Last week Kevin O’Leary threw a hand grenade into Alberta politics when he suggested Premier Notley should step aside and relinquish control to a leader who is willing to soften the landing on Alberta’s economic collapse. O’Leary was immediately attacked by the left-leaning flank of Canadians who were enraged by his statements.
O’Leary likes the spotlight and is well aware Notley has no intentions of stepping down — nor should she, because she was duly elected by very angry Alberta voters who hitched their wagon to any party that could oust the Progressive Conservatives, regardless of the consequences. It is likely Notley’s reign as Alberta’s premier will most assuredly end in three years when voters decide her fate in a general election if she continues down her perilous economic path.
O’Leary’s noisy and emotional detractors’ default position is the low price of oil and he acknowledges this fact in his message. However, O’Leary adds a point which defines great leaders because the most important characteristic of great leadership is strength under pressure. The question is obvious: how does Notley as a leader find a way to alleviate the damage to Alberta’s economy in a low oil price market?
Her track record in less than a year suggests Notley will follow the hard-left philosophy of NDP politics since she has recruited a coterie of senior advisors who have strong roots in NDP national policy, including anti-oil and anti-pipeline people. It is difficult to believe these people can-or are even willing to- advance the best interests of Alberta’s oil industry. Additionally, Notley’s presence in the background of a photo taken at an anti-oil rally before she became an unlikely choice as premier does not inspire confidence in her lead role for future pipeline negotiations.
O’Leary got plenty of media attention with his suggestion that Notley resign and unfortunately his real message got pushed into the background by enraged lefties. O’Leary pointed out the oil industry’s critical role as the economic engine of the entire country, given the exodus of the manufacturing industry in Ontario because of the cumulative effects of high business costs, including incredibly expensive utility costs from the massive failure of Ontario’s green energy experiments.
He also explained the folly of Notley’s introduction of higher corporate taxes and new carbon taxes during an economic downturn when over 60,000 people have already lost jobs in Alberta, with no end in sight. The first tidal wave of unemployment is a result of low oil prices, but the ensuing waves will be on her watch and Notley’s economic policy will play a role in future job losses.
O’Leary comes from business and their basic maxim is “Business hates uncertainty”. The uncertainty produced by Notley’s royalty review delays has sent oil investment into B.C. and Saskatchewan where known royalties are part of the business plan. O’Leary questioned whether a royalty review was even necessary at this time, given the low barrel price last spring when Notley became premier.
The intractable dogma of the NDP has always been make ”Big Business” pay and, in fairness to Notley, she is a loyal NDP party member. However, O’Leary believes Notley and Trudeau need to sit down with the big players in the oil industry and devise a way to alleviate the damage to Canada’s economy during a time when oil prices are in the tank. How can O’Leary’s idea be construed as anything but a constructive plan for all of the stakeholders? You would have to ask the intellectually superior lefties for an answer to this question.
The health of the oil industry determines the economic health of the country and any plan which commits government and oil industry leaders to a meeting about how to ride out the storm together is the only real solution. O’ Leary asserts the current oil crisis is a good way for Notley to define her legacy as a leader and even gave her some great business advice with his recommendation of a summit meeting. Most of O ‘Leary’s left-leaning detractors will conveniently ignore this part of his message. Notley should indeed “bring it on” (i.e. a stakeholder summit meeting) as soon as possible if she truly has the best interests of this province as her primary goal. O’Leary is right because great leaders are defined by smart crisis management decisions.
Jim Sutherland is a local freelance writer.