, 04.23.2019 06:42 AM

How Trudeau elected Kenney

Last month, I was back home in Calgary to teach at the law school. So, I got together with a couple high school buddies – one a lawyer, one an engineer – at Michael’s on Tenth Avenue. (Michael’s has the best pizza in Canada, by the way. Hands down.)

We got to talking about the coming Alberta election, and what was going to happen. Some people at neighbouring tables chimed in. (Calgary’s like that.)

Here’s a summary of what I was told:

• they all respected Rachel Notley but disliked her party
• they didn’t really like Jason Kenney but figured they’d vote for his party
• they thought the rest of Canada didn’t give a shit about them
• they deeply hated Justin Trudeau

And when I say “deeply,” I mean deeply. One of my fellow Michael’s fans even suggested that it would be a bad idea for Trudeau to travel to Alberta. Because he might be placed at physical risk.


The conversation continued. My lawyer buddy, who works at a major construction and engineering firm, was unhappy about Trudeau’s slavish devotion to the fortunes of the oily Quebec-based construction and engineering firm, SNC-Lavalin. He looked at me.

“You know, Winkie,” he said, using the nickname my Calgary pals gave to me way back when, “My firm had to lay off more than a thousand guys last year. No one back East noticed. No one. If that had happened to SNC-Lavalin, it would’ve been all you’d hear about.”

He was right, of course. Albertans are right: if something bad happens in the Centre of the Universe, in the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto axis, the whole country hears about it for weeks. But if hundreds of families lose their livelihood in Calgary, nobody in Ontario gives a shit, basically. Certainly not Justin Trudeau, who has repeatedly claimed to support Alberta – and then repeatedly done precisely nothing to help Alberta get oil to market.

I later tweeted what my friend said about those layoffs, and Ontario and Quebec’s total indifference to same. Jason Kenney was one of the many who retweeted what I said. It struck a chord.

And that, really, is mainly why Jason Kenney swept the much-admired Rachel Notley from power. Because Justin Trudeau and his government are now more despised in Alberta than was Trudeau’s father’s government, way back during the nadir of the National Energy Program. And Notley is seen, in Alberta, as having letting Trudeau get away with murder. The murder of Alberta’s economy.

Other factors were at play in last Tuesday’s night vote, of course. In politics, there always are. Jason Kenney brought together the warring factions of the Right, and avoided the vote-splits that helped Notley’s Crüe sweep to power four years ago. And, while the NDP leader was herself admired, her caucus generally was not. Notley had a Safeway employee, a yoga instructor and a bunch of twenty-somethings. Few had real political experience.

In 2015, Notley’s Progressive Conservative opponents also ran one of the worst campaigns in modern Alberta history. Nationally, the NDP was polling respectably in 2014. And Notley’s family was (and is) admired in Alberta. Her Dad was a much-loved former MLA who died tragically in a plane crash in 1984.

But, mostly, Rachel Notley lost because of Justin Trudeau. She trusted him, as did other Albertans. And she shouldn’t have. His early promises to Alberta were deceptions. They were intended to win him seats – but Trudeau clearly never had any intention of helping Alberta families survive.

My engineer buddy, who has had to lay off dozens of engineers, and take whatever work he can get, nods grimly at all this. He was born in Montreal, grew up in Manitoba and Alberta, and was always a Liberal. No more.

“He’s a liar,” my friends says, holding a glass of the best local stuff, Trad. “He’s a goddamn liar. He’s way more hated than his father ever was, in Alberta. And Notley is the one who is going to wear it.”

That was unfortunate, my engineering pal said, because he regarded Rachel Notley as “decent, smart and principled.” Many people in Alberta admired the NDP Premier, he said.

“But she was unlucky. She won when the bottom was falling out,” he said. “That’s not her fault. But her alliance with Trudeau, at the start, is something people will never forgive.”

And they didn’t. Once again, anything with the “Liberal” brand is anathema in Alberta, thanks to Justin Trudeau. On election night, the Alberta Liberal leader – a smart, hard-working constitutional lawyer, David Khan – was creamed, finishing a distant fourth in Calgary MountainView. His party was wiped out across the province, not winning a single seat.

Justin Trudeau may not have been on the ballot in Alberta, but he surely helped determine the result, more than any other Canadian politician. He helped elect Jason Kenney and defeat Rachel Notley. He did that.

My engineering buddy looked at me.

“Alberta hates Justin Trudeau,” he says. “And we are going to teach him a lesson in October.”


