Al­berta Party can end im­passe, get pipe­line built

Judge other lead­ers by their ac­tions, says Stephen Mandel.

Calgary Herald - - OPINION - Stephen Mandel is the leader of the Al­berta Party.

The Fed­eral Court of Ap­peal’s re­jec­tion of the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line came as a surprise to many; how­ever, it is in­dica­tive of a larger, more se­ri­ous prob­lem when it comes to en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment in Canada for the last gen­er­a­tion.

There is wide­spread agree­ment that the Trans Moun­tain ex­pan­sion would be good for Al­berta jobs, for Canada and Al­berta’s tax base, and for the se­cu­rity of Cana­dian en­ergy. Canada is a world leader in de­vel­op­ing en­ergy that is more strin­gently reg­u­lated from an en­vi­ron­men­tal, hu­man rights, labour and eth­i­cal per­spec­tive.

How­ever, we are ham­strung in get­ting our world-class prod­uct to mar­ket by suc­ces­sive fed­eral gov­ern­ments that have failed mis­er­ably in their con­sti­tu­tional du­ties to con­sult our