Crude Observations

For the Right Incentive

Well there I was, all ready to do my annual Election Review and Forecast (it is annual right? It certainly feels like it is) when I realized it might actually be premature and that there were other events and developments occurring around me that might be both more relevant and interesting to all of you. I mean, I know that the vagaries of our insular, parochial approach to politics and the world resonates so very strongly outside of our borders, but come on people, we just had our final debate last night and I haven’t had the time to process it yet, being of course too busy watching Canada’s new darling Leyla Annie Fernandez gut her way into the US Open Women’s Tennis Final as well as Tom Brady and Dak Prescott duel in the opening game of the NFL season.


I hear it was a great debate too, featuring more moderators than debaters, lots of pithy commentary, zippy one-liners, one-line zingers and all sorts of fun and games. Early reports are that the major party leaders didn’t “damage” themselves and that the small parties (at least those that held at least one seat, which is the price of admission) acquitted themselves admirably as always since they have absolutely nothing to lose.


At any rate, this whole endless election cycle has got me somewhat down since once this Federal nonsense is over, we have some serious decisions to make over at because we will be left with only one day to decide if we are really going to trick our good friend Roger Baker into running for mayor of YYC. Like it shouldn’t be that hard a decision – all the cool kids are doing it. Well at least 28 and counting are, what’s another name, right? Although we’d hate to split the “pointless campaign” vote too much.


So with that said and these imposing decisions looming, I figured that this week the blog should try to be a little more light-hearted. For that reason I am going to bring it back to Alberta and our current fourth wave of the pandemic. Yes, yes. I know that this is anything but light, but bear with me.


Last Friday, as most of the people who care about these things will know, our Fearless LeaderTM, Jason Kenney (the hardest working man in Canadian politicsTM) came back from his 3 week summer vacation (Best Summer EverTM) and held a press conference to announce measures to address the health care crisis caused by the rapid spread of the COVID Delta variant in the province, primarily amongst the unvaccinated (hesitant, lazy, anti and otherwise).


Eager to appeal to both the unvaccinated masses and the minority freedumb caucus, Mr. Kenney announced a new set of vaccine incentives which involved cash payments of a cool $100 to any unvaccinated bro who went ahead and got vaccinated in the next 4 weeks. Oh, and he also announced that bars were to stop serving alcohol at 10 PM, presumably to deny late-dining lounge lizards the opportunity to infect fellow bar patrons after last call and, presumably, channel his inner John Lithgow from Footloose and stop those damn kids from dancing.


This policy announcement of course went over like a proverbial Lead Zeppelin.




Well, see, here in the province we are currently at 70% fully vaccinated since vaccines became available eight months ago and, while we lag other provinces, the people who are vaccinated are sufficiently satisfied with doing their part to fight the pandemic that they are rightly and completely offended that the government sees fit to punish them and reward the buffoons who are the primary reason this pandemic continues to be extended ad infinitum with all its attendant restrictions, health care crises, fears of school, mandates, masks and, if things continue the way they are, a guaranteed Worst Fall EverTM.


Look, I know it’s only 100 Canadian dollars, but hey, J – I am fully vaccinated as is my family. Where is my payola? My reward? My incentive? Joe Bag of Covid Donuts who couldn’t be bothered for 8 months gets a C-Note and I get locked up in my house because my kid is a close contact at school with Jane Sack of Unvaxxed Fries’ COVID positive kid? How the F does that compute?


You’ve got all the wrong incentives to all the wrong people.


How do I know this? Well, let’s go through the laundry list of the various programs.


First we had personal responsibility and civic duty. That appears to have got us going fairly steadily upwards, especially when combined with lockdown exhaustion and general levels of virus fear.


Then we implemented a lottery. Three draws of a $1 million dollar grand prize to anyone vaccinated plus a host of other happy fun times prizes like flights people can’t take, passes to the Stampede that anyone could get for free and what was the other one, oh yeah, the super cool Rocky Mountaineer train trip through the Rockies (which I really wanted to win TBH).


Then there was the weird “outdoors” package consisting of hunting and fishing licenses and park passes. This one seemed just a little too specific – could we not have included these prizes in the general lottery? Or was there some market research done that said that Southern Alberta fly-fishers were statistically likely to sign up for a vaccine when presented with their own private lottery that included an allotment of non catch and release brown trout free of whirling disease?


