June 11, 2015

Toronto registered anti-oil lobbyist now running Alberta's energy department

Ezra LevantRebel Commander

Graham Mitchell is a powerful anti-oilsands activist based in Toronto. Until yesterday, he was the executive director of a U.S.-funded lobby group called Leadnow.ca.

They specialize in organizing anti-oilsands street protests and producing slick anti-pipeline YouTube ads.

Mitchell was also the director of training and leadership at the Broadbent Institute. Last year he organized a boot camp teaching people how to campaign for a moratorium on fracking.

And Mitchell is a registered lobbyist in Ottawa. As of yesterday, his lobbying disclosure form lists among his goals “asking that the Conservative federal MPs in BC pressure cabinet to stop the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.” He’s been an eco-activist since his days as Jack Layton’s assistant on Toronto city council.

Fighting against oil and gas is his job. But it’s also his personal passion. His Twitter feed is full of personal jabs, demonizing “Big Oil” and anyone who deals with them. He’s a practitioner of the activist tactic of “denormalization” – demonizing an industry until it is no longer considered socially acceptable.

Mitchell has an impressive resume. But it got more impressive this week. Alberta’s NDP Premier, Rachel Notley, appointed Graham Mitchell to be the chief of staff to Alberta’s minister of energy.

A Toronto anti-oilsands activist – still registered as an anti-oil lobbyist – is now running Alberta’s energy department.

There are twelve ministers in the Alberta cabinet, including Notley herself, each with a chief of staff. And ten of those chiefs are, like Mitchell, NDP activists from other provinces, many of whom will commute each week to Alberta from Vancouver, Toronto, or elsewhere.

There is something democratically illegitimate about non-residents being sent in to run a province to which they have few or no ties. It feels colonial – as if the NDP believes Alberta lacks people with talent and judgment to govern themselves.

It feels nepotistic – highly paid consolation prizes for failed NDP activists from other campaigns.
Like Nathan Rotman. He worked on Olivia Chow’s unsuccessful campaign for Toronto mayor. Now he’s the chief of staff to Alberta’s Finance Minister.

Was there no-one in Alberta with any financial background? No socially conscious businessman, or even an NDP-friendly professor or think tank economist? Four million Albertans, but not one who understands Alberta’s fiscal situation better than an Olivia Chow door-knocker?

Although many of these senior staff have no connection to Alberta, they certainly have strong views about Alberta – as a political punching bag. Robin Steudel, the new chief of staff for the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation, was a deputy director of the B.C. NDP’s 2013 election campaign. The central platform of that campaign was anti-Alberta: no oilsands, no pipelines, no tankers. It was so extreme that even environmentally conscious British Columbians rejected it, wiping out the double-digit lead the NDP had at the beginning of the campaign.

Steudel has no connection to Alberta. Like the other colonial administrators, she will likely jet back home on weekends – or maybe back to the United States, where she worked as a field coordinator for the anti-oilsands Obama campaign. These senior staff likely won’t move their families to Alberta, buy homes, enroll their kids in schools. So they won’t make friends outside of political circles – they won’t actually get to know normal Albertans, and have their carefully-nurtured anti-Alberta myths challenged by real facts. They’re truly just visiting – political mercenaries doing a well-paid tour of duty, until they can go home to take another crack at beating Christie Clark or John Tory.

There’s a problem with this. These mercenaries’ interests are not aligned with Albertans. This week, the president of Total SA, one of the world’s largest oil companies, said that if Alberta raises taxes, it could cause the cancellation of billions of dollars in investments. That’s not an idle threat; Total has already shelved their Joslyn mine, an $11 billion project. That’s $11 billion in construction, let alone the decades of permanent employment that would come.

Investment is already in jeopardy because of low oil prices and high labour costs. A tax hike could be the deciding factor on tens of billions of investment dollars this year alone.

That would be terrible news to Albertans – including unionized construction workers, or nurses or teachers whose salaries are paid for by taxes from successful energy companies.

But ten of Alberta’s new chiefs of staff – including the premier’s own chief of staff, a Torontonian named Brian Topp – aren’t Albertans and don’t intend to become Albertan. To them, a cancelled project is a good thing – something they’ve been campaigning for, for years, back in Vancouver or Toronto.

When Topp ran for the federal NDP leadership three years ago, he made global warming a central issue. He proposed a “hard cap on emissions”, a carbon tax and even “getting fossil fuelled cars out of our cities.”

