Last June, Premier Jason Kenney prematurely promised the Albertans the “best summer ever”.
Now he is promising the Albertians the best economy ever.
Not with these words, perhaps, but that seems to be Kenney’s message as he spent the past week at a series of press conferences to announce projects, programs and jobs.
On Friday, for example, it announced an Alberta Hydrogen Roadmap to tap into what could become a $ 2.5 trillion global gas market by 2050.
On Monday he encouraged Amazon Web Services plans to build a new cloud computing center near Calgary that could generate up to 950 direct and indirect jobs during construction and see $ 4.3 billion invested in the project over 15 years.
On Tuesday it proclaimed $ 370 million over two years for a wage subsidy program to create more jobs.
Wednesday praised the proposed $ 2.5 billion petrochemical plant near Grande Prairie to create 4,000 construction jobs and 400 permanent jobs.
Add it all in and Kenney the pandemic bungler turns into Kenney the economic savior.
if only it were that simple.
Albanians are certainly desperate for good economic news after years of oil price recession exacerbated by COVID-19.
But digging into Kenney’s recent “mission accomplished” press conferences, some are starting to seem less substantial and more ambitious.
Amazon’s plans seem rock solid.
However, the energy road map appears to be solid as a whiff of hydrogen with ambitious trillion-dollar goals hinging on the use of untested carbon capture technologies on a large industrial scale. Not to mention the technological problems still to be solved in the transport of large quantities of hydrogen abroad.
The new petrochemical plant is promising, but the company behind the project says it hasn’t made a final investment decision yet.
The wage subsidy program will create jobs but not highly skilled jobs, and since the program is open to employees who will only work 15 hours a week, the jobs may end up being part-time.
Kenney is doing so fast to prove he is creating jobs and boosting the economy that you can think of his desperation last June to convince Albanians that he had defeated COVID-19 and that they would have the “best.” summer ever “after he lifted almost all restrictions on the pandemic on July 1.
Summer wasn’t the “best,” of course, as the pandemic engulfed Alberta with a devastating fourth wave – and 64% of Alberta’s people thought Kenney was mishandling the pandemic, according to a poll by Angus Reid in August.
Now, you have to think Kenney is feeling even more desperate with a new poll from Angus Reid indicating that an astonishing 80% of Albanians think he has messed with the pandemic. Not only that, there are new rumblings from within his own united Conservative committee, with an MLA openly calling for Kenney’s resignation.
Additionally, Brian Jean, former leader of the Wildrose party who lost the bitterly contested UCP leadership race against Kenney in 2017, has announced he will run for elections at Fort McMurray with plans to end Kenney’s leadership. . Kenney must call the supplementary one by February 15th.
For Kenney, time is running out. And it must sound like a bomb timer.
It is facing a leadership review in April, but there is a movement among party members to anticipate that review to give the party time to choose a new leader before the 2023 provincial elections.
Kenney’s strategy now appears, in so many words, to declare an economic recovery as it escalates its “push back” strategy against the federal government and anyone else considered an enemy.
This includes a new attack on federal liberals based on last month’s provincial referendum to eliminate the federal equalization program even though no province can dismantle a federal program protected by the Constitution. And his saber rattling over the possibility of an Alberta provincial police force to replace the RCMP even though the idea is still tied to debates over the cost and necessity of such a force.
When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced at the COP26 conference that Canada would impose a stricter cap on oil and gas emissions, Kenney feigned shock and indignation. Except that Trudeau’s campaign against emissions was part of his electoral platform.
Kenney has called other politicians “divisive,” but none are arguably as divisive as Kenney himself.
In addition to arguing with Trudeau, Kenney recently had a war of words with Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet after Blanchet mocked Kenney’s equality referendum. Kenney responded by calling the Bloc a “fringe” party. “I think this is a typical taunt from Mr. Blanchet, who loves hitting Alberta,” said Kenney, not realizing that maybe Blanchet was hitting Kenney, not Alberta.
Kenney must realize that he cannot survive by simply swaggering and arguing to return to political favor.
It needs to show Alberta people the progress on work and the economy.
But it has to be real, not ethereal. Based on facts, not on political hope or despair.
It has to be based on everything the “best summer ever” wasn’t.
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