Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Open letter to 'Albertans First'

I've been observing your movement mature for some time now George Clark. I'm not writing for the purpose of focusing on the miss-spelling of coup d'etat, or to talk about your sign. I want to address your position, and reasoning, regarding Alberta's current issues as frankly I think you're putting the blame in the wrong place and are simply wasting the government's time, and depleting reserves, in your efforts. I deeply care about Alberta's future, I've been writing on the culmination of numerous issues for nearly 6 years many of which cross-over with your hasty, and incorrect, observations.

The movement you have created is contributing heavily to what is becoming an increasingly divisive, and toxic, political climate with few if any actual solutions to the real problems which as hard as it may be for you to hear have existed and have been building for quite some time. Not because of "the Liberals", or "the leftists", or whatever blanket label you want to throw around as though there are only two strict sets of rules for political ideologies to follow but because Alberta's perceived prosperity was always assuredly time limited and I intend to show you these issues exist across the political spectrum. While you may admit that the PCAA made many mistakes contributing to Alberta's situation your movement did not choose to exist while those mistakes were being made. I have been vocal for a long time, George, no one was listening.

To demonstrate what I mean by this here is a post I made prior to the election of the NDP. As you can see it discusses what I viewed as some of the upcoming problems Alberta would be facing (Canada too, really) such as abandoned oil& gas wells skyrocketing and an interesting quote from Jim Prentice, a Stephen Harper favourite where he called what we can see today is essentially an imploding labour market "an opportunity" for oil & gas companies to take advantage of favourable conditions.

I've been following this descent from grace for some time, George, for instance here is one of my favourite links few Albertans ever want to seem to acknowledge, or address, from 2012, discussing a memo about the soaring costs of oilsands development:
A confidential government memorandum obtained by CBC News warns that soaring costs of developing the Alberta oilsands could put the brakes on the massive project, stalling one of the main engines of the Canadian economy. 
The booming oilsands industry supports tens of thousands of Canadian jobs, and pumps billions of dollars a year into the national economy. 
The memo written by Mark Corey, one of the highest-ranking officials in the federal Department of Natural Resources, warns that if the current trend of spiralling labour and other costs continues, investors may start to turn off the tap on the massive amounts of money needed to develop the oilsands. 
"Although current crude prices promote oilsands development, ever-increasing capital and operating costs could make this price insufficient to support oilsands development at forecast levels," Corey writes. 
Cost increases are currently "the biggest risk to investment in the sector," and could jeopardize the viability of some projects, he says. 
Rising labour costs 
The memo estimates that operating and capital costs to extract a barrel of oil from the tar-like sands have both more than doubled over the past decade. 
It blames a chronic shortage of workers and resulting sky-high labour costs as the main cause of increased operating expenses. 
Corey's memo reflects a growing concern inside government over the future of the oilsands, and specifically the massive amount of capital investment that will be needed to fuel their continued development. 
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver recently estimated the oilsands would need $650 billion in capital investments in the next decade alone — almost five times what's been spent there over the past 50 years. 
The memo written in April this year was obtained under the Access to Information Act and appears to have been prepared for Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver. 
The document pre-dates the Harper government's current review of foreign takeovers of two Canadian energy companies. 
It nonetheless bolsters the contention of many in industry and government that Canada can hardly afford to turn away foreign investment in the oilsands.
In the latter half of 2014 I caught this article from the Financial Post titled 'Cost-cutting fever grips oil sands players as economics called into question' and as you'll see in the article itself was published before the collapse in oil price:
Canadian oil companies are ruthlessly enforcing capital discipline as project costs creep up and shareholders pressure management to focus only on the most profitable ventures. 
Suncor Energy Inc. announced a billion-dollar cut for the rest of the year even though the company raised its oil price forecast. 
Others such as Athabasca Oil Corp., PennWest Exploration Ltd., Talisman Energy Inc. and Sunshine Oil Sands Ltd. are also cutting back due to a mix of internal corporate issues and project uncertainty. Cenovus Energy Inc. is also facing cost pressures at its Foster Creek oil sands facility. 
“Given that the low-bearing fruit have already been developed, the next wave of oil sands project are coming from areas where geology might not be as uniform,” said Dinara Millington, senior vice president at the Canadian Energy Research Institute.
The NDP government is not making the situation worse, George, you just didn't realize how bad the situation already was. With oil at $100 and a PC government the industry was still barely turning a profit. I've seen a lot of statements from you that say things like "we were doing fine when oil was $10 barrel", read those articles and you will understand why.

