There's no brawling with the strategy of energy

Listen up young people, you go out and have too much fun too often. You leave your detached home, your retirement fund, and your 2.4 children and go out and party without a mask all the time. You drive around getting COVID by choice and I’m sick of it! Millenials have had it way too easy with cheap housing, high wages, inexpensive education, and a functioning politics for TOO LONG. It’s time to grow up and deal with this pandemic our way: go to work, then go home and watch Wandavision. GET WITH IT, YOUNGS.

“Cried. Let it out.”

This is the “free” center square in the Self-Care Bingo Card, shared on Twitter by the Government of British Columbia in February 2021. It was deemed "insulting to everybody" in the words of one community advocate. Was the state really encouraging crying? Had it come to this?

Clearly, the dashed-off infographic didn’t match the scale and seriousness of the COVID-19 crisis. Nearly a year into the pandemic, people knew that more material supports were required rather than lifestyle advice. Other bingo squares suggested reading a book or making a blanket fort, useless tips for those putting working hours into the service economy or, worse still, living in tents.

This misguided move at least warranted a public conversation. Fewer opportunities for feedback present themselves, however, as self-care steadily seeps into workplaces, leisure spaces, social media, and pop culture, used to sell personal products, services, classes, and books. Ubiquitous almost to the point of meaninglessness, the term/concept has leapt out of the leftwing activist realm, where it was once contained, to seemingly everywhere else.

“Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health” according to PsychCentral. This definition is broad enough to encompass the stereotypical candles and yoga approach plus the World Health Organization’s emphasis on maintaining physical health “with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”

For many situations, it’s assumed to be “without”. As in the B.C. example, self-care is the frontline response in places where most folks know, deep down, it shouldn’t necessarily be. After all, a political leader, public health officer, or manager telling you to relax and work out your own issues might not engender the grateful feelings they expect. Practices purported to comfort us, strengthen us, and unlock our best, individual selves feel forced, arbitrary, and generic offered in place of substantial improvements.

Sometimes, self-care is simply a lie. Is the mandatory “wellness seminar” actually a performance review? An invitation to snitch on colleagues? Can recommending “inner work” become an easy way out? Cynical takes are well warranted.

The thing is, self-care falls down when taken on its own merits too. Much as mindfulness can be wrestled from corporate control and used to consider the world around us with its complex contradictions, redirecting our time and attention can put us back in touch with one another and our full range of needs and capacities.

In 2019’s How To Do Nothing, Jenny Odell writes, “It is with acts of attention that we decide who to hear, who to see, and who in our world has agency. In this way, attention forms the ground not just for love, but for ethics.” Odell sees value not in small acts of self-indulgence (usually involving shopping or others’ labour) but in genuinely not being “productive” in the sense that hustle culture would have it. It’s sufficient, sometimes, to be present.

Odell’s calls for awareness bring to mind the work of Andre Lorde, the black lesbian feminist whose second cancer diagnosis in the late 1980s spurred her to define self-care as a radical act. To her, self-care was “self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” This sentiment led to self-care’s widespread adoption in activist circles in the ‘80s, persevering into the current decade.

There’s a key distinction between the pervasiveness of self-care among leftists and its popularity in mainstream society. Self-care was originally meant to counter activist burnout and get one back in the fight — the fight to change mainstream society into something less difficult, cruel, and alienating to live in.

In 2020’s Comrade, Jodi Dean writes that self-care might not have been truly serving leftist goals well either. “The discipline of collective work on behalf of a shared goal has been replaced by an individualist rhetoric of comfort and self-care.” Comrade, an extended essay printed as a slim hardcover volume, points the way to understanding each other as, well, comrades, a relationship distinct from friends, family, or neighbours.

That’s good to hear since, in Western Canada, most types of relationships now seem vaguely defined and strained. In the early pandemic days, and into the summer of 2020, narratives around neighbourliness abounded, pushed by public health agencies. Designated “cohorts” or “bubbles” kept one safer than associating with strangers. Yet from November onwards, banned “indoor gatherings” include visits from anyone outside your home, for those not living alone. The formula keeps sites of commerce humming while private lives wither. You can see your boss and coworkers, but not friends or family: an economic rationality applied to relationships.

