Jason’s “War Room”

It was late 2015 when four oilsands CEOs stood on the stage with then-Premier Rachel Notley to give their support to Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan.

At that time, Shell and Exxon Mobil also gave their endorsement.

The fossil-fuel industry knows the carbon-intensive business model is quickly moving into the twilight zone.

They were open to working with the Alberta Government to effect change and move forward. But given an opening, the election of Jason Kenney, they greedily jumped back off the green wagon for another chance at short-term riches.

Albertans voted for Jason Kenney because he was business-friendly. But his announcement that he was establishing a taxpayer-funded communication “war room” in Calgary to sync government and industry messaging was shocking.

In a democracy, the government does not get in bed with one industry, especially an industry with monopoly power and huge market control.

A responsible government provides a good climate for investment but understands their most important role is adjudicator, balancing the greed of corporations against the wellbeing of all their citizens.

By becoming the propaganda arm of one industry, Premier Kenney is clearly in the camp of short-term thinkers, rather than long-term visionaries.

When will he learn that Alberta could be so much more than an oil patch?

Kenney’s deference to CEOs by opening this “war room” is a different form than was Trudeau’s deference to SNC-Lavalin CEOs, but it is the same.

Kowtowing to men at the top of the wealth pyramid in traditional industries rather than focusing on innovation, knowledge, technology, basic research, private entrepreneurs and risk takers denies Canadians from becoming world leaders in economic advancement.

We were outraged, and rightfully so, when Prime Minister Trudeau kowtowed to the executives at SNC-Lavalin, yet Premier Kenney is showing the same deference to oil and gas oligarchs.

Two majors in the energy sector stand outside Kenney’s old world order.

On May 27, Canadian Utilities Ltd, a subsidiary of ATCO, sold their entire Canadian fossil fuel-based electricity generation portfolio.

Then on April 2, Shell, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, urged Canada’s oil lobby group, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), to support a carbon tax. They have not left CAPP, but have stepped down their involvement because of CAPP’s stance on climate change.

Through all these examples, we’re starting to see a clear delineation between female and male leadership.

We now have four recent examples where women are showing ethical and visionary leadership in governance, whereas male politicians continue to display lapdog servitude to corporate CEOs.

It was two women in Trudeau’s cabinet, Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott who sacrificed their positions rather than cover up CEOs behaving badly.

Nancy Southern is the chairman of ATCO and that company’s recent decision puts it as one of the few Alberta entities positioning themselves for the future reality. And then, lest we forget, former Premier Rachel Notley successfully garnered industry’s blessing and support for her forward-thinking Climate Leadership Plan.

Ironically, Kenney’s decision to taxpayer fund a communications “war room” for multi-national oil companies would be equivalent to Trudeau having used tax dollars to open a $30 million communications “war room” in Montreal to help out poor corporate giant, SNC-Lavalin.

 

Brenda Schimke

ECA Review

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