May 27, 2015

Meet Alberta Premier Notley's cabinet of anti-oilsands extremists

Ezra LevantRebel Commander

Don’t be too hard on Deborah Drever, the 26-year-old MLA suspended from Alberta’s NDP caucus over her social media shenanigans.

Neither Drever nor the NDP really thought she would win. Last election, the NDP got just 4% of the vote in her riding of Calgary Bow. Drever wasn’t even nominated until ten days after the writ was dropped. She was doing them a favour. She never expected a full Google audit.

There are a dozen other accidental MLAs with looming scandals, like the MLA who organized Israel Apartheid Week and a boycott of Israel, campaigns condemned by Thomas Mulcair as anti-Semitic. And then there’s the MLA who, on Facebook, called Alberta “this damn province” and said the election campaign was giving him “suicidal thoughts”.

Like Drever, those are backbenchers who were not vetted by the NDP, the media or voters. But what about the NDP’s more serious MLAs? What about the people Premier Rachel Notley appointed to her cabinet?

Like the new Finance Minister, Joe Ceci. Ceci’s not a rowdy millennial, he’s 57. He served five terms as a Calgary alderman. He was one of Notley’s star candidates. Perhaps more than anyone it’s his job to reassure Calgary investment bankers – and stock markets in Toronto and New York – that they should still pour a projected $25 billion into Alberta’s oil patch this year. The provincial economy depends on it.

But Ceci isn’t so sure that they should. When he was on city council, Ceci said, “we should be able to say to Calgarians that we’re investing in things that are contributing to a positive world. If environmental factors on some of the companies out there are less than sustainable, then we should not be investing in those areas.”

That’s ambiguous. But Ceci’s new cabinet colleague, Education Minister David Eggen, is much clearer. “Doing the right thing means we have no new approval for tarsands projects,” he once told a rally outside the Legislature, leading a chant of “no new approvals!” again and again. Not a lot of grey area there. Eggen called for “people of conscience united to end this catastrophe”, saying that the oilsands were “poisoning the land, poisoning the water, killing the people”. Unlike Ceci, he was already an NDP MLA when he said this.

And then there’s the new Environment Minister, Shannon Phillips. She ran for the NDP in the last election, and has since worked for the Alberta Federation of Labour as a policy advisor. Her views on the oilsands are clear: wring the neck of the golden goose. Two years ago, she told a union convention “we do not collect an appropriate royalty for either our oilsands bitumen or our conventional oil and gas reserves.” She proposed hiking taxes on everything from income to banks.

In 2013, Phillips went to B.C. to work on the NDP election campaign there -- a campaign whose central message was to oppose both the Northern Gateway and Transmountain oilsands pipelines, pipelines critical for Alberta’s economic growth. The B.C. NDP didn’t want to tax Alberta oil. They wanted to stop Alberta oil.

Phillips is also Alberta’s new Minister for the Status of Women. In 2013, she told a feminist conference that the oilsands hurt women. “You rip it out, ship it out in its rawest form, extracting as little value as you can… as quickly as possible because time is running out politically and ecologically… For every job gained in the petroleum sector we have 30 jobs lost in the manufacturing sector.

In fact, Alberta’s oil patch is a major source of manufacturing jobs in Canada. And the oilsands have one of the highest participation rates of women in the world. Unlike Persian Gulf oil dictatorships like Qatar, where women have fewer rights than men. Curiously, that didn’t stop Phillips the feminist from working for Qatar’s state-owned broadcaster, Al Jazeera, famous for its shrill attacks on the oilsands. How hostile to Alberta do you have to be, to agree to do an exposé on Canada’s oilsands, for a TV station owned by an OPEC competitor?

Alberta’s new Energy Minister, Marg McCuaig-Boyd, has no connection to the industry at all. She’s a teacher from Fairview, almost 800 km by car from either Calgary or Ft. McMurray. She only knows one thing: the NDP platform calls, six times, for a review of oil royalty rates, and she intends to do it. Even though the industry is already in recession from low oil prices.

