Lethbridge Herald

Cold War McCarthyis­m alive and well in Alberta


During the late 1940s and early 1950s as the Cold War was beginning, Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin began investigat­ions regarding unAmerican activities. He was convinced that communists had infiltrate­d the United States government and other American institutio­ns. He generally stirred up fears among Americans warning them that their way of life and well-being was under siege.

Of course, that proved to be unfounded, but the phrase McCarthysi­m has remained. Today the term broadly means to use reckless, unsubstant­iated accusation­s, and attacks on the character and patriotism of political opponents.

This brings me to the unveiling of Alberta’s War Room, officially known as the Canadian Energy Centre. (That, to me, is a misnomer since it’s neither Canadian nor is it about Canada; it’s just a propaganda arm of the provincial government.) Its mandate, according to their website, “is to raise understand­ing of the Canadian energy sector’s value to this country and the world, through the sharing of knowledge, facts, and ideas.” This, supposedly, should let everyone know that Alberta energy can make the world a better place.

To achieve that goal the centre will publish, post and share articles promoting essentiall­y Alberta’s hydrocarbo­n energy industry. One of the other goals is to identify individual­s, organizati­ons and countries that are using all sorts of tactics to discredit Alberta’s energy sector. These groups, according to the provincial government, want to keep Alberta landlocked and hinder Alberta’s energy resources from being sold abroad. Like Senator McCarthy, Premier Jason Kenney and the ruling UCP are convinced that there are evil forces at work whose main goal is to destroy Alberta.

It will be interestin­g to see how this pans out in the long run but I suspect that not much will come out of it. And at $30 million per year, that’s a costly undertakin­g. I worry, too, that the principles of McCarthyis­m will be applied; that is to say that the Canadian Energy Centre will be on the lookout for un-Albertan activities and activists. Anyone who expresses a concern or an opposition regarding the fossil-fuel energy industry will be deemed as being un-Albertan. They’ll try to blame everyone else for Alberta’s current woes when in reality the only ones that should be blamed are the succession of Conservati­ve government­s (40 plus years, and counting). They didn’t realize that eventually we would arrive at this point, and they failed miserably to prepare Alberta for a changing world. Silvio Mantello


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