A key insight in self-care is distinguishing between what’s not within your control, and what is. In “normal” circumstances this still leaves individuals little room to maneuver, since you usually don’t have control in your workplaces or the actions of governments and companies, let alone other people. In the circumstances of COVID-19, what’s under your control seems to change and diminish, daily or weekly. Choices you have to make, you wish you didn’t: judging whether or not public locations are safe, whether an activity is necessary or optional, whether leaving the house lifts your mood, or causes more stress and anxiety. 

Those in positions of authority love to pretend they’re just like us: doing their best and looking for anything to feel optimistic about, but utterly incapable of doing anything but sighing and wishing things were different. Alberta Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw had her own “bingo card” moment during the 2021 Easter weekend, tweeting about egg hunting with your household (the only in-person type of relationship left) and following restrictions as an “an act of kindness”. A fine filler tweet, if she hadn’t left Albetans hanging on details of a significant P.1 variant outbreak two days before.

Dr. Hinshaw and her colleagues in the six Canadian provinces that have yet to adopt “#CovidZero” policies must stop discussing “individual responsibility” and offer effective public solutions to public problems. Governments can act swiftly to actively suppress the virus — this is the humane act of "self-care” for society. There’s no “balance” to be had between the science and the fringe conspiracies, and it’s absurd to direct state resources to recommending dinky consumer-based responses as a placating trade-off. The tools to reach #CovidZero are ready to use: PPE, contact tracing, mass and rapid testing, streamlined vaccine distribution. Mental, emotional, and physical health remain impaired as long as deadly outbreaks continue.

Those in power need to take responsibility for our care. The rest of us simply need to decide how to spend our free time.

-Karen, Team Advantage

🕷Preacher dickhead tests behaviour that would get a person of colour shot by cops, does not get shot by cops.

🥃Nenshi is done with Calgary politics, and who can blame him. At first the high water mark of institutional progressivism in Calgary, the (good, smart, handsome) world passed him on the left as he realized the limitations of his activism from the mayoralty. The steel in his spine slowly dissolved by years of harassment from sprawl developers, he leaves as a cautionary tale about liberal electoralism - it’s working as intended, and if you want to change it significantly you misunderstood the job.

🦾Local man forced to conclude that contact tracing might have been a good idea.

🐱Facebook comment dorks always love to say “we didn’t just hand them a bag of cash, idiot” like tax breaks and removal of obligations isn’t some kind of subsidy.

🐬We’re just going to keep talking about vast Albertan unemployment for decades without preparing anything until it’s too late, eh?

🌝Ontario is now the Fury Road, Canada is becoming a planet-worst plague ship, people who stay at home and work are getting vaccines while people go into work as essential are forced to wait and die, stores are allowed to stay open if they stop selling crayons and sprinklers. It’s all going very well.

🍘The University of British Columbia blazes trails in sucking ass once again (SFU rules, losers, woooo). Also John Horgan is a moron trying to distract from his failure.

🐔Houses are for MONEY TO LIVE IN.

🏹If Jair Bolsonaro doesn’t face charges at The Hague there is no point to having The Hague.

🌟Large book advances are, I think, one of the things that protect a democracy. It’s very hard to do a conspiracy when the cash from the book deal is really high! You can just rat, be a hero, and collect the spoils. The trick is to kill people publicly and get the book deal before people notice.

🛸120 units per hour.

🥩Wanting to get sick and die usually means you love Hitler. I don’t make the rules.

🌶The proliferation of American militias can only be a good thing, right?

🍰Silicon Valley is absolutely going to get you evicted.

🥜Doing violence for America, then having violence done to you by America.

📽This is my “where’s the catch” face but hesitant support for a Toronto non-profit trying to keep a building affordable for 99 years.

📡Oh word if you pump public money into research you get unexpected positive benefits? Fucking crazy I am very surprised.

🥏The People Walker.

📉The popular kids go long on the National Energy Program and Universal Basic Income. I hope to sit at their table someday at lunch.

🎧Are NFTs good? Probably not, is what I say about everything new.

🔇Habibti Please talks about the probably dreadful NDP convention where all the contributions from the members will be ignored because lmao.

🎚️Harbinger Network is adding new shows and you can help! Check us out and grow Canadian left media.

🎲Edmonton folks should sign this BLM YEG petition to cut the police budget by the appropriate amount. Which turns out to be a lot!

🗿The bookstore at the University of Calgary is a good job for students and is well run and maintained. Naturally the gargoyles in management want to privatize it! Tell them to get fucked.

