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This Week in AB
A perpetual state of irony
Why yes, it is ironic that Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is standing beside a sign saying “no one wants their power bill to quadruple” when she is leading the only province in Canada where power bills have increased by 128%.
Alberta is still reliant on fossil fuels for 89% of its electricity generation and, as global natural gas prices fluctuate our power bills do as well.
Owner-operators (ahem, ATCO, where former premier Jason Kenney landed a board position) of natural gas-powered electricity generation are trying to plead their case that *more* oil and gas, rather than less, is the answer for Canadians.
Meanwhile, consumer electricity rates are the lowest in provinces that use hydro.
Speaking of which, if you’re not on a fixed rate yet, the Alberta Advantage is coming for you.
Alberta’s regulated rate option rate (RRO) rose to a new record high in July, days after the province pledged to overhaul the default rate. Customers who choose to remain on the RRO, or are unable to sign up for a fixed contract, will have started paying back the $200-million government loan to utility companies made as part of the province’s affordability plan (emphasis mine).
Alberta prepared to use sovereignty act over proposed clean electricity regulations; Edmonton Journal, Sept. 28, 2023
Thursday, Smith told reporters that her UCP government is currently working on a motion to use the Sovereignty Act to oppose the Clean Electricity Regulations draft if the federal government moves forward with them.
ATCO CEO Nancy Southern has said the regulations will further raise electricity bills in Alberta and she’s not wrong — especially if Smith and the UCP keep blocking green energy projects.
Which, of course, the UCP’s moratorium is in place as they consider regulatory changes that may or may not increase the costs of such energy projects in the future.
As I said, perpetual irony.
Your Pension. Your neighbour’s choice?
Conservatives have been salivating over pension contributions by Albertans for decades. All of that money being placed into a fund that governments cannot touch? Say it isn’t so!
Albertans have had their trust broken over, and over, and over again by successive governments who put the interests of oil and gas executives above the rest of us — it’s fairly reasonable that we wouldn’t trust that same provincial government with our pensions.
Don’t even get me started on the fact that referendums allow our elected officials to advocate for a desired outcome from a referendum while throwing their hands up at the result to claim they didn’t make the decision but are simply accepting the will of the people.
“I believe that a compelling case can be made for (a shift from the Canadian Pension Plan to a provincial plan). We want to listen to Albertans on this first, but let me just say that with the youngest population in Canada, we are by far the largest net contributors to the CPP,” then-Premier Jason Kenney said during a Facebook live in 2019.
This is true; Alberta residents collect the fewest pension benefits, most notably because most residents of Alberta aren’t of age to collect their pension. Duh.
I’ve never seen this myself but oil and gas folks definitely know: there is a maximum contribution limit to the Canada Pension Plan (and Employment Insurance, as a sidenote) and at some point during the fiscal year of January 1 to December 31, those deductions cease to show up on their cheques.
I always thought this coincided with the Fraser Institute’s “tax freedom day” (June sometime) for individuals who make $140k/year (which is around $50k more than the average household income in Alberta) if you’ve ever wondered who is intended to benefit from their policy advocacy.
CPP benefits are personal.
I have no issue with anyone opting-in to a provincial plan based on their financial acumen and their own considerations for their financial future.
I have a big problem with my neighbours choosing to remove me without my consent, or me choosing to keep my neighbours in the CPP if they don’t want to be there, for that matter.
Ergo, screw your referendum; keep your hands off my pension.
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Let those who have not had a caucus member honour a Nazi throw the first stone
It was a shocking moment, yet not — if you’re up to date on how many of our Canadian politicians have accidentally honoured Nazis.
Off the top of my head, since 2015, the first was Alberta UCP MLA Grant Hunter, who quoted a Global News article with a Wernher von Braun quote its author, Bob Layton, had included within.
Hunter was obviously made aware of von Braun’s origins and quickly deleted the tweet.
That incident, in my recollection, led to quite the online discourse about people who did really, really bad things (like hold positions with the Nazi government), but also did “good” things (like become a founding member of U.S. space travel).
Next, there was the CPC members who invited a third party German MP (whom CPC leader Pierre Poilievre denounced afterwards) to headline a bunch of convoy-friendly events in Canada.
Then, the now-former Speaker of the House, Anthony Rota, welcomed a Ukrainian-Canadian war veteran into the House of Commons last week, and received a standing ovation from ALL MEMBERS of Parliament — including a Ukrainian delegation with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy — and when it became clear that this individual had joined the German army — Nazis — to fight against Russians… it seemed somewhat complicated.
And not just because the Russians had a non-aggression agreement with Germany until Germany broke it.
As is my wont, I sometimes choose to refrain from commenting about complicated subjects that are not easily snarked about in 280 characters or less — social media is not exactly a welcoming space for nuance.
And I’m not sure if nuance exists in the case of Yaroslav Hunka, just as I wasn’t sure if it existed in Wernher von Braun’s.
I learned that Nazis were bad. All Nazis. There was no nuance in this.
Many years later, I learned about Stanley Milgram and his obedience experiment where people were told by a person in a lab coat to shock someone they couldn’t see if they answered a question wrong.
I am refraining from making the pun about how many people acquiesced.
Milgram’s experiment had a direct correlation with the defence given by those accused of war crimes after WWII — that they were “following orders”.
There’s also the Stanford Prison Experiment where average students chose to torment fellow students because they were acting as “guards” and “prisoners” were “bad”.
One hypothesis is that “extreme behaviour flows from extreme situations.”
May I refer you to Jack Nicholson’s “you can’t handle the truth” speech in A Few Good Men?
My own experience was less horrid. In an International Relations class in university, we were grouped together and given a “country” of representation. We all tried to take over other countries.
At the end of the week-long exercise, my prof said it was rather fascinating because in all the years he’d assigned this group project, without even a hint of what the point was, every class decided the goal must be to take over other countries.
To sum, first I learned that things were easily explained, and then I learned that maybe there wasn’t always an easy explanation.
Sometimes, those who realized the futility of the fight simply left, knowing they could not change minds and they were not able to comply with what was being asked of them.
Sometimes, those who stood up to the oppressors didn’t live to tell the tale.
Sometimes, it’s actually complicated.
It’s an uncomfortable, but nonetheless exceptional, reality.