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Thursday, November 12, 2009

yäger bomb.

Earlier this week, Danielle Smith announced that a task force co-chaired by David Yager and David Gray would develop an energy platform for the Wildrose Alliance. In April 2009, Yager and a group of oil and gas sector executives penned a fundraising letter for the Wildrose Alliance which lamented the plight of Alberta's oil and gas sector under the oppression of the new resource royalty framework. In the letter, the executives pledged their allegiance to the Wildrose Alliance. (PDF of the Fundraising Letter)

Watching the direction Alberta has taken since Stelmach became leader of the Tory party leaves us to conclude that the ultimate success of our industry is now political. Only when the government of Alberta supports and trusts its most important industry - oil and gas - will Alberta's future be truly secure.

Therefor, we have joined a group of like-minded oilfield service and junior oil and gas executives in supporting the Wildrose Alliance Party of Alberta to help it become the future government of this province.
The Progressive Conservative Party saw a decrease in the amount of donations they were receiving from the oil and gas sector after the introduction of the new resource royalty framework, and it is well known that many of these companies began throwing their financial support to other parties.

In her acceptance speech, the newly selected Wildrose Alliance leader declared that:
"People are looking for a party to step up and represent their interests, not the backroom lobbyists and political cronies"
It would not make sense to criticize a party leader for appointing supporters to internal policy advisor positions, but Yager's appointment brings Smith's statement into question. While this would not be a big issue if the party had not experienced significant gains in support, I am curious about how much money Yager and the group of executives listed on the April 2009 fundraising letter invested in Smith's leadership campaign? With Smith refusing to publicly release the list of donors who financed her campaign it is unlikely that Albertans will find out.

It is probable that many of these donors will contribute to the Wildrose Alliance now that Smith is the leader, but it will be another four or five months before the Albertans will be privy to the names of those of donors. According to the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, annual financial statements from political parties must be filed with Elections Alberta on or before March 31.


Anonymous said...

Great post. Fair Question. Who is bankrolling Danielle Smith? Has the oil sector just handpicked a candidate for Premier?

Derrick Jacobson said...

And the Libs have pembina money, and the ndp have union money....Big deal.
Looking out for our economic driver is important, as you can see by the numbers.

Justin said...

Yeah "Big Pembina" has been shoveling millions into the Alberta Liberals for years. Get Serious.

CS said...

I just find it amusing that they seem to speak on behalf of the "majority of Albertans".

Gauntlet said...

The WAP portrays itself as a small-government party. Just wait until it's the oil patch that needs government help, and then see how small-government they are.

Derrick Jacobson said...

The amount is irrelevent. Our province is heavily reliant on our resource sector. If we continue to lose out to BC and Sask. which we are looking at the land sales going on, our jobs and people will leave. Alberta's resources are on a declining scale now and this makes it riskier to drill and a smaller ROI as it is.
It is funny that with the amount of people employed in this sector or sectors supported by it, it gets attacked. Like it or not AB is not diversified enough to not rely on this income. I think it is great there is a party that realizes that we need this industry and their money to spend on diversifying our province, not to mention the amount of personal income taxes generated. The huge profit numbers you read about from BIG OIL are small portions from AB. There are many other factors that also come into play in AB's resource sector you do not see in the regulations in which the costs far exceed royalties. But go ahead and put your heads in the sand, or do some research and learn what the whole story is.
We complain our health sector is headed up by some outside of the health field, why would we head an energy sector with someone outside the energy sector?

John Collison said...

A big part of Alberta's economic problem is political.

Specifically, Ed Stelmach's politically motivated attack on the core of this province's prosperity, the OIL INDUSTRY.

So if part of the solution, then, is political, and Ed Stelmach's Tories are the problem, it only makes sense that Danielle Smith would turn to a supporter who happens to be an Oil Industry insider to help sort things out.


This is so out in the wide open that to even intimate a whiff of conspiracy is laughable.

Unless by "conspiracy" you mean a co-operative aspiration to undo Stelmach's political damage to the province and its core industry.

The most important thing NOT to over look in Danielle Smith's philosophical and political underpinnings is her demonstrated commitment to Property Rights. By respecting property rights, no industrial interest will ever enjoy privileges over the public.