I don't disagree with every single one of your positions on specific issues particularly in regards to the Carbon Tax (from a certain point of view which can be found here). Nor do I disagree with some of your points on wind turbines (in fact I believe environmentalists have some hard truths to account for). But what I do disagree with is your whole movement sat on their hands when "times were good" while the prior governments gambled on the futures market and called that a budget or "action plan", whichever you prefer. Where were you then?

Your clear bias against the NDP government and the very disproportional amount of blame you've laid at their feet is irresponsible, uninformed, and regardless of the political football outcome will not solve Alberta's problems because it does not address them. Simply saying "no carbon tax" doesn't address the myriad of other issues actually creating the problems you're complaining about - the carbon tax not being one of them. If you're truly concerned about Albertans, their futures, their jobs, and their prosperity then you will be honest with yourself about our situation and put your political views aside. There is no easy way out of this situation, and we're in for many years of pain if we ever recover at all.

The industry and governments bought by the industry intentionally lied to Albertans George. They knew, and they didn't tell you. Increasingly they are looking at automation, and there will be no more 4000 man camps, did they tell you that? Is that because of the NDP too? No, it's because the oilsands are expensive to produce and the profits for foreign owners mean more than your job, your house, your future, George.

This is why people like me have been screaming for years for the PCAA government to do anything, raise royalties, enforce environmental regulations, anything, to protect our future and the prosperity of our children and you know what George? No one listened.

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for eQube gaming systems.

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

19 comments:

  1. What makes you think I said nothing all those years or even had a grassroots movement to call upon? I built a better environmental process for industry to use. Started in 2005. Canadian Aboriginal Remediation Environmental Services (CARES) . I stood up to Syncrude in 1974 and made a difference in public hearing. I have always been standing up for Alberta yet it's only been the past 7 months that people began to listen to me. So your premise is misinformed. And I have a fast track plan back to Prosperity. Do you mention me now merely because in years of blogging you'very never gained wide exposure?

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    1. Actually, i'ts only in the "past 7 months" that you were able to leverage the disappointment of the far right, in losing the 2015 election, into a movement. They are not listening to your plans to "stand up for Alberta", they are seeing an outlet for their anger at loosing the election. Your message is based on your underlying hate of socialism, democratic socialism, and even progressives, and not on the "power of love" you profess. It may work with the low information voters you cater to, but to those of us who have made a lifetime out of studying phenomena like you, it's clear that the "power of love" thing is a way to seek palatability with the more reasonable fringes of your followers. It's your way to appeal to people who, otherwise, despise hateful rhetoric. It's a strategic move, and it's patently obvious to observers outside the bubble. You have become drunk with the power you wield, and that will always hold you back. Your inability to compromise, or see a single good thing about a government who does truly care about Alberta, is a fault, not a virtue. You seek to demonize Mrs. Notley, when she is a caring Albertan just like you profess to be, who simply has a different approach to solving our problems. They may work, and they may not, but your need to take away her humanity as a person speaks volumes about your capacity for caring and empathy. You are a political con-man and as such, you are destined to be a footnote in history, unless you find it within yourself to visualize the worlds outside of your own bubble of hate.

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  2. And back in 1965 when I was first introduced to the wonder of Alberta's oilsands things were fine at $10/barrel. Oil prices have been up & down all the time. The only truly bad times have always been when federal Liberals interfered by overspending resources we didn't have. And that includes from within the PCAA since the Stelmach days when the federal Liberals disguised themselves within the provincial PC'S. They messed this Province up not because of conservative values but because of socialist unfettered spending. All if Alberta's economic woes could be eliminated simply by having us match per capita spending on delivery of services to the same level as Ontario. And then keep it there. That move alone would return $8.5-10.0 Billion per year to our provincial budget.

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  3. And back in 1965 when I was first introduced to the wonder of Alberta's oilsands things were fine at $10/barrel. Oil prices have been up & down all the time. The only truly bad times have always been when federal Liberals interfered by overspending resources we didn't have. And that includes from within the PCAA since the Stelmach days when the federal Liberals disguised themselves within the provincial PC'S. They messed this Province up not because of conservative values but because of socialist unfettered spending. All if Alberta's economic woes could be eliminated simply by having us match per capita spending on delivery of services to the same level as Ontario. And then keep it there. That move alone would return $8.5-10.0 Billion per year to our provincial budget.

