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NAVARRO-GENIE: Stalling Frontier’s approval is the most likely cabinet decision

When push comes to shove, the Liberals are likely to kill the Teck Frontier mine slowly, through delay and regulatory red tape.

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Albertans shouldn’t hold their breath for Ottawa’s approval of the Frontier oil sands mine.

Reports of massive opposition within the Liberal Party caucus and rumours of an appeasing “economic aid” packagefor the province are strong indicators that the federal cabinet will not approve the Frontier mine in northern Alberta later this month.  

Frontier represents hope for Alberta. It promises $20 billion in investment, which in four decades of operation will generate $70 billion in taxes for all levels of government. Some 2,500 permanent jobs will remain from the 7000 sparked during the construction phase. 

The project has been through all the hoops and complied with all the requirements under law and regulation. It enjoys the endorsement of all 14 adjacent indigenous communities.

But the project chafes against those wishing for Alberta to leave its oil in the ground – to phase out the oil sands as Justin Trudeau said – and to transform Canada into the world’s eco-Nirvana. They are strong ideological voices inside the Liberal, Bloc and New Democratic parties. These are the same folks to whom the prime minister and the finance minister regularly tweet to say the Canadian economy is doing wonderfully well.

The real culprit, however, is the Laurentian regime; that is, the current structures of power that dominate Canada. Without this arrangement, the imposition of Laurentian dominance over Alberta’s natural resources would not be possible. 

The present House of Commons has 338 Members, from which only 34 represent Alberta. Contrast that number with 199 MPs from the Laurentian provinces, Quebec and Ontario. Regardless of who may be in power, Laurentians have nearly seven times more voices in the House of Commons than Albertans do, and eight times as many in the Senate. This will not change.

Of course, not all Laurentian MPs are doomsday environmentalists, but they don’t have to be. If only a third of them were so, it would make them twice as numerous as all Alberta MPs –and this will not change any time soon.  But it gets worse. The MPs who will decide on Teck’s Frontier fate are in the federal cabinet, with no Albertans among them.

Ottawa has tried to extort political gain from Alberta in exchange for approval, pushing more job-killing policies and punishing the province for “fighting [the] federal government on the issue of the pricing of pollution,” as Jonathan Wilkinson, federal Environment and Climate Change minister, expressed it. They know Edmonton won’t surrender, thus setting things up to blame Alberta for the rejection, exactly as Finance Minister Bill Morneau now blames Kinder Morgan for “walking away” from TMX. 

Cabinet has three choices: it can decide to approve, reject or delay. 

Approval isn’t an option for the government. It would cost them crucial seats in Laurentian urban centres such as Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, as well as in Atlantic Canada and BC’s Lower Mainland. Conversely, they would lose zero seats or have negligible gains in Alberta. 

So, a new version of “Screw the West, we’ll take the rest” will do. The minority government cannot survive without the other eco-nirvana Bloc and NDP. 

The prime minister wants to avoid the collapse of his minority government. And he needs to safeguard – for his party and for himself – the chance of regaining majority power in a not-too-distant future, for which he must avoid the wrath of Laurentian eco-doomster voters.

However, the typical seat-computation will have to be mitigated by the real and present danger of further fuelling Alberta independence sentiments. The effect of cancelling Teck’s Frontier mine outright will be worse in Western Canada than passing over Winnipeg to favour Montreal for the CF-18 maintenance contract – the decision that finally sparked the Reform movement in the late 1980s. Frontier rejection will sting as most illegitimate, absent any Alberta elected representative among the decision-makers. 

Yet, no Laurentian PM, however indifferent or callous to Western concerns, wishes to have the country collapse on his watch. 

That leaves stalling as the most plausible option. 

As consolation, the feds will offer Alberta an economic aid bailout package. But Alberta voters are not for sale (much less bought with their own money). They want private sector jobs and autonomy instead of subjection to Laurentian dependency. No amount of Ottawa spend-and-spin will make Albertans receptive to an effort to deliver a deadly blow to the province’s largest employment generator. 

So, delay it will likely be. Yet, short of full approval for Teck’s Frontier mine, the stalling will only stoke among Albertans the already incandescent fires of the desire to go it alone.  