🚬Justin Trudeau will be remembered in history for his blinding stupidity at folding on electoral reform. Help Fair Vote remind him that he’s a wuss and an idiot.

✒️Boilermakers are still locked out at Cessco (not a weed store) in Edmonton. If you’re close by you should visit their pickets and bring them a coffee.

A Quick Note: if you want us to include an article, petition, link to an event, or just want to drop us a quick line, reply to this newsletter or reach us at albertaadvantagenewsletter [at] gmail [dot] com. We’d love to hear from you! If you want to send some old timey mail, grab those stamps and send tributes/cake/not anthrax to Alberta Advantage Podcast, PO Box 52167 Edmonton Trail, Calgary, AB, T2E 8K9.
Our editor is Clinton Hallahan. Newsletter subject lines are stolen from these songs.

Support us on Patreon

Got a bum education, double-digit inflation

I've descended from the mountain of parenthood to shine the light of my wisdom on you mortals. As raising children is the hardest job you can have, parents are, QED, the hardest workers. The hardest workers are the best workers and the workers are the heart of the revolution. QED again, I am the heart of the revolution. You're welcome.

It's already hack for science fiction writers to say that their fiction in-progress is being outstripped by reality but, here we are, every day, right here at home. I'm halfway through my modest proposal below and our do-nothing Justice Minister threatens to do something. Such is the world where Lethbridge is real. Almodovar knew the wind makes people crazy. Lethbridge Police Service pulls a minor little whoopsie like vast political harassment and all the sudden there's cause to shut them down. What a perfect place to pilot a provincial police, people!

You can understand why Jason and friends have longed for a provincial police. All animals have to eat and will eat their fill where they can. Armed enforcers are a missing food group for the legislature in Edmonton. Their flaming eye is ever focused on the undeserving sub-genius in Queen's Park so you can only imagine the drool puddles forming in the Sky Palace when Doug Ford almost put a drinking buddy atop the OPP. Cities have some leverage over their cops, though intellectual giants like Sean Chu and Jerr-oh-mee Farkas prevent using them well. Instead they're allowed to run rampage like bully toddlers with suspect driving skills. The feds have...light influence over the RCMP, though their reach and power give the Mounties a foreign policy unto themselves. Nobody is bulletproof in Ottawa and they can all make a constable "in fear for their life". The gendarmerie blow over the country like very racist weather.

This is a rare good instinct by our local laugh-barrel. Softies will get mad but any major change to help people in poverty comes either at the end of a gun or by people with a whole mess of armed people standing behind them. It's nobody's fault, humans lack the capacity to start anything unless threatened. This is the essence of ideology and procrastination. Having a provincial police department would be ideal for protecting any gains made in the welfare state because you could use it to suppress your opposition. Sorry, you thought they were for other purposes? Enjoy kindergarten I guess, you should meet my kids.

If we're going to have vast police corruption we should define that corruption through the lenses of welfare and, broadly, defunding traditional police. If we take power (a long shot given our toolbox) the left should immediately create the Alberta Provincial Police and seek funding from investors signing away TARP dollars to anything with the word APP in it. In the act we include broad language about protecting the “welfare” of all Albertans. In supporting legislation, we define some brand new initiatives - caps on rent to 10% of income, 100% drug coverage, housing first social policy, you name it - as “welfare guaranteed by the province via the Alberta Provincial Police”. Boom. Fireworks. Ticker tape parade. Somewhere an artist cries and doesn’t know why.

The genius of having an armed force (and, by extension, my genius) is they are basically immovable by the unarmed. If you make it against the law to impose austerity measures on social programs you point a gun - our gun - at every conservative in the future. That's the Armalite prong of a two-point trident of social justice. The other one is political entropy. If you give the public something beneficial like public healthcare or our new initiatives to pay women for social reproductive work and to give everyone free daycare, it's very hard to take them away. The widespread enjoyment of increased quality of life combined with a dedicated unit inside the legislature tapping reactionary kooks on the shoulder and shaking their head "no" if they introduce a bill that reduces benefits by a single cent will be a powerful beachhead against eventual conservative governments.