  1. Joe says:

    Winkie. 🙂 Don’t let your dislike of our lying, incompetent, Dear Leader fool you. A majority of Albertans voted to get rid of the NDP due to their dislike of the NDP policies, politics, and general NDP governing arrogance (legislate first, consult later).

  2. Jeanbatte says:

    Good article, Warren. Stephen was right, Sock Boy just wasn’t ready. I hope he enjoys jetting across Canada and around the world on our dime, while he demands that we tighten our ‘carbon belts’.

  3. Mike Jeffries says:

    And soon Alberta will hate Notley. And many already do!
    It’s hard to imagine how Notley while in opposition was against oil all of a sudden when Premier is for oil? Like her oil hating alley JT it’s all deception!
    Did Notley receive questionable funding for her campaign? Does JT? All will be exposed (I hope)…

  4. Gord Tulk says:

    I think it a stretch to say JT is more hated than his father was. The shock that the NEP and shortly after a crash in oil prices caused was far far worse than the current harm caused by JTs failure to perform his constitutional duty on pipelines.

    Making it even worse were the very high interest rates – 15+ percent – that caused people and businesses to make drastic cuts to spending far faster than in today’s sub 4% world.

    Pile in that the fact that the NEP reduced revenues in AB while providing Ontario and Quebec oil and gas at prices significantly below the world price – over 100 billion in imputed subsidy in 1980s dollars – and the (justifiable) hate on PET was white hot.

    JT by comparison is seen as a virtue-signalling doofus who is completely out of his league politically and thus is a threat to Alberta and other provinces that provide oil and gas and coal to the world.

    What albertans hate far more today than they did back in the day is the MSM and academia and their commanders the progressive left and their totalitarianism. And if you think things are bad now just wait and see what the response will be if Bill 69 is passed.

    • Ian says:

      That is sort of my read too – in this era of social media, we collectively do hatred a little more readily than back then. But I don’t think this has the same deep, generational roots as the effects of the NEP did. Alberta has had a rough time over the past few years, as oil capital spending and exploration ground to a halt. However, most Albertans now don’t really have a good grasp of just how grim the early 80s were there.

      • the salamander says:

        .. let us do a check.. how many barrels of ‘Alberta oil’ or gas and of what grade, actually travel daily from Alberta to Quebec and Ontario. Please differentiate Dilbit or Synbit thanks, versus any ‘conventional’ oil. Ontario buys a hell of a lot of gas BTW from Pennsylvania.. and last i looked it was mainly synbit being piped anywhere east.. The Great Canadian ‘oil’ Grift is fueled by misinformation and lazy conflation of words, terms, phrases. We particularly like the quaint term ‘oil patch’ ..

        • The Doctor says:

          So Albertans who want to market their oil are grifters? Nice.

        • Gord Tulk says:

          Which comes first? The chicken or the egg?

          In this case it’s the pipeline that comes first.

          And yes, there was/is no need for an eastern pipeline if the feds will do their job and get several lines to pacific tidewater where the demand and thus price for oil and gas is far higher than Atlantic tidewater (and pacific rim demand is going to get even stronger while the European market stagnates and maybe even declines)

          Energy east at least had provinces that were willing to let a pipeline be built – at least until Quebec got on its high, money grifting horse.

          But since the LPC Hasn’t the guts to do its job we have no new Pipe either east or west.

  5. debbie says:

    Agree with the article otherwise, but needed to comment on your suggestion that a “Safeway employee” could not do a good job as an MLA.

    Recall that one of the most popular and hard working MPs elected during the 2011 NDP “orange wave” was Ruth Ellen Brosseau, who worked previously in a bar and who was famously vacationing in Los Vegas during the campaign.

    She was respected by her constituents and was re-elected in 2015 with an increase in the percentage of the vote, even as the rest of the NDP lost many seats in Quebec.

    I am sure there are other similar examples.

    I don’t know anything about the Safeway MLA in question, but I don’t think that we should malign people based on their previous employment. Not everyone has the opportunity or interest to attend university, but can be quite capable and hard working nevertheless.

    • Warren says:

      You are right. But I was referring to the lack of political experience. Not the job.

      • Joe says:

        I have no problem with someone with no political experience running for office, if they have work experience.

        Justin Trudeau had a name, but no political experience. His work experience was essentially non-existent. His ideas of leadership are a joke, and possibly came from a PowerPoint someone gave him.

        He wasn’t ready. He still isn’t ready. He’s gone from magazine covers to a dufus on the Simpsons.

  6. the salamander says:

    .. exceptional & journalistic ..
    but ..