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  4. Final point. You believe too many lies that have been published on social media about me and Albertans First, starting with the "Kudatah" reference which never came from anyone associated with my FB followers. Educate yourself by going to my FB page and read my evisceration of all the falsehoods being spread. If you'very been warning the public as long as you claim, then you alone are responsible for not finding a way to get your message heard.

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  5. Final point. You believe too many lies that have been published on social media about me and Albertans First, starting with the "Kudatah" reference which never came from anyone associated with my FB followers. Educate yourself by going to my FB page and read my evisceration of all the falsehoods being spread. If you'very been warning the public as long as you claim, then you alone are responsible for not finding a way to get your message heard.

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  6. What makes you think I said nothing all those years or even had a grassroots movement to call upon? I built a better environmental process for industry to use. Started in 2005. Canadian Aboriginal Remediation Environmental Services (CARES) . I stood up to Syncrude in 1974 and made a difference in public hearing. I have always been standing up for Alberta yet it's only been the past 7 months that people began to listen to me. So your premise is misinformed. And I have a fast track plan back to Prosperity. Do you mention me now merely because in years of blogging you'very never gained wide exposure?

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    1. This is the only comment of yours I will respond to (unless you address the facts Ive presented above). I've written a total of two posts this year, George, I don't care about exposure. In fact I prefer this blog remain "under the radar" due to some.. past experiences.. ( http://www.canadiantrendsblog.ca/2012/12/what-is-infomediagcca.html ). Rather I have written this to you in hopes you might see if your intentions truly are pure that there is no "fast track" to prosperity for Alberta. In 1967 Alberta was producing conventional oil George, the Energy return on energy invested is vastly better than oilsands. You simply don't understand the math and unfortunately Alberta's future depends on it.

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    2. GCOS opened in 1967 producing oil from mined oilsands. I know because I was there. And they survived many downturns since. Return on investment on conventional oil on the face of it appears to be far better however when you factor in the dry holes and depletion factors on many oil sources, the certainty of the oilsands zones makes the energy return very competitive. As to your references to soaring costs on projects I agree that the inflated pace was causing cost overruns on many poorly managed projects. Mainly caused by poor engineering and management, not inflated labor costs. But other projects that adopted the "Putting You On Solid Ground" technology that I introduced always were built on schedule and on or under budget! Just look at the Devon Jackfish Phases 2 & 3 SAGD projects.The open pit mines are very different from the SAGD projects and yes they are going to attempt Automation of things like the Heavy Haul Trucks. I wish them luck but will predict complete failure in that effort. The combination of occasional -60 degrees Celsius temperatures abd the impacts of heavy rain falls and less than solid haul roads especially in the mine face areas will make those driverless trucks fail. You approach things from a sanitized environment as a software engineer while I have lived and worked in the real world. Plus ran my own systems integration computer business for 15 years. I actually placed 3rd in all of Canada in the national Math test for math 30 students. Even though I was only in Grade 8 at the time. As far as a fast track to Prosperity, you and all Socialists fail to understand some basic math. If Alberta were to take the per capita expenditures for services down halfway to the levels spent by Ontario it would provide a double benefit. First it would trim over $3.5 Billion from government expenditures. Second, it would reduce our equalization transfer deficits by an additional $3.5 Billion per year. Leaving us with a much more manageable deficit. The improved investment climate would be rewarded by the capital risk investors. And embarking on an Alberta-Saskatchewan backed build of a railway + pipelines north thru to the NWT - YT into Alaska would be a 30 year assurance of prosperity. Stick to software engineering while us field toughened entrepreneurs build a future for our children, grandchildren and many generations yet to come. Now please go read my rebuttal of the Kathleen twitterverse crowd. And while your at it, research why I act based upon the power of love. Or just read a holy book of your choice. 💪 of 💖!