Around the hard nut of our little Milrevcom we create the "police" force we deserve and dismantle all others. Upon the ejection of the RCMP we push our new Provincial Police Act with thousands in uniform enforcing the rights of the people. They make sure everyone has a home, three hots, and a cot. They travel door to door making sure everyone knows the mental health supports, education, and job training they need is available to them, paid for by taxing billionaires and enforcing a maximum wage. The prisons are dismantled, replaced by Norwegian model carceral communities filled to bursting with politicians who would use their power to degrade the welfare state. It's a paramilitary force of social workers, housing construction, educators, and civil servants. Their one aim - improve the quality of life for Albertans - is backed by the threat of sanction. Arrests are no longer the primary statistic judged for promotion. Those who pull the most out of poverty, who find the underserved and serve them will advance.

Oh, this is a stupid idea and I should be stopped you say? What's the worst that can happen? People will rebel? We hold a monopoly on force and are offering them a life unpegged from employment. We can't pay for it? There's a lot of billions in them thar corporate welfare hills on top of the savings we reap from dissolving brutal local police departments. The feds overrule us and use force to take jurisdiction? Oh please, please uncouple the Alberta welfare state from our predilection to vote against our interest. I'm begging you.

Canada barely has a constitution and Justin Trudeau can barely shift his body for all the sedatives and facial shoe polish. Come enforce it. My APP officers are in the community filling speculation apartments with the unhoused and paying mortgages for oil workers in school changing their careers. Pry it from our fingers attached to white knuckles.

🦝Turns out I was wrong and the Canadian Energy Centre truly is working in our best interest. I will eat my crow along with everyone else. Give them a blank cheque.

🐣Not even a plague will keep corporations from collecting and selling your personal data.

💅They will always build a pipeline if you let them, even if it has wheels on the bottom.

☎️Uber is exporting their fucked up lobbying efforts to make all of us gig workers into Canada.

🥋Wexit is back on everybody!

🍬Someone pointed out that Quebec is racist as hell and everybody is sad and mad. If Albertans freaked out this hard every time someone told the truth about us aneurysm deaths would skyrocket.

🍌Biden was successfully pushed left this week.

📉No joke here, The Atlantic is just really fucking stupid.

🚧Really wish I had some money to launder, it’s so easy these days. This dumb shit is coming for the housing supply too. My Alberta Provincial Police will be confiscating these empty houses AND the Bitcoin used to buy them.

👗You can now pirate a COVID vaccine.

🛹It takes a subpoena for health records to be purged, even handwritten notes. It just takes a sneeze and a shredder for the RCMP. The Alberta Provincial Police will keep all documentation in a blockchain archive.

🦊The LAPD need to be dissolved too.

🏴‍☠️The climate is deeply fucked.

🏴The Teamsters appear to be tooling up internationally. We support even the slightest hint of increased radicalism in our unions.

🪔Solidarity with any healthcare workers deciding to strike. The post-COVID austerity will hit them first.

🥾Hero who attacked imperialists in Washington to return to take more bodies.

⏲The COVID impact on labour.

🎊US policy that harms labour also harms my ability to get an overclocked 3090 RTX.

🏉Monopolies are bad, but half measures against monopolies might be just as bad.

⚡️Goodbye to the best sitcom about labour since Taxi.

📉The Progress Report says the haram thing loud - not all trains are good.

🎧Kino Lefter watched a movie on VHS and talked about it for almost as long as its runtime.

🔇Britain remains bad with Tech Won’t Save Us.

⛲️Do you want to dismantle capitalism? Do you own a boat?

♟Courage is trying to get the NDP to actually do something, if you would like to help them out.

🥞An AUPE comrade passed away and a GoFundMe has been created to support his family, were so you so inclined to do so.

A Quick Note: if you want us to include an article, petition, link to an event, or just want to drop us a quick line, reply to this newsletter or reach us at albertaadvantagenewsletter [at] gmail [dot] com. We’d love to hear from you! If you want to send some old timey mail, grab those stamps and send tributes/cake/not anthrax to Alberta Advantage Podcast, PO Box 52167 Edmonton Trail, Calgary, AB, T2E 8K9.
Our editor is Clinton Hallahan. Newsletter subject lines are stolen from these songs.

Support us on Patreon

Tell the cops they can't touch this

Oh my God I almost watched my wife give birth in my bedroom/car/a hospital lobby. I actually got to smash my hazard lights on and ditch my car in front of an emergency room. I got to sprint past people pushing her in a wheelchair while my second-born peeked out like it was trying to escape from John Hurt’s chest. It was awesome and I looked awesome doing it. Oh yeah the kid is cool too. But I promise that I won’t become one of those people who write about nothing but being a parent and how raising kids is actually the most Marxist thing you can do.

