Progress Alberta: Progress Report #200 (Jan. 21, 2020)

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Progress Report #200
Your weekly update on Alberta politics for January 21, 2020

Last year during the provincial election we made ourselves a real thorn in the side of the UCP. Progress Alberta was one of the key outlets getting the word out about a number of stories Jason Kenney didn’t want people hearing–the kamikaze scandal and stories of problematic UCP candidates in particular.

It got to the point where even die-hard conservatives were sharing Progress Alberta posts around and I can’t imagine that made the UCP campaign very happy.

So they took a swing at us. In the late weeks of the campaign, Kenney (with a little help from figures like Danielle Smith and Vivian Krause) started pushing a narrative that Progress Alberta was part of ‘the Tar Sands Campaign,’ an alleged foreign conspiracy to shut down Alberta oil and gas.

Progress Alberta has never been involved in that pipeline fight. I know a lot of folks wish we’d taken one side or the other, and sometimes I wish we had too. But the fact of the matter is that Kenney’s smear on us was just a straight lie, meant to keep folks from hearing things Jason Kenney didn’t like us saying. After all there’s no faster way to brand someone as a heretic in this province than to call them anti-industry (whether or not they actually are!)

Well now we’re hitting back. Jason Kenney’s multi-million-dollar anti-environmentalist inquiry is just an extension of what he did to us–only now he’s using not just the resources of his party but the public funds of the provincial government to push his conspiracy theory and smear his political enemies. So we’re taking them to court.

Our lawyer, constitutional expert Amir Attaran, believes this nu-McCarthyite inquisition is a threat to Canadians’ civil rights. This spring we’re going to make that case and fight to make sure Kenney can’t use his inquiry to smear anyone else. So stay tuned, I’m sure we’ll have a lot to report as our legal challenge proceeds.

UCP announce draconian new education policy

Yesterday advanced education minister Demetrios Nicolaides announced a dramatic change to how post-secondary institutions in Alberta will be funded.

Following the example of Doug Ford’s government in Ontario, funding for colleges and universities in Alberta will be cut for schools that don’t match up with certain performance metrics–and those metrics will be decided by the UCP government.

Considering this government has already signalled its desire to slash education budgets, it’s not surprising that public education advocates are very alarmed.

Writing for University Affairs back in October, Mark Spooner explains well why the Ford/Kenney approach is bound to fail. But you don’t need to get into the weeds to understand what’s really going on here: the UCP want to cut these budgets and they’re designing a system to legitimize those cuts. At least this time they didn’t have to strike a panel to do it.


That’s all for this week. Please share our newsletter with any friends or family who you think would like political news and commentary from a progressive point of view. If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, you can sign up for it here. Donations to support our ongoing work are always welcome and if you’re interested in volunteering with us, just reply to this email.

Jim Storrie