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Koch Industries looking north.
March 24, 2011 1:06 PM   Subscribe

There's been a lot of talk about Koch lately, mostly in regard to Wisconsin and Michigan. Now the billionaire Tea Party financiers have turned their eyes to Canada, and are set to lobby the Alberta government. Previously.
posted by Stagger Lee (85 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
They're like the Johnny Appleseed of plutocracy.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:08 PM on March 24, 2011 [13 favorites]


.
posted by AugieAugustus at 1:12 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's that? A huge energy conglomerate is going to lobby a province that produces a lot of energy? Shocking. Next thing you know you'll be telling us that the Koch brothers have their prostates examined on a regular basis.
posted by gyc at 1:12 PM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh god, leave Canada alone.

Harper and Ford do enough damage on their own, thanks.
posted by Phire at 1:13 PM on March 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


Here's a fact: the namesake of the term "Overton window" was one of the first directors of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
posted by ofthestrait at 1:14 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


You thought supervillains were going to come up with all kinds of subterfuging blackmails backed by bizarre high-tech weaponry and huge armies of stupid henchmen controlled from exotic remote locations.

Turns out that's needlessly expensive and unpredictable compared to securing a few television networks and hire some useful idiots to shill for their agendas and a coterie of sociopaths to push them through. It's totally legal and they don't even have to worry about super-spies or expatriation.
posted by at by at 1:17 PM on March 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


So the news is that Koch Industries has been added to the list of lobbyists to the government of Alberta? That's it?
I can see The Edmonton Journal running with this because it's Edmonton and it's March and there's not a lot going on, but it may be a bit thin for MetaFilter.
posted by rocket88 at 1:17 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaking of Wisconsin, I found this update quite disturbing: among the emails received by Gov. Walker's office was one from a deputy prosecutor and GOP activist in Indiana recommending Walker stage a violent "false flag" attack on himself in order to discredit the peaceful pro-labor protesters. (An email sent the same day that Indiana deputy attorney general was caught suggesting Wisconsin police use "live ammunition").
posted by Rhaomi at 1:17 PM on March 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


NO NO NO NO NO NO NO OH HELL NO.
posted by jokeefe at 1:18 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been to Calgary. There's not that much you could do to it.
posted by Artw at 1:18 PM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hey now, my friend Janet lives there. But you're mostly right.

There are all those L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poet types at the University, though.
posted by jokeefe at 1:20 PM on March 24, 2011


Slap*Happy: They're like the Johnny Appleseed of plutocracy.

Except, instead of planting seeds and moving on, they manage their orchards of poisoned fruit for years, ensuring their product flourishes.


gyc: What's that? A huge energy conglomerate is going to lobby a province that produces a lot of energy? Shocking. Next thing you know you'll be telling us that the Koch brothers have their prostates examined on a regular basis.
An American energy conglomerate owned by two powerful billionaire brothers who help fund the Tea Party and climate change denial movements in the U.S. has registered to lobby the Alberta government.

Alberta’s lobbyist registry shows that on March 15, Koch Industries signed up to lobby the province on energy and resource development policy issues, as well as taxation and economic development.

...

The [Koch Industries] company website says subsidiary Flint Hills Resources is among Canada’s largest crude oil purchasers, shippers and exporters.
Major company with significant presence in country lobbies country's policy makers to change things in their favor. I'm siding with business as usual for any major company, as major multinational countries tend to look out for their own best interest, instead of the well-being of the country and it's people and resources. Though few companies push so much to fund the Tea Party or Climate Change Denial.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:22 PM on March 24, 2011


Goddamn Kochsuckers!
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 1:24 PM on March 24, 2011


Best of luck, Canada.*

*Sincerly
posted by drezdn at 1:24 PM on March 24, 2011


Isn't Alberta, like, the Texas of Canada, already owned by the oil industry, right? What can the Koch Bros. do that Albertans aren't already doing to themselves?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:24 PM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


That picture on the Edmondton Journal is horrific. The man's like a cartoon villain. Where's his cigar and stetson?
posted by londonmark at 1:25 PM on March 24, 2011



Isn't Alberta, like, the Texas of Canada, already owned by the oil industry, right? What can the Koch Bros. do that Albertans aren't already doing to themselves?


I thought that Ed Stelmach's quote was fairly telling.