It’s funny how raising kids is the most Marxist thing you can do. For example, I am going to use my new baby as an excuse to do less work. See you next time!

🦿Cops in Lethbridge will be put in the remedial class after they fail to properly intimidate a woman. Edmonton police will have to travel south to show them how it’s done, maybe some RCMP coaching too.

🦹Health care professionals are getting the chop because we no longer need health. Fun while it lasted guys! Enjoy the bread line! At this point the public servants should just leave because it’s impossible to know what your life will look like in ten years. Does the UCP think something makes Alberta extra special? Is there something you can get or do here you can’t do living in Kelowna? For market-forces folks they sure don’t understand readily available, superior alternatives for people who are required to keep us alive.

🦺The horse is very fucking gone but at least the UCP will shut the stable door.

🐟I honestly wish I had the foresight as a teen to start a spreadsheet the day I started reading newspapers. I would have kept every “reason” the price of gas was climbing in Alberta, and how often they cropped up. Iran, Iraq, long weekends, refinery fires, threat of refinery fires, forest fires, people fired, Fyre Festival, you name it, news organizations will print it. Just admit it goes up and down when gas companies feel like it! Free yourself from the weird tea-leaf reading! Embrace the whims of your masters! Get naked and burn down a police station!

🌞The Northwest Territories will opt out of sharing the Alberta curriculum, citing differing opinions on colonialism being quote “dope as fuck” and residential schools “teaching a lot of gumption and horse-sense”.

☃️“God will sort us out later” might be the ballsiest sentiment ever delivered in public by an Alberta public servant. I’d be an admirer if the guy wasn’t a sociopath.

🙉Fuck BuzzFeed.

🦝The gig economy means your whole life is now a cam show. I am going to do fully funded mukbangs. Tip a dollar to watch me eat this Pringle, tip two dollars to see me eat two Pringles, etc.

🥨Newspaper owners love the idea of their kids getting drafted, I guess.

⛑Labour and climate walk into a bar

🍾God invented people, and God invented work, AND God invented Heaven, so it stands to reason that to work is heavenly and you WILL work for bosses in Heaven. Amen.

⛳️If you endorse a person who is, against all odds, the dumbest fascism-adjacent journalist in the whole US of A, it might negatively impact your income! Just saying!

🥮Turns out billionaires really depend on destroying labour power! Such a revelation!

🥃Ipecac was discontinued but if you need to replace it - McKinsey will run the Italian economy.

🛸Fuck the O̶r̶a̶n̶g̶e̶ ̶L̶i̶b̶e̶r̶a̶l̶s̶ NDP.

🏍And for that matter fuck the Liberals.

🤸🏾‍♀️ Everyone read this already but after centuries of people writing things that fuck up aristocrats if you have a modern entry to the canon it deserves a blurb.

🎳Bless these comrades who showed some rich people what we already know (everywhere is blanketed with cameras, and those cameras have next to no security) and also bless the odd hacking done to the masters, not for their (incidental or not) benefit. A rarity.

🦼Total support for the good anti-imperialist dogs at the White House. Very good boys!

🌌800 people join forces to become a cooler St. Vincent than Annie Clark.

📉It’s cool guys, talk to Niki Ashton and don’t invite me, it’s fine, whatever, no no, something just flew into my eye and it was allergies, I promise.

🎧Habibti Please had registered badass Mumilaaq Qaqqa‪q‬ on their show.

🔇Big Shiny Takes pissed on the grave of Rush Limbaugh, improving the grave quality significantly.

🎚️Tech Won’t Save Us delves into the gig economy hellscape with Calum Cant.

🐢A bunch of very talented people have summoned The Breach, an interdimensional portal on the bottom of the sea floor that is spitting extremely large alien beings onto the earth, kaiju that are terrorizing the world and require humanity to come together and build giant bipedal robots to…oh wait it’s actually just a very cool leftist media organization launching in Canada. You should check it out, it’s very good.

🥜Jezza. Niki. Talking. Making dummies mad. Get it.

🎮Edmonton Mutual Aid are still building tiny homes during the pandemic. Chip in if you can.

🐉The Reignite Talks on March 18th are bringing a solid panel together to talk about a just transition for fossil fuel workers.

🎱The folks at /r/canadaleft do this section but better. Showboating fucks!