With such a new and inexperienced crop of politicians, much of the real power will reside with political staff. Like Brian Topp, the NDP mercenary brought in from Ontario by Notley as her chief of staff. Topp ran for federal NDP leader in 2012 on what can only be described as an anti-oil platform. He called the oilsands “shocking”, the Keystone XL pipeline “madness” and said Canada should “produce a great deal less hydrocarbon energy.” He even called for “getting fossil fuelled cars out of our cities.”

Notley doesn’t have a single entrepreneur in her team. Not a single oil and gas worker. In a province of makers, she has assembled a cabinet of takers.

And Notley herself? A career NDP politician; daughter of a career NDP politician; wife of a CUPE union organizer. She has a lengthy paper trail of anti-oilsands, anti-fracking and anti-pipeline speeches. There was no group too extreme for her to meet – including the “Occupy The Climate” anti-oilsands rally at the Legislature, at which she spoke.

Deborah Drever was suspended for misconduct.

But really, what’s more dangerous: a backbencher with a coarse Facebook page, or a cabinet stuffed with activists who say they want to shut down Alberta’s most important industry?

READ Ezra Levant's bestselling books debunking environmentalist propaganda against the energy industry:
Groundswell: The Case for Fracking
Ethical Oil: The Case for Canada's Oil Sands

JOIN for more fearless news and commentary you won’t find anywhere else.

VISIT our NEW group blog The Megaphone!
It’s your one-stop shop for rebellious commentary from independent and fearless readers and writers.

You must be logged in to comment. Click here to log in.
commented 2015-08-17 22:39:36 -0400
Geeee if only we had a legit human rights commission instead of commie commission these perps would be charged with crimes against humanity(I personally do) and if we had an actual law society representing true tangible laws these crooks would be in jail, Oh and time will come because of the nature of all the corruption! I think tar and feathering would be just, if we use oil sands supply for the tar.
commented 2015-06-27 10:35:54 -0400
Alan Blanes you obviously have no clue how the oil industry works and you are living in the NDP dream world. No one is going to build refineries in an area where there is a relatively small demand for the refined products. How would you ship all these refined products and who would buy them, when the current refineries already have the spin off infrastructure in place. Oh maybe the NDP should spend billions of our tax dollars to build refineries and the supporting infrastructure, so we can have this Hugh stockpile of refined product and nowhere to sell it.
commented 2015-06-14 01:32:59 -0400
Ezra – please understand that not going along with the insane idea of sending dilbit outside of Alberta is the same as being against tar sands oil. Real conservative economists would understand that in a low price [relatively] environment – multinational corporations’ profit requirements are just too high to rate the upgrader to be an economic project. If you scrap the idea of utilizing multinational corporations to develop an upgrader, you can get the economies in line with reality if you do this processing under the subsistence co-op model. This would eliminate all the pipeline and tanker risks. Tell me that this somehow misses the mark as a conservative approach? In reality only gilded-age corporatists would want the ‘upgrade outside of Alberta’ option. Notley is more in the tradition of sane conservatives.
commented 2015-06-04 22:21:03 -0400
Ezra is so right. “Notley . . . . . has assembled a cabinet of takers.” And yikes – this is so reminiscent of the Stephen Harper we all know and love. The old Stephen Harper who led the National Citizens Coalition along with his best bud, Tom Corbett. The two best buds who used to mock and ridicule the Federal MPs in Ottawa for being “pension pigs.” And the National Citizens Coalition even ran billboards with pigs in a cash filled trough, and also ran radio ads saying, ’It’s Time to Chop the Pork’ – talking about Federal MPs in Ottawa again. But oh – how time flies, eh – and now Harper’s best bud, Tom Corbett says, “Prime Minister Stephen Harper is the pension pig he once mocked.” And when Corbett retires, he, along with other Canadian pensioners, will receive old age pensions of $540 a month,while a retired Harper could receive a pension of $18,630 a month. Further, although Harper left the NCC behind to become prime minister, he also seems to have left behind the indignation his former employer expressed when it came to gold-plated MP pensions.

