It’s an uneven fight.
In the struggle between Alberta and Ottawa, Alberta premier Jason Kenney likely needs the Trudeau Liberals more than they need him.
Kenney is walking a very fine line. He’s a federalist. Who knows, he may even harbour ambitions to return to federal politics some day.
That means Kenney needs to keep the growing Western independence movement – which includes the Wexit wildfire – at bay. But in order to do that, he needs some real, red-meat triumphs on issues that truly matter to Albertans and other Westerners.
Yet for Kenney to chalk up wins on just about any issue that truly infuriates Albertans (and stunts our economic growth), he needs the minority Liberal government to take bold action – action that will not be popular in the three areas in which Liberal support is rooted: the province of Quebec, the Greater Toronto Area and the core of Vancouver.
You can see Kenney’s dilemma. For him to defuse Western alienation, he needs Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to act completely out of character. Liberals never act against their own electoral interests.
Meanwhile, the Liberals will be sure they can hold on to power (and maybe even return to majority) if they simply continue to demonize the West and the oil industry.
For instance, Kenney needs the Trudeau cabinet to approve the $20-billion Frontier oilsands project by February. The project has been OKed by federal and provincial regulators. And the company in charge, Teck Resources of Vancouver, has signed economic development agreements with all 14 First Nations and Metis communities in the region. Teck has even worked out a reclamations schedule that ensures bison herds in the area always have sufficient pasture.
But rather than Ottawa making guarantees on Trans Mountain and Frontier, my guess is the Liberals are much more likely to offer Albertans a couple of billion worth of lollipops – like programs to retrain oil workers to build wind turbines and solar farms.
Kenney met with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland in Edmonton on Tuesday and reportedly laid out a list of wins he needs from the feds.
In addition to approval of oil and gas projects (and a willingness by the Trudeau government to stand up to the inevitable blockades by First Nations and eco-extremists), Kenney wants a repeal of the ban on tankers carrying Alberta oil off B.C.’s northern coast, “significant” changes to the new environmental assessment rules for future megaprojects and credit for the way exports of Alberta oil and gas (which are cleaner than the alternatives from many other countries) help reduce worldwide greenhouse emissions.
Oh, yeah. And Kenney wouldn’t mind a good-faith rebate of $1.72 billion for equalization payments made in 2015 and 2016 when Alberta’s economy was plunging into recession but the province’s contribution to equalization for Quebec and other ‘have-not’ provinces was held at high, fixed amounts.
I know that sounds like a huge ask. Yet all of that is just for starters.
For instance, the equalization rebate would be nice, but that won’t satisfy most Albertans who are tired of paying over $20 billion more to Confederation than they take out each and every year. A revamp of the entire system of fiscal federalism is needed.
And the Liberals not only have to stop obstructing energy projects and musing about “phasing out” fossil fuels, they actually have to create tax incentives to spark new projects and talk up the industry to re-establish investment in the sector.
I can’t imagine the Trudeau Liberals taking even the first steps, much less shifting their entire way of thinking so they can satisfy Kenney’s bigger demands. For every seat the Liberals might eventually win on the Prairies, they would lose three or four elsewhere.
Not gonna happen.https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnis ... lientation
Canada needs the Ottawa to speed up approvals not stall and pass legislation that sends investors to the US. Do that and you can keep your retraining money insult.