Seriously, WTF is wrong with Jason Kenney?

Look: I’m going to start with a complement! While to some extent is a result of demographics, it is clear Jason Kenney is no longer trying to kill us.

Alberta’s vaccine roll-out will be one of the first to inoculate Canadians under the age of 60 and by the end of April even us folks in our 40s should be eligible for at least our first jabs.

This is a good thing. And it didn’t hurt in the least to say so.

Now, as for everything else Kenney and his government touches, WTF??

To wit: the Premier of Canada’s 4th largest province spent a chunk of his day yesterday attacking a children’s cartoon on Netflix.

No, seriously. In the midst of a global pandemic where (again, until vaccine time) Alberta has generally fared worse than any other province; where the province’s primary industry has collapsed due to global issues; and where Kenney’s own united, right-of-centre government is polling at ~30% according to a slew of polls over the last year, the Premier spent a chunk of his valuable time bitching about a children’s cartoon.

The mind boggles.

Now, why this cartoon, you might ask? Well, because the premise of this cartoon is that a big, bad oil company is planning to “blow up” a chunk of the Rocky Mountains in order to get at more oil. This results in the Bigfoot Family being. . .  ya know what, this is too stupid to explain.

Except it’s not: not only was Kenney’s own government just recently forced to backtrack on changes it made to a Lougheed-era policy that prohibited coal mining in the Rockies, the idea of using a thermonuclear device (or, in fact, a hundred of them) to melt the oil sands to allow for conventional extraction was a serious plan at one point.

No really!

“Project Oilsand” was an actual plan put forward by an actual geologist working for an actual oil company:

The use of nuclear weapons for oil and gas extraction was first theorized by American geologist Manley L. Natland, of the Richfield Oil Company in 1956…n April 1959, the Federal Mines Department approved Project Oilsand; Pony Creek, Alberta (103 kilometres [64 miles] from Fort McMurray) was selected as a test site.[1] Before the project could continue beyond these preliminary steps, however, the Canadian government’s stance on the use of nuclear weapons shifted towards one of non-proliferation; out of concerns that it would increase the risk of Soviet espionage, Project Oilsand was put on hiatus. — Wikipedia

So Kenney’s contention that “it’s clear that they developed content designed to defame in the most vicious way possible – in the impressionable minds of kids – the largest industry in the province” doesn’t really hold water.

Best of all – from the prospective of the Alberta taxpayers who have been footing the $30million/year bill for the Mongolian pig f*%$ that has been Kenney’s energy “War Room” over the last two years – the CEC’s primary response was to encourage Albertans to send angry emails to Netflix.

This is so clearly the exact opposite of the approach a government like Alberta’s should be taking to one of the biggest digital content producers on the planet.

First, as demonstrated by Project Oilsand, this is hardly the craziest version of this idea that the oil industry itself has every put forward. So Kenney should probably chill.

Second, the CEC is spending $30m/year to defend the industry and this week their best idea is to send postcards to Netflix. I cannot wait for the value-for-money audit on this place once the UCP are out of power.

But third, Netflix are exactly the kind of employer Kenney should be on his hands and knees begging to come to Alberta rather than pissing them off over such a trivial, myopic and historically accurate non-event.

Alberta has the youngest population in the country – one of the youngest of any jurisdiction in North America. (PS: that’s the demographic fact that is driving Alberta’s comparatively good performance on vaccinations, fwiw).

And one area where the CEC is right is that the oil industry is far more technical and digital than many people thing. There are tons of young, un/under-employed Albertans who could transition to working for digital giants like Netflix, Google, Microsoft, etc.

Moreover, the movie industry is already very active in Alberta – at least they were before the pandemic. Lots of b-reel is shot in and around the rockies; some big stars end up here every year; and a number of “TV” series are shot here as well.

This makes the bridge to folks like Netflix should be so goddamn obvious to any provincial government facing this set of facts.

However the reality – no matter how much Kenney and his cabal hate it – is that Hollywood and the film industry overall is left wing. They are not fans of oil and gas. They drive Priuses and Teslas. They vote Democrat.

But who cares??? With the one and only horse in town on life support (and please be clear: there is about to be a rally in oil prices as the economy restarts. This is temporary), why in the name of gawd would any premier want to chase away a potential new horse?

Jason Kenney is – by far – the most ideologically driven first minister in Canada since René Levesque. This shouldn’t be news to anyone who has even tangentially followed his political career.

But if Kenney is prepared to sacrifice potential, viable, real-life industries that could play a meaningful role in the future of Alberta just in the name of that ideology, I sincerely hope that when an election comes in two years Albertans make Kenney long for the days of a 30% approval rating.

A press conference about a Bigfoot movie ffs. <insert eye roll emoji here>