A tale of two provinces

Plain Rhetoric
By Bill McQuarrie
March 13, 2018 - 5:00am

ALBERTA PREMIER RACHEL NOTLEY is again acting like the churlish premier she has become as she shifts from attacking B.C.’s wine industry to threatening all B.C. residents with the spectre of limited or no fuel for the province.  

In last week’s Throne Speech, Lt. Gov. Lois Mitchell laid the premier’s cards on the table when she said, “In the past, when workers in our energy industry were attacked and when the resources we own were threatened, Premier Peter Lougheed took bold action.” And elaborated by declaring, “We will not hesitate to invoke similar legislation if it becomes necessary owing to extreme and illegal actions on the part of the B.C. government to stop the pipeline.”

The dark cloud Notley sees for her government is British Columbia’s desire to further research the dangers posed not so much by the pipeline as by the bitumen from the tar sands it will carry to our coast.

They have the oil, we have the tidewater port and Alberta wants the port and a swath of land stretching across B.C. for an expanded pipeline. They don’t want to share the oil revenue, they don’t want to be held responsible for all the costs of a spill and they don’t want us doing a complete environmental assessment of the dangers posed by bitumen. We don’t even know right now if, in fact, bitumen can actually be cleaned up.

It’s all about Alberta and the premier seems willing to launch an inter-provincial trade war designed to punish everyone in B.C. until such time as Ms. Notley gets her bitumen pipeline way.  

Notley claims she is only looking for the attention she feels Alberta isn’t getting but escalates the matter by adding, “that [Alberta’s] tools are at the ready because it is important for Albertans to understand that we are going to stand up to protect the interests of Albertans on this matter.”

It’s rather ironic that in her entitled world, she feels it is extreme and illegal for B.C. to stand up and protect the interests of their citizens.

Well, you have our attention Ms. Notley and if you feel a trade war is a far better alternative to acting like an adult premier, than there is probably little that can be done to satisfy you. Your argument for protecting Albertans will be the exact same rationale applied by other provinces you decide to condemn and attack.

Over the past weeks you’ve bragged of how you are planning a number of initiatives aimed directly at forcing your will upon British Columbians. I wonder, though, if you have considered that, like all wars, trade wars usually involve retaliatory actions that can also hurt the aggressor?  

Imagine for a moment if Alberta’s grain and other farm exports, valued at over $3 billion a year, were denied access to the port Alberta so wishes to send their oil too.  B.C.’s tidewater port is the closest and least expensive way of getting those agricultural products to the foreign markets Alberta depends on.

In oil and gas, Alberta currently sends nearly 2.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas through B.C. every day, of which B.C. uses only 17 per cent. The rest is sold and diverted south from Vancouver to the U.S.  

So, does anyone honestly believe B.C. would graciously continue on Alberta’s behalf to ship the other 200 billion cubic feet of gas to the States while Alberta denies us? That multi billion petro-dollar export from Alberta via B.C. would likely come to an immediate halt and that amounts to some serious and self-inflicted financial heartache for Alberta.

We currently purchase over 20 per cent of Alberta’s total production of gas and diesel and the dollars that generates for Alberta not to mention the oilfield workers who remain employed because of that, is significant. Of course, those jobs and that money vanish under Notley’s planned oil and gas embargo.

I wonder if these supposed brave words from Premier Notley are simply the words of a lost and petulant premier looking to get re-elected as opposed to an adult leader looking to find common ground and solutions. And does Premier Notley honestly feel British Columbians should take the risk of sacrificing their land, waterways and oceans in order to satisfy a politician’s lust for power?