Come on over baby – Really got the bull by the horn – We ain’t fakin’ – Whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on – As sung by Jerry Lee Lewis
With the swearing in of the UCP government in Alberta the issues and theatrics around energy and pipelines have come to the forefront. If you’ve missed the theatrics, here is a quick digest.
Turning off the Taps
- Off the hop, Premier Kenney and his new Energy Minister proclaimed the Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act, AKA the “turn off the taps” legislation.
- The BC Attorney General immediately leapt into action and filed a lawsuit claiming that the legislation was unconstitutional.
- And in further response, the BC Premier asked the federal government as owners of the TransMountain (TMX) pipeline to ship more gasoline down the pipe to ease Vancouver’s gas price ($1.70 per litre) crunch. The feds mumbled something about business opportunities that could be explored.
- And the UCP floated a balloon about removing the overall emissions cap on oilsands. They claimed the cap was just symbolic since emissions were only at 70% of the cap’s limit. Well that got the fed’s attention. They threatened to include insitu projects under the new environmental regulations if the cap was remove. Kenney announced – ‘Oops well that wasn’t really UCP policy after all’.
- The UCP will abolish the Alberta carbon tax when the legislature sits in late May. So then the federal carbon tax will come into force.
- The Saskatchewan Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the federal carbon tax was constitutional so that leaves Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan as “anti-taxers” without a provincial option to avoid the tax. But they promise to fight on to the Supreme Court if necessary
- The Federal Conservative Party has vowed to kill the federal carbon tax if elected in the fall. So clearly the game plan for the ‘anti-taxers’ is to unseat the Liberal government.
- A tanker ban in Northern BC was announced when Trudeau axed Northern Gateway and approved TMX. The House of Commons has approved the legislation and sent it over to the Senate. It bars any shipment of oil products off the northern B.C. coast, but not liquefied natural gas.
- The Senate held a hearing in Edmonton on the oil tanker ban legislation on April 30th.
- Kenney showed up to say the legislation should be scrapped because it holds Alberta hostage and is discriminatory.
- Indigenous promoters of a pipeline arrived to say they would go to the UN because their treaty rights were not observed.
- The Fraser Institute says that Canada lost out on $21 billion in revenue as a result of restricted pipeline access.
- And then Kenney rushed off to Ottawa to address a Senate hearing on a new environmental agency to replace the National Energy Board. He announced that the bill should be re-written or scrapped. The bill dubbed the ‘no more pipelines bill’ opens up Pandora’s Box for endless public consultations and new court challenges. It also removes the power of the new agency to make recommendations, turning decisions into purely political exercises.
- It is likely that the bill will pass with some amendments. The Federal government continues to take the “Try it, you’ll like it! approach”.
- And then Federal Minister Sohi announced a delay in the decision on TMX, pending further Indigenous consultations (read negotiations).
- But the UCP have threatened a provincial referendum on the federal Equalization Program should TMX not proceed.
Yosemite Sam -“Hold it! Don’t anybody move. I gotcha covered”
The impersonation of Yosemite Sam plays well in Alberta. But it can easily be overdone. Canadian public opinion might find Kenney’s lack of concern about climate change unsettling. His threats to go after foreign funders of some the anti-pipeline advocates is good politics at home. But is will undoubtedly help his opponents raise more money.
But he has also played the separation card. He quotes a statistic at 50% of Albertans are interested in separation caused by the Liberal’s anti-energy agenda.
But Canadians will generally be turned off with the ‘fanning the flames” of a national unity crisis. And should TMX not be approved, how can the UCP ‘walk back’ from separation?