Instead, Harper now wants to cut seniors’ pensions. One of his ministers in charge of cutting paltry seniors pensions, Diane Finley, seems to share Harper’s disdain for the nickel-plated pensions of seniors. For more of this ‘reminiscing’ see:
Oh Canada – how you have fallen – beneath the feet of the greedy and more greedy – beneath the feet of the nincompoops and incompetents who are currently running our Federal Government and have run up a national debt that is the biggest in this dear country’s history – and such a big debt that it made the Guinness Book of World Records. Oh Canada. So sad.
commented 2015-06-01 12:53:02 -0400
LISA: It’s the language Lisa – the language of submission.
commented 2015-05-31 20:31:58 -0400
Jamie M. said, “What do you expect? Hours after her victory the oil industry was grovelling at her feet.
She knows what she’s up against: Nothing at all.”

What do you mean? What company invested in a province isn’t going to try to do business anyway they can with who ever gets in. I don’t get what you are saying. Why wouldn’t the petroleum producers bend over backwards to try and do business, we should be so lucky, most of them are just fleeing.
commented 2015-05-30 15:03:33 -0400
Canada certainly is not the Canada I grew up in and loved. It has changed for the worse. I feel like that character in the Andy Capp comic that had the rain cloud over his head all the time.
commented 2015-05-29 22:14:42 -0400
I wonder what the country will look like in 5 years. The signs are so depressing. I think a lot of Conservatives( the real kind, not the Prentice, Allison kind) are suffering from a little PTSD with this NDP win in Alberta! Just typing it makes me cringe. It is still too unbelievable. I can’t watch, wake me up when its over, time to hunker down.

Anonymous wash your mouth out with soap.

Robert H. not surprised to hear that.
commented 2015-05-29 20:41:57 -0400
At Anonymous , If the federal NDP won, I would expect the Canadian dollar to worth about twenty cents. The country would move in the direction of becoming a third world leftist backwater where people would accept the Canadian dollar as payment. Gold, silver, or likely the American dollar is all people would accept as payment.
commented 2015-05-29 20:36:18 -0400
CNRL cancelled their open house for investors the other day as the oil compaies gear up for a fight against the NDP government.
commented 2015-05-28 11:56:44 -0400
No major moves until after the Federal election, AB NDP don’t want to give the Fed Conservatives any ammunition against the Fed NDP. Let’s just cruise to October and if the Fed NDP wins, then the hammer will fall, Cdn $ to 60 cents? Stocks ouch!
commented 2015-05-28 11:33:50 -0400
@ Ron Christensen – “Talk about an extremist website calling the NDP extremist! The tides have turned in Alberta.”

It won’t be considered extremist when it happens and all NDP activity in this great country of ours has been to the detriment of that province’s economy. How is that in manner an extremist reaction?

Ron Christensen , if speaking the truth is extremist, then I guess we are extremist by your distorted view of extremism.

@ Bill Elder – I remember the fallout in the mid 80’s after Pierre Idiot Trudeau’s NEP rape of Alberta’s oil industry. Some National Enegry Program that focused specially and only on Alberta’s oil. Not all that national. I, too, lost an excellent career because of his theft. I remember similar KD & bologna meals.
commented 2015-05-28 11:22:34 -0400
Here is the definition of extremist I found:-
“One who has beliefs which are highly disagreeable to the vast majority of the population. People who want to abolish the government”
So extremism is then fluid. What was extreme could become the norm and vice versa.
commented 2015-05-28 07:53:00 -0400
Talk about an extremist website calling the NDP extremist! The tides have turned in Alberta.
commented 2015-05-28 07:43:15 -0400
Ezra – I’m old enough to remember seeing a constant stream of oilfield equipment on trucks and rail rolling south after the last socialist attack on Alberta’s resources (the NEP). I don’t know where you were then but I was a young father with a family to support, working while I finished my engineering degree. I remember the empty stores, the homes for sale for $1, the despondent people in the employment centers, the influx of rural workers into the cities and onto welfare – but most of all I remember the pain of hearing my kids complain about K-dinner and baloney, which we ate constantly after I was let go from my part time work. I recall the mental/spiritual degradation of sneaking off to the food bank to give the family the bare essentials after the rent was paid – it was struggle, it was caused by errant socialist politics and it was all so avoidable.

