Driven crazy by Rachel Rockets
News item: Alberta is threatening to cut the flow of oil to B.C. in retaliation for B.C.’s attempts to block the Trans Mountain pipeline expan- sion.
“Nice car,” the guy on the sidewalk said, admiringly. “How much does it weigh?”
“Not a lot after we yanked the engine out,” I replied, flicking the reins. As if to confirm my point, ol’ Dobbin pulled us away from the curb with nary a whinny.
Back in the Great Depression they called these Bennett Buggies, after the prime minister of the day. People who couldn’t afford to gas up their automobiles turned them into horsedrawn carts.
Not sure what to call today’s equivalent. A Notley Nissan, perhaps. Or a Rachel Rocket. She might be able to starve us of gas, we told ourselves, but we can still grow our own alfalfa.
Guess we should have seen this coming last February when Alberta’s premier took to lashing out and grape-stomping B.C.’s unsuspecting winemakers, kind of like a hockey player who gets slashed and grabs the first sweater he sees and starts throwing punches.
Alberta was mad because B.C. was blocking its pipeline and choking its economy. B.C. was mad because Ottawa had long made it clear it would ram through a pipeline to the coast whether we wanted it or not.
Indigenous people were mad because they got railroaded, too, and left-leaning white boys were mad in solidarity with the Indigenous people, or at least they were mad in solidarity with the ones who opposed the pipeline. (Left-leaning white boys are all in favour of Indigenous people asserting their rights, just as long as those rights are asserted in a way that meets the approval of leftleaning white boys: no pipelines, no logging, no mining …)
Anyway, that’s when Rachel Notley turned off the taps.
We hoped saner heads would prevail, but in Alberta the only alternative to Notley is Jason Kenney, which would be kind of like swapping the guy in the tinfoil hat for the one with the goalie mask and chainsaw. Pretty sure Kenney keeps a map of Canada with “British Columbia” crossed out and “North Korea” written in. John Horgan seeking sympathy in Alberta is like Trump looking for hugs in Mexico.
British Columbians, on the other hand, were actually divided over the pipeline, which is why in the summer of 2018 the eastern part of the province broke away to form the B.C. Free State, with its capital in Calgary.
That prompted anti-pipeline refugees to stream down to the coast (good thing there was room to house them in all those condos left empty by the anti-Albertan speculation tax).
By then we were all starting to feel over our heads, looking for a way out of this mess. Who would ever have dreamed there would be a day when Canadian politicians would bludgeon ordinary citizens with economic cudgels?
Alas, the divisions just got worse. In the spring of 2019 B.C. cut off Alberta’s supply of weed, crippling their fast-food industry. So Alberta retaliated by restricting exports of beef, and Saskatchewan, siding with Alberta, ended shipments of wheat.
While these moves had little impact (they forgot the West Coast is 98 per cent vegan and gluten-free), Horgan felt compelled to end lumber sales to the Prairies, which forced builders there to revert to the sod huts of their homesteading forefathers.
Then other provinces joined in, imposing economic sanctions on one another to address festering resentments. Ontario, telling Alberta “you may provide the oil but we’re still the engine,” stopped selling pickup trucks pending the repatriation of Connor McDavid. Alberta and B.C. whined about subsidizing other provinces through federal equalization payments, so Ottawa cut off health transfers as punishment for moaning. Newfoundland, still smarting over the division of offshore oil revenue, declared it would cut off exports of cod — or would, if there were any cod to export. Canada’s middle child, Manitoba, tired of being ignored, launched a general strike but nobody noticed. Quebec threatened to secede, though it then had to admit it couldn’t remember why.
One tiny voice piped up to point out that Canada was still one country, and a darn good one at that — consistently near the top of global quality-of-life rankings — but that voice was drowned out by the sound of us screeching at each other. Or maybe it was the clip-clop of horses pulling our Rachel Rockets.
Jack Knox is a columnist with the Victoria Times Colonist.