  7. “And we are going to teach him a lesson in October.”

    The lesson is: it was a waste of time and money trying to help them but he is only going to lose 3 or 4 seats from it (plus ones he’ll lose to the NDP in Toronto and BC over buying the pipeline.)

    • Gord P says:

      I have strong feeling that Trudeau is going to run against Kenney and Alberta in October. If he does he election will be a referendum on Alberta. You may not think so but Albertans will. If Trudeau wins based on that strategy I think you know that the Alberta referendum of Oct 21 may have a different question than equalization.

      • Gord Tulk says:

        The true divide and (they think) conquer party is the LPC.

        They continue to see the country east and west of the laurentians as hinterland – that centralized markets, banking and governance are the way forward (and guess who’s father championed that back in the day?).

        And they are wrong. If a majority of Canadians think that that is the way forward too in time there will be fewer people calling themselves Canadian.

        • The Doctor says:

          That’s what always royally pissed me off about Trudeau Sr. He was a stinking hypocrite on the issue of national unity. He constantly portrayed himself as the Champion of National Unity while cynically pitting central Canada against the West for political gain. The uber-polarized electoral maps of 1979 and 1980 were the direct result of that strategy.

          Jim Coutts and Keith Davey also bear responsibility for that.

    • duojet says:


  8. Joseph Taylor says:

    I’m not entirely sure how Alberta can teach Trudeau a lesson in October as there are only a few MP’s in the whole province.

    • The Doctor says:

      The sad fact is that the federal Liberals have never really suffered that much from being politically toxic in Alberta. Look at those results from the Trudeau comeback election of the early 1980s. It looks like we may have a similarly polarized map in the next federal election.

      And you know that Trudeau and his advisors are doubling down on sucking up to Quebec and paying lip service at best to Alberta. That’s the most viable road to victory that they see, and that’s been the case for some time now. Trudeau & Co. look at those NDP seats in Quebec and they get a big political woody. They figure they’ll flip those seats and that will offset any possible losses in places like Alberta and BC (where they don’t have all that much to lose anyway).

      It’s kind of depressing how little has changed in that regard in some 30-40 years of Canadian federal politics.

    • Gord Tulk says:

      The lesson the LPC needs to learn – or rather the thing it needs to decide is:

      Are they the party of the Old Canada or the New Canada?

      Several years ago Michael Bliss wrote of the New Canada west of Ontario – how it was the dynamic future of the country – that part that prefers less government and believes in free(r) trade and lower taxes and less interference in their daily lives.

      Clearly there are pockets of the Old Canada all across Canada but the political density is far lower in Western Canada.

      And I would expand that New Canada to include much of Ontario.

      The LPC continues to pander to the Old Canada – that which parochial ethos (that dates back to the disatrous decision to not join in the American Revolution) is inward looking, politically constipated and fearful of the future. They throw money at them, pick winners and generally politicize spending (as do the provinces in the Old Canada). And the Old Canada votes for them.

      But the population growth is overwhelmingly in the New Canada – the demographic shifts have been huge – and the LPC panders to the Old Canada and abuses the New Canada at its political peril in the years to come.

      That is the Lesson – not just of Kenney, but of Ford, Pallister and Moe. And that block of Conservatives now represents more than 50% of the country’s population.

      Will the LPC decide in time to break with the Old Canada or will it do what PMSH failed to do and die except by its own political hand?

      • Extracting natural resources and shipping them to another country as fast as possible doesn’t sound like the kind of New Canada we should be promoting.

        • Gord Tulk says:

          If a province wishes to do that is is the federal government’s CONSTITUTIONAL RESPONSIBILITY to facilitate it.

          Many years ago one of the founders of OPEC – Sheik Yemeni wisely and famously said “the Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones.”

          Canada has centuries worth of oil and millennias worth of coal and natural gas reserves. The world currently wants those resources. It is idiotic and self -destructive (not the first time I admit) for Canadian and provincial governments to prevent us from getting them to market.

          We are making generations upon generations of future Canadians poorer by doing so.

          And that is to say nothing of the fact that the confederation itself is at risk if it isn’t done.

        • Gord Tulk says:

          And Warren please permit me to add one more thing :

          If this gets built


          And Albertan and Saskatchewanian oil starts flowing out of Portland onto the pacific before it does through a Canadian port(s) then it will be only a matter of time before those two provinces seriously and with intent question staying in confederation.