Laurence said...

It seems that the parameters of debate narrow in Alberta with every passing year. Since I left a mere 2 years ago, the Wildrose Alliance has grown into prominence, and so on the right, you have the choice of utter devotion to Big Oil versus slavish devotion to Big Oil.

Did anyone read the news about Peak Oil the other day? Perhaps Albertans are rubbing their hands with glee, because as per this article

it seems highly likely that the world is running out of oil much faster than expected. Peak oil experts have been banging on about this forever, but of course, no one really wanted to listen while they were drunk on black gold.

What does it mean for Alberta? Oh about about another decade of reckless profiteering at the expense of the environment.

After that the entire oil patch is going to be about as helpful to your economy as a plague of locusts.

But why live for tomorrow when you can live for the greedy, fat, smug complacent present, hey?

Hank said...

Laurence the world is running out of cheap and easy oil, everyone knows that, especially in Alberta.
I have yet to hear anyone define "clean" oil as opposed to the "dirty" oil of Alberta, but that's for another posting, probably on another blog. The world will be using oil for many decades still.

Mel Knight has a great deal of experience in the natural gas industry and look at the respect it has gotten him. I have a feeling most Calgary powers are more interested in someone's area code than their resume.

John Collison said...


Get a grip.

Alberta has enough oil resources to last another century -- and at premium prices, too.

Enshrining property rights and ending the Tragedy of the Commons are all that is required to protect the environment.

And if by "devotion" you mean leaving the oil companies the hell alone, then yes, the Wildrose Alliance is aiming to do just that.

They will receive no special treatment and no special abuse, either.

The public will be protected thru strengthened property rights, and prosperity will return to Alberta.

Then, as Danielle says, granted another oil boom, the people of AB will promise not to vote Tory again!

Meanwhile, the kind of economically illiterate and illiberal rhetoric so favored by the declining green movement can finally be laid to rest: there is no necessary conflict between continued development of the oil resource and a clean environment.

Anonymous said...

Peak oil is a nutbar theory. Just look at the new shale gas plays in the US, a completely new source of energy that's good for 50 years or more of US needs. Such advances in tech and/or finding new supply will continue for a very long time.

That said, what I find ridiculous is this Stelmach vs Big Oil theory. Even Alaskans, who are profoundly dumb for liking Sarah Palin, are still smart enough to like a Governor when she fights big oil to get a "fare share".

What does it say if right-wing Americans understand the idea of fair royalties but we want to burn Stelmach at the stake for increasingly our near-to-lowest-in-world royalties just a touch?

Albertans are truly retarded. You people make Alaskan Republicans look smart.

Laurence said...

Octagonian, I'd like to know what strengthened property rights means and how it will protect the public. How would it, for example, prevent the oil industry's dangerous depletion of water resources in Alberta, as forecast by Dr. Schindler, Canada's leading expert on the matter?

Hank, I am sure Albertans know better than anyone that cheap and easy oil is running out. What is critical to this equation is the effect it is going to have on the world. Stand by for a permanent war economy, further environmental degradation, mass migrations, and a continued lurch toward totalitarianism. These things don't need to happen, but if things continue as they are, let's convene here in about a decade or two to see how things stand.

If Albertans want to profit from and structure their entire economy around a crisis, so be it!

Also, I really do find it remarkable that someone can say Peak Oil is a nutbar theory, when the theory has been bolstered with evidence accumulated over 40 years and more is added daily. Did you read the link I sent? I know some consider The Guardian a lefty rag, but they don't make up things like this:

"A report by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) last month said worldwide production of conventionally extracted oil could "peak" and go into terminal decline before 2020 – but that the government was not facing up to the risk."

A primer in the current state of the economy before I go. The left is not economically illiterate; quite the reverse. The left has forecast the current economic crisis and its intensification for an extraordinarily long time now. Because debate should broaden knowledge, why don't you actually read something before bandying about the illiteracy smear? Try this out:

Aden said...

Thanks for the post Dave, you continue to write an awesome blog.