A Quick Note: if you want us to include an article, petition, link to an event, or just want to drop us a quick line, reply to this newsletter or reach us at albertaadvantagenewsletter [at] gmail [dot] com. We’d love to hear from you! If you want to send some old timey mail, grab those stamps and send tributes/cake/not anthrax to Alberta Advantage Podcast, PO Box 52167 Edmonton Trail, Calgary, AB, T2E 8K9.
Our editor is Clinton Hallahan. Newsletter subject lines are stolen from these songs.

Support us on Patreon

Sundown in the New Arcades

Our intrepid newsletterman has absconded from his newsletter duties to take care of some bullshit that he probably made up. Please forgive the poor imitation of a newsletter that I have assembled in his absence.

I heard a rumor the other day that Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta, keeps a sleep schedule of 4:00 a.m. to noon. Meaning that when he shows up at 4pm for a news conference (more like 4:30 p.m. because he’s always late), we’re basically seeing Jason during his lunch break, there to puff himself up with some announcement and then ignore a few questions from journalists before he goes back to eat some hot dogs and begin his afternoon.

These somewhat nocturnal working hours might make sense for those working shift work, or for an eccentric artist who requires silence and isolation to summon creative inspiration. But becoming a night-dwelling creature who seldom comes into contact with the common folk takes on a bit of a different meaning if you’re a Transylvanian Count living in a huge castle, or if you’re the Premier of Alberta.

Imagine being the hub of executive decision-making power in a province of 4.3 million people, in the middle of navigating multiple health, economic and social crises (some of your choosing, some you just chose to make worse) and effectively halfing the number of waking hours that most other people will be conscious enough to pay attention to you, or perhaps even ask something of you! Incredible.

What might Jason Kenney be doing, between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m? That’s basically a full workday. I’m sure there are evening meetings and briefings to contend with, and those can probably eat up a few hours. But since he won’t tell us (in fairness, we didn’t ask), it’s only fair to speculate. Maybe he gets a full manicure and pedicure to make himself feel fresh and make Sonya Savage jealous. Perhaps some hairshirt-wearing and self-flagellating happens to help clear his head. He might leaf through some vintage issues of the Alberta Report, reminiscing on his Reform days, when being a conservative was easy. Maybe Jason plays Fortnite with Ben Harper, age 24 and son of Stephen Harper. Albertans are paying Ben a salary less than $111,395 for policy advice, which may or may not include Fortnite strategy.

The cherry on top of this little rumor is that Jason Kenney apparently pressures his staff to keep the same sleep schedule so that they can best attend to his needs. Imagine being dragged into a world where your waking hours largely exclude your family, your friends, and normal business hours, all so that you can attend to a beady-eyed little man whose grand vision of capitalist innovation involves distributing medical supplies at the drive-thrus of A&W, Tim Hortons and McDonalds. If anybody knows these staff personally, please remind them that unionization is an option, and that Alberta’s labour movement is standing by to help them.

— Joël Laforest

🥩 The High River Cargill plant has a new COVID-19 outbreak (yes, the very same plant that was the site of Canada’s largest outbreak). UFCW Local 401 staged a protest.

✊ Meanwhile, another outbreak cropped up at the Olymel plant in Red Deer. The site is now temporarily closed.

🚔 The cops that investigate the cops want more funding. (Their investigations rarely result in much.) We should do Citizens’ Tribunals instead.

📉 The UCP wants to privatize the operation of land titles, corporate, and personal property registries, which are currently generating healthy revenues. Probably a bad idea.

👨‍⚖️ An Edmonton-area church pastor was jailed for repeatedly and flagrantly violating a public health order, putting hundreds of people in danger. We think that’s good.

✏️ Students and advocates are pushing to rename Calgary’s Langevin School to a name that doesn’t refer to an architect of the residential school system. Calgary renamed a bridge for similar reasons in 2017.

⛰️ Kenney’s UCP did a big about-face about mining the Rockies for coal. Here’s what didn’t actually change.

🍊 The Sprawl argues that Rachel Notley was much too cautious and didn’t do nearly enough.

💀 Long-term care operators are lobbying the government because they don’t want their pants sued off for gross negligence that contributed to people dying. Of the 21,498 people who have died from COVID-19 in Canada, 15,269 have been linked to 1520 residential facilities.

💰 Canada appears to be developing into a caste system, where your wealth and status are tied to your parents more than ever before.