Total SA cancelling a mine is a disaster for thousands of Alberta families. But it’s a policy success for those who have been campaigning against the oilsands from Toronto.

Alberta’s nominal Minister of Energy is Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, a sixty-something teacher with no experience or even prior curiosity in oil and gas. She’ll be doing whatever her staff tells her to do and reading whatever speeches they hand to her to say. She will be minister in name only. The real power is Graham Mitchell, and his boss Topp. What will that be like?

Mitchell gave a hint, in a tweet we wrote last fall, quoting his heroine, Olivia Chow: “movement advice: stop being nice and DEMAND more.”

Albertans are about to find out what that feels like.

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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

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commented 2015-06-13 13:05:29 -0400
@ Michael Millette, Re: Post at June 12 10:14 AM MST

You start off for dissertation by insulting the people that post here. That sets the condescending tone of your comments. You also have a mid-diatribe insult and an ending insult. A very “progressive” characteristic.

You are right, it is Notleys’ democratic right to hold a different political view than the people that post here. The vise-versa is also true. We, too, can have a different political view that her, and it is our province too.

Facts are facts, Michael, all NDP governments that have run provinces in Canada have tanked the economy of that province, and regardless of the outside influences placed upon the provincial government at the time of its’ governance that provincial government is still fully responsible for its’ performance. So it is irrelevant that Mulroney and the free trade had an impact or that your perception that subsequent federal governments “punished” Ontario for having elected and NDP government, Bob Ray and his government is still fully and solely responsible for Ontario’s economy tanking while he was is office. Such is the reality of governing. So stop making excuses for Bob Rae and his failed NDP government.

Regardless of the reason why the NDP won, they have won. On this point we agree. And I also agree that Alberta has become too dependent on oil and gas, and I also agree that not enough money was put away while times were good. That is one of the reasons for changing the government.

There is no schadenfreude. We are not delighting in the misfortune of others. The mood here is closer to lamenting.

However, you have ignored any of the facts that have instigated all of this lamenting. I mentioned earlier that I do not think it is illegal to hire from outside the province, but it does slap the face of every Albertan.

She is hiring from outside the province because she cannot find resident Albertans that qualify as the extremist anti-oilsands activists that she wants to appoint to run this province. That specifically is what we, the “wannabe Tea Party” as you so insultingly put it, are objecting to.

Surely you can at least acknowledge that hiring so many people that are anti-oil / anti-pipeline / anti-oilsands activists to run a province which derives most of its wealth from the oil and gas industry is at the very least a highly suspicious act?

Can you at least address that, since you are so quick to insult us but not address any of the reasons why we are so upset?

And as for open minded, Michael, I know I am not the only person who visits other sites. I frequent the CBC, CTV, Global and CPAC (and a smattering of other random sites) every day to get the “progressive” view of Canada and the world.

