Don Martin: Real or hypothetical, Alberta separation angst bound to grow
Alberta separation talk is not intended as a threat. Yet.
It's the sort of grumble which rumbles when Albertans feel they're undervalued as a mere gas tank for Canada's economic engine.
But the man who wants to be Alberta premier if the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion stays above ground told Power Play that the volume of separation talk is suddenly way up and Alberta MPs echo United Conservative leader Jason Kenney's pointed observation.
Real or hypothetical, Alberta separation angst is bound to grow as a result of the Trudeau government's latest actions or, more precisely, inaction.
One week ago today, the Federal Court of Appeal put Alberta's last hope for an ocean-connecting pipeline on ice.
Somehow a government backed by a Justice department packed with hundreds of lawyers failed to contemplate this possibility enough to prepare a response.
Neither did they consider inserting a caveat that the taxpayer's $7.4-billion buy be conditional on clearing the last legal hurdle to construction.
This lack of due diligence has left the prime minister and his mediocre ministerial mouthpiece in big gulp mode, puffing feel-your-pain fog over a province with its economic prosperity at risk.
And until this afternoon, all we heard was a grunt from Alberta premier Rachel Notley after her Justin Trudeau meeting on Wednesday, which suggested there was no federal Plan B that's ready to roll out.
But time is of the essence with both Trudeau and Notley facing voters next year.
No pipeline go-ahead and Jason Kenney cakewalks into the premier's job nine months from now. No pipeline and Trudeau's three surviving MPs in Alberta become electoral road kill next October.
Clearly, while sorting out the messy business of owning a project which may be more permanent pipedream than potential pipeline, the government should swing into action on two fronts.
The zig-zag shipping route out of Burnaby will need a marine risk assessment to ensure the safety of increased tanker traffic fed by the Trans Mountain pipeline.
And opposing First Nations along the route will need a consultation do-over - this time with feeling.
The court has spoken clearly on both these failures and it's unlikely a Supreme Court appeal would yield a different judgement.
So get on with it already.
Albertans made a Faustian bargain to pay hefty carbon taxes in exchange for a vital pipeline connection to an coast.
If that bargain is broken, the gap between Alberta alienation and separation contemplation will narrow - or disappear.
And that's the Last Word.