“We have the least days of labour disruption in this province. We are doing quite well, we have a good working relationship,” he said. “Why would we change?”
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:26 PM on March 24, 2011


At least Canada has relatively sane campaign financing laws.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:28 PM on March 24, 2011


Next week the Teabaggers will be carrying signs saying "54°40′ or fight!"
posted by Mister Fabulous at 1:35 PM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Meh. It's not like Alberta can really go much further right. Didn't they already get rid of sales and income taxes there already? It's not like Alberta is going to pull out of the Canada Health Act or something.
posted by GuyZero at 1:38 PM on March 24, 2011


My bad, Alberta has a flat 10% income tax above whatever their personal allowance amount is. Or something. But there's provincial income tax in Alberta, just no provincial sales tax. And GST, of course.
posted by GuyZero at 1:41 PM on March 24, 2011


As a Canajun albertahn, I have no comment on this.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:46 PM on March 24, 2011


At least Canada has relatively sane campaign financing laws.

So did we. Watch your courts.

Another thing you should watch is the Merger of the London and Toronto stock exchanges. They're doing this to make commodity speculation easier, and to open the door to derivatives markets. That will be a disaster for wealth equality. Which will be a disaster for political equality. It's the thin end of a very wide wedge.
posted by clarknova at 1:48 PM on March 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


Part of the problem with the Koch brothers is that Koch industries isn't even a publicly traded company like Exxon, BP, Google, whatever. In the past pretty much every company had to go public to get financing, but that's starting to go away (apparently) and individuals are becoming incredibly wealthy and powerful. At least with shareholders there's some public interest in how corporations operate. A publicly traded company would be weary of aligning itself with a single political party.
posted by delmoi at 1:55 PM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


If we rebel, will NATO enforce a no-fly zone over Michigan?
posted by tomswift at 2:04 PM on March 24, 2011


Now I'm feeling really bad for Bushidoboy. He was so confident.
posted by hippybear at 2:06 PM on March 24, 2011


> It's the thin end of a very wide wedge.

I'm kind of terrified by the direction Canada is heading in. It's like a slow-motion car crash. Rob Ford's election was the patch of black ice and if Harper wins a majority that would be the tree.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:07 PM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I really do get so scared for Alberta sometimes. It's no co-incidence that Alberta's Family Day happens to fall on President's Day.
posted by Calzephyr at 2:13 PM on March 24, 2011


I'm kind of terrified by the direction Canada is heading in. It's like a slow-motion car crash. Rob Ford's election was the patch of black ice and if Harper wins a majority that would be the tree.

And the prospect of Tim Hudak's Conservatives taking Ontario in this fall's provincial election would complete the trifecta.
posted by rocket88 at 2:19 PM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


if Harper wins a majority

When. When Harper wins a majority.

He's already been running attack ads for months, and we are not currently in an election campaign. He's so ready for this non-confidence vote, because he's sure he's gonna win the election this time.

Maybe I'm just jaded because I live in southern Alberta, but I know that there's nothing that douche bag can do that would prevent my city from voting for him. I've actually heard people repeating his lines from the attack ads.
posted by arcticwoman at 2:31 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Their money been here for awhile. British Columbia's creepy libertarian think tank, the Fraser Institute, has received donations in the past from one of their foundations.
I'm sure they will be welcomed with open arms in Alberta, and perhaps this has something to do with the impending national election.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 2:34 PM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm so tired of these rich villains.

I wish they could be content with their already vast wealth and power and not be constantly looking to expand their ability to get just a little bit more of what everyone else has.
posted by quin at 2:35 PM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


British Columbia's creepy libertarian think tank, the Fraser Institute, has received donations in the past from one of their foundations.

And yet every Canadian pretty much agrees they're basically a super-villan organization. The CBC says "Frasier Institute" and everyone pretty much pictures this.
posted by GuyZero at 2:38 PM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why would business interests attempt to influence the government of Alberta? It's nothing they don't already own. We've had the same party form government for longer than East Germany had the Communist party, and the only threat is that the conservative government is defeated by the more conservative Wild Rose party.

For reasons I can't logically comprehend, the left in this province has no ability to organize in any coherent way, and the terrible systematic bias in ridings ensures that 4 rural voters have more say than 5 urban ones.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 2:39 PM on March 24, 2011


And the prospect of Tim Hudak's Conservatives taking Ontario in this fall's provincial election would complete the trifecta.