Are you as widely read?
commented 2015-06-13 12:37:54 -0400
Sask. for sure and BC (with its forestry, LNG and mining possibilities, possibilities being the operative word) will be carrying the load I guess, but it will be a heavy one without Alberta.
Like my father used to say,“they think money grows on trees?!”
commented 2015-06-13 11:08:50 -0400
Bad news for Ontario. As Alberta’s economy craters where will the Feds come up with the 22 billion they transfer each year to Wynneland?
commented 2015-06-13 01:53:19 -0400
Mike..you use a lot of verbal diarhea to say “I am a tree-hugging freak” and “I hate Alberta”.
commented 2015-06-13 00:08:08 -0400
My apology’s to you Bob.
commented 2015-06-12 23:53:43 -0400
No Bob, that was me. Sorry if I was a pecker.
commented 2015-06-12 23:11:13 -0400
Liza Rosie, I apologize for my mistake in idenity; the Liza that I was referring to only used her first name. You showed restraint in not getting mad at me.
commented 2015-06-12 20:38:00 -0400
As someone who’s lived through not just the recent PC regime, and their predecessors in the Social Credit, and having personally known Grant Notley Rachel’s father. I can say that while with Grant while I could not stomach his politics I could respect him as a man with integrity and respect for others in the province with dissenting opinions. He was capable of actually debating others without resorting to insulting his opponents intelligence nor attempting to talk over them and allowing them to rebut his comments. However after seeing his daughter in action during the leaders debate in the past election, I can say that she learned nothing from her father about how to behave or how to be a true Albertan and politician. She’s the complete antithesis to how her father carried himself in dealings with the electorate and opponents combined. Rather then being tactful and respectful of the opponents in the leaders debate she was constantly interrupting them and talking over them rather then allowing them to make their points. She comes across as a completely condescending and arrogant and insulting unionist and utter idiot in dealing with anyone who doesn’t follow her political beliefs. Combine that with a complete lack of integrity in bringing in all of these parachute advisor’s and chiefs of staff who have nothing in common with the average Alberta voters like Brian Topp and Mitchell the anti oil and gas activist is outright insulting to the people that built this province into the energy giant that it is. I dread the next four years of her hopefully brief reign as premier, and hope that the damage is not irreparable at the end when the voters will toss these sychophants and ‘progressive’ losers out on their ears. That’s provided that unlike Ontario the public sector union activists don’t hijack the political discussion and fear monger the opposition four years from now.
To sum up Rachel is nothing like her father Grant who was a true populist and truly in touch with the grass roots voters of his riding and the province. She’s not in tune with the average Albertan but rather is listening more to the public sector union executive and the special interest groups who oppose everything that built the Alberta advantage that Ralph spoke of.
commented 2015-06-12 16:49:34 -0400
Unlike Russell, I don’t think the socialists salivating to run the Alberta economy into the ground, will wait… Sooner than later their real plans will become apparent…There’s just too many twits in their ranks… And one can only hope and pray that will happen just in time for a cold dose of reality to prevail before the federal election…
commented 2015-06-12 15:07:33 -0400
Mike M says, “You may actually be causing more damage to business confidence than any actual policy Notley can bring into play. Consider for a moment, how many Americans hold socialist beliefs, and have grave environmental concerns about the oil industry, either real or even only perceived. An adjustment by the Notley government to create the perception and the reality of a more environmentally sustainable oil industry might actually speed up pipeline approval, and attract more investment, if implemented carefully”

Highly unlikely since those who hold socialist beliefs and have grave environmental concerns about the oil industry need not apply anyway. Because that is bogus left wing rhetoric, and no amount of silly talk to is going to build those pipelines any sooner. Alberta has been working on an environmentally sustainable oil industry for a long time and has made huge strides already. It is the most sound in the world. Notely putting more restrictions in place will only make companies pack up and leave, as they are doing as we speak.
commented 2015-06-12 14:53:36 -0400
“very thankful that Notley is considering raising the minimum wage” Little point. If Alberta goes down, there will be no jobs anyway!

“Has Notley handed out Saul Alinskys book Rules for radicals a handbook for a leftist takeover strategy to all her new N.D.P.Marxists yet.” Che Gueverra wrist watches for all!
commented 2015-06-12 14:25:24 -0400
Michel M. If you want to live in a socialist province there are a few to choose from. Alberta will not be socialist for long, like a bad rash, you want to get rid of it quickly before it sucks the life blood out of you. You went to University with Ezra? You’re not Nenshi are you Mike?

There is no Conservative voice in Canada today, that is why THEREBEL was born, because people who’s views weren’t being reflected wanted it, and we want more, and are sick and tired of being fed an entirely left wing menu.

Look at the strides Sask. has made since they dragged themselves out of the socialist ditch, and you can’t say they do not have a diversified economy which grows as we speak. Alberta doesn’t need socialism in order to diversify, and I agree Alberta could have a more balanced economy, but that road ain’t the road the NDP is going to take us down, and down, and down.

As Prince K. points out, " Without exception, the NDP is a socialist party that believes in big government, big spending, big taxes, and thus driving business and economy into the ground."

A socialist is a socialist and socialism is proven failure.

I don’t see why you are dissing THEREBEL Mike, isn’t there room for more than one point of view in Canada anymore?
commented 2015-06-12 12:52:35 -0400
Michael Millette — Regardless of Notley as a person (having never met her, I wouldn’t know one way or the other), she’s the leader of the NDP party. Without exception, the NDP is a socialist party that believes in big government, big spending, big taxes, and thus driving business and economy into the ground. Don’t believe me? Ask BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia. All of ‘em have been NDP governed. (I don’t include Ontario because the Liberals made that province worse than the NDP ever did…)

I’m dealing with party platforms, party beliefs. I’m dealing with documented history. I’m dealing with facts, not theory.

