Guess what two words we’ll no longer hear escape the premier’s lips.
Here’s a clue: the first one is social and the second is licence. Yep, that cute little catchphrase has run its predictable course and fallen victim to the mean-spirited selfishness of real politics.
It was a non-starter from the start, of course. Bringing in carbon taxes, jacking up emission standards, putting the boot into Alberta’s coal-mining communities all predicated on some desperate longing for love from the rest of Canada was akin to playing poker with upturned cards while everyone else keeps theirs tight to the chest.
Of course it went down well in Ottawa, especially as Our Justin, along with hundreds of his closest bosom buddies, was about to nip off to a high-profile climate change conference in Paris and needed something solid to attach his simpering speeches to. Heck, Alberta’s climate change battling plan even got a shout out from then U.S. President Barack Obama at one point. Rachel Notley probably blushed with pride.
Oh, but those days are long gone. The rest of Canada took our social licence and still told us to stuff our pipelines where the oil doesn’t flow. So what if the energy industry is the biggest economic advantage this country enjoys: as long as people can feel morally superior while enjoying the proceeds then the dumping on Alberta will merrily continue.
First on deck was Quebec and its effective torpedoing of TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline. Now it’s B.C.’s turn with its constitutionally illegal moves solely aimed at delaying the Trans Mountain extension to such an extent that they hope Kinder Morgan will also decide this whole charade is just far too much bother.
Throughout this seemingly endless and dreary process our provincial government has naively clung to the hope that the feds would be their stoic ace in the hole. After all the prime minister himself had signed off on such projects. Did these folk never read Alberta’s history in its dealings with Ottawa? Could they not count up the number of seats the federal Grits hold in this province compared to those MPs in Quebec and B.C.? Did the name Trudeau not trigger a few alarm bells in someone’s thick noggin?
Oh well, just like the prairie springtime that finally arrives after you’ve lost all hope, a vague understanding that we’ve been played for suckers eventually has crossed our premier’s suddenly furrowed brow.
So, in a move far too late and far too insipid, we’re paying homage to Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath by banning the importation of B.C. wine into Wild Rose land. That’ll show ‘em.
Meanwhile our prime minister is far too busy flitting about taking selfies and no doubt feeling someone else’s pain while squeezing out a few more tortured tears to actually stand up for the very constitution his dad signed into being back in 1982.
It’s time not only to take off the gloves but also to slip on a pair of knuckledusters if Alberta’s going to get this mess sorted.
Banning wine is all fine and dandy but it is the prime minister we need to be pressuring and to do that we need to resort to the real politics that everyone else is happily playing in this game at Alberta’s expense.
The premier should call a press conference – not giving Trudeau any advance warning – and announce an immediate reversal on the imposition of provincial carbon taxes alongside a re-ignition and expansion of Alberta’s coal industry as well as a general loosening of regulations on oil patch emissions.
There’d be a call incoming from Ottawa before Notley even sat down.
Chris Nelson is a long-time journalist. His columns on Alberta politics run monthly in the St. Albert Gazette.