🔥 Bruce Livesey, author of Thieves of Bay Street, has a greatest-hit compilation album about Jason Kenney’s Very Bad Year Or So in the National Observer.

🚄 Free-market think-tank capitalists think Air Canada needs a bailout. Can we just build some dang trains across this enormous country instead?

🔌 Climate change makes the polar vortex super warbly, so Texas got hit with a snow storm. Because their electricity market is deregulated, power is generated based on ability to pay, not need.

🇬🇧 The leader of the U.K. Labour Party did not listen to our episode about small businesses.

😄 Rush Limbaugh died, making the world a slightly better place.

🏝️ Cuba, still subject to U.S. sanctions, is on the brink of mass-producing a coronavirus vaccine. Canada sold off labs that could’ve done similar work in the 1980s.

😞 Socialist theorist Ed Rooksby has died at the age of 45 of long-COVID causes. Listen to these great interviews with him on Dead Pundits Society and Politics Theory Other, and read this collection of his work.

📉 Team Advantage spoke to the National Farmers’ Union about farming and climate change, pointed out that small businessess are in fact capitalism, and hit the books to figure out what to do about the nation-state.

🎧 The Progress Report was kind enough to have our very own Sean and Tyler on to discuss praying for Jason Kenney.

🎚️ Sweater Weather interviewed Ian McKay, historian of the Canadian left.

💪 Edmonton-based CESSCO collected federal wage subsidies and is carrying out a union-busting lockout. Support the Boilermakers Lodge 146 and visit

A Quick Note: if you want us to include an article, petition, link to an event, or just want to drop us a quick line, reply to this newsletter or reach us at albertaadvantagenewsletter [at] gmail [dot] com. We’d love to hear from you! If you want to send some old timey mail, grab those stamps and send tributes/cake/not anthrax to Alberta Advantage Podcast, PO Box 52167 Edmonton Trail, Calgary, AB, T2E 8K9.
Our editor is Clinton Hallahan, except for today. Newsletter subject lines are stolen from these songs.

Support us on Patreon

Steal your watch and tell you what time it is

Calgary Police bought some new helicopters and they are the loudest things in the known universe. The old ones oppressed minorities in near silence. Now every time they fly over my house at night my eardrums burst like a Roman candle, spraying sparks and viscera across my bedroom like a pig-borne Pollack. I scream but the helicopter has already harvested my trachea, fuel for it’s antimatter-decibel powered ultraturbines. They float past, my parts a cell in a spreadsheet, another night protecting the people, trachea levels high. This really happens.

A couple of stories arched my eyebrows not for their content, but because I couldn’t game out the desired result.

Coronavirus has revealed a lot about our life and country but maybe the most stark realization is that provinces were probably a bad idea, borne of a huge land mass and the limited speed of horses sending messages, and that trusting provincial governments to be rational actors in a crisis is idealistic baby-talk talk for little babies who believe baby stories. As such the simplest of the federal COVID support programs - cash to top up salaries for health care workers, long-term care aides, the obvious friction points on the plague ship rigging in need of some lucre lubricante - was left more or less to collect dust, unfathomable millions sitting useless like a genital wart.

For a politician who spent his life looking any excuse to impoverish nurses you’d think he’s find some win-win way to cover salaries with federal money, pay the people he needs to make sure his voting base doesn’t fill the morgues, and he gets to sacrifice whatever animal he has on hand to the Balanced Budget God with a clear conscience. But they didn’t. They just left the money on the table. The official line was too much red tape, a matching 25% from the province, and a bunch of other bullshit. Those might even be the case, but they seem like hurdles that could be cleared by a determined party.

It wasn’t until some language used by Pam Palmater over at Canadian Dimension, writing that “Jason Kenney is tanking Alberta”. I think they meant it in the traditional sense, like their incompetence is sending the province into the toilet, leading to the septic tank, where it can swim with shit. But I think the totality of UCP management is better explained by the sporting connotation to tank.

For the unenthused, fairness dictates some system to collect the best players out of college and high school sports leagues and assign them to professional teams. But you can’t just let the best teams add the best new players and extend their dominance and maintain competition. If you let people just stack their teams to heaven you become boring or, even worse, you become professional soccer. So the teams that perform worse get a better chance at the top amateur players in a draft, to each according to their need, from each according to their crapulence. Tanking is a tactic most prevalent in games like American football and basketball, games where single play choices or personnel changes can mean the difference between championships and the basement.

