and monumental frustration, but the country in the world striding most impressively toward renewable power right now is actually China because of course they are not weighed down by democracy. But even they are still adding coal. And the Americans' IRA is very consequential but the Republicans lurk.
So with male egos abounding in ALL of this, the most important "ism" is probably "feminism" because of how women can help mitigate men. That battle continues and is the most protracted one in our history but although the worst places in the world completely exclude women as lesser beings, even our modern western societies still resist.
I don't think it's just coincidence that the same seemingly irrational to the point of being subconscious attitude that is currently manifesting toward climate change is in the context of "Mother Nature." I keep saying maybe if we'd called it "Father Nature," but the word "existential" simply aligns most "naturally" with mothers, who carried us within, nurturing us most profoundly.
With someone as cock-eyed as cheerleader Smith though, it truly is semantics to quibble over the accuracy of whether she's libertarian or neoliberal though is it not?

Cui bono? Who benefits?
The public or private, corporate interests?

Socialism is "collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods" — in service of the collective and for the benefit of society. In the public interest.
Smith and her petro-progressive neoliberal counterparts across the aisle (provincial NDP, federal Liberals) harness the machinery of government and public dollars primarily to benefit corporate Canada, the Big Banks, and the fossil fuel industry.

In this case, Smith's notion is to create a crown corporation to run fossil-gas power plants. The crown corporation would not displace fossil-gas producers, but keep them in business. The idea is to displace renewable producers — or at least prevent renewables from eating into fossil fuel profits.
Running fossil-gas power plants and maintaining production boosts GHG emissions. Society does not benefit from climate disaster. On the contrary.
Smith is propping up the fossil-gas market to benefit corporations and protect private profits, not the public good.
That is the essential difference.
So don't call it socialism. It's the textbook definition of neoliberalism. Propping up markets that would otherwise fail.

"Socialism envisions shared ownership and control among the laboring class." (Investopedia)
"Proponents of socialism believe that it leads to a more equal distribution of goods and services and a more equitable society."
Equity and equality. Elements entirely lacking in Smith's plans.

To your final point, yes, words matter. To call Smith's intervention on behalf of the richest, most powerful industry on Earth "socialism" is grossly misleading. Alberta's lobbyist-cum-Premier is anything but a libertarian.

Love the comment about tilting at windmills! Perhaps we should rename her Danielle Quixote! Or Dawn Quixote. Then she can take her place in history as another failure suffering from delusions of grandeur.

Nah. That association's too good for her. I LIKE Don Quixote.

Energi Talks Podcasts dated May 30th and August 14th interview David Gray who designed our free market electricity Oligopoly. A simple regulatory change would create what we no longer have, cheap base load power. Give it a listen.

I have to say, I'm finding Alberta politics quite entertaining lately. Appalling, but interesting fodder for heaps of criticism.

The American Alberta oil industry was always a thing Eben when I was a kid growing up in Calgary. Today it has a much different character, changing from the sudden appearance of drilling rigs, pump jacks and seismic testing crews over the heated objections about trespassing by my farming relatives, to massive moonscapes in remote locations.

Most recently we are seeing religion and conspiracies taking a seat at the provincial cabinet table along with oil company personnel infiltrators at the highest level.

The fossil fuel industry takeover happened decades ago. The saturation of QAnon religion is pretty new.

Now we see the huge contradictions elected officials are making. TransAlta, one of Alberta's largest gas fired power companies and pal of Danielle Smith just announced they plan to sink billions into wind power with storage, not for altruism on the climate front, but for profit and future stability. Amazon also announced its plan to continue being a huge customer for Alberta renewables. These outfits are acting like their was no moratorium imposed by an anti-renewable energy anti-federal clean grid policy premier, who also likes Alberta geothermal companies.

Confusing, isn't it?

The 'Take Back Alberta' right wing extremist slogan could adopt a new meaning should the people care to finally wake up.

"...even when I was a kind..."

The NO is not the only news outlet I subscribe to or comment site I regularly contribute to. But it is the only one that does not have an edit button.