Finally we have the slap in the face “hundy J-Bux” to the recalcitrant. The equivalent of four packs of Player’s Light. And no one even smokes anymore.


Humbly, I would venture that while incentives are good, absent a vaccine passport, we have it all wrong.


Not only are the various vaccine incentives not reading the room in who they are targeting, they are both insufficient monetarily and don’t have enough juice to motivate someone to sign up for a super, ultra, mega-painful, invasive medical procedure by a highly volatile experimental cocktail of unproven medication that makes most men sterile and is probably best used on livestock. Oh wait, wrong “medicine”. Heh. Sorry.


No, I think we need a package of incentives to get all these freedom loving tough guys (and others) to go get a tiny pin prick in the arm so they can do their part to making themselves and others safe and go back to vaping or whatever it is that floats their boat.


So accordingly, here are my suggestions for the top 10 targeted incentives that I 100% guarantee will get us 100% coverage in vaccinations. I propose this to be in the form of a lottery, your guess is as good as mine which prize is the Grand Prize and which one is the booby prize.


A week in my shoes


That’s right, the winner of this prize will get to become acting Premier of Alberta for a week, preside over caucus, spar with the NDP during Question Period, drink whiskey at the Sky Palace bar and grill and, subject to cursory review, develop, implement and enact 3 bills that the government promises not to rescind for at least a month. What self-respecting Albertan, never mind vaccine hesitant troglodyte, wouldn’t want the opportunity to put their stamp on the province? Think of the possibilities! Pro-pipeline bills. A bill to redirect carbon tax payments to your bank account. Lowering the voting age. Proportionate representation. Bars allowed to serve liquor until 10:30. A new Alberta anthem. It’s endless fun! Of course with the good comes the bad. The winner will be required to hold at least one COVID update press conference AND answer questions from the press, in both official languages of course.


A new car!


Who doesn’t like a new car? And to make it even sweeter, this is the ultimate driving machine. No, not a BMW M8 – are you crazy? Do you think we’re made of money here? No. This one of a kind vehicle is the ultimate symbol of support for Alberta and the oil and gas industry we all know and love. That’s right, it’s a Tesla Model X retrofitted with an internal combustion diesel engine. That’s right, a formerly electric vehicle that burns sweet, sweet petrol. It comes with the emissions control system already bypassed so drivers can blow coal at unsuspecting pedestrian admirers and bike lane denizens.


Free beer


That’s right. You read it correctly. Free beer. Beer that isn’t subject to some bizarre 10 PM curfew either. And there’s a lot of it. But there’s a catch. You can only share it with other vaccinated Albertans (there is a QR code you have to scan to open each can. Oh, and it’s all the leftover Stampede-branded Budweiser so it might be a bit skunky. It is highly recommended that you consume this beer (or at least refrigerate it) as soon as possible.


Hockey lover’s package


Who doesn’t love hockey, right? This package is a hockey lover’s dream come true. It’s a one-month tour of every Pee-wee, Bantam, A, AA, AAA, Junior, Major Junior, AHL, NHL and NHL old-timers hockey barns in the great province of Alberta from humble rural hamlets like Taber to the shiny skyscrapers and urban sophistication of Calgary to the actual new and taxpayer funded rink in Edmonton. The winner of this prize receives an all expenses paid province-wide tour in a slightly used blue Dodge Ram, attend dozens of games (entry requiring a vaccine of course), eat hot dogs, drink shitty coffee and sleep in the truck on the side of the road. Oh, and to make it even better, your driver is none other than Calgary hickey legend and slightly unhinged political commentator Theo Fleury. And to top it all off, the last two weeks of the trip you will be accompanied by none other than former prime minster and Jason Kenney puppet master Stephen Harper who will spend his time with you retelling in excruciating detail the history of hockey in Canada. And word of warning, you better pay attention, because there will be a test. Not a COVID one. A written one. And maybe an oral one. Just because.




