Dear JT Kenney:
Mitzy, my wife, has banned me from Twitter again, high blood pressure, so I will hone my tweet chops and keep this short. No Alberta politician has ever won a water fight with a rancher. That is a big reason why our province does not have a bunch of coal mines in our foothills.
Thanks to your crew, our sudden coal fetish makes us look like resource-revenue junkies desperate for our next fix, and the coal pushers are hanging out at the provincial park playground offering us a new rig. The Lougheed conservatives faced their share of coal whisperers in the ’70s too, but they chose to listen to Alberta’s hunters, farmers, hikers and ranchers when they called coal leases an atrocity. You too could have easily consulted Albertans and at least appeared to listen in a calm atmosphere instead of a court room, but you didn’t.
Now you are caught between Australian Billionaires who would sell you back your underwear for twice the price and Albertans who see a dark threat to their livelihoods and the land they love too much. We would not be here if you had spent time contemplating the flag behind your podium. Right in the middle is the Alberta Shield. In the middle of the Shield is the green icon of the Eastern Slopes and the prairies they feed, and it is all green, not green with black spots like a coal dust infected lung.
I have read the strawmen your crew has created: we have not approved any mines, yet; we will help the world make steel; the future of this province is coal! That chaff does not last long in a chinook wind. The Coal Policy protected the foothills for so long because the green on the shield means more than hundreds of boom-and-bust mining jobs. It stands for fishing, hunting, freedom, and a vision of wilderness that Albertans need to reinforce our Strong and Free self-image.
You still have choices, good, old-fashioned, Seventies-style, conservative choices. Try revisiting the crazy, conservative idea of gradual resource development and fair prices for our resources. These worked well until cash-hungry governments unleashed the oil industry and the painful, unsustainable boom and gut-wrenching bust of the past few decades. They can work again if our politicians stand up for development on our terms instead of chasing desperate (speedy approvals), cheap (1% royalties) dollars.
What will it be? Will you make the rich Australians and your Environment Minister unhappy or add your own black stamp to the Alberta shield and make Alberta’s growing cohorts of outdoorspeople unhappy?
A budding heraldry artist in your provincial coalmine,
Stanley “Buzz” Angus