Albertans want a hand up, not a handout, to cope with hard times
There are two commandments for living in Alberta.
- Oil giveth plenty.
- Oil taketh plenty away.
The high-octane engine of Canada’s economic growth is wheezing on fumes today. There’s been nothing like these layoffs since 1982, when this cub reporter in Calgary watched his starter home lose half its value in less than a year during a foreclosure epidemic.
But there’s a disconnect between how real Albertans view this decimation and the raging political reaction to the pink-slip blizzard.
The son of the National Energy Program’s father heads to Alberta next week. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will reportedly be armed with infrastructure megabucks to make the province feel appreciated.
But while that might be a typical Ottawa response, you simply won’t hear Albertans demanding handouts or make-work billions.
They just want big government out of the way so they can adapt quickly to harsh new realities and prepare for the return of commandment number one.
It’s a unique cultural DNA in Canada.
Other parts of the country look to Ottawa as an economic security blanket.
Struggling General Motors demanded a government investor. Ailing airline manufacturer Bombardier wants multi-level taxpayer billions. In hard-hit London, government paved the way for an armoured vehicle sale to Saudi Arabia, even though merely joking that its rulers can cost you your head.
Albertans don’t protest this largesse to others or their equalization contribution to Confederation.
But their anger goes visceral when they see the rest of Canada trying to obstruct their ability to survive and thrive.
Which brings us to Energy East, the pipeline unleashing so much western angst.
With delays in this pipeline’s approval process announced yesterday following last week’s huffing and puffing opposition from Montreal mayor Denis Coderre, Albertans are understandably furious and frustrated.
Their oilsands motherlode isn’t the nest egg they thought it was and overseas markets for it are being choked off.
What Albertans want and deserve is a fast and reasonable process for securing safe pipeline approval, minus bureaucratic foot-dragging and fresh roadblocks.
If that happens, oil will giveth to Albertans again. After all, when it comes to their resources, Albertans are without equal in resourcefulness.
And that’s the Last Word.