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Redford should be winning the popularity contest

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  |  Posted: Saturday, Jan 18, 2014 06:00 am

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Premier Alison Redford this week was named among Canada’s least popular premiers. An Angus Reid poll suggested only Manitoba’s Greg Selinger and Newfoundland’s Kathy Dunderdale are less popular.

Politics is a popularity contest, which doesn’t always accurately reflect the skill or accomplishments of leaders. Redford is a perfect example.

Redford, a Queen’s counsel, is a very smart cookie, highly intelligent and maybe is a little impatient with those who struggle to keep up with her.

Redford has her share of detractors, obviously, but has accomplished much for the people of Alberta, particularly as a diplomat. Currently, she’s on a mission to India to drum up business and by all accounts the trip is going well. She met this week with a senior minister responsible for petroleum, and it seems India is interested in direct shipments of bitumen. This is good news for Alberta’s beleaguered oil and gas industry. Even famed recording artist Neil Young was jumping on the anti-tarsands bandwagon this week.

The Northern Gateway pipeline will likely play a huge role in exports to India, or any destination from the West Coast. The talks for this Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline started off rocky, as Redford and her western counterpart Christy Clark didn’t see eye-to-eye on money. However, in November the two seemed to make peace, agreeing to work together to sell the Enbridge project to the people of B.C. This is a major achievement for Redford and probably overlooked by many of her critics. Northern Gateway would open up Asia to Alberta products.

Then there’s the Keystone XL line, that controversial pipeline to head south and supply America with Alberta petroleum products. An important Keystone decision had the misfortune of aligning almost perfectly with the last U.S. presidential election, and of course Barack Obama came out against the pipeline, also opposed by virtually every environmentalist in America.

However, almost immediately after the election, Obama began musing possible support for the pipeline. Redford’s been doing her part by travelling non-stop to Washington and other parts of the U.S. After her fifth trip to Washington in November, Redford said she felt a positive shift in U.S. lawmakers’ opinions on Keystone.

Redford also resurrected the old Alberta premier’s pastime of challenging Ottawa. In late 2013, Redford criticized Prime Minister Stephen Harper for intentionally keeping foreign investment rules nebulous. Harper, who stated haziness is needed for case-by-case analysis of foreign takeovers, was chided by Redford, who said the uncertainty is causing investors to hesitate or, in some cases, leave.

Obviously, Redford would score much better in any Angus Reid poll that graded premiers for their real-world economic accomplishments.


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