Albertans are at the cusp of another economic winter like we suffered some 23 years ago – it came on us fast – it was triggered by the oil patch reaction to socialist greed pillaging margins and shaking down the industry to buy votes in Quebec. The situation now is that we are in a oil price downward spiral or at least low price stagnancy causing a fragile uncertain economy coupled with a government who is hostile to the province’s main economic engine. It is best to remember the pain and struggle of the NEP fall out when dealing with a government which would willfully bring it on again out of pure ideological stupidity.

Notley needs to be put on notice – and on no uncertain terms, made to understand if they willfully damage Alberta’s economy, there will be malfeasance indictments.
commented 2015-05-28 06:07:37 -0400
Thanks Ezra. Great article.
commented 2015-05-28 05:11:35 -0400
Ezra, you have once again demonstrated one of the things I admire about you most — your sense and talent for revealing and providing a thoughtful, detailed analysis from a perspective that I had only thus far considered in the abstract. I tend to only focus on a few, specific examples and argue from there, admittedly in my own, rather verbose fashion. Deborah Drever was an easy target, perhaps because I’m still suffering some form of PTSD related to the shock of the NDP win. I kind of pushed it to the back of my mind, but the inexperience and over-zealous “progressivism” of the majority of the recently elected NDP MLAs concerns me, not only as an Albertan but also as a Canadian, and — most of the time — someone with a modicum of common sense.
I was already quite familiar with Brian Topp, Notley’s Chief of Staff, whose CV screams “ANTI-ALBERTA, ANTI-PIPELINE, and ANTI-‘TARSANDS”, but hadn’t bothered learning about her other appointees. So thank you Ezra, for going to the trouble of researching and summarizing Notley’s Cabinet, and introducing us to the fundamentally unqualified and ethically compromised people that — for the next five years, at most (hopefully) — now hold Alberta’s future in their woefully incapable hands.
Right now, the feeling in Alberta is one of collective breath-holding in anticipation of what’s to come.
commented 2015-05-28 00:18:46 -0400
Peter has me going now. I wonder if Notley wore her Che watch during the ceremony? Perhaps she will display his portrait in the Legislature.
commented 2015-05-27 22:57:53 -0400
Introducing a PST for Alberta would definitely be a suicide move for Notley, but I think the corporate tax hike and especially inc conjunction with the royalty increase will do more damage to the province. PST is more out of everyone’s pocket and a “in-you-face” tax, but the corporate & royalty will force job losses and corporations to leave Alberta. Not that I want any of them.

AC, you are right (pun intended), the right has to unite or face a possible defeat next election. You said the NDP are good at staying in power. That, imo, is because the pander to the unions/public sector by offering them all types of goodies, and people being people will take the candy and put their X on the spot.
commented 2015-05-27 22:42:13 -0400
Coming from the province next door, but still someone who lived in Alberta for a few years some time ago, and mindful of the federal situation and history, there really is only one solution for this, but it’s a costly one. The Alberta Conservative party has to go to the same place that the Saskatchewan PCs went. The Wild Rose party has to become the only real right wing alternative. I know from extensive personal experience that the NDP is really good at hanging on to power, once they have it. Only a unified right wing will do it. It’s what happened federally, and it’s what happened in Saskatchewan. Usually a competent leader emerges from the chaos that such a move creates, which ends up giving voters a clear left/right option,which one would assume in Alberta would lead to a right wing government. Unfortunatley, it pretty much has to be a new party, the old one is just too riddled with problems. IMHO, as I said coming from Saskatchewan, right wing voters should forget about the old PCs. Hanging on to that will only lead to more NDP victories.
commented 2015-05-27 22:40:56 -0400
Ron, petitions might work… if nothing else, they’ll tell Notley what the rest of us are thinking and feeling. Wouldn’t limit to the “outrageous” stuff — would suggest even proposed legislation that is even merely irritating. (Whether or not she’ll pay attention or even care is something else altogether, but…) It’s worth a shot!