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    3. GCOS opened in 1967 producing oil from mined oilsands. I know because I was there. And they survived many downturns since. Return on investment on conventional oil on the face of it appears to be far better however when you factor in the dry holes and depletion factors on many oil sources, the certainty of the oilsands zones makes the energy return very competitive. As to your references to soaring costs on projects I agree that the inflated pace was causing cost overruns on many poorly managed projects. Mainly caused by poor engineering and management, not inflated labor costs. But other projects that adopted the "Putting You On Solid Ground" technology that I introduced always were built on schedule and on or under budget! Just look at the Devon Jackfish Phases 2 & 3 SAGD projects.The open pit mines are very different from the SAGD projects and yes they are going to attempt Automation of things like the Heavy Haul Trucks. I wish them luck but will predict complete failure in that effort. The combination of occasional -60 degrees Celsius temperatures abd the impacts of heavy rain falls and less than solid haul roads especially in the mine face areas will make those driverless trucks fail. You approach things from a sanitized environment as a software engineer while I have lived and worked in the real world. Plus ran my own systems integration computer business for 15 years. I actually placed 3rd in all of Canada in the national Math test for math 30 students. Even though I was only in Grade 8 at the time. As far as a fast track to Prosperity, you and all Socialists fail to understand some basic math. If Alberta were to take the per capita expenditures for services down halfway to the levels spent by Ontario it would provide a double benefit. First it would trim over $3.5 Billion from government expenditures. Second, it would reduce our equalization transfer deficits by an additional $3.5 Billion per year. Leaving us with a much more manageable deficit. The improved investment climate would be rewarded by the capital risk investors. And embarking on an Alberta-Saskatchewan backed build of a railway + pipelines north thru to the NWT - YT into Alaska would be a 30 year assurance of prosperity. Stick to software engineering while us field toughened entrepreneurs build a future for our children, grandchildren and many generations yet to come. Now please go read my rebuttal of the Kathleen twitterverse crowd. And while your at it, research why I act based upon the power of love. Or just read a holy book of your choice. 💪 of 💖!

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    4. Yes, oilsands were operating but nothing like the scale of today. Alberta was largely living off conventional oil. Surface mining has an EROEI of 3:1 - 5:1. SGAD does a bit better. None of them come close to conventional oil and that is why the Saudi's are so easily able to cripple NA oil production. If you have to go all the way back to the very start of oilsands mining, then lets go back just a bit further where Alberta figured that maybe a nuclear detonation would do the trick ( http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/the-bizarre-story-of-that-one-time-alberta-tried-to-nuke-itself ).

      The evidence of what I'm talking about is all around you, the Harper government knew it. The industry knows it. They all know it. Conventional oil is no longer subsidizing our energy production, it's a completely different world now and if the past decade hasn't shown you Alberta's need for $100 oil I'm not sure what else will.

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  7. How a about laying some blame to previous governments for not properly collecting royalties or simply charging more corporate tax. Can't blame socialist governments because they would have collected the funds properly(see Norway) which would of paid for their social programs that people need.

    Where is the blame to the federal conservative mp's who voted against making ei easier to get and to last longer?

    You say the ndp are not listening? I say you're not paying attention, George.

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  8. George is playing a dangerous game with people's lives. If he were on this adventure in his own, that would be one thing. But he is capitalizing on the fear, desperation, and confuse of a subset of society who have been politically disengaged and uninformed for most of their lives, and will devour whatever George says because they either are incapable of informing themselves or would blindly follow as opposed to informing themselves. That's been an ongoing source of concern for me. Those following George blindly into battle are entirely uninformed and uneducated on legislation; both the legislation they are fighting and the legislation that applies to George's demands for a plebiscite.

    Because of this, they believe everything he says. It's very much cult a mindset at work here. They perceive him as smarter. He reinforces that false belief with his misuse of $10 words and his claims of knowing things no one in the history of the nation has ever known. He capitalizes on their ignorance. He makes them "warriors" for the truth.

    It's a religion, and George is the charismatic cult leader using and abusing the desperately uninformed, who stay behind him even when his promises and prophecies don't come to fruition, even when has not delivered on a single promise he's made yet.

    This is Waco, Texas level cult devotion. And that's both sad and concerning.

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  9. Please read my Susan Soapbox rebuttal. You obviously haven't listened to the AFANG illegally obtained recording of our Albertans First teleconference. If you had, you would know where we are at in the mounting of the legal challenges to ensure that Section 128 right to Plebiscite is granted. Please explain why allowing Albertans a Plebiscite vote on Carbon Pricing Taxation is somehow threatening to Democracy? Surely if it is so great Premier Notley will have no problem gaining full support for her plan?

