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Opinion

GIESBRECHT: A Pipeline to Seattle?

Canada is the only oil and gas exporting nation in the world intent on committing fossil fuel suicide. By contrast, the United States has gone from being an energy importing nation to energy self-sufficiency

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Canada is in trouble. Half of the population believes we are in a climate crisis, one requiring shutting down our oil and gas industry. The other half recognizes that our oil and gas industry is vital, and our ecological problems can be managed. To make matters worse, the fault line for these competing sets of beliefs runs roughly along an east-west divide, and the re-elected Liberal Party ran on an unwritten policy of “screw the West – we’ll take the rest”. This country is in serious trouble.

There is talk of separation in the West, and it is not just angry talk of rabble rousers. Some influential and serious people are considering redrawing the map to have the western provinces function as a separate country. The election result will accentuate this divide.

Alberta bears the brunt of the attack on fossil fuels. Luminaries, such as Elizabeth May and Greta Thunberg, would have Albertans give up their oil and gas careers and find new jobs, while Alberta is forced to transport oil on creaky railway cars and sell it at a ruinous discount. The combination of unreasonable environmental demands, Indigenous “duty to consult” shakedowns, and a clueless federal minority government has hit Alberta very hard. Combined with obstructionist British Columbia and Quebec provincial governments, it is not difficult to see why westerners are so disillusioned about their country

Trans-Alaska Pipeline (source: WikiCommons)

But, there might not be just a stark choice between separation or the status quo available; a pipeline that can transport Alberta’s oil to the west coast does not necessarily have to go through British Columbia. In fact, it is roughly the same distance from Calgary to Seattle as it is from Calgary to Vancouver. What about a pipeline that goes through Montana and Washington? While there would be complications with such a plan, I bet that ideas like this are being discussed in private by thoughtful people.

Canada is the only oil and gas exporting nation in the world intent on committing fossil fuel suicide. By contrast, the United States has gone from being an energy importing nation to energy self-sufficiency; in 2020, it will be an energy exporter. And, its emissions have gone down, not up, with increased natural gas consumption emitting less than half the carbon dioxide per unit of energy produced by coal. 

I visited what was then the major coal-fired electricity generating station for the American Southwest (Paige, Arizona). It was converting completely to natural gas and is now 100% gas-fired. What was a major source of pollution (sulfur and nitrogen dioxide) has become a clean energy producer through innovation and commonsense.

Canada has huge natural gas resources, but we are afraid to develop them. We let special interest groups and our ideological federal government stop us from marketing cleaner energy to the world. Our gas could replace some of the much dirtier coal plants now relied upon by Asia and Africa. Pipelines are necessary for that to happen. Here, now, we let teenage gurus and virtue-signaling politicians run the show.

Will there ever be a pipeline to Seattle? It is sad such ideas need to be considered. The climate crisis religion is tearing this country apart, and the recent federal election has only made matters worse.

Brian Giesbrecht works for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

This article was originally published at www.fcpp.org

Opinion

BARNES: Albertans deserve the right to make the big decisions in referenda law

Guest column from Drew Barnes says that Alberta’s referendum law should be expanded to allow votes on big constitutional issues.

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Guest opinion column from Alberta MLA Drew Barnes

“I am and I will remain a populist, because those who listen to the people are doing their job.” Matteo Salvini.

At its core the word populism is the action that government policies should be determined by the will of the people, not the will of the elite. Direct democracy is the institutional populism in action.

There is debate over whether populism should be termed as a movement or an ideology. Since the actions of populist engagement can transcend the ideological spectrum, I believe it should be viewed as a movement, that can sometimes manifest itself ideologically. As a movement, populist participation can take place on all points of the spectrum. Ultimately, that is what is wanted from a democratic society – engagement from all points of the spectrum.

Now more than ever, we need a new grassroots-populist approach to politics. Grassroots politics by its nature suggests that it is a movement that is sparked from the bottom-up. Politicians who came from grassroots movements must never forget where they came from, or lose sight of what they came to do. We need more of the bottom-up approach to politics, and make listening to the people that elected us a priority.

This is taking place in some measure here in Alberta. Political party policy processes allow for constituency associations to generate policy proposals for conventions, where they are voted on by the membership. Every party in Alberta – with the exception of the NDP – uses a ‘one member, one vote’ system.