So, for all your NDP support, the documented history of this party is that Alberta will suffer the same fate as other NDP-governed provinces. Will it be worse than under Prentice? Likely. But the provinces that HAVE had NDP government will never convince me that it was a good thing.

Yes, the NDP in Alberta WAS a protest vote — to get rid of Prentice and the Conservative corruption. The media made sure that Wildrose was not a viable alternative in peoples’ minds. But the people of Alberta were deliberately blind when they voted for this disastrous party. (Why else did the provincial Liberals get ONLY ONE seat, when two elections before they’d been the Official Opposition???)

You can call us closed-minded all you like, Michael; you can’t disguise or refute facts.

And with the history of “progressive”, don’t be too sure that that label is a good thing… minorities controlling the majority is never good, and that’s what the “progressives” have brought us.
commented 2015-06-12 12:37:10 -0400
once in power every gov’t wants to stay there, I will be interested to see how they balance their prior bias beliefs with reality. David Suzicuki, is a great example, say what you think people want to hear, but do what feels good for you, and the bonus, just keep repeating what they want to hear, and capitalize on those emotions. The NDP in 4 years will have said a lot but most likely will be slow to change what will keep them in power.
commented 2015-06-12 10:39:37 -0400
The NDP was a protest vote, plain and simple. Every person I’ve talked to who voted NDP has said that all the horror stories were about other places; it won’t happen here. Those same people are cringing and regretting now.

Regardless, what’s done is done. Now we survive.

To all my fellow Albertans, here is what we do for the next four years:
1) Contact your local MLA and register your displeasure with the government. More, register WHY you are displeased.
2) Contact the Opposition (Wildrose or Conservative) and voice your support.

Note: there is a danger in supporting both these parties simultaneously, and BC learned this in ‘97 when the “right-wing” vote was split, and the NDP got their second consecutive term. We can’t allow this to happen!

3) GET INVOLVED For myself, I’m going to be contacting the provincial Conservative leadership, and telling them how to win back voter confidence… and how to keep it. Because we won’t be only one term coming out of the damage Notley and cohorts will do; it will be two terms, at least. (The people of BC can testify to this.) This means that the provincial Conservatives need a leader that is a) charismatic, b) has the best of Alberta at heart, c) has a vision for Alberta extending a minimum 15 years, and a plan to reach that vision. No more short term, “I just need to get elected” bee ess.

Why support the Conservatives? Let’s face reality here. The reality is that the mainstream media has a severe hate-on for anything and anybody representing responsibility, be it fiscal, social, or personal. As much as I agree with Wildrose, they became a party because the Conservatives weren’t conservative enough (and they were right, as we’ve seen). Will the Wildrose make the next government? The media will see to it that they won’t. So we go with the next-best — Conservative. And yet, the requirements I’ve listed for the Conservatives would put them firmly in Wildrose territory, no? Who cares about the label, when it’s the contents and job performance we’re looking for?

We, the people, can affect the necessary change. And it begins now. With all of us.
commented 2015-06-12 10:28:16 -0400
Has Notley handed out Saul Alinskys book Rules for radicals a handbook for a leftist takeover strategy to all her new N.D.P.Marxists yet.
commented 2015-06-12 09:42:29 -0400
Our population is apathetic, ill informed, easily influenced, and completely foolish. Human nature will see th few ruling the masses soon.
commented 2015-06-12 09:28:13 -0400
I would suggest, Bill, that even the civil servants are dependent on the energy sector more than they probably realize.
commented 2015-06-12 09:24:37 -0400
The NDP is keeping quiet on their real plans. First, until they have formulated them. Second, until after the coming fed election. Many of them want to shut the oil industry down, but they all want more money at the same time. Their plans will devastate the economy, because they have no economic competence.
commented 2015-06-12 08:32:28 -0400
Well done Erza. Great work! I have to say Alberta only has themselves to blame.
commented 2015-06-12 08:22:14 -0400
What you describe here is a shadow government Ezra. I don’t doubt you investigative evidence but I do hope you are wrong in guessing their intent/agenda. IF you are correct and this shadow team of UN- petro oligarchy- funded globalist locusts are descending on Alberta to either destroy its productive capacity or sell out its resources to he central control of UN cronies before Albertans can correct their mistake in4 years time, we have a very political powder keg Most every one (but civil servants) directly or indirectly reliant on the energy sector for their livelihoods – the will NOT allow that to be threatened politically like the NEP.
commented 2015-06-12 08:16:52 -0400
Nicole, I am not sure it is illegal to bring in all those from outside the province, but it certainly is, imo, a slap in the face of every Albertan, especially since all those brought in from elsewhere are enviro-radicals with a hatred for the oil and gas industry and a specific hatred for the oilsands.