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    1. It's simple, you are circumventing the existing democratic paradigm to make changes to it, and that is anti-democratic. You can wax poetically about long gone aristocratic, regal, monarch based exceptions, but you are really using misinformation to sway a large group of people to vote a certain way in a fictional plebiscite. If you want more direct democracy, then you should work with a political party who shares your general indulgences, or start your own. Canada, and Alberta has a representative democracy because it has been proven, literally for centuries, that direct democracy does not work well. Most citizens don't choose to become invested in their election cycles, let alone educating themselves enough to participate in the day to day operation of government. You have correctly identified this element of society, and you prey upon them, for political and endorsement of your personal grandeur. Your motives are so obvious in how you try to piggy back opposition to peripheral issues such as LGBTQ rights, immigration, refugees, social justice onto your two petitions. You certainly claim to have enough followers to start your own political movement, if no existing party suits you. The system should be modified from within. Progressives have been very open about their intentions for a carbon tax in Alberta, and in Canada, and the time for discussion would have been BEFORE the May 2015 election. The next election is in 2019 and by joining a political organization (New Democratic Party of Canada) under false pretenses, you are continuing to subvert the political will of others. Your trojan horse attack is a complete affront to democratic principles, and you are so engulfed with rage over progressives and socialism, you don't even see that simple fact. This government is not perfect, and doesn't even fit my own political vision, but the one thing I despise more than loosey-goosey economic policies, is subversion of the process itself. You have a smattering of legitimate concerns buried in your hyperbolic rhetoric, so why not spend the next 3 years protesting (your constitutional right) and begin the process of educating and politicising your followers, so you can mount a significant challenge in the next election? Why continue to make your movement resemble something you scribbled on a napkin in a Walmart parking lot, why not make it legitimate, and contribute to political reform. Most of your followers have made a lifetime out of sitting back and not involving themselves, get them involved. George, I have been to your rallies, I am a farmer, I am a business person, I am an Albertan, and I have even shook your hand, and I know exactly what you are all about.

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  10. Please read my Susan Soapbox rebuttal. You obviously haven't listened to the AFANG illegally obtained recording of our Albertans First teleconference. If you had, you would know where we are at in the mounting of the legal challenges to ensure that Section 128 right to Plebiscite is granted. Please explain why allowing Albertans a Plebiscite vote on Carbon Pricing Taxation is somehow threatening to Democracy? Surely if it is so great Premier Notley will have no problem gaining full support for her plan?

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    1. I've read it, it's what inspired this post in the first place.

      I don't care about your legal challenges outside of the fact that it is wasting the government's time, and resources and isn't going to solve anything. My problem here George is that the actions your taking and the promises you're making do not align. You are leading people on by telling them you can "fast track" prosperity. I am telling you that carbon tax or no carbon tax that isn't going to happen and that you need to give this government a chance to at least try to repair the situation. The issues didn't come from the NDP George and pestering them with your theories isn't going to help so long as they are based on the premise that it's all due to some sort of Liberal infiltration and other wacky ideas. I have shown you quotes and projections directly from the horses mouth unless you're implying Stephen Harper, Joe Oliver, Alberta Oil Magazine, The Financial Post, are all part of the grand "leftist" infiltration of everything you think is true.

      What you are doing is not constructive and frankly I didn't wait my entire life to see a government other than the bought and sold PCAA just so that a group of uninformed Albertans still living like it's 1965 can derail a real attempt to finally get started on the hard work that will be required to turn this province around. No matter what political stripe is in office they will be dealing with the same problems which you're continuing to deny exist and are blaming on your interpretation of political ideology.

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  11. George, you have misrepresented the legislation pertaining to plebiscites. You have outright lied to desperate people, claiming you would "make the announcement at 12:15 and by 12:30 we will be back in control of the province". Those were your words. You lied when you claimed the NDP planted swastikas at your rally. You lied when you stated you were non-partisan. You lied when you stated you would be sending the petitions to the Queen. You lied when you said you would submit the petitions to the LG and collected names and signatures and personal information based on that premise. You lied when you said you had a legal loophole to oust Notley. You lied when you said you were filing in the courts to fight every membership rejection. We both know that not only would the courts reject such a claim, but that each and every claim you file would cost $250.


    In truth, you have lied countless times since the outset of your venture into demagoguery. You are using desperate, uninformed people to feed your own ego and satisfy your hatred of the NDP - a hatred you can't hide behind your "power of love" facade when you rationalize comparing Notley to Hitler and refer to anyone in an orange t-shirt as Nazi brown shirts.

    There is nothing lower than taking advantage of desperate people just to feel empowered, just to feed your ego.

    What you are doing is morally and ethically wrong. And there are no two ways around that.

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