Kenney furthers rebuke of throne speech, calls it a ‘fantasy plan’

Jason Kenney is pleading for help for the energy sector to keep it sustainable and thriving after the throne speech made little mention.

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) — In a fiery half-hour press conference in Edmonton, Premier Jason Kenney blasted Wednesday’s Speech from the Throne and said it will leave Alberta’s energy sector in the dust.

“It was a fantasy plan for a mythical country that only exists, apparently, in the minds of Ottawa liberals and like-minded Laurentian elites.”

Reiterating some comments from a written statement issued after the speech was read in the capital, Kenney felt the path forward presented by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had too many “abstract” ideas and will sacrifice more jobs, with this province most at risk.

With the speech mainly only mentioning the energy sector in the frame of cleantech and a reduction of emissions — including a goal of adding a million jobs largely through that endeavour –, Kenney responded with a rebuke that the oil and gas industry has been hindered enough and they cannot take it anymore.

“What the federal government must do, at this point, is to first to do no harm,” Kenney said. “All we are asking of the Government of Canada is to let this province and our resource industries to get off their knees, to get back on their feet, during the largest economic contraction since the Great Depression. Yesterday’s speech reflected a total lack of understanding about the economic crisis through which we are living in this country.”

The premier also took aim at the prime minister’s mention of intersectionality in the throne speech, which is defined as a framework for understanding how a person’s social and political identities, such as gender, race, sexuality, and class, can create unique modes of discrimination and privilege.

Kenney said this is a “kooky academic theory” aimed at winning more votes. The quote generated almost immediate backlash on social media, including from NDP opposition leader Rachel Notley.

In response to a reporter’s question about if the speech makes Kenney think twice about his current strategy of challenging federal policies, such as the Supreme Court battle against the carbon tax, the premier said they have to double down and threatened there could be even more challenges coming.

“The plea has been to work with us. And if they won’t, then we’re going to have use every tool we can to defend ourselves.”

Kenney said that promises of tax breaks for cleantech companies also leaves the existing energy industry behind as he touted gains made in emissions reductions through the sector, including as a result of the Technology, Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) program.

But it wasn’t just the energy debate that had Kenney worried, as he also said Alberta would not commit to a federal pharmacare program and doubted the effectiveness of a child care program developed in Ottawa.

“We would expect an equivalent cash transfer. We don’t need politicians and bureaucrats in Ottawa micromanaging what our health care priorities are across the federation,” said Kenney.

On that note, he also said there should have been more money announced in health care transfers overall, which was what was requested by Kenney and other conservative premiers during a recent meeting in Ottawa. In addition, he said the federal government botched early response to the COVID-19 crisis and accused the Liberals of mimicking the words of China and that is what caused the virus to spread in the country in the first place.

RELATED: Kenney criticizes throne speech for failing to mention energy sector crisis

With child care, Kenney said there are concerns in his mind about federal standards and believes it won’t be well-received by other premiers either.

When asked later on in the press conference about how Kenney grapples with companies starting to lean away from oil and gas, along with a commitment in California to ban new combustion vehicles starting in 2035, Kenney told a reporter that she had “missed the point”, and first off the majority of fossil fuels are not consumed through the transportation sector.

“If you really think a billion people in India who desperately want to move to a higher standard of living are all going to be driving Teslas 15 years from now, then you’re disconnected from reality,” he said. “There are billions of people around the world living in extreme energy poverty, they don’t have the luxury of repeating all of these California-style pieties. They want to stop burning cow dung.”

He said support for the existing energy sector means growth in the wider petrochemical business, growth in exports, and expansion in other industries that are related.

“That’s not about oil and gas. It’s about value-added manufacturing, agriculture, diversification,” and added that the federal government will also take further aim at the mining sector as well.

Kenney said that financial commitments in the speech will leave people paying in the long run, and the only way for these promises to get the proper financial backing is to further support the existing sector so that money can be pumped into the economy.

The premier also took time to contrast the speech with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s father and said the late Pierre Trudeau had more respect for provincial jurisdiction. He said that the current prime minister is breaching aspects of the constitution and looking to step on the toes of provinces.

Kenney added that he will be speaking with other premiers from around the country and will issue a statement on those chats as well, as he is confident many of his counterparts will share similar misgivings.

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