Marco Navarro-Génie is President of the Haultain Research Institute and a Senior Fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

Marco Navarro-Génie is a Columnist for the Western Standard, President of the Haultain Research Institute, and a Senior Fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

Opinion

HARDING: Regina gets a hard lesson in Cancel Culture

Cancel culture has made a dog’s breakfast out of the Moore affair. They discredited the City of Regina’s event, made a mockery of themselves, and served to give an even larger platform to the target of their hate, hosted by Rebel News, which they likely hate even more.

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Leftist censorship campaigns have been racking up the wins, but mark one down for the good guys. Their latest censorship attack wildly backfired in the birthplace of Canadian socialism: Regina, Saskatchewan. 

Patrick Moore was invited, then disinvited to a City of Regina conference. The end result is that he will overshadow that event by speaking just before it happens, and to far more people than he would have otherwise. And the local far-left newspaper hates it.

The City of Regina wants its facilities and operations to be 100 per cent renewable by 2050. To educate and inspire the public towards that goal, the city scheduled a Reimagine Regina Conference for May 20-21 of this year. Patrick Moore was invited to speak.

The last time I had heard Moore’s name mentioned in Regina was over ten years ago when a visiting David Suzuki called him, “the Judas of the environmental movement.” Moore joined Greenpeace in 1971, a year after it was founded, and became its the president in 1977. But he left Greenpeace because he felt it “took a sharp turn to the political left” and “evolved into an organization of extremism and politically motivated agendas.”

Following the announcement that Moore himself was coming to Regina, those left-leaning, politically-motivated environmentalists lit their hair on fire. They took to social media and sent angry messages to city hall, protesting Moore’s prominent place in the schedule.

The complainers weren’t enough to change minds at city hall, at least not at first. At a January 31st press conference, Regina Councillor Mike O’Donnell told the media, “One of the things we’re aware of is he would probably create some interest. And he has. You’re here today.”

Of course, cancel culture doesn’t give up easily. It came to light that Moore’s talk would be titled “Fake, Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom.” Of course, that perspective undermines the very premise upon which the city’s direction was based. If man-made, carbon-driven global warming was not an imminent, apocalyptic threat, then Regina did not need to be “reimagined.” The same old fossil fuels could power it for the foreseeable future.

Moore had his supporters too, and the furor overshadowed the conference. As a result, Mayor Michael Fougere urged organizers to reconsider Moore’s engagement. On February 7, Councillor O’Donnell, who co-chairs the committee responsible for the event, held another press conference to say Moore was out.

“The conference topic we suggested to [Moore] was a sustainable energy future. He had done some work previously and presented previously on the transition away from traditional fossil fuels to an alternate. That’s what we wanted to pick up on. He has now announced in the last while that he wants to speak about a different topic. We’re not interested in that.”

For his part, Moore tweeted a response that was later slamming the City of Regina and the activists behind his cancelation.

Moore’s snub was not a failure, but a back door to greater success. Like a rubber ball thrown hard to the ground only to bounce up with equal force, the series of events only brought more attention to his message and ruined the city’s event. 

Besides all of this, the city still has to pay Moore $10,000 for speaking fees and $1,400 for expenses he won’t occur. (The city is combing through clauses in the contract trying to get those fees reduced.)

Meanwhile, the catastrophists remained sour at their civic overlords, and started to bash the conference itself. Prairie Dog, Regina’s far-left paper, dedicated an entire cover story to what it called “PatrickMooreGate.” Its subtitle asked, “Why on earth did Regina’s sustainability conference hire a climate-science denier?”

The paper said the controversy “was a lightning rod that jolted people who’d supported the Renewable City motion into wondering why the city is even hosting a regional conference in the first place.” They wanted action, not a conference.

The paper then asked why oil executives were invited to the conference, and if the pricey $300 attendance fee was “a deliberate tactic to keep out the rabble-rousing public” and maintain the status quo. Sustainability groupies decided to ignore the conference and host their own events instead.

To top this all off, Moore is coming to Regina anywayRebel Media booked him at the Conexus Arts Centre for the evening of May 19 – right before the two-day city conference begins. Whereas Moore would have been just one of three keynote speakers amongst a total 45 presenters, he will instead speak to thousands by himself. Tickets will range from a very accessible $25 to as much as $500 to include VIP events before and after the main address.

Cancel culture has made a dog’s breakfast out of the Moore affair. They discredited the City of Regina’s event, made a mockery of themselves, and served to give an even larger platform to the target of their hate, hosted by Rebel Media, which they likely hate even more. 

