News from Imperial Washington: Alberta Diary’s surprise endorsement (sort of) from afar

You want moments in American history? Apropos of nothing, here lies Alexander Hamilton, slain in a duel by his political foe Aaron Burr, who got off scot free. Top that! Below: Danielle Smith, disapproving of my tinfoil cap.

Your blogger is normally disinclined to give too much of this space over to people he disagrees with, on the perfectly sensible grounds they have access to more and better publicity opportunities of their own. Heck, some of them even own their own presses – for all the good that’s doing anyone nowadays.

Plus, of course, that’s what the comments section’s for beneath this blog.

But what the heck, it’s a slow news night, I’ve been sitting in a couple of airplanes all afternoon feeling cranky and increasingly hot (and not in a good way, either), and in defending herself against my suggestion she’d talk to anyone about selling Canadian water, the leader of Alberta’s Opposition Wildrose Party has gone and said something nice about me, in a backhanded sort of way.

So I suppose I’ll indulge Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith and me too and reprint some of the comments from her travel blog.

Ms. Smith was in Imperial Washington last night for the opening engagement of her First International Tour, see posts passim, camped right across the street from the site of a famous American attempted assassination. (with one of her personal heroes in the crosshairs, one feels fairly confident to state, no less.)

From that historical address, she writes: “Normally I like reading Dave Climenhaga’s blog, but his recent uncharacteristically inflammatory posting seems to demand a response. For the record, I think Climenhaga gets it right more often than he gets it wrong. He is often the first to break news stories and political gossip (he outed my run for the Wildrose leadership before anyone else) and his analysis is usually very good, even if I don’t always agree with him.” (Emphasis added, of course.)

There, see, I wasn’t making it up about scooping the world about Ms. Smith’s leadership run. However, she goes on, “but he does stray into the realm of kooky conspiracy in his latest posting on my trip, hosted by the U.S. International Visitor Leadership Program.”

This, naturally, is a reference to my suggestion in this space two days ago that “it makes my blood run cold when I hear a committed market fundamentalist like Smith musing about the need to chat about water with our American cousins…”

First, I have to observe that I’m obviously falling down on the job if that post was “uncharacteristically inflammatory.” Now, last night’s blog – which was about Premier Alison Redford, Ms. Smith should note – really was uncharacteristically inflammatory. The one about Ms. Smith was pretty tame by comparison.

Nevertheless, if you ask me, it’s hardly evidence of over-fondness for kooky conspiracy theories or the desire to wear an aluminum-foil hat to bed to find oneself worrying about the dangerous mix of market fundamentalists like Ms. Smith and cool, clean Canadian water.

Indeed, not so long ago, the Fraser Institute, Ms. Smith’s erstwhile employer, produced a report that tried to make the case “water exports can be undertaken responsibly,” “water export can be environmentally sustainable,” and “reconsideration of the issue is warranted.”

Actually, what the report says is that “fact-based reconsideration of the issue is warranted.” The trouble is, the kind of facts the market fundy Fraserites retail could be called “Fraser Facts,” and they aren’t necessarily exactly the same as the real thing.

Regardless, this paper touts the economic benefits to Canadians of exporting our water to the USA, and calls (in violation of the institute’s tax exempt status) for governments to “repeal prohibitions against water exports,” replacing them with “institutional mechanisms for assigning private water rights.”

Well, you get the general idea here. This is why I worry, when I hear people like Ms. Smith want to talk about water – even if it’s not, as she insists, in a private chat with anyone. Although how public the chats are she’s having with the various folks the State Department’s IVLP have lined her up with is subject to a certain amount of interpretation.

Nor do I feel completely reassured by Ms. Smith’s lengthy recitation of the perfectly legitimate reasons she needs to think about water in her Highwood riding – which, as she accurately points out, is alternately parched and flooded every year. You can read the complete list for yourself by clicking here.

Still, kooky conspiracy theorizing or not, I continue to think these guys bear watching – even though I’m sincerely grateful to Ms. Smith for her assessment that I am Alberta’s must-read blogger. This is a view, needless to say, with which I heartily agree. It also makes up – somewhat – for the disappointment of this week’s kind letter about my Peter Lougheed post from Jeffrey Simpson, when he turned out to be the Jeffrey Simpson of Vancouver.

Ms. Smith closes her post by itemizing her expenses and comparing the modest sum ($876.13, including $8 for taxis) to the (not all that much) larger bills reported by Premier Redford when she is on the road. In fairness though, Uncle Sam is not paying for Ms. Redford’s hotel room or her airplane ride.

As for me, my cab ride last night in Lethbridge, Alberta, cost $16, so taxis must be a better deal in D.C. than in “L.A.”

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

7 Comments on "News from Imperial Washington: Alberta Diary’s surprise endorsement (sort of) from afar"

  1. Ken says:

    So Ms. Smith is in Washington on Uncle Sam’s dime to talk about water. Ms. Smith might want to consider a little history. One of Premier Lougheed’s winning campaign slogans was “PRIME is a Crime.”

