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The Awed Couple: Can Ottawa Force Alberta To Stay In Its Lane?


8 minute read

Fact: Alberta and Saskatchewan were to enter Confederation in 1905 as a province named Buffalo. But Sir Wilfrid Laurier feared a landmass that big would threaten the domination of Quebec and Ontario in Canada. And so Buffalo was split into the two provinces we know today.

Of all the riddles that make up Canada’s current prime minister one of the most intriguing is how the grandson of a man, Charles-Émile Trudeau, who made his fortune in Montreal gas stations is now hellbent on destroying the same industry.

In this obsession to end fossil fuels, Trudeau does have the company of many other heirs to fortunes created by oil and its products. The ranks of Green NGOs and political movements are thick with names like Rockefeller, Getty, Morgan, Flagler and more, heirs with a guilty conscience about perceived climate-change destruction.

But while most of these families have chosen discreet roles in their quest, Trudeau’s climate infatuation has propelled him to prime minister of Canada since 2015. In that time “Sunny Ways” Justin has obsessively pursued his goal of transitioning Canada from the fossil-fuel giant to an imagined Shangri-la of gentle breezes and warm sunshine.

Nothing can shake him of his messianic role as saviour of the Frozen North. Likewise, no public disgrace or controversy can shake his loyal supporters who supported his father in the same manner. Buttressed by the lapdog NDP caucus he spouts buckets of enviro-nonsense to a docile media (which he has bribed to stay quiet).

Because subtlety is not a strong suit he even named a former Greenpeace zealot and convicted felon as his Environment minister. Which has naturally put him directly at odds with that portion of the country that exploits fossil fuels and (don’t tell anybody) floats the boat of federal budgets.

So when Justin proposed a  Canadian Sustainable Jobs Act to turn energy workers into code writers and social workers by 2035 there was a degree of pushback amongst those who would lose their livelihoods. That plan was revealed last week by EnerCan (who makes up this dreck?) minister Jonathan Wilkinson.

Promising to convert Calgary’s public transit to all-electric, Wilkinson (former leader of the New Democratic Party‘s youth wing in Saskatchewan) proposed the ‘Sustainable Jobs Act’ advisory council that will provide the federal government with recommendations on how to support the Canadian workforce during transition to a ‘net-zero economy.” You can guess who’ll be on the advisory council, but don’t count on any Ford F-150 drivers.

Enter Danielle Smith, newly re-elected premier of Alberta. Smith and her advisors have declared as unworkable the federal government’s unilateral prescription for a carbon-neutral society by 2050. While they recognize the need for transition the Alberta solution is predictably less draconian than Trudeau’s Pol Pot prescription for moving the population back to a more bucolic lifestyle.

Specifically, Alberta wants “to achieve a carbon-neutral energy economy by 2050, primarily through investment in emissions-reduction technologies and the increased export of Alberta LNG to replace higher-emitting fuels internationally.” (Presumably Alberta will be joined by Saskatchewan in this pushback.)

Then came the hammer. “As the development of Alberta’s natural resources and the regulation of our energy sector workforce are constitutional rights and the responsibility of Alberta, any recommendations provided by this new federal advisory council must align with Alberta’s Emissions Reduction and Energy Development Plan.”

Translation: Federal legislation has to be in synch with provincial plans, not the other way around. In short, try to impose some Michael Mann fantasy on the province and it’s a no-go. Don’t like it? See you in court. In Alberta. Not Ottawa.

Will this constitutional gambit work? While Smith’s mandate from the recent election is hardly rock-solid, she does have the benefit of time in her four-year term. Trudeau has no such luxury, and launching a court case in Alberta would likely stretch past his mandate ending next year. Yes, the impertinence of Alberta would play well with his base in the 514/613/416. But let’s be honest, they are voting Trudeau even if he (in the words of Donald Trump) grabs them by the privates.

One thing you can be assured of when it comes to the PM. He will not be forcing any  Canadian Sustainable Jobs Act on the Ontario auto industry to aid its transition to EV vehicles. There will be no helpful suggestions on the death of the automobile for the new mutlti-billion dollar VW battery plants cashing federal cheques in Windsor. He knows his voting base won’t buy it. But those Alberta saps?

The telling impact of this jurisdictional fight will be where Trudeau’s rival, Pierre Poilievre, comes down on the transition issue. With his election depending on the swaths of voters in the GTA shoulder ridings— where Trudeau’s mooting about crybaby Alberta will get a full airing— does he lend his support to Smith’s pushback?

Put simply, is backing Alberta sovereignty in the oil patch a vote-loser for a party still looking past “Hate Trudeau” as an election platform? You could see Poilievre rationalizing that he’ll get the seats in the West no matter what, so why not leave Trudeau to wrassle the Alberta bear alone?

