A perilous social licence for pipeline
Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017 10:58 am
Forget all the recent bluster and accompanying blather emanating from the Alberta legislature about the pros and cons of Saskatchewan’s ‘tax more, spend less’ budget.
Sure, it gave the premier and the opposition a nice piñata to bash about in regards to differing approaches in fixing the gaping maw that’s otherwise known as the $10.3-billion provincial deficit we’re merrily spending our way through here in wild rose country.
But, honestly, that was just an undercooked appetizer, served up on the freeloading inter-provincial political buffet. No, the real meal deal – the one you can truly sink those teeth into - is currently nicely baking and browning on high heat and will be served in all of its delicious culinary splendor once May 9 rolls around. This mouth-watering main course is not from those easterly flat lands we pledge to love so much - although we only go back at Christmas and funerals - but from Lotusland itself, that wondrous place over those Rockies to the west of us. In more polite circles it’s known as British Columbia.
Now, if it weren’t for Alberta’s near-term future at stake, it would be fun to pull up a chair, grab a cold one along with the bag of popcorn, and settle down to watch next month’s B.C. provincial election results.
To truly enjoy this show, we must back up a tad. There we will find that dynamic duo of Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau doing a sweet deal regarding future pipeline expansion in this country. Our homegrown heroine Rachel played her part well enough, slapping upon us mouth-breathers a much derided carbon tax. Mr. Selfie himself was on deck to quickly respond: ‘Oh thank you so very, very much. Should we get a photo to celebrate? Are there any Syrian refugees or panda cubs around?’
This friendly political ping-pong match reached its finale with our go-to lass Rachel, beaming like a Super Bowl cheerleader, blurting out how her carbon levy had been so important to this ‘nudge, nudge, say no more’ agreement in which federal approval was granted to the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline. From this political mountaintop she magnanimously declared, “Oh yes, fellow Albertans, this glorious carbon levy has indeed given us social licence.”
Sadly, however, politics is rarely that simple. It transpires Rachel’s fellow B.C. New Democrats didn’t quite grasp this Moses from the Mount moment. Actually, such chatter about Alberta’s newfound social licence means diddlysquat in Vancouver and Victoria. Nope, both the NDP, which, at 36 per cent, is narrowly leading the polls over Premier Christy Clark’s Liberals, and the third place Greens, who’ve a solid 19 per cent of the electorate on board, are adamantly opposed to the Kinder Morgan pipeline carrying Alberta crude to the Pacific.
Of course the pipeline approval remains a federal decision, but with environmentalists in B.C. already promising to fight its construction a newly elected New Democrat government riding shotgun alongside such protests would prove a major headache for both Notley and Trudeau. Normally during election campaigns the party bigwigs in nearby provinces are only too happy to send smiling volunteers off to work on their kissing cousins’ campaigns. Not this time. Any Alberta New Dem who decides to do a bit of electioneering on behalf of the B.C. lot has been told to pack up their desk for good if they currently have a provincial government job.
Isn’t politics wonderful - all that hard won social licence could vanish in a puff of orange smoke and with it any chance that the NDP could hold onto power in our next provincial vote.
Go Christy Clark – Alberta’s NDP are counting on you.