I know, I know. I said that money doesn’t work as an incentive. But in this case I think it will. I’m talking about $100,000 in Canadian Tire money. Can it get anymore Canadian than that? And I’m not talking about some garbage Triangle Card pre-loaded with $100k in coupons. Not a chance. What we have here is the genuine article. $100,000 of 10, 25 and 50 cent bills as well as larger denominations all fished out of thousands of junk drawers, jars wallets and back pockets across this glorious province. While not transferable or redeemable for cash and requiring an actual purchase to be used in conjunction with, imagine how many hunting rifles, exercise bikes, batteries, wiper blades, cans of paint, gardening supplies, mosquito coils, Halloween decorations, Christmas decorations, paper towels and mouse traps you can buy.


Private Vacation NFT Tour Guide


This one is pretty special. It’s an individually unique guide to all the vacation hot spots frequented by Jason Kenney and other members of the UCP who have managed out-of-country travel while the rest of us sit at home waiting to find out what a great time they had. Featuring a personal introduction and autographed by Mr. Kenney himself, this guide will provide information and reviews on all the hotspots including Hawaii, Los Angeles, mysterious places in Europe and other places I am not allowed to mention. Better even than Trip Advisor or Yelp, this super secret guidebook will show the intrepid would-be traveller places to stay where people can’t track you down by GPS, Find my iPhone or Snap Maps. Not even the Trivago guy will know where you are. This prize would be especially useful for the anti-vax protestor fresh off harassing cancer patients and health care workers in front of hospitals and need to get out of town, quickly.


Share Certificates


This one is more of a collector’s item than anything else, but the lucky winner here is going to receive one of five equally allocated genuine share certificates from the governments ill-fated and ill-advised equity investment in the Keystone XL project. The holder will be officially recognized as the owner via director resolution so on the off chance the project is revived, they will be a beneficial* owner! How about that! These framed beauties will serve as a brilliant reminder of what could have been and what actually was into perpetuity.

*It should be noted that as of this writing, legal has yet to determine if the loan guarantees provided as part of the equity investment are still valid and if they attach to the shares themselves. Should the recipient receive a call from either TC Energy or its syndicae of lenders regarding a cash call, the government of Alberta expressly denies any recourse or obligation to fund such request. You are on your own.


100 Physical Barrels of Oil


What could be more Albertan than 100 barrels of oil delivered directly to your backyard. Be the talk of the neighbourhood and the envy of all your friends. These freshly painted barrels each contain 42 gallons of genuine, Alberta/WCS heavy oil primarily processed from oilsands bitumen. Each barrel has a current value of about USD$57 (that’s $1 million Canadian right?) so the total price could literally be worth hundreds, if not billions of dollars if you just wait long enough. Word to the wise though, you may want rotate and paint those barrels every once in a while to make sure they don’t rust and start leaking. Those oil spills can on occasion be controversial and somewhat damaging to the local environment. Don’t let your dog drink it either.


Bus trip outta here!


Inspired by none other than the great Ralph Klein and his oft-cited paid bus rides to Vancouver for Calgary welfare recipients, we are proposing to provide 50,000 one-way travel tickets (value currently undetermined since bus service is currently not running – thanks a bunch Greyhound!) to the winners of this draw to the out of province city of their choice. The best part? You don’t even have to be vaccinated to win! In fact, we would prefer it if you weren’t thank you very much. Talk about an inspired way to export your problems and solve a vaccination crisis in one fell swoop! The only requirements are that you never breathe a word how you got to Vancouver/Regina/Winnipeg/Kenora/Toronto/Cornwall and that you promise never to come back, unless you are vaccinated.


Your own oil well!


That’s right. This is the chance for you to become an oil baron just like John D. Rockefeller and get started on your way to global domination. Plucked from the government’s own collection of oil wells that they have collected from bankrupt oil and gas companies throughout the years, these oil wells come pre-cased, occasionally have a rusted out old pump jack on them and, if you are lucky, one of either a tank or a pipeline to gather and ship your production, assuming anything other than rusty, sludgy and polluted produced water ever comes out of them. There are literally thousands of these prizes up for grabs. Just think if you have a gusher! You’ve gotta be smarter than all those dumb oil companies who just walked away from these wells because they couldn’t be bothered to clean them up. What are you waiting for? Your fortune awaits!


Well, there you have it.


My vaccine lottery incentive program. Get vaccinated and get entered, except for those prizes that don’t require a vaccination. 100% guaranteed to help us get to 100% vaccination levels of the population that remains in Alberta.


Or, we could just introduce a vaccine passport and skip the whole thing.




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