I haven't kept up on Canadian culture as much as I should, but what has precipitated Canada's seemingly rightward shift over the last ten or so years? Is it the economy?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:43 PM on March 24, 2011




For reasons I can't logically comprehend, the left in this province has no ability to organize in any coherent way, and the terrible systematic bias in ridings ensures that 4 rural voters have more say than 5 urban ones.


Having spent most of my life in rural Alberta, my sense has often been that people out here aren't inherently right-leaning, but that the other parties have completely failed to present them with a coherent alternative. People tend to be very libertarian, but a lot of them have genuine concerns about oil revenues, ecological sustainability and social programs.

If I could, I'd force every member of the Liberals and NDP to spend an hour a day reading outdoorsman forums and hanging out in gas stations talking with the clientele over cheap coffee. IMHO the salt of the earth out here aren't necessarily an unsympathetic audience, but the parties have really failed to offer them a coherent alternative to all the right's bullshit about gas prices and jobs.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:47 PM on March 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


And yet every Canadian pretty much agrees they're basically a super-villan organization. The CBC says "Frasier Institute" and everyone pretty much pictures this.

I'd bet 60% of Canadians couldn't explain what the Fraser Institute is, and 80% don't know what viewpoint they represent. Yet their reaction to every public policy issue is front-and-centre on every news outlet as if they were a viable source of opinion. There are no left-wing "think tanks" so no opposing viewpoint ever makes its way to the masses.
posted by rocket88 at 2:47 PM on March 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


The internal collapse of the Liberal party, which occurred simultaneously to the reunification of the Conservatives. It's not that voting trends have changed, it's that their result in Parliament has. If the Liberals were functional, they would have formed a left-wing coalition a decade ago. But they are still in total disarray.

The rest of the left is (NDP, Bloc, Greens) are doing better than ever, it's just that 10% of the vote can still get you zero seats. First past the post, baby.
posted by mek at 2:48 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


the terrible systematic bias in ridings ensures that 4 rural voters have more say than 5 urban ones.

Could be worse. The United States Senate gives 500,000 residents of Wyoming (Dick Cheney's home state) the same 2 votes as 33,000,000 Californians. And that also gives the teeny tiny states extra votes in the Electoral College come President-picking time. Of course, the small states get more from the Federal Government than they pay in taxes. That's why I've long believed that the U.S. is NOTHING like a Democracy.

And to anyone who brings the phony "we have to protect the small states from the large ones" argument, PLEASE SECEDE NOW.

I haven't kept up on Canadian culture as much as I should, but what has precipitated Canada's seemingly rightward shift over the last ten or so years? Is it the economy?

America's most successful export of the last 30 years has been Plutocracy. And the Big Lie of Trickle Down Economics. As I've said before, "what trickles down is never fit to drink".
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:50 PM on March 24, 2011


Ewh, are we calling the Liberals left now?
That's telling of itself.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:50 PM on March 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


I wouldn't count the Green party as part of the left. Their stated tax policies are very regressive.
posted by rocket88 at 2:52 PM on March 24, 2011


> When. When Harper wins a majority.

Well, I'm a fairly pessimistic guy, but I wouldn't say it's a done deal just yet. This is probably Harper's last chance (i.e. if he winds up with another minority he'll step down as leader at some point) and I'm sure he'll pull out all the stops...but he does have a history of pressing too hard and alienating voters, and thus far every time he's reached majority levels in the polls his support has subsequently dropped off.

That said...past performance is no guarantee of future results, and never underestimate the seductive power of greed, anger and misinformation; that's what got Rob Ford elected.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:56 PM on March 24, 2011


I have very serious doubts about Harper's ability to win. Unfortunately I have no doubts about Ignatief's ability to lose so that's problematic. BP, it's less that the Conservatives got so much more popular so much as the "left" parties are very fragmented.

But Harper may go down as the second-best Conservative leader after Mulroney, which, heh heh, is damning enough as is.
posted by GuyZero at 3:01 PM on March 24, 2011


I'm glad to hear other Canadians less pessimistic than I. Like I said, I live in southern Alberta and it's hard to gauge what the rest of the country is feeling from this vantage point.

You're right that Ignatief can do nothing but lose though, and most people I know find Layton somehow creepy. What is it with our politicians' complete lack of charisma and interest? Not that charisma should be what gets you elected, but being unlikeable will sure get you not elected.
posted by arcticwoman at 3:15 PM on March 24, 2011


What is it with our politicians' complete lack of charisma and interest?