Notleys’ unspoken message is loud and clear for anyone who is paying attention.

Her intention is to shut down as much of the oilsands as possible, and probably bring in an energy program that focuses on building massive solar panel and wind turbine farms, all of course on the backs of the dwindling tax payer base. This along with boosting the pay and benefits of the public sector and kowtowing to the unions in an attempt to secure the votes of the public sector employees.

The CBC and the rest of the MSM will be giddy with glee while they cheer on Notleys’ champaign while she takes Alberta down the same road every other province that has had an NDP government has traveled, massive debt and a “green” energy plan that will bankrupt Alberta, cause electricity prices to skyrocket and an energy grid that will not deliver the electricity when needed.

This is the pattern I see developing in Alberta. You can believe me when I say that I hope that I am wrong!
commented 2015-06-12 08:10:40 -0400
I have been paying attention to the news in Alberta and there is no uprising over the NDP government, I say Albertans are sheep like Ontario and deserve what they voted for. The NDP will destroy the province and take the rest of Canada with it, just like Ontario is presently doing. The party is not to blame, the people are to blame, they do not know how to vote because they vote while being completely uninformed. You need to educate yourself, who has the best policy for running my province/country, an anti-oil sands party or a party that supports the oil sands, the people in Alberta chose to vote an NDP just like Ontario when they voted in the Liberals. It’s the citizens that are destroying democracy and the economy, not the politicians as they are voted in by the people. People need to educate themselves more about politics and less about hair and dress. This is not a popularity contest but who is the best person to lead the province/country, then vote. As an army veteran and I am actually disgusted at how un-informed people are flocking to the polls, I have always said there should be some sort of test to see if a person is informed enough to vote, if you fail any test in this country will anybody pass you besides a school teacher, the answer is no. You do not get a drivers license without a passing a test, same as any career you choose in University, the list goes on. This is about a country where millions of people are affected, do you really want un-informed voters going to the poll so they can vote in someone that has nice hair or is good looking, that is a travesty if it is allowed to continue.
commented 2015-06-12 07:51:33 -0400
I think the opposition is strong enough in Edmonton that Abertans will keep these loons from doing an damage until the rectify e mistake they made and vote them into oblivion in the next election
commented 2015-06-12 03:34:07 -0400
This is the worst news for Alberta and Canada as well. I wonder if it is legal to have all those outsiders running Alberta’s government into the destruction of their economy. I hope the people of Alberta revolt and kick those bandits out.
commented 2015-06-12 02:07:10 -0400
Hey, Liza made an honest mistake. What’s more she followed through with a correction AND an apology. I didn’t catch the sarcasm in my first read, either. It’s hard to tell when someone’s being serious or not in comments, and I could throw out some meaningless statistic here about how most communication is non-verbal. But Bob Egli, are you sure Alain was being sarcastic? Do you speak for him? And what’s with the dig at Liza, about her, “of all people saying someone said a stupid comment”? If she called you stupid or something on your federal budget post, it’s a little more understandable, but still uncalled for.
commented 2015-06-12 01:02:32 -0400
This can not be allowed to be a wait-and-see situation – this government is Alberta’s mortal enemy! These people want to bring in all sorts of unproductive “dependents” (immigrants – they’ve already started with their man power!) mean while destroying the tax infrastructure and then bankrupt us all!
Constitutional lawyers – where are you when direly needed??? Get off your fat asses and do yourselves some honor.
commented 2015-06-12 01:02:05 -0400
To Alain, my apology for not catching your meaning.
commented 2015-06-12 00:58:35 -0400
Went back and re read. I am wrong. I wouldn’t take too much offence if I were you , especially for someone else. It is the internet after all and often times things are misread. Point it out by all means. I’m sorry I don’t remember the federal budget incident where you were 100% correct and I didn’t understand any of it.
commented 2015-06-12 00:53:30 -0400
Couldn’t agree with you more Daryl.