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Jason Kenney slides into oily frenzy

John Bell

January 26, 2021
If the election of Joe Biden does nothing else, it has revealed Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to be unhinged.
Among Biden’s very first acts as president was to sign an executive order canceling permits for the Keystone XL pipeline that would have carried Alberta’s diluted bitumen from the tar sands to Texas refineries.
The move was no surprise. Biden had made it a campaign promise, and the Obama administration had set the precedent, also canceling the project. Only Donald Trump had breathed new life into it and erased environmental regulation that hindered it.
When his United Conservative Party was elected in Alberta, Jason Kenney bet the farm that Trump would be re-elected in 2020 and the KXL would be completed. Service cuts to health and education freed up $1.5 billion that Kenney recklessly invested in the pipeline. Even when Alberta crude prices fell to nearly nothing Kenney doubled down on oil and gas.
So Biden’s decision exposed both Kenney’s financial mistake and short-sighted leadership. He reacted with tiresome predictability, calling for more assistance from the federal Liberals who have been all too willing to underwrite an unprofitable oil and gas business. But this time Kenney was demanding more than cash.
Kenney called on Justin Trudeau to declare war on the US –a trade war, but war nonetheless.
“The government of Canada must impose meaningful trade and economic sanctions in response, to defend our country’s vital economic interests.”
As if to underscore the irratioinality of his position, Kenney’s very next statement was the need to sit down with the US for some “respectful dialogue”.
Kenney has been furiously doing the rounds of news shows–including Fox News–for media outlets that almost religiously repeat the gospel of gas and oil. Even the CBC’s “Power and Politics” panel featured a former Harper cabinet minister, a conservative pollster, and the pipeline loving Mayor of Calgary, all speaking about what an injustice had been done to Canada’s oil and gas economy. Not an environmentalist in sight. CBC news reader Adrienne Arsenault described the canceling of KXL as a “punch in the face” to Canadians, literally ignoring the millions of Canadians who have been protesting the pipeline for years.
Many of us are feeling remarkably unpunched.
What is a blow to us is Kenney’s plan to kickstart open pit coal mining. Kenney removed environmental regulations, leaving the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains open to destructive mining operations. Happily, Albertan’s opposed the projects so loudly that Kenney was forced to backtrack, putting his plan on “pause”.
Finally it should be noted that Kenney and his ilk are relying on the big lie, that tar sands bitumen is somehow environmentally friendly. Part of his sales pitch for the Keystone pipeline is that the energy needed to operate it would come, not from oil and gas, but from sustainable, renewable sources. This self-own has to be the last gasp of the dying petro-economy. 
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