Risky for sure. But if he gets the PMO seat in 2024 Poilievre can always play kiss-and-make-up later with Smith and her government. Can’t wait.

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Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via


BRUCE DOWBIGGIN Award-winning Author and Broadcaster Bruce Dowbiggin's career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience . He is currently the editor and publisher of Not The Public Broadcaster website and is also a contributor to SiriusXM Canada Talks. His new book Cap In Hand was released in the fall of 2018. Bruce's career has included successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster for his work with CBC-TV, Mr. Dowbiggin is also the best-selling author of "Money Players" (finalist for the 2004 National Business Book Award) and two new books-- Ice Storm: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Vancouver Canucks Team Ever for Greystone Press and Grant Fuhr: Portrait of a Champion for Random House. His ground-breaking investigations into the life and times of Alan Eagleson led to his selection as the winner of the Gemini for Canada's top sportscaster in 1993 and again in 1996. This work earned him the reputation as one of Canada's top investigative journalists in any field. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald (1998-2009) and the Globe & Mail (2009-2013) where his incisive style and wit on sports media and business won him many readers.

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Province to stop municipalities overcharging on utility bills

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Making utility bills more affordable

Alberta’s government is taking action to protect Alberta’s ratepayers by introducing legislation to lower and stabilize local access fees.

Affordability is a top priority for Alberta’s government, with the cost of utilities being a large focus. By introducing legislation to help reduce the cost of utility bills, the government is continuing to follow through on its commitment to make life more affordable for Albertans. This is in addition to the new short-term measures to prevent spikes in electricity prices and will help ensure long-term affordability for Albertans’ basic household expenses.

“Albertans need relief from high electricity costs and we can provide that relief by bringing in fairness on local access fees. We will not allow municipalities – including the city of Calgary – to profit off of unpredictable spikes in electricity costs while families struggle to make ends meet. We will protect Alberta families from the extreme swings of electricity costs by standardizing the calculations of local access fees across the province.”

Danielle Smith, Premier

Local access fees are functioning as a regressive municipal tax that consumers pay on their utility bills. It is unacceptable for municipalities to be raking in hundreds of millions in surplus revenue off the backs of Alberta’s ratepayers and cause their utility bills to be unpredictable costs by tying their fees to a variable rate. Calgarians paid $240 in local access fees on average in 2023, compared to the $75 on average in Edmonton, thanks to Calgary’s formula relying on a variable rate. This led to $186 million more in fees being collected by the City of Calgary than expected.

“Albertans deserve to have fair and predictable utility bills. Our government is listening to Albertans and taking action to address unaffordable fees on power bills. By introducing this legislation, we are taking yet another step towards ensuring our electricity grid is affordable, reliable, and sustainable for generations to come.”

Nathan Neudorf, Minister of Affordability and Utilities

To protect Alberta’s ratepayers, the Government of Alberta is introducing the Utilities Affordability Statutes Amendment Act, 2024. If passed, this legislation would promote long-term affordability and predictability for utility bills by prohibiting the use of variable rates when calculating municipalities’ local access fees.

Variable rates are highly volatile, which results in wildly fluctuating electricity bills. When municipalities use this rate to calculate their local access fees, it results in higher bills for Albertans and less certainty in families’ budgets. These proposed changes would standardize how municipal fees are calculated across the province, and align with most municipalities’ current formulas.

“Over the last couple of years many consumers have been frustrated with volatile Regulated Rate Option (RRO) prices which dramatically impacted their utility bills. In some cases, these impacts were further amplified by local access fees that relied upon calculations that included those same volatile RRO prices. These proposed changes provide more clarity and stability for consumers, protecting them from volatility in electricity markets.”

Chris Hunt, Utilities Consumer Advocate

If passed, the Utilities Affordability Statutes Amendment Act, 2024 would prevent municipalities from attempting to take advantage of Alberta’s ratepayers in the future. It would amend sections of the Electric Utilities Act and Gas Utilities Act to ensure that the Alberta Utilities Commission has stronger regulatory oversight on how these municipal fees are calculated and applied, ensuring Alberta ratepayer’s best interests are protected.

“Addressing high, unpredictable fees on utility bills is an important step in making life more affordable for Albertans. This legislation will protect Alberta’s ratepayers from spikes in electricity prices and ensures fairness in local access fees.”

Chantelle de Jonge, Parliamentary Secretary for Affordability and Utilities

If passed, this legislation would also amend sections of the Alberta Utilities Commission Act, the Electric Utilities ActGovernment Organizations Act and the Regulated Rate Option Stability Act to replace the terms “Regulated Rate Option”, “RRO”, and “Regulated Rate Provider” with “Rate of Last Resort” and “Rate of Last Resort Provider” as applicable.

