Look what we discovered about the Just Transition
You might remember, not so long ago, that federal Natural Resources Minister, Jonathan Wilkinson, announced that the federal Liberal government would soon be rolling out its plan for a “Just Transition.”
This is the “Just Transition” plan that the federal NDP insisted be included in the “confidence and supply agreement” that is currently propping up Justin Trudeau’s minority government.
Then, an internal government memo was made public, suggesting that hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost in this "transition" - particularly in western Canada.
Project Confederation immediately sprung to action, investigating the proposed policies and launching a petition against the plan, which has now received more than 13,000 signatures.
As news spread, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe spoke out strongly against the plan.
But one politician was suspiciously quiet - the Alberta NDP leader, Rachel Notley.
We thought Albertans, and Canadians, deserved to know whether someone running to be Premier of Alberta supported the shutting down of Alberta and western Canada's largest industry.
And so we pushed hard for Rachel Notley to answer the question - does she support the "Just Transition" idea?
But, as time went on, Notley’s silence became more and more deafening.
Eventually, her silence became so deafening that even some in the media began to question whether or not she truly disagreed with the plan.
Hours turned into days, and days turned into weeks - literally!
Two full weeks after Wilkinson’s announcement, Rachel Notley finally broke her silence, calling on Ottawa to “put the brakes on” the "Just Transition".
But, "put the brakes on" sounded a lot more like "wait until after the Alberta election" than "ditch it entirely" to us.
So we decided to do some more digging.
Well, after some excellent work by our research team, we think we now know why it took so long for Rachel Notley to oppose the “Just Transition.”
It turns out that, rather than just being some federal NDP idea that she's now distanced her provincial party from, the “Just Transition” was actually a huge part of her NDP government’s plans.
Insert flashback music here.
It’s November 2015, the newly minted NDP government are celebrating a big election win, and are moving forward with their climate change strategy.
(You know, the one they accidentally forgot to mention that they were going to implement if they won).
New Alberta Minister of Environment and Parks, Shannon Phillips, commissions a blue-ribbon report by a team of high-profile academics, to help the NDP figure out exactly how to fulfil their campaign promise (sorry, their campaign omission).
Several months later, the “Climate Leadership Report” is released, setting out the government’s vision for climate policy and - guess what?
The "Just Transition" is a key part of the NDP’s Climate Leadership Report!
Yep, that’s right - forget not knowing what the "Just Transition" is, and claiming not to support the federal government's plan.
In reality, it was Rachel Notley’s government who wrote the policy in the first place, and then made it a critical part of their entire environmental policy agenda.
Here are some extracts from the report...
In a section discussing mitigating the impacts of carbon pricing on low- and middle-income Albertans, the NDP said they would “support a sound and just transition for labour and communities…”
Later in the report, the authors highlight a quote from their friends at the Alberta Federation of Labour.
This quote is really just one gigantic contradiction, given the government is literally legislating their employment out of existence:
Next, the report talks about what the workers who lose their jobs might need to do as part of this "transition" - it notes that they may need assistance with "relocation":
Oh, sorry, did the government legislate away your job?
Not to worry, we'll "fix" it for you by helping you walk away from your entire life and move somewhere else.
Remember how Rachel Notley said Albertans might have to move to BC to find work while she was Premier?
Yeah, we'd prefer Albertans could find work here in Alberta, thanks.
Here’s the thing...
Not only did the Alberta NDP support the concept of a federal “Just Transition” when they were in government, they were also actively implementing their own “Just Transition” - 8 years earlier than the federal government!
And yet now they claim to not support the idea at all?
No wonder it took so long for Rachel Notley to answer the question.
She was probably just surprised that no one in the media had dug up her own support of "Just Transition" legislation from years before, and was wondering if she could get away with pretending she hadn’t.
Well, we’re not surprised no one in the media bothered looking.
But, we did look, and thank goodness we did!
Thank you to our researchers who dug up this document, which I'm sure the NDP would have preferred we'd not found.
If you'd like to help us do even more research like this, please click here to make a donation to our work.
Otherwise, if you haven't signed the No Unjust Transition petition yet, please click here to do so now.
Rachel Notley's claim to now be opposed to the exact thing that she herself implemented is not credible.
She can run from it, but she can’t hide.
Her environmental policies put Alberta into one of its deepest recessions ever.
And we can't afford to repeat those mistakes.