|From: axial||7/7/2019 11:10:10 PM|
|[Opinion] Jason Kenney, Doug Ford and the ugliness of conservative governments investigating their opponents|
'There’s a trend in Canadian politics, for the moment confined to conservative parties, and it is to put into motion, on winning an election, some sort of government investigation into your opponents.
It is nefarious, petty and a waste of taxpayers’ money, but it is catching on like wildfire.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney became the latest to embrace this fad when he announced last week that his United Conservative Party government will hold an inquiry into the finances of environmental groups that oppose the oil sands. It’s long been Mr. Kenney’s contention that opposition to the oil sands has gone past the bounds of free speech and morphed into “a premeditated, internationally planned and financed operation to put Alberta energy out of business,” as he said Thursday.
It’s not clear what this investigation is supposed to find that isn’t already obvious. Alberta’s struggles stem from a lack of pipeline capacity and a drop in the global price of crude oil. Perhaps the inquiry will discover the shocking truth that supply, demand and Mideast countries influence oil prices, or that environmentalists oppose pipelines. Maybe it will learn, from reading news reports, about how the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion was delayed by a failure to fully consult with Indigenous groups. Or how several export pipeline plans have been hamstrung by U.S. regulators.
Mr. Kenney’s inquiry will do nothing to solve the real problem, but it plays well to frustrated Albertans who see their greatest resource struggling to get to market.
Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Premier, Doug Ford, played the same game when he came to power last year and immediately launched a committee hearing into what he called the “worst political cover-up in Ontario’s history."
The alleged scandal was the move by the previous Liberal government to fudge its budgetary bottom line. The issue had already been examined by the provincial auditor-general and in an independent report, but the Premier felt it needed a third going-over by a Queen’s Park committee with the power to call witnesses and subpoena evidence. In the end, all this produced was the sight of former premier Kathleen Wynne gamely answering questions asked by the stacked government committee, and being hectored by PC MPPs demanding that she apologize to the people of Ontario. In short, a kangaroo court.
Mr. Ford’s attempt to turn a political disagreement into a quasi-legal allegation also led to his supporters yelling “lock her up” in reference to Ms. Wynne, an episode reminiscent of the polarized politics of U.S. President Donald Trump.
In both the Ontario and Alberta case, there was zero evidence that any criminal activity occurred, or that any grand conspiracy was at work. In the case of Alberta, it is already well known that some environmental groups accept foreign funding, and there doesn’t appear to be anything illegal about that. In any case, magnitudes more foreign money flows into the development of the oil patch than it does to groups opposing the industry. Given these facts, it is hard to know what Mr. Kenney is trying to achieve by bringing the weight of a government investigation to bear on the activities of advocacy groups. He denies he is attacking their freedom of expression, but last week he couldn’t offer a coherent defence of that position, saying only that the groups’ opposition to the oil sands had become “obsessive” and “political” and therefore merited investigation.
What this all really amounts to is an ugly new political credo that says it is not enough to beat your opponents at the ballot box. Once in government, you also have to crush them under the weight of official investigations.
Mr. Kenney’s supporters may love his willingness to use the levers of power to go after those standing between him and his political agenda. But he should look eastward to see how that worked out for Mr. Ford. The Ontario Premier’s attacks on his predecessor are already long forgotten, and he is now the one in the crosshairs, thanks to a series of hasty budget cuts and inappropriate patronage appointments.
Some voters may get a frisson watching their political leader throw around the weight of government, but what they really should want is for him or her to govern wisely and within the bounds of civility and honest disagreement, and not to settle invented scores.'
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|From: Frank A. Coluccio||8/24/2019 11:30:34 AM|
Dear Fellow Forum Members,
It is with deep sorrow and a heavy heart that I must inform you of the passing of Jim Kayne, a.k.a. axial, a longtime forum member. Jim died on July 8th from a heart attack while doing some renovations.
I learned of Jim's passing while cruising the Cook Report on Internet Economics mailing list several weeks after its posting, where a lifelong friend of his, after gaining access to his pc and files, sent out notices to apparent friends and colleagues.
I'll be obtaining additional contact information over the next several days, which I'll make available via PM to interested members who contact me with a request. Or, you can simply PM me and leave your email address, if you prefer.
Frank A. Coluccio
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|From: Wharf Rat||8/28/2019 11:18:19 AM|
|Canada’s Solar Breakthrough? 600MW Merchant Project Gets Green Light in Alberta|
Solar now beats wind on cost in the home of Canada’s oil industry, says CEO of multi-renewables developer Greengate Power.
Emma Foehringer Merchant
August 27, 2019
A taste of things to come.
A solar project that would be Canada’s biggest received provincial approval this week from regulators in Alberta, gliding through a key step on the way to its completion.
So far Canada hasn’t seen the whoppingly large projects that have cropped up south of its border. The newly approved 600-megawatt (DC) Travers plant, developed by Alberta-based wind and solar developer Greengate Power Corporation, will beat out any previous solar construction in the country by leaps and bounds, the developer said.
Its size will also put Canada within reach of other eye-popping solar projects around the world, like the 754-megawatt Villanuevaproject in Mexico or the 579-megawatt Solar Star project in California.
Greengate expects to begin construction at the C$500 million ($376 million) project next year and complete it in 2021.
The largest farms already in operation in Canada are 100 megawatts or less in capacity. According to data from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, most projects in Canada range between 5 and 25 megawatts. Another Alberta project under development by Ontario-based RealPart Canada would be 150 megawatts.
Developers see the province as a region ripe for growth, despite the oil and gas that’s long been integral to its economy.
Though Alberta may have been “slower to adopt new forms of energy” because of its connection to fossil fuels, Greengate CEO Dan Balaban said that’s changing.
“Given the fact that renewables make sense on a subsidy-free market basis, I think Alberta is primed for some pretty massive renewables growth over the next decade,” Balaban told Greentech Media.
Wind has already boomed in the region, and Alberta ranks third among Canadian provinces for installed wind capacity, according to government data. The province is also home to Canada’s second-largest wind farm, at 299 megawatts, and a national wind price record set in 2017. Comparatively, the solar industry is still getting off the ground.
“We’ve been developing renewable energy in Alberta for more than 12 years. Wind, over the last decade, has been more cost-competitive than solar,” said Balaban. “But solar has reached the tipping point where I believe [it] is the most cost-competitive renewable in Alberta.”
Uncertainty in Canadian market
Greengate will sell the electricity the project produces on a merchant basis into Alberta’s deregulated market, the only one of its kind in Canada. Balaban expects healthy prices because solar plants generate when the province needs power most and prices are highest.
The approval comes on the heels of an uncertain period in Canada's renewables market. Last year, Ontario’s new government canceled more than 750 early-stage renewables contracts, sending a ripple of anxiety through the country’s largest market. A new conservative government recently swept into Alberta as well, canceling a provincial-level renewables auction and getting rid of Alberta’s target of 30 percent renewables by 2030.
But Balaban said the province should be able to maintain renewables growth within the “market-driven” conditions the new government has boosted because renewables can compete without subsidies. Provinces in Canada are also required to price carbon, which provides more certainty to the industry.
“The mega-projects that make economic sense elsewhere in North America and ... around the globe can also work right here in Alberta,” said Balaban. “Canada and Alberta are politically stable places to invest, and we think this is a very attractive project in a very attractive part of the world.”
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