Peter, having defected from a NDP-governed province, you’re not doom-and-gloom, merely realistic. Depressing, ain’t it?
No, Notley is not counting on a one-term-only “reign”; she’ll want to be there for decades. Whether she pays attention to what the population is saying is something else. She has her ideals, and most of us won’t like them. She’s made mention of NOT bringing in a provincial sales tax (that’s a suicide move if ever there was one for Alberta!), but I don’t put it past her to do it anyways…. which will definitely be an election “pro” for the Conservatives and Wildrose to promise repealing!
commented 2015-05-27 22:24:04 -0400
Peter you are all gloom and doom but rightly so. I always pray for those in authority so I must not forget about her. Hopefully common sense will prevail and the radicals will take their new found time in the sun seriously.
commented 2015-05-27 22:12:20 -0400
Well Ron & Prince, I have a feeling that Notley will do as Wynne does, and do whatever she wants to do. She knows what a majority means, so she is going to ram through all her plans. She might even know this is he one and one term in office, so get as much if her plan done as possible. I know, I am all doom and gloom! :)
commented 2015-05-27 22:01:21 -0400
Prince how about getting petitions done and sending to the NDP government when they start talking about impending changes that are going to be outrageous. That shows them the electorate is unhappy.
commented 2015-05-27 21:19:29 -0400
Gary wood..try it. You dont want to hear the truth?
I hope it uses your head as a punching bag.
commented 2015-05-27 20:58:00 -0400
I hear what you’re saying about social media, Ron, but I have my reservations. To easy to just brush aside.

I’ve thought of an open letter to the Conservatives in some major newspapers (Edm Sun comes to mind) with some conservative instructions. I’ve thought of emailing all the Conservative MLAs with more of the same. I’ve thought of using my MLA to forward these same “thoughts” throughout the Wildrose.

The hardest part is going to be to get any of these parties thinking more than 4 years ahead. Minimum, they need to think of 8, but 12 years is better. It will take 2 terms to overcome what this NDP government will do in one. Then a 3rd term to start coming ahead. …like this’ll happen. But we can try.

Your thoughts?
commented 2015-05-27 20:23:36 -0400
Thanks Prince for your suggestions. I live in the riding where the new Finance Minister has his seat so I thought I could try and pester him when things aren’t going in what I think is the right direction using social media.
commented 2015-05-27 20:15:17 -0400
Worse yet, Nutley want to wait 6 months before she even thinks about a royalty revue. This uncertainty is as bad as low oil prices.
commented 2015-05-27 20:04:46 -0400
Ron Zager: Our plan of action is to prepare for “the day after”. This band of… of… (I can’t put that kind of language here without incurring both slander and libel suits) will drive Alberta to the brink of bankruptcy, all in the name of Unions, Socialism, and the Environment. We prepare for the aftermath. In four years’ time, we pick up the pieces and rebuild.

THAT means that now we start getting on our party’s cases (doesn’t matter if it’s Wildrose or Conservative) and get them to have a solid platform for what they will do to reverse what this NDP will do. (Personally, I’m going to start hounding the Conservatives, because they need the most “shaping up”… but that’s me.) Both the Conservatives and the Wildrose will have tough opposition in the next election — the bureaucracy is going to balloon between now and then, and we’ll have all these union people (AGEU, ATF, AHS and its constituent members, and so forth) solidly backing their handouts — the NDP. What will have to happen in four years will not be pretty — not by a long shot. They thought cutbacks this time ‘round would be bad; just wait. Klein’s cutbacks will be a sugar-coated dream compared to what we’ll have to face in four years.

But it will be necessary.

The NDP has a majority. They can pass whatever legislation they wish, including repealing Klein’s law of operating within a balanced budget. …and there’s nothing we can do about it.

So we prepare now for getting the next government to make do with less, and for getting the populace to temporarily accept higher unemployment, curtailed services, and higher costs… so that business will return and these problems will be mended.

And THEN we have to KEEP this next government within its budget, and keep it setting money aside every year! (This will be the nearly-impossible task.)

But we start now.