I am proud to have called this great province of Alberta home for my entire life and I will be happy to call it home for the rest of my life. Alberta was built by hard-working people who were willing to take huge risks to build our agriculture and oil-based economy into part of Canada’s financial cornerstones.
The process has allowed Alberta to contribute billions of dollars into an equalization fund so other unproductive regions of Canada can keep their financial heads above water. These days the oil industry has been hamstrung by low oil prices driven even lower because of a lack of access to Eastern Canada, the United States, and an oil-thirsty Asian market.
Eastern Canada has chosen to oppose the Energy East pipeline and now joins a growing list of blockades to Alberta’s domestic and foreign oil market access. The West Coast was declared off-limits to oil tanker traffic soon after we got our new Prime Minister and Keystone XL died a long, painful and inexplicable death at the hands of the Obama administration. Meanwhile the East Coast is allowed to welcome foreign oil from countries with questionable human rights and environmental records to their ports.
Now we have an NDP government in Alberta wherein most of their key players and advisers displayed no love for the oil industry during their time in the wilderness of left wing opposition to pipelines. Rachel Notley is now forced to defend the interests of an industry to which she has a fundamental conflict of interest based upon her party of choice-the same party that supported a complete shutdown of the oil industry at their recent national convention.
Notley attempted to distance herself from the Leap Manifesto, but she is still part of an intrinsically left wing political party that is no friend to the oil industry. She will impose a carbon tax in 2017 that was never mentioned during her 2015 campaign and she still has three more years to disrupt our stable power grid in pursuit of an unreliable and heavily subsidized green energy program.
These days the oil industry in Alberta has been painted as a bad guy. For example, Notley’s comment last September about Alberta as an “embarrassing cousin” when it comes to environmental issues (despite the most stringent regulations in the world) does not bode well for our future in this province while under her administration.
The highly guarded approach to new pipelines by Prime Minister Trudeau is eerily familiar to Obama’s position and may also not bode well for Alberta, particularly when his senior adviser is Gerald Butts, an environmental activist and Trudeau’s university buddy from their days as English majors at McGill.
These are indeed not good times for Alberta’s oil industry, despite their vital link to the economy of the entire country, given the current political leadership at the federal and provincial level. The other major industry in this province is agriculture and the decision by Earl’s Restaurants to purchase their beef products from a U.S. source is another case of perception vs reality.
Cattle producers in Alberta have been singled out by Earl’s as less ethical than their American counterparts, despite the high standards already in place in this province. The idea that an American producer does a better job than Alberta producers is a slap in the face to our farmers and ranchers.
Ultimately the livestock from either source end up on a consumer’s plate and there is little difference about how they got there, despite the best efforts of Earl’s to give our producers a lecture on this subject.
Throw in another lecture about farm safety with the imposition of WCB regulations from the Notley regime and we have people who do not truly understand this province and want Alberta to apologize for our major industries.
These are not good days for Alberta, but the people who built and truly understand this province have been through bad times before and will prevail in the long run. Albertans are proud, tough people who will never apologize for the very reasons that make Alberta great.
Jim Sutherland is a local freelance writer.