Quick facts

  • Local access fees are essentially taxes that are charged to electricity distributors by municipalities. These fees are then passed on to all of the distributor’s customers in the municipality, and appear as a line item on their utility bills.
    • The Municipal Government Act grants municipalities the authority to charge, amend, or cap franchise and local access fees.
  • Linear taxes and franchise fees are usually combined together on consumers’ power bills in one line item as the local access fee.
    • The linear tax is charged to the utility for the right to use the municipality’s property for the construction, operation, and extension of the utility.
    • The franchise fee is the charge paid by the utility to the municipality for the exclusive right to provide service in the municipality.
  • Local access fees are usually calculated in one of two ways:
    • (1) A percentage of transmission and distribution (delivery) costs, typically 10-15 per cent.
    • (2) A fixed, cents per kilowatt-hour of consumed power charge (City of Edmonton).
  • Calgary is the only municipality that employs a two-part fee calculation formula:
    • 11.11 per cent of transmission and distribution charges plus 11.11 per cent of the Regulated Rate Option multiplied by the consumed megawatt hours.

Related information

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Alberta moves to protect Edmonton park from Trudeau government’s ‘diversity’ plan

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From LifeSiteNews

By Clare Marie Merkowsky

If Trudeau’s National Urban Park Initiative is implemented, Alberta could see its parks, including Edmonton’s River Valley, hijacked by the federal government in the name of ‘sustainability, conservation, equity, diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation.’

Edmonton is working to protect its River Valley from the Trudeau government’s “diversity” park plan. 

On April 15, Alberta Legislature passed MLA Brandon Lunty’s private members’ Bill 204 to protect the Edmonton River Valley from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s National Urban Park Initiative which would give the federal government power over provincial parks to enforce a variety of quotas related to the “climate” and “diversity.”  

“Albertans elected our United Conservative government with a majority mandate to, among other things, protect families and communities from federal overreach and intrusion. That’s exactly what this bill accomplishes,” Lunty said in a press release  

Bill 204, titled the Municipal Government (National Urban Parks) Amendment Act, is a response to the National Urban Park Initiative which would give the Trudeau government jurisdiction over Alberta’s provincial parks.  

The Trudeau government’s plan promises to “provide long-lasting benefits to the urban area” by using “sustainability, conservation, equity, diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation.” 

If the program is approved, the Edmonton River Valley could be “fully owned by the Federal Government,” which will use the space to advance their values, including addressing the impacts of “climate change” and creating spaces where “diversity is welcomed.”  

The plan also promises that equity will be “intentionally advanced” while “respecting indigenous rights” through “reconciliation.”   

However, many Edmonton citizens were concerned with the Urban Park Initiative and met with their MLAs to discuss the issue.  

Edmonton citizen Sheila Phimester worked with MLA Jackie Lovely to create a petition to prevent the River Valley from becoming federally owned. The petition has received over 5,000 signatures.  

“Oh, and because it’s the federal government, their ‘priorities’ for these parks are ‘healthier communities’, ‘climate resilience’, ‘reconciliation’, ‘equity’, ‘diversity’, and ‘inclusion,’” it continued.   

Already, Trudeau has attempted to assert power over Alberta’s industry by placing “climate” restrictions on their oil and gas production in an attempt to force net-zero regulations on all Canadian provinces, including on electricity generation, by as early as 2035.   

However, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has repeatedly vowed to protect the province from Trudeau’s radical “net zero” push. 

In December, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith blasted Trudeau’s Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault’s plan to slash oil and gas emissions by 35 percent to 38 percent below 2019 levels as “unrealistic” and “unconstitutional.”  

Trudeau’s current environmental goals are in lockstep with the United Nations’ “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and include phasing out coal-fired power plants, reducing fertilizer usage, and curbing natural gas use over the coming decades.  

The reduction and eventual elimination of the use of so-called “fossil fuels” and a transition to unreliable “green” energy has also been pushed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) – the globalist group behind the socialist “Great Reset” agenda – an organization in which Trudeau and some of his cabinet are involved. 

In November, after announcing she had “enough” of Trudeau’s extreme environmental rules, Smith said her province had no choice but to assert control over its electricity grid to combat federal overreach by enacting its Sovereignty Act. The Sovereignty Act serves to shield Albertans from future power blackouts due to federal government overreach.  

Unlike most provinces in Canada, Alberta’s electricity industry is nearly fully deregulated. However, the government still has the ability to take control of it at a moment’s notice. 

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