If the Premier won't stand up for Alberta, who will?
Posted on July 16, 2015 by Greg Clark
This week we have the curious situation of the Premier of Saskatchewan standing up for Alberta. When Brad Wall called out our Premier for effectively giving Quebec a veto over oil shipments, it calls into question who will stand up for our province if not our own Premier.
Let's say the government of Alberta didn’t like Quebec's land use framework for new hydroelectric dams, and because of this we won't allow trains coming across our province to carry Quebec aerospace technology, dairy exports, or pharmaceutical products.
That would be a ridiculous position and the Premier of Quebec would rightly be up in arms.
Quebec's seven conditions for allowing (or vetoing) a pipeline that is in Canada's national interest is the same. Interprovincial pipeline projects follow a clear federal regulatory processes. If that process is followed I expect Energy East pipeline will go ahead. With or without Quebec's approval.
I worry our Premier is ceding Alberta’s position on the national stage by bowing to other interests rather than defending Alberta.
Let me be clear, Alberta can and must do better on the environment. I have long argued that addressing carbon emissions from large-scale industrial processes is not only an obligation, but an opportunity for targeted economic diversification our province. The good news is much work is already being done to reduce carbon emissions by industry and Alberta universities, but success at doing so must not be a prerequisite for pipeline approvals.
My bigger worry is that our Premier's abdication of her duty to defend Alberta's interests may be the start of a theme. With the federal election just three months away the Alberta NDP seems to be doing everything in their power to support their national comrades. While some will argue the early actions taken by the NDP constitute bold action, to me they've done the easy and obvious things. Just like Jim Prentice did when he sold off government airplanes or cancelled new license plates.
Expect very little governing in Alberta until after the federal election. We won't hear about the true state of our provincial finances nor will we get any answers on royalties and we won't see a provincial budget until after October 19th.
Is that in the best interests of Albertans or does it help Thomas Mulcair and the federal NDP?
And make no mistake, Thomas Mulcair is no friend of Alberta. His statements about the Energy East project are willfully ignorant (for example, at no time was seismic testing done in beluga whale breeding grounds) and only serve to hurt Alberta's interests. Perhaps he would change his tune if Quebec was only to receive Alberta transfer payments that came from carbon-neutral sources. There wouldn't be any, but they're welcome to them.
Alberta’s Premier must put Alberta first. If Thomas Mulcair becomes Canada's next Prime Minister will our Premier stand up to him? The evidence to date tells us the answer is no.
An Alberta Party government has the benefit of not being connected to any federal party, so there would never be a question about who's interests we're looking out for. And while we are proud Canadians, our #1 job is to represent Alberta's interests.
Can the same thing be said of our new Premier?