Don Martin: On energy, distrusting a PM named Trudeau is in Albertans' DNA
Published Thursday, April 12, 2018 5:52PM EDT
You need a double-helix wrapping of Alberta DNA to appreciate the visceral anger raging against British Columbia for its legally-suspect Trans Mountain pipeline stalling tactics.
After living there for 22 years, including surviving the first Trudeau’s National Energy Program, I’ve found it painfully easy to understand why the Alberta legislature is seething with all-party fury and willing to throw interprovincial collegiality under the bus to attack British Columbians.
The showdown over this vital pipeline, put on hold because the builder is fed up with the B.C. government fiddling about with regulatory speed bumps and court delays, goes to the very heart of Albertan fears that they can’t get a fair shake from a Confederation they’ve generously financed.
Alberta usually asks very little of Ottawa, beyond that it be left alone. It has given hundreds of billions of dollars more to the rest of Canada than it got back without complaint. It has never been classified a ‘have-not’ province nor received a nickel of equalization since 1963.
But right now, it is feeling helpless, vulnerable, mad as hell and it won’t take it much longer.
That’s why Alberta is plotting to turn down gas and oil exports to British Columbia to punish motorists and homeowners with higher energy prices.
It’s a very un-Albertan antagonistic approach, but consider the context for this vented frustration.
Having lost the Northern Gateway and Energy East pipelines to environmental or Quebec opposition, Alberta has one final pipeline option for its oil to collect world pricing via a Canadian connection to the sea.
And compared to ploughing a pipeline through boreal forest or skirting Montreal, the Trans Mountain expansion tracks the footprint of an existing pipeline and has support from about 50 First Nations.
It’s almost a no-brainer.
But time is running out. This week’s Kinder Morgan stand-down decision will, unless there’s a successful provincial and federal rescue mission, become a cancellation in exactly 50 days.
Feeling betrayed by the Constitution, impatient with federal foot-dragging and threatened by a Texas-based corporation having second thoughts, a furious Alberta now feels it must go it alone and buy the security of owning a pipeline to Pacific tankers.
That’s because Albertans who know their history aren’t betting on Ottawa coming to their energy sector’s salvation.
After all, distrusting a prime minister named Trudeau is in their DNA.
That’s the Last Word…