In regards to the burgeoning debate on the place of the oil and gas industry in Alberta's economy and politics, there seems to be a couple misconceptions.
Some commenters seem to have the impression that peak oil can't exist and that oil can only be good for the economy.
Aside from being geologically impossible in the long term, peak oil is affecting Alberta in the short-term as well. AB's conventional oil and gas production is forecasted to decline over the next decade, even with the improved technology of hydraulic fracing. This technology, which has brought a lot of shale gas onstream in the States to the detriment of gov't revenues, will increase production for a while but can't sustain production increases.

This coming peak in conventional oil makes it doubly important for Alberta to have a plan to deal with the ensuing investment shock in the oil/tar sands. The last few years of the boom were in many ways harmful, because the growth was too much too fast. The investment surge caused a severe shortage in labour across the economy, which squeezed out industries that couldn't pass on the cost increases. This economic phenomenon is called 'Dutch disease', and is considered to be bad. If we repeat this on a bigger scale, it will force more value-added to be done out of province, meaning that we'll get all the pollution for less benefit to the province. Regardless of party, this is a serious economic dilemma to be addressed. Thoughts?

Party of One said...

"People are looking for a party to step up and represent their interests, not the backroom lobbyists and political cronies"

And presumably those interests are not only those of the oil and gas industry, right? I would suggest that "people" are STILL looking for a party to represent "their" interests, because it looks to me that the WRA has now clearly established the oil and gas industry as their very own backroom lobbyists and political cronies.

Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.

T Loewen said...

Everyone is focused on the finger pointing at the moon, instead of the moon. The focus should be on the lost jobs and billions of dollars the NRF has cost Albertans and the money the PC governmemt has piddled away over the last decade (and more) that should have been saved to benefit Alberta's future. That is what the Wildrose is focused on. The PC's can't fix it as they would have to admit they have made many grave errors, and the Liberals and NDP can't fix it as they have promised to do more damage than the PC's have done.

Anonymous said...

The Wildrose Alliance is a kinder, gentler version of the nutbar tea-baggers in the U.S. They take their cues, philosophically and tactically, from the U.S. right wing. Klein bragged about Alberta being a "Red' province (indicating that its political leanings or dispositions are similar to Republican states in the US). This statement was pathetic pandering but, unfortunately, not entirely untrue. The WRA and Smith's Fraser Institute whackjob policies would truly turn Alberta into a joke. We thought Bill 44 was bad. As time marches on and more becomes known about her background and they have to actually put policy on paper, the excitement around her will begin to fade. They may establish themselves on the scene, but even Albertans...let us pray enough Albertans...have the sense not to want this kind of ideological straightjacket.

Anonymous said...

The role of the NRF in what the industry is facing is wildly overstated. I've heard an executive admit as much privately, fully acknowledging that spreading this misinformation was useful. The impact varies by sector, and the policy had some problems for sure, but there's no doubt that the province wasn't getting its fair share as prices spiked. The precise "fix" offered by Stelmach did cause a few problems, but writ large, the Industry is a big bunch of whiners, and like most industries aren't above flat-out lying if it suits their interest. Nice to see the WRA is taken all these lies fully on board.

Anonymous said...

Octogonian shows why the Wildrose will never go anywhere. Too extreme, too ideological. The average voter has no idea what property rights are.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 19:00 I have asked for evidence of the damage from a vocal supporter and got not reply. It is always millions of dollars lost in investment and thousands of jobs lost.

Unknown said...

With all the focus on the oil and gas industry we are not paying attention to the one issue ticking away and is going to blow up in our faces and that is the shortage of water.

We take our water for granted and we get if for an incredibly low price, but all that could change very quickly in an economy based on supply and demand. Aside from the life/death issues, think of the economic impact on all industry that uses large volumes of water.

Holly Stick said...

We know Big Oil and Big Coal have financed many astroturf groups for denying AGW; so why not an astroturf political party? Smith's supporter Rob Anders used to work for the denialist US Senator Inhofe. I'll bet there are other connections. So could she be getting money from rightwing think tanks? Or funnelled through groups like Friends of Science?

Darren said...