Lee Harding is the Saskatchewan Affairs Columnist for the Western Standard. He is also a Research Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and is the former Saskatchewan Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

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Opinion

FILDEBRANDT: Ottawa is at war with Alberta, and There’s no “Fair Deal” to be had

Ottawa isn’t just unfriendly towards Alberta. It is a colonial government at war with it. And the sooner we realized it, the fast we can begin to fight back with equal force.

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On February 6th, I wrote on these pages that “If Trudeau kills Teck, It’s War“. Now, on February 23th, it’s war.

This marks the day when many at the Western Standard and elsewhere predicted, the Liberals would kill the $20 billion Teck oilsands mine investment, eliminating 7,000 jobs in the process. As predicted, the Liberals would not risk the political backlash of stabbing the Teck project in the heart. Instead, they would put it in a torture chamber of a thousand regulations and political hurdles that would be impossible to meet, forcing Teck to kill itself.

While the Liberals were not found standing over the body, they have been stalking it for months, warning that it would not be approved, and floating the prospect of an “economic aid” package to pacify angry Albertans once it was dead.

Teck Resources President and CEO Don Lindsay, explained in the politest language he could find why the project was being shelved.

“Global capital markets are changing rapidly and investors and customers are increasingly looking for jurisdictions to have a framework in place that reconciles resource development and climate change, in order to produce the cleanest possible products. This does not yet exist here today and, unfortunately, the growing debate around this issue has placed Frontier and our company squarely at the nexus of much broader issues that need to be resolved. In that context, it is now evident that there is no constructive path forward for the project.”

In short, warnings that the federal government’s butchering of Canada’s once sane energy approvals process is politicized, and there is no path forward without being required to meet unreasonable demands.

Lindsay continued, “Frontier, however, has surfaced a broader debate over climate change and Canada’s role in addressing it. It is our hope that withdrawing from the process will allow Canadians to shift to a larger and more positive discussion about the path forward. Ultimately, that should take place without a looming regulatory deadline.”

That is, it is no longer about the merits of a given energy project, but about the global crusade against fossil fuels, and Teck Frontier is public enemy number one. The “looming regulatory deadline” which the Liberals dragged to the last minute, made the decision politically explosive.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney issued a statement after word seeped out. He laid blame at the federal government’s feet, and was none-to-happy about it, but he shied away from more heated language. He refrained from calling out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by name – something he did daily before winning the 2019 election – and went to pains to emphasize how cooperative he has been with Ottawa on the Teck front.

“The Government of Alberta agreed to every request and condition raised by the federal government for approving the Frontier project, including protecting bison and caribou habitat, regulation of oilsands emissions, and securing full Indigenous support.”

It’s surprising that Kenney would admit openly that his government largely capitulated to many of Ottawa’s demands in an area of Alberta’s clear domain of interest, but he must believe that it is better to have appeared the victim that tried, than the victim that resisted compromise.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley took a different approach, blaming the entire thing – lock, stock and barrel – squarely on Kenney.

“The heated rhetoric and constant conflict generated by Jason Kenney and the UCP is the primary reason for withdrawal of Teck’s application.”

It is a bizarre line of attack most likely written by an over-caffeinated NDP staffer drinking the bathwater of the “Kenney is a crypto-fascist” cult.

If Keneny has any fault in the matter, it is for not taking a much harder line in forcing Ottawa’s hand. Since the October federal election, Kenney has radically changed his tone with the Trudeau government, and has gone out of his way to deescalate the rising tide of sovereigntist support in Alberta. While he has commendably commissioned the Fair Deal Panel to explore ways in which Alberta might better assert its autonomy within confederation, he has shied away from drawing a line in the sand.

Michelle Rempel Garner and three other federal Conservative MPs took up that challenge last week, when they issued the Buffalo Declaration. Not content to merely withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan and RCMP, the Buffalo MPs demanded constitutional reform to make Alberta – and the West – equal partners in Confederation. The strong implication of their declaration, was “or else”.

While not quite coming out for independence themselves, they made clear where things are headed if things don’t change: “they [Albertans] will be equal or they will seek independence.”

This is the clear and unmistakable line in the sand that many Albertans believe it is past time to draw. Justin Trudeau being nicer, or Peter MacKay reversing some of the most explicitly anti-Western policies is no longer enough. The constitution must be reformed to stop federal governments in Ottawa from attacking Alberta, or Alberta must take matters into its own hands.

Kenney would serve Alberta well to take up this call. UCP MLA and Fair Deal Panel Member Drew Barnes already has, coming out in support of the Buffalo Declaration.