It's a sad statement that I pine for the charisma of Ed Broadbent in today's politicians.
posted by GuyZero at 3:18 PM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I read about the latest initiative of the jolly Koch brothers this morning (in that very Journal article), but don't have time for a proper freakout just yet. When the eye of Sauron turns its gaze north it can't be good for us, but hopefully old fashioned Canadian inertia will cancel out their evil.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:22 PM on March 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


People keep saying that Layton and Ignatief are uncharismatic and/or creepy, and while I'm not inclined to strenuously argue the point I can't help but wonder how anyone could find either of them creepier or less charismatic than this guy.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:24 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are no left-wing "think tanks" so no opposing viewpoint ever makes its way to the masses.

There's these folks, The Canadian Centre For Policy Alternatives, whose director, Seth Klein, is the brother of Naomi Klein of Shock Doctrine fame. They've had some success gaining traction in the media with their messages, at least here in BC.

I haven't kept up on Canadian culture as much as I should, but what has precipitated Canada's seemingly rightward shift over the last ten or so years? Is it the economy?

The drift is part of the general Neo Liberal economic shift of the last 25 years or so in most western nations. The Liberals under Chretien balanced the budget by essentially thrashing social programs while cutting taxes for corporations. Their trick was to run from the left and govern from the right. So, Harpers economic policies are nothing new, just more reliant on immediate polling gains.

Also, we have some of the most concentrated media ownership in the western world. In Vancouver where I live 3 of the 4 dailies and one TV station are all part of the same corporation. And hey, guess what message they send? And, I believe in the last federal election every major newspaper except the Toronto Star came out for Harper and it is my guess this will happen again.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 3:25 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


That said...past performance is no guarantee of future results, and never underestimate the seductive power of greed, anger and misinformation; that's what got Rob Ford elected.

I'm using my brother-in-law in Ajax as a leading indicator. He liked Ford and didn't understand why everyone was "picking on him", and while he doesn't care much for any Ontario party, he really hates Hudek.

I haven't dared ask him what he thinks of Harper yet.
posted by maudlin at 3:26 PM on March 24, 2011


> When the eye of Sauron turns its gaze north it can't be good for us, but hopefully old fashioned Canadian inertia will cancel out their evil.

I'm pretty sure that was George Smitherman's campaign slogan, and look where it got us.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:26 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are no left-wing "think tanks" so no opposing viewpoint ever makes its way to the masses.

Hey now, let's have some love for the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives.

Not that they have even a tiny fraction of space in the media that the Fraser Institute has.
posted by klanawa at 3:28 PM on March 24, 2011


So the news is that Koch Industries has been added to the list of lobbyists to the government of Alberta?

Yeah, our federal government is already actively involved in PR for the tar sands, and we're selling most of the oil it produces to Americans as far as I know, so this strikes me as business as usual. Not that business as usual is something I'm really proud of at the moment.
posted by Hoopo at 3:34 PM on March 24, 2011


I wouldn't count the Green party as part of the left.

They are left via the metric the Americans use.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:52 PM on March 24, 2011


Blazecock Pileon: "Isn't Alberta, like, the Texas of Canada, already owned by the oil industry, right? What can the Koch Bros. do that Albertans aren't already doing to themselves?"

Oh, it's... They could do a lot, if they were so inclined. This is probably just a feeler from the kochtopus, preparing for the day when oilsands bitumen is a resource necessary for its continued survival. But if they wanted to really meddle...

Alberta politics is kind of nutty. The pattern is we elect one party and keep them in power for decades at time, sometimes neglecting to bother with even a fig-leaf of opposition. The Conservatives have been in charge for nearly four decades, and the perception is that they're weak. The next election could be a game changer. Political parties are popping up like mushrooms all over the spectrum to take advantage of this rare opportunity. If the Koch brothers were to take an interest and pump cash into advertisements and the like in support of a certain right wing extremist group, they might tip the balance and put the Wildrose Alliance in power for the next thirty or forty years. No doubt this would be very advantageous for any corporation worried about taxation or limits on the export of bitumen. Not so good for anyone who likes health care or jobs that stay in the province.

