Alberta’s pipeline battle is just beginning to heat up
It’s said if you live long enough, then nothing should ever come as a surprise.
So I’ll assume I’ve a few more years kicking around this Earth of ours because, for the life of me, having this province’s economic future squarely in the hands of a Liberal prime minister and an NDP premier isn’t something I ever saw coming.
But you dance with the one who brought you here on the Prairies, so we’ll have to make do with the somewhat unlikely duo of Justin Trudeau and Rachel Notley to spearhead Canada’s hopes of ever seeing our crude oil flow through a brand-spanking new pipeline on its merry way to foreign markets.
The unlikely trio of Trudeau, Notley and Canada Oil is going to get pummelled and punished in the months to come
Obviously, the fix was in before Ottawa announced it would back two pipeline proposals, while shelving a third. The gushing praise Trudeau showered upon a beaming Notley — suggesting if the bad, old Tories were in power in Canada, then the whole thing would have died a death — was a few adjectives too much. The province gets on board with a carbon tax that ratchets up to 50 bucks a tonne by 2022 and it gets the pipeline nod, is how it worked out.
Still, that’s politics. Of course, one of the trio of proposals had to be sacrificed, but, as Meat Loaf once sang, Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad.
But there’s a problem with this “you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours” deal making. And it’s a whopper.
You see things have changed among those who used to just accept this back room deal stuff. It doesn’t fly any more with so many people. Suddenly, we have a Tweeter-in-Chief as leader of the so-called free world and “lock her up” is the viral YouTube smash hit.
Which means the unlikely trio of Trudeau, Notley and Canada Oil is going to get pummelled and punished in the months to come.
Proving he’s not entirely a dead duck president, Barack Obama didn’t help matters one iota in ordering the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to effectively halt construction of the controversial pipeline project at Standing Rock in North Dakota.
That site had become a North American litmus test for natives and environmentalists, and this victory will be a spur to those now desperate to pounce on Canada’s pipeline projects the way a vulture swoops down on carrion.
Give Notley credit. She’s already off to B.C. to try and sway the various groups — including her provincial New Democratic cousins — who oppose the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which will bear the brunt of the upcoming storm.
If it weren’t so vital for Canada’s long-term future, it would be almost amusing watching someone from the New Democrats fighting Big Oil’s corner against those who used to rally around the same daft flag a few short years ago.
But it isn’t funny. Nope, it will be excruciating for her and for the rest of us because there’s not a hope in hell those activists who’ve kicked up such a fuss for the last couple of years about this project will back down just because Notley talks nice and sweet.
Throw enough money at B.C. Premier Christy Clark and she’ll limp aboard the bus, but that won’t matter, because this is going to be Standing Rock with bells on. We’ll have the whole North American protest industry turning up and it will get very ugly.
As premier of Canada, Notley can’t give up — not if she hopes to keep a single seat come next election — but the same can’t be said for our boy wonder prime minister. After all, there aren’t many federal Grit seats in our province.
Would you go to war with Trudeau leading the fight? Will he fix his courage to the sticking place and push this development through, or will he fold like a cheap tent and reverse his pipeline decision?
We shall find out; the battle is about to start.
Chris Nelson is a Calgary writer.
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