    PRIME (Prairie Rivers Improvement and Management Exercise) was a study done by the US Army Corps of Engineers and endorsed by the Social Credit administration, to dam various western Canadian prairie rivers to divert water into the US. Sounds like the callow Ms. Smith may be reopening that idea.

    She might want to consider some real world consequences. Mr. Lougheed rightly made the argument that once you open the tap and start diverting or selling water, you can never shut it off.
    The history of the Middle East certainly shows that when a willing seller of water says “no,” or even “no more” they usually end up dead in the resulting war. Selling or diverting water is a toxic idea that only the profoundly innocent or foolish would consider.

  2. david says:

    Well, whether Ms. Smith is personally talking water or not this time, there can be no doubt that the idea of the commodification of water is considered legitimate, desirable and worth pursuing among her supporters and financial backers and in the intellectual circles in which she runs. The Fraser Institute article cited above is but one example. In my view, Mr. Lougheed was right about this issue, and Albertans need to be very wary about the precedents that could be set by a Wildrose government – initially, most likely, within our own economy as water resources are treated as a commodity that can be owned by individuals, later as one that can be traded to other countries in accordance with the party’s position on “property rights.”

  3. ronmac says:

    There was probably a similar program like the IVLP during the heyday of ancient Rome where candidates were plucked from the tribal hinterlands and brought to the imperial capital to be instructed on the virtues of Roman rule.

    Eventually these tours probably would have included a visit to the Coliseum to see the gladiators in action. Or if they were really lucky, to see the lions feeding on rebellious slaves -today’s equivalent of the OWS movement.

    With all this talk about Washington being overrun by socialist third world hordes from Kenya, I was surprized the tour didn’t include a visit to the local Karl Marx Institute.

    But no. Instead Ms. Smith will be visiting the Koch Brothers -or whatever think tank they are calling themselves now. The Koch brothers? Aren’t these guys trying to turn the clock back to the 13th century feudalism?

    More evidence there’s not much difference between Democrats and Republicans these days.

  4. Filostrato says:

    “’…[I]‘ve been sitting in a couple of airplanes all afternoon feeling cranky and increasingly hot (and not in a good way, either)…”

    Why, oh why, did this line immediately bring to mind the opening sequence of Saturday Night Fever?

    I have no idea. I’ve stopped trying to figure out how my mind works. I just let it run and try to keep up.

    Washington DC must be kind of quiet now. I think Congress has decamped and headed off home for the election run-up (or down) and the Big Two are on the road.

    And water, bulk export or diversion, is being talked about, make no mistake, because we all know that The Wars of the Future Will Be Fought over Water. And where there’s war, there’s money to be made – as long as you lack a conscience.

  5. Lars says:

    …The disappointment of this week’s kind letter about my Peter Lougheed post from Jeffrey Simpson, when he turned out to be the Jeffrey Simpson of Vancouver.

    Never look a gift horse in the mouth, David. A nice comment from any Jeffrey Simpson is still honest praise. But I find myself fascinated by the idea that different Canadian cities each has its own Jeffrey Simpson. Is “Jeffrey Simpson” sort of a municipal office, with different incumbents in different cities across the nation? Or is it more of a franchise? How does one go about becoming a “Jeffrey Simpson”?

  6. Sam Gunsch says:

    On the evidence out there about Wildrose/Smith and the PC’s, your blood should run cold re water sales and market fundamentalists…

    see at link below… Danielle Smith (1998) “Property owners should likewise be compensated for ‘takings’ through zoning and regulatory restrictions.”

    ‘regulatory restrictions.” and water :
    Think reductions to irrigators water withdrawals/licenses to leave more water for in-stream flow to protect the rivers’ life. Which if climate change happens to be based on settled-science… just might be an issue.

    If Wildrose and Redford’s PC’s share Smith’s views as described at the PDF (link below) then Alberta’s irrigation oligarchs will rather easily be able to extort huge amounts of taxpayer dollars in the event that Alberta’s southern rivers need greater flow to protect fisheries.

    These southern power brokers no doubt delivered a lot to Wildrose capturing rural southern ridings… they knew what they were buying.

    The news so far on water policy is not good… in Alberta both the PC’s, the Wildrose and the odd AB ENGO or two believe there is merit in water markets, i.e. in making water a commodity, and entrenching property rights for water license holders. Smith’s ideology circa 1998 keeps getting more supporters as the neo-cons/market fundamentalists overwhelm the public good.

    [PDF]
    What is the Future for Agriculture in Rocky View? – A responsible …
    action-for-agriculture.8m.com/vol6no2.pdf
    File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – Quick View
    NEWSLETTER. What is the Future for Agriculture in Rocky View? …. Need to Protect Private Property Rights. By M. Danielle Smith, Managing Director, CanPRRl …

  7. iddybiddyspider says:

    Dig a little deeper sir. The right, wing tea party, libertarian organization types that make up the the membership of the “U.S. International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP)” are indeed picking up most of Ms. Smith’s costs for this indoctrination visit.

    “The costs are covered by the US Department of State, and they estimate the expense at $9,080 US for the 21-day program.” http://www.wildrose.ca/leader/day-5-washington-dc-whiskey-is-for-drinking-water-is-for-fighting/

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