When you tank, you intentionally throw a season away to draft better players. The best tanking coaches are the most highly paid theatre actors on the planet, tasked with convincing both a fan public and a group of young men bigger and stronger than them that they are trying their best and are, in fact, not tanking at all, how dare you. Like flopping it exists in a paradox - if you don’t flop or tank and take a hit to your honour as a competitor because you didn’t do absolutely everything in your power to win glory, but if you do flop or tank, you are a chump punk loser butthead. Like so many things masculine in origin it’s deeply complex and stupid.

But tanking Alberta isn’t for Albertans. There is no draft at the end where we collect engineers and thinkers to better the place we live. At the end all we have is rust and desperation and anger. At least the Jets get to fuck up and get Sam Darnold, or the Colts shrewedly “Suck For Luck”. For Albertans there is no youth coming to save us, give us hope. Jason isn’t preparing a roster for glory, he’s preparing a corpse for the tower, a Zoroastrian feast for vultures, beleaguered, poor, sick, and ready to take any indignity for some measure of economic dignity. It’s an old play from an old playbook, but how often can you see some significant salve through a locked window, the key in the sweaty palm of a single drape-skinned Catholic man grinning and screaming, no, no, no, it’s my choice and I don’t want it and you don’t get it, no.

🍄The rumour was that Alberta gyms and personal trainers were going to break shut down rules in a weird athleisure collective action so Jason Kenney blinked and put them to the front of the line to open, despite ultra-infective variants of COVID waiting to carouse through the province like the bulls in Pamplona. Never thought I would see sitting premier get sand kicked in his face by jocks as they take his girl to Pop Tate’s for an egg cream but here we are.

🦂Even Australians get more honesty out of your provincial government than you, because they’re merely a conduit for people to make money. The Trillbillies were on about the subtle increase in coal mining jobs in Kentucky on an episode last week. They talked about one guy who was buying dead mines for pennies and all the sudden started hiring in the Trump years. The price of coal hadn’t moved very much - burning rocks has plateaued in a fairly permanent way - but with a combination of “appeal to Appalachia” tax breaks and an ocean of liquidity turning anything with a pulse and a revenue into a potential short-term bubble a la Tesla, this post-coal Kentucky coal man was making money somehow. Just not off the rocks. People joke that Alberta strip mining is a lot of toxins in the watershed for just a few jobs but I think it might be deeper than that.

Goodbye, sailor.

🥪Canada is like Silver Surfer on a sassy day, back talking Galactus and seeing if they gets vaporized and/or eaten. Canada is sassy often.

🏈If you die with tenure your ghost will lecture on into eternity.

🛰Andrew Cuomo is like any other shithead fucking up a COVID response but the difference is that when people ask him to improve he just tells them to shove it and people applaud and laugh and give him treats.

🧱Trinidad and Tobago are sinking into the ocean and pulling more than their weight in making it happen, like a matador painting himself red and standing stock-still.

🌀It seems portentous that a labour uprising is being dealt with in the same way as trying to annex Kashmir or trying to do a coup in Myanmar.

🔊Jeff Bezos is out as CEO but Amazon is still using metrics and optimization algorithms and plain old labour abuses to damn near kill employees.

🦏Indigo stores in Canada are unionizing quickly, probably a symptom of being a store that contains books describing how to unionize. A new CEO is on the way via Anthropologie/Urban Outfitters so we’ll see how they try and stomp on them.

🌪Critical support for Justin as he tries to get some vaccine manufacturing capacity back for the next shitty pandemic we deal with. Mulroney sold off our capacity back when he was doing bumps of coke out off of Thatcher’s perfectly smooth hair helmet. I wish his response was more bellicose but when someone has a vaccine shipment gun to your head I guess you just buy factories for next time and buy vaccines meant for poor people.

🍈Pandemic frequency is a good barometer of social upheaval.

🥜Our own Roberta Lexier explains why the NDP should put up or shut up.

📉Alberta Advantage rounded out the first bit of 2021 talking about missed opportunities and teeth.

🎧Will was on The Canada Files to talk about Canadian politics too.

🔇And Elaine was on Big Shiny Takes to talk about white supremacists and (shudder) Derek Fildebrandt.

🎚️Congratulations to Kino Lefter on 100 episodes!

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Our editor is Clinton Hallahan. Newsletter subject lines are stolen from these songs.

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