In the federal election, the main Liberal strategy was to squeeze the NDP out of Quebec. They were not counting on many seats between Winnipeg and the BC lower mainland. For those of the certain age, the Keith Davey’s catch phase of “screw the West… we will take the rest” might still be in your memory banks. But the Bloc Quebecois’ ‘Quebec first’ denied the Liberals a majority. Suddenly separation thoughts were growing in the nation and the Prime Minister has to hit reset on “sunny ways”.
Much of the country, including Albertans, are shocked at the level of unhappiness in the West after the election. Albertans and Saskatchewanites were happy to punt the Liberals with no real thought of voting strategically to get a seat at the cabinet table. The outcome of the election started a rush by 240,000 Facebook users to join “Wexit” groups. Twitter lit its hair on fire with various separation themes. And you can get hats, lawn signs and decals online if you wish.
Just days after the election, another hand grenade went off! The CEO of Encana announced the company’s plan to move to the US. Encana has a treasured spot in Alberta history. In 1883, CPR railway workers struck natural gas while digging a water well at Medicine Hat. Another part of the company’s DNA came from a 1970’s era energy company formed by the Alberta government. But after a couple of business iterations, Encana bet its whole future on natural gas. It turns out that is a tough business to be in these days. So, 136 years later – while it committed to continuing its current portfolio in Canada – the company changed its name to Ovintiv (not to be confused with the nasal spray) and set sail for the US.
The Liberals were huddled on Wellington Street in Ottawa when that bomb went off. Apparently, it was as stun grenade because the Prime Minister couldn’t find his words. The response was left to a communication staffer in the Natural Resources department.
This weird silence caused angst in Alberta when compared to the Prime Minister’s ethics violation in support of Quebec’s rogue engineering company, SNC Lavalin.
Alberta’s Premier Kenney was apparently hit with some grenade fragments. He quickly blamed the Liberals for Encana’s departure. Liberal policies, as destructive as they are to the energy sector, aren’t really the only culprits here. The Premier might be out of touch with North American shale economics or just happy to cast blame.
Severely Normal Albertans should be more than a bit worried by all of this! What exactly did the federal silent treatment mean? Is it useful for the Premier to use the moment to politically weaponize what is something of a desperation business decision? Does using this platform to make demands he knows the Prime Minister won’t fulfill reduce his credibility?
Severely Normal Albertans ought to worry – there are more fragile companies in the energy sector, and no sign of the bomb squad yet. Until they arrive, watch out for verbal shrapnel from all directions.