Big Oil isn't the enemy. Royalties from oil and gas fund health care and education. So any party interested in forming government has to listen to the opinions of various interest groups, of which the oil and gas sector is an important one. And the WRA can formulate any policy paper it wants, the crux is what gets approved as formal party policy. Let's see what the paper has to say before we assume the fix is in.

Anonymous said...

Every day that goes by - I can't believe people take the Wildrose party seriously!

jay said...

So what else is new? Who contributes to the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation or the Canadian Citizens' Coalition? Accountability is for other people.

John Collison said...


When water, its use and enjoyment is treated as valuable property, instead of as something to be used and abused by industry or individuals cheaply and without consequence for violation, pollution will not be possible.

Especially since testing methods now are so sophisticated.

The reason water quality can so often be easily destroyed is because nobody owns it. The government "owns" it on behalf of everybody, which means nobody really owns it and consequently nobody really has a vested interest in what happens to it. Quality can be traded for select benefit to those who control it -- like bureaucrats.

This is known as the Tragedy of the Commons.

And to "anonymous". Yeah. Property Rights. Ownership. That is pretty complicated stuff, fer sure. Glad you have such a high opinion of the voters' intelligence. You don't don't believe they can grasp "owning" something. Nice.

Meanwhile, accusing people of being "ideological" -- of having a coherent, consistent set of ideas -- is the last refuge of the damned. It comes from a place where intelligence is verboten...pretty much the product of the publik skools.

The beauty of it all is, that it is usually the most ideological socialists or tories who accuse other people of being ideological.

Thanks for being so damned transparent, and cute. ;-)

Brian Dell said...

Darren makes the most common sense comment.

Making it a crime to LISTEN to industry is a recipe for ignorant policy.

Hearing them out does not equate to doing industry's bidding, although I do suspect that when people give their arguments a fair hearing they are more likely to conclude that what is good for business is not necessarily bad for "ordinary" Albertans.

The problem with the NRF was not the conclusion but the process. Industry was not just told to sit down but to shut up. The NRF was now been totally reversed in de facto acknowledgement of a screw-up, a screw-up that will just be repeated if industry experts are again just dismissed as industry shills.

Hank said...

Laurence what is the price of carbon in Quebec?

Laurence said...

Boy, Octagonian, this really is Poli Sci 100 isn't it? The Tragedy of the Commons is widely discredited among serious thinkers. There is no evidence that ownership of a resource leads to its responsible use.

Here is but one of many great resources about it:

In fact, if you look at English history, the loss of the Commons and the Enclosures Act are widely acknowledged as one of the most egregious acts of economic violence against the rural working class ever perpetrated. It was a period of history that displaced thousands of rural poor and caused widespread hunger and the start of vast urban slums.

You're talking out of your cowboy hat. Just because Alberta pioneers enjoyed ownership of the homesteads and successfully cultivated the land 100+ years ago does not make ownership a de facto good in all scenarios. Things are a bit more complex than perhaps you and the Fraser Institute would like to believe.

Hardin's theory of The Tragedy of the Commons is simply based on an assumption about human behaviour, an assumption with no basis in reality.

Read more. It is surely one of the best paths to enlightenment. :)

Anonymous said...

as a follow up to the last comment... Think if you're a land owner somewhere in rural Alberta and you've just had a bad year ranching/farming and an oil guy knocks on your door and offers you real dollars to drill 8 wells per quarter on your pristine land. If you're in rough enough times, like many rural folk these days, you'll likely take the oil money and let the drilling happen to feed your family or pay your bills.
The only folks this 'property rights' theory works with is stinking rich ranchers who don't need the money and tell the oil guys to take a hike.
Property rights will not save the environment one iota during a recession.
Again, right-wing thinkers who forget to think first before writing bogus theories on some blog.

KNW said...

This is great! A party that's even MORE willing to grab its ankles for oil interests, how could that ever be a bad thing?

Damnation, this province needs a center party that's not cursed with the name "Liberals"

rc said...

"When water, its use and enjoyment is treated as valuable property, instead of as something to be used and abused by industry or individuals cheaply and without consequence for violation, pollution will not be possible."

So you figure we should privatize water sources, eh? Neat-o. I read about that sort of thing going on in Bolivia a number of years ago.

I guess it didn't turn out so well.