Ottawa’s strangulation of the Teck Frontier oilsands mine isn’t just another injury that Alberta can abide. It is a clear and unmistakable sign that Ottawa means to “phase out” Alberta’s oil and gas industry, as Trudeau himself has put it. This isn’t a policy that would be tolerated towards any other region of Canada, but was welcomed with joy by throngs of eco-radicals in the East, and by a large segment of the minority federalist-left in Alberta.

Left powerless for all their tough talk, is Alberta’s federalist-right.

Alberta can no longer afford to brace itself and keep skating after hits from Ottawa. These attacks are deliberate, and in the long term, fatal to our exsistence.

Ottawa isn’t just unfriendly towards Alberta. It is a colonial government at war with it. And the sooner we realized it, the faster we can begin to fight back with equal force.

Derek Fildebrandt is the Publisher of the Western Standard and President and CEO of Wildrose Media Corp.

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Opinion

ROYER: Eastern Canada was born of Imperial Loyalty. The West of Frontier Freedom.

It is difficult for those in the heartland to comprehend that there is an alternative; one that might actually be fairer and that it is firmly planted “out West”, in the hinterland.

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The Teck oilsands mine decision and the related “rescue package” for Alberta are emblematic of the gulf in thinking between East and West. Alberta doesn’t want handouts and dependency; it wants investment, jobs and opportunity. The federal government – rooted in colonial thinking – believes that it can buy peace and compliance by offering trinkets.

History tells the story of this gulf in thinking.

Upper and Lower Canada (Ontario and Quebec) were colonies loyal to the top-down imperial system. In 1780, the United Empire Loyalists fled the American Revolution with its crazy ideas of freedom, democracy and individual rights and came to Upper Canada, reinforcing subservient loyalty. Similarly, the mostly French inhabitants of Lower Canada would rather stay subjects of the British Empire than govern themselves as a U.S. state.

American expansionism threatened to encircle the Canadas. In the great land grab of the mid 1800’s, it became clear that if you settle it, you own it. Mexico lost one-third of its territory (Texas to California) because it allowed Americans to settle in its lands. Americans were also drifting north. 

The Canadas decided to populate the prairies to stop the Americans.

However, there were not enough loyal British subjects to fill these vast lands. It was opened up to continental Europeans. They had no connection to the crown or the imperial power structure. Indeed, the opposite was true. They were fleeing the tyranny of Europe. They sought freedom, democracy and self-initiative as described coincidently in American recruiting.

The West became a colony of a colony. But its foundation was a desire for freedom, democracy and self-initiative. This is contrary to colonial loyalty in Upper and Lower Canada.

The Canadas were slow in relinquishing the colonial mindset. An Act of the British Parliament in 1931 finally cut the apron strings (Westminster Act). Australia held its independence referendum in 1902.   

When Canada did exert independence, its constitution of 1982 (with no pesky referendum) did more to cement the power of English Ontario and French Quebec than to create equality for all citizens. 

Over the years the Prime Minister’s Office assumed virtually all of the powers of the crown. Canada centralized and consolidated power (an imperial theme) even while Britain devolved it.

Canada’s Equalization Program is an economic cornerstone of colonial thinking. Central Canada takes 70 per cent of the wealth transfer. Canada is the only modern state to take from the hinterland to support the industrial heartland. In most modern countries, the opposite is true.

In the U.S. all states were admitted to the union with full and equal rights. Not so in colonial Canada. The prairies fought to gain control of their resources through the Progressive Party in 1925. The equality fight continues today.

The Sir John A. MacDonald’s National Policy was an instrument of economic colonialism, as was Pierre Trudeau’s National Energy Program. Today’s Teck oilsands mine decision is as well.

The historic legacy is that the West wants to be part of a representative democracy that supports freedom, democracy, self-initiative and the equality of all citizens. New arrivals take on that same thinking. Some of the most adamant supporters of the Western spirit have arrived from Eastern Canada. 

Understanding is possible. But a quirk of colonial thinking is that it ranks people by colonial value. It is difficult for those in the heartland to comprehend that there is an alternative; one that might actually be fairer and that it is firmly planted “out West”, in the hinterland.

In an age where differences are supposed to be celebrated, why is it so difficult to overcome colonial stratification and even consider that we in the west think fundamentally differently? 

Randy Royer is a Columnist for the Western Standard and the author of “Alberta Doesn’t Fit”

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