          • Mike Jeffries says:

            I suppose Gord that you think JT cares? The West is a thorn in his side. Good riddance if they want to leave. This country is too large and diverse to be governable and that is an idea not my own. And it is illogical that it should be governed from a place in the East! Maybe Winnipeg or Thunder Bay a more central place for the federation.
            The sooner the West leaves the easier for JT to be PM in an election.

          • Joe says:

            If Alberta has a separation referendum, I will vote to separate.

            The plus side for Canada if Alberta separates? Canada will meet it’s Paris Climate change commitments. Now isn’t that win-win?

        • Gord P says:

          The globe consumes 100 million barrels of oil per day and is based on OPEC calculations (they like to model these things) indicate we will be consuming 110 million barrels in 2040. Now Canadians may decide as you suggest to only be consumers rather than producers. However that will not be Alberta’s perspective and we will not be capitulating. Should Canadians decide in Oct that they support C69, C48, a cap on oil production, no pipelines in any direction we, meaning Albertans, may find a jurisdiction nearby with lower taxes, less regulation and support for oil and gas production. They might actually appreciate the worlds 3rd greatest oil reserves. You can decide when you vote
          in Oct.

          • Gord Tulk says:

            The jurisdiction with the second-highest trade surplus with the US after China?

            Alberta. Without AB and Sk Canada has a huge trade deficit with the Rest of the world.

          • Mike Jeffries says:

            I know Albertans! They love to go down to the sunbelt and who wouldn’t with their winters. To own property down there unencumbered by a border would be wholly welcomed! Albertans thence would love to be the 51st. state. And I think they would be better off!

      • Nick M. says:

        I am an old Torontian who moved to Alberta 10 years ago before turning 30.

        I’ve learned to love Western Canada values, because out here you are only as good as your word.

        I was a lefty in Ontario, who believed that government and Unions are required to help people enter middle class.

        Alberta has made me realize how free markets is the best path forward. Best path for prosperity, and most importantly workplace safety. (Yes it sounds cheesy.)

        I love Warrens Article here, because he is talking about people like me, and is giving people like me a voice. As the megaphone is usually dominated by zealots who want the pipeline to die.

        I am enjoying the thoughtful comments being written here, I particularly like your comment about Old and New Canada.

        (I don’t think Ontario is at all related to the new Canada. Though)

        I would like to mention that New Canada is where LavScam has taken Trudeau polling numbers down the most. Particularly in BC, as his number where already very low in the Prairies. That is what is being ignored in my eyes, is that New Canada is way more fed up about LavScam than the East.

        As well, JWR stance represented New Canada values that conflicted with Old Canada old boys club.

        And I feel that all along Trudeau’s mandate is to try and return Quebec to being economically powerful within Canada. Which won’t happen, but he continues to hurt New Canada thinking he can achieve this goal.

      • Gord,

        How much place would a French Quebec have had with the Yanks? Exactly.

  9. I started predicting a CPC government about six months ago.

    About teaching Trudeau a lesson: my impression is that that line is already very, very, long and growing. Trudeau will likely lose all his AB seats but the real pain will come from Ontario and BC where he will take a monumental hit. He will also lose seats in QC and the Atlantic provinces. So, it’s not going to be good and nothing he can do between now and October can change that one whit.

  10. Miles Lunn says:

    I think Notley was in trouble the moment the right united, nonetheless Trudeau made the loss worse. The ridings the NDP won on perfect three way splits, they were going to lose no matter what, but if Trudeau wasn’t so unpopular in Alberta, I think the NDP could have held onto the 41% they got in 2015 and the UCP probably would have fallen short of the combined 52% the Wildrose + PCs got rather than exceeding it. PCs and Wildrose have strong differences but they are united in their hatred of Trudeau. So Trudeau may be didn’t cost her the election per se, but made the loss worse and also put the NDP in a very difficult position to come back in 2023.

  11. duojet says:

    I’m somewhat less sympathetic to Alberta’s predicament.

    During the boom, they spent like crazy
    – low provincial taxes
    – “gold plated” public services

    (College Grads making $100K per year & buying $50K Trucks, thinking it would last for ever – true story!!)

    But guess what, the oil business is cyclical
    (Check it out: https://www.macrotrends.net/1369/crude-oil-price-history-chart)

    And they saved nothing:

    And somehow its my problem.

    • Gord Tulk says:

      No it’s not. But this bust is not market made. It’s political. BIG difference.

      • duojet says:

        Climate change is a political problem?

        Thanks for pointing that out.

        • Gord Tulk says:

          Can’t tell if you are being serious.