I said I wasn't going to freakout. Calming breaths. Calming breaths. Time to go listen to some Brian Eno...
posted by Kevin Street at 3:52 PM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Generally the good news is that fringe parties on the right in Canada lack very effective leadership and funding. I suppose that's a threat - if someone started actually giving Wildrose people money that would be bad.
posted by GuyZero at 3:57 PM on March 24, 2011


Oh, the Wild Rose people get money and support from our own right-wing oil company executive types, but nothing on the scale they could bring to bear.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:04 PM on March 24, 2011


Dare I ask what benefits the Wildrose Alliance people would give the oil industry above what they already get?
posted by Hoopo at 4:18 PM on March 24, 2011


John Geddes on the upcoming election: They're worth taking seriously.
posted by russilwvong at 4:55 PM on March 24, 2011


The only way Big Oil could own Alberta any more completely is if they bought the cattle, too.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:28 PM on March 24, 2011


Also, Wildrose bills itself as a Libertarian party. Word to the wise: It isn't one at all, not in any way that could be construed as remotely beneficial to private citizens. Their platform is anti-gay, anti-abortion--anti-freedom in general--and the only taxes they care about lowering are corporate ones, which in a place like Alberta where the vast majority of everything in sight was paid for by corporate taxes, will mean that in the long run, citizens will end up having to either make do with crumbling roads or pay more taxes.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:03 PM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Here's a BC-centric article around the same issue. The whole series outlines some of the machinations around how the Tar/Oilsands are to be developed, and for whom.

We actually have our own Albertan think tank in the Pembina Institute. Although they're more focused on energy than being particularly "left".

Finally, what the Wildrose people are offering the oil industry (and presumably the people of Alberta) is all the HOT FREE MARKET ACTION you've been missing! And all the American-style HEALTH CARE and rightwing Christianity YOU CAN HANDLE!1! Can you TAKE IT Alberta?!?!?
posted by sneebler at 7:05 PM on March 24, 2011


Shit.
posted by monkeymike at 8:16 PM on March 24, 2011


Meh. It's not like Alberta can really go much further right. Didn't they already get rid of sales and income taxes there already? It's not like Alberta is going to pull out of the Canada Health Act or something.

Oh my God, you're being idiotic. I know you corrected yourself with that stupid comment about income taxes (how in the fuck would we manage the highest level of health funding in the country without an income tax?), but by any OBJECTIVE, and not STEREOTYPED, standard, Quebec is the most conservative- nay, the most downright fascist- province in Canada. They have legally enforced xenophobia in their language laws. They have the exact same "firewall" components that Albertan cons have dreamt about (and have been castigated for) pre-Harper. They have white business owners refusing to serve black customers, synagogues being firebombed, American-style gun massacres, and a capital city that, owing to its being solidly racist even by Quebec standards, has a population that comprises 2% foreign born. Calgary is 26% and is a the third most ethnically diverse city in North America. Finally, you want to talk about "pulling out to the Health Act"? No province has raped the Health Act more thoroughly than has Quebec. Alberta isn't close- we're behind BC in privatization.

So, yeah, fuck you and your stereotypes. Go pick on Quebec. They've earned it.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:23 PM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


The thing with Harper's lack of charisma is kind of like Bush II's 'average Joe' appeal; Harper is socially awkward, he's a bit on the husky side, he can't dance, and he looks like he doesn't have a lot of friends he didn't buy. He's also middle/advancing-past-middle aged and he's white.

Sounds like a lot of "Joe Averages" out there who might just think that someone who looks like them might have their best interests in mind.

Jack Layton has a bit of a silver-fox dapper gentleman not afraid to rock a totally rocking mustache and looks like he's in pretty good shape and comes across as pretty smart and a popular guy with lots of friends. If he hit the bar scene he'd be up to his neck in cougars. Competition for "Joe Average."

Ignatief doesn't have a really strong public history but he's branded as "super-duper smart" and an "intellectual" and an "academic egghead." Being Francophone probably doesn't help. "Joe Average" grew up picking on kids like him (or being picked on like him), then being bossed around by kids like him. Easy target to resent.

Yes, yes. Massive, massive overgeneralizations and completely ignoring the nuances of the respective parties' Federal and local politics, but we're talking population-level voting patterns and the nebulous 'charisma.' Personally, I normally use Wis as a dumpstat, not Cha.

--

Something that really irks me is that even Vancouver, BC ends up giving a lot of seats to the Conservatives. The last last time around, I guess the liberal "ad scandal" corruption (enrichment of friends of politicians from the public purse) probably had a lot to do with it. I really hope the Liberals really work up the Conservative corruption cases that have come to light in the last month. I hope the media keeps reporting and hammering on it instead of drying up which would make the opposition sound like a bunch of whine-ey pansies. One can hope.