Another grassroots/populist tool is referenda, that when used the right way are a valuable democratic tool. Referendums however, must stay true to their purpose, and the process for bringing them forward must allow for citizens to craft their own – fair – wording on a question. This is not to say that any question – however subjectively worded – that anyone wants to ask should be put to a referendum. Therefore, the rules on the use of referendums must not be overly onerous, nor overly temperate.

Switzerland is a prime example of a country that takes full advantage of referendums, including citizens’ initiative. In their democratic system, referendums can occur up to four times annually. All citizens registered to vote can cast their ballot on issues affecting decisions within both their federal government and their cantons (autonomous provinces). Before each vote, all registered voters receive a package of booklets in the mail which provide details on the coming referendums. Since these referendums began in 1848, just under half of the referendum proposals have passed. Even if they don’t always pass, the process is crucial to starting conversations and keeping citizens involved in debate. Referendums also force political parties to reach beyond partisan lines to reach consensus.

Alberta’s legislature recently passed a bill that guides referendums on non-constitutional matters. While this is a positive step forward, there are issues in this bill that need improvement. 

For example, Albertans initiating a referendum might go through the process of collecting hundreds of thousands of signatures, only to have the cabinet alter the wording the question. While fair wording of the question is critical to the integrity of direct democracy, that issue is not best dealt with by politicians who may have a stake in the result. Instead, clear guidelines should be established in law on question wording, and left to non-partisan officials at Elections Alberta. 

And while the new referendum legislation is a big step forward over the status quo (that is, nothing), it deliberately bans citizens-initiated referendums on constitutional questions. This means that if Albertans wished to force a vote on adding property rights to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that they would not be allowed. Similarly, Albertans are barred from forcing a vote on reforming the Senate, equalization, or internal free trade. Ominously, Albertans have no right to force a vote over the heads of the legislature on independence or other forms of sovereignty. 

I believe that Albertans can be trusted with the right of citizens’ initiative on all questions, both constitutional and non-constitutional. 

We trust the people to elect a government to run our systems, so why can’t we trust them to bring their own questions forward? 

Drew Barnes is the UCP MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat

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Opinion

LETTER: Erin O’Toole isn’t “woke” enough to beat Trudeau in the East

A reader says that Erin O’Toole isn’t “woke” enough to beat Trudeau in the East.

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In this ‘Era of Wokeness” along with the ascension of Black Lives Matter into the public consciousness, I believe that it would be detrimental to the Conservative Party of Canada to have Erin O’Toole as
it’s leader.

Mr O’Toole recently refused to use the word ‘racism’ and did not answer clearly when pressed on whether he believes it even exists. Erin O’Toole will hand the Trudeau Liberals an easy victory during the next election, should he become Tory leader. Canada cannot afford another four years of Justin Trudeau. 

Like it or not, most people in Ontario and Quebec (where all federal elections are ultimately decided owing to their number of allotted seats), are very much ‘woke’ on the issue of racism, as well as
sexism, homophobia, ect. In my experience, this also includes most Conservative Party of Canada voters in Eastern Canada.

Right-wing populism and social conservatism does well in Western Canada – but centrist Red Toryism is all they are prepared to accept in most of Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. CPC members in Western Canada need to keep this in mind when voting for their next leader. 

CPC members need to be sensible and realistic if they want to win the next federal election. 

Gila Kibner 
Edmonton, Alberta

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Opinion

LETTER: While Trudeau mislabels regular guns “military-style”, he is handing real assault weapons to the police

A reader says that Trudeau is militarizing the police while disarming Canadians.

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RE: Canada’s cops worried Liberal gun ban will hamper training

I enjoyed your article on the gun ban and how it will affect cops. A point of view the CBC would never share.

Perhaps another topic should be brought to the public is this: Although Justin Trudeau said there is no place for these weapons in Canada and Bill Blair said these  weapons have only one purpose – and that is for one soldier to kill another soldier – they gifted more deadly weapons to our local police forces through the Canadian Armed Forces., as was done recently in my hometown of St Thomas, Ontario.

What is the government’s agenda in giving true military assault weapons to the police and banning “military-style” (no legal definition) weapons from civilians. 

John Siberry
St. Thomas, ON

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