          The Gap between The price AB gets for its oil and what it would be getting if there was sufficient pipeline capacity has ranged as high as 40$/BBL. At 3.6 MM per day of production that’s $144 million in lost revenues EVERY DAY because of political cowardice on the part of the LPC (and the AB NDP).

        • Fred from BC says:

          “Climate change is a political problem?

          Yes, and it always has been.

      • Do you really believe thay with just a couple more pipelines, everything would be magically all right again in Alberta?

      • Nick M. says:

        Correct. Oil industry is doing well elsewhere except Canada and political unstable regions.

        We aren’t asking for bail out. We are asking the government to quit obstructing progress.

    • Gord P. says:

      Did you forget about the $600 billion in transfer payments? I haven’t.

  12. Nick M. says:

    Thank you for this post.

    A big factor come next election is that a lot of young Canadians migrated to Alberta. And have been indoctrinated by Trudeau into resenting Western Alienation, the same Western Alienation being championed by Trudeau.

    The under forty crowd are sending this message to their parents and friends back home, that Western Alienation is real and rightly pin it on Trudeau. (Note the polls dropped directly after Christmas.)

    So unlike the NEP in the 80’s, Western Canada now holds much more of the population, and has stronger l relations to family and friends out east.

    This under 40 age group of Canadians might influence the vote out east just enough come election time with their evidence of Western Alienation.

  13. The West is King in this country. The economic might of Canada has and will increasingly shift westward. The West is also the demographics King: with every federal election, the West gains additional seats and that will continue for many, many, future election cycles.

    So, Alberta is hurting terribly but to butcher Laurier: the 21st Century belongs to the West. That’s the Canadian reality going forward.

    Put another way: it’s their turn to run this nation. And that can only favour the Conservatives, regardless of who sits in the leader’s chair.

    • Gord Tulk says:

      It does not need to be that way. NL has over 40 billion Bbls of oil and quads of NG. NS has loads of potential as well. Quebec squanders opportunity in so many ways. These provinces all dramatically underperform because of left-wing, entitlement politics. Changes to equalization and EI would go a long way to changing that. Stay tuned…

  14. abtrapper says:

    Notley is perhaps one of the smartest politicians in the country, but she comes with an excess of baggage. Once elected she had to represent all Albertans. Her baggage didn’t allow for that to happen.

    The internet is full of Notley pictures of her protesting at pipeline rallies and making speeches vilifying the O&G industry. As premier she couldn’t shake her past. She tried but it was just too much to overcome. Albertan’s weren’t taken in by her and doubted her sincerity.

    As for experience, Trudeau himself is the best example of who not to elect. He brought nothing to the table by way of experience in either a career or life itself. His cabinet is much a refection of himself. Have we ever had such a mess in foreign affairs? Our stellar reputation has been sullied perhaps beyond repair. It is a tragedy.

    I was around during T1’s reign of terror in AB. As Gord Tulk points out above this time it’s not as severe….yet. T2 had instant name recognition in AB but not instant dislike. Albertan’s were willing to give him a chance, hell they elected 4 liberals. He never attempted to curry favour with the Province and his distain for us quickly became evident.

    Kenney who is also one of the smartest politicians the country has produced easily tied Notely to Trudeau. The connection was obvious to the electorate.

    Notley had her chance. Her past and ideology couldn’t free her to do the right thing. I think Albertan’s would have embraced another term but she herself couldn’t embrace Alberta.

  15. Gord P. says:

    abtrapper. I had just arrived in AB from Toronto in 1980, was a Liberal and “rightly” presumed the oil belonged to Canada. I was a Conservative by 1982. The difference between T1 and T2 is the AB government of the times. Obviously Lougheed supported Albertans and the O&G Industry. Between T1 and T2 we had many downturns in the price of oil. I certainly recall $11.00. However we never had an Alberta government that wanted to destroy the industry while it was down. Notley used the opportunity of lower prices to increase corporate taxes by 20% (10 to 12), implement a greater carbon tax and never fight for the interests of non union workers. Consider the recent election results. I would suggest that 80% of those who voted for the NDP were private and public union members or their partners. 80% of those who voted for the UCP were non union members. We can’t let the unions take over the province again. I understand Rachel has retrieved her Che Guevara watch from her dresser drawer. She is a Marxist not a socialist.

  16. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    I favour a re-do on equalization and a reduction in transfer payments to the so-called less fortunate jurisdictions.

    It’s ridiculous here in Quebec how the only thing the government doesn’t do — or pay for — is wiping our ass. And they don’t do that with Quebec-based tax revenue.

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