But it probably doesn't help that the Provincial Liberal party in BC has nothing to do with the Federal Liberal party causing perhaps enough confusion to let the Federal Conservative nominee win, even over the NDP candidate.
posted by porpoise at 9:01 PM on March 24, 2011


Ewh, are we calling the Liberals left now?

Uh... Yes? They legalized gay marriage. They legalized gay, full stop. That counts, even if they're completely wrong about everything else and haven't had their shit together in a decade.

Ignatief doesn't have a really strong public history but he's branded as "super-duper smart" and an "intellectual" and an "academic egghead." Being Francophone probably doesn't help. "Joe Average" grew up picking on kids like him (or being picked on like him), then being bossed around by kids like him. Easy target to resent.

Good news! He's not a Francophone. (Where'd you get that idea?)

And that's about all I have to say in defense of the Liberals.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:24 PM on March 24, 2011


So, yeah, fuck you and your stereotypes. Go pick on Quebec. They've earned it.

At least the stereotype about all westerners having a bug up their ass about Quebec is true. Also your screed was not only wrong, but offensive. Take it down a notch.
posted by rocket88 at 9:44 PM on March 24, 2011


Something that really irks me is that even Vancouver, BC ends up giving a lot of seats to the Conservatives.

Do you mean Greater Vancouver(I know I'm being a bit of a pendant here)? The Conservatives have 4 seats in Greater Vancouver, none in Vancouver proper. One of the seats, the West Vancouver Sunshine Coast, has been a conservative seat both federally and provincially for years. They could run a stump in it(and often have) and still win.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 10:45 PM on March 24, 2011


Did I just hear an Albertan say Quebec is the most conservative province in Canada? I don't think that word means what you think it means. Quebec is borderline socialist on social policy, provides massive arts funding, heavily subsidizes education, health care, rent controls, etc. Having some restrictive protectionist policies on language and culture obviously rubs you the wrong way, but it does not make it conservative overall any more than having 26% foreigner friends makes Alberta liberal.
posted by Hoopo at 10:45 PM on March 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, farther up, legalizing gay marriage is a "Left" issue, so maybe we need to take a step back and write down some ideas about what these words actually mean.

Alberta: Western Canadian Province made out of oil and cowboys.
Left: Something to do with sharing of public resources and spending. Communism.
Conservative: What they don't do in Vancouver, for f*ck's sake.
Foreigners: People who aren't welcome in Quebec. Unlike immigrants.

Stuff like that.
posted by sneebler at 6:42 AM on March 25, 2011




Uh... Yes? They legalized gay marriage. They legalized gay, full stop. That counts, even if they're completely wrong about everything else and haven't had their shit together in a decade.


That's not really "left wing." Right and left wing are about economics and the role of government than social policy.

A government could be extremely socially progressive, and still somewhere right of Mussolini. It just happens that in the last twenty or thirty years those issues have often fall along ideological lines. But it wouldn't be hard to find examples of left wing governments oppressing social minorities.

Total tangent, but I think it's worth talking about, the conflation of social and economic issues probably confuses politics even more than it already was.
posted by Stagger Lee at 7:53 AM on March 25, 2011


@ethnomethodologist

Ralph Klein, is that you?
posted by Stagger Lee at 7:54 AM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some asshole using the Ecole Polytechnique massacre as a cheap rhetorical trick is doing far worse things for stereotypes of Albertans than anyone implying they're oriented to the right of the political spectrum. Which may be a stereotype but is also true by any objective standard, by the way.
posted by Hoopo at 8:42 AM on March 25, 2011


OK, wow. Just... wow.

Oh my God, you're being idiotic. I know you corrected yourself with that stupid comment about income taxes (how in the fuck would we manage the highest level of health funding in the country without an income tax?),

So indeed I was unclear. I couldn't remember if Alberta got rid of provincial sales tax or provincial income tax. I never meant to state that Alberta's provincial government somehow got Albertans out of paying Federal income tax because that's silly.

But I'm pretty sure that the Alberta government would, if they could, get rid of provincial income taxes. They already brag about having the lowest tax rates in Canada. The various oil company head offices didn't just move to Calgary to be near the oil fields, but because the tax burden for employees (and executives) would be lower.

Lowering or removing taxes is a traditional component of politicians who are described as being on the right. The original article being discussed bemoans the fact that right-wing American lobbyists are registering in Alberta and that somehow this is a bad thing. My point is that Alberta's government already does what most right-wing political lobbyists want - lower taxes, reduced government regulation, pro-business policies - so I'm not sure how this is going to change anything.

but by any OBJECTIVE, and not STEREOTYPED, standard, Quebec is the most conservative- nay, the most downright fascist- province in Canada.

Well I won't say I disagree but there's a semantic argument here about what exactly "left" and "right" mean. Alberta's current government pretty clear believes in having a small government, being pro-business and in reducing taxes. Maybe you don't want to call that "right wing" but whatever. It's more-or-less right wing by most people's definition. It is more properly libertarian I suppose, but I'm not really here to split hairs on where libertarianism and the "traditional right" part ways.

Quebec is extremely left-wing. Their government regulates everything, from the color of margarine to how big store signs can be. They may be fascists, but they're left-wing fascists.

They have legally enforced xenophobia in their language laws. They have the exact same "firewall" components that Albertan cons have dreamt about (and have been castigated for) pre-Harper. They have white business owners refusing to serve black customers, synagogues being firebombed, American-style gun massacres, and a capital city that, owing to its being solidly racist even by Quebec standards, has a population that comprises 2% foreign born. Calgary is 26% and is a the third most ethnically diverse city in North America.

So this doesn't have anything to do with the government's political ideology... ? What are you talking about? I don't think the Quebec government is subsiding gun massacres.

Finally, you want to talk about "pulling out to the Health Act"? No province has raped the Health Act more thoroughly than has Quebec. Alberta isn't close- we're behind BC in privatization.

Alberta politicians, federally and provincially, don't like taxes. They would like to get rid of them. The Canada Health Act is expensive. Yes, I do believe that if they thought they could do it the government of Alberta would opt out of it. I'm sure it would make a lot of Alberta residents unhappy. But I'm talking about the government here.

I really don't know what you're talking about with Quebec raping the Health Act. OK, sure. GRAR Quebec.

So, yeah, fuck you and your stereotypes. Go pick on Quebec. They've earned it.

Let me reiterate: My point is that Alberta's government already does what most right-wing political lobbyists want - lower taxes, reduced government regulation, pro-business policies - so I'm not sure how the presence of new, scary American political lobbyists is going to change anything.
posted by GuyZero at 9:20 AM on March 25, 2011


Let me reiterate: My point is that Alberta's government already does what most right-wing political lobbyists want - lower taxes, reduced government regulation, pro-business policies - so I'm not sure how the presence of new, scary American political lobbyists is going to change anything.


They will lobby in an attempt to turn Alberta into a conservative American state and gut everything that interferes with their profit if they can. I mean, as right wing as Alberta may be on the spectrum of Canadian provinces, it's still within a Canadian context. An awful lot of what it's government does for its people is downright 'evil soc-lizm' such as healthcare and funding of universities and so forth. From what I understand there is amazing cancer research going on in the province just to name one thing and I would guess a lot of that funding comes from the government there.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Koch money turns into a flood in order to get the kind of Alberta they want. Something like 25 percent of tar sands oils gets processed by Koch Industry refineries so there's a lot at stake for them. And this would be where the the Wildrose Alliance comes in, a way of exerting extreme right wing pressure on the political process, and I bet at some point they get donations from the Kochs.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 10:29 AM on March 25, 2011


From what I understand there is amazing cancer research going on in the province just to name one thing and I would guess a lot of that funding comes from the government there.

Yeah, I guess I just don't see it... a lot of Alberta's growth has come from attracting other Canadians to the province with low tax rates, the promise of jobs and the various nice things Alberta has to offer - there is a lot of nice stuff there other than oil. I just don't see the government endangering all that because a few lobbyists start doing their thing. The political funding system is just so different and I like to hope that we're not going to see people who have been so transparently bought by lobbyists in Canada.

Besides, the Alberta PCs can continue in power without a single cent of lobbyist money, so in a sense there's no motivation for them to even both listening to lobbyists. Why bother? The PCs have been in power for 40 years now. FORTY YEARS.
posted by GuyZero at 10:43 AM on March 25, 2011


They already brag about having the lowest tax rates in Canada

For some, they do. Alberta has the only flat tax system in Canada. Provincial income taxes are 10% across the board. Compare that to Ontario's progressively tiered rates of 5% up to 38K, 9% up to 75K, and 11% beyond that. Alberta is only lower if you're relatively well-off.
posted by rocket88 at 10:49 AM on March 25, 2011


I should add Quebec's rates are a whopping 16% up to 38K, 20% up to 77K and 24% beyond. How anyone can call them right-wing is beyond explanation.
posted by rocket88 at 10:52 AM on March 25, 2011


Well, they brag about it right here in page 143 (oddly this document starts at page 142, so it's really page 2). There's a graph of how much more everyone would be paying (in aggregate) if they live in other provinces.

Also, the very notion of a flat tax is fairly right-wing/libertarian. Indeed Alberta's provincial burden is higher for low income earners vs other provinces, but is lower overall.

In their defense, the linked tax doc above talks a lot about how they have a lot of tax credits in Alberta which returns it to being progressive and that 56% of their income tax revenue comes from the top 10% of income earners. So in a great Canadian tradition, they manage to talk out of both sides of their mouth and generally make everyone happy.
posted by GuyZero at 10:56 AM on March 25, 2011


The PCs have been in power for 40 years now. FORTY YEARS.

Which means in Alberta that they are ripe for the plucking. That seems to be happen in Alberta. Ruling party governs for years on end, rot sets in, self destruction, and then the cycle is renewed.

1905-1921 Alberta Liberal Party
1921-1935 United Farmers of Alberta
1935-1971 Social Credit Party of Alberta
1971–present Alberta Progressive Conservatives
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 11:39 AM on March 25, 2011


*pointedly ignores the "Which province is more conservative?" debate*

GuyZero: "...there is a lot of nice stuff there other than oil. I just don't see the government endangering all that because a few lobbyists start doing their thing. The political funding system is just so different and I like to hope that we're not going to see people who have been so transparently bought by lobbyists in Canada.

Besides, the Alberta PCs can continue in power without a single cent of lobbyist money, so in a sense there's no motivation for them to even both listening to lobbyists. Why bother? The PCs have been in power for 40 years now. FORTY YEARS.
"


This is all hypothetical fear mongering on my part, so you could be right. That would be great, actually.

But my thinking is that the oilsands are becoming an ever more important resource for petro companies all around the world, which is why is we're seeing so much foreign investment. The Koches refine our bitumen in the US, so it is in their interest to see no restrictions placed on the export of raw oil. At present, the Progressive Conservative party of Alberta doesn't support export restrictions, but as a "big tent" party they have to appeal to everyone, which means making at least a small effort to keep jobs here. They do this by setting up tax breaks for companies that refine their oil in the province, and by accepting some of their royalties in bitumen instead of cash. These arrangements offer no benefit to the Koch owned companies.

So maybe they could throw some support behind another political party that more closely fits their idealogical views, at a critical time when that support would have the largest impact. It could be a relatively small investment for the Koches, maybe just a fragment of what they spend on US lobbying every year. And the result would be a new government in Alberta that is extremely friendly to them on both the idealogical and personal level. Then its tax cuts for everyone, and no more attempts to keep jobs from flowing down the pipeline south. Can't have the government interfering in the market, after all. That would be socialism.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:09 PM on March 25, 2011


So maybe they could throw some support behind another political party that more closely fits their idealogical views, at a critical time when that support would have the largest impact.

The Alberta PCs don't need anyone's support.

And anyone else couldn't win if they ran both Wayne Gretzky and Jesus Christ in Calgary-East.
posted by GuyZero at 3:20 PM on March 25, 2011


And anyone else couldn't win if they ran both Wayne Gretzky and Jesus Christ in Calgary-East.

Uh... You do realize that Wayne Gretzky is Calgary's arch nemesis, right?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:48 PM on March 25, 2011


Yeah, I guess, I just tried to pick the most popular Canadian I could think of. Fine. Jarome Iginla.
posted by GuyZero at 3:54 PM on March 25, 2011


I hate to throw a monkeywrench into the works here, but how in the hell is this different from multi-billionaire George Soros pumping shitloads of money into the pockets of liberals and socialists and anti-Semites? Yes, I hate it when big corps get their hands into politics like this, but you've *gotta* look at both sides of the coin, you know.
posted by CountSpatula at 1:19 AM on March 27, 2011


how in the hell is this different from multi-billionaire George Soros pumping shitloads of money into the pockets of liberals and socialists and anti-Semites?

what
posted by Sys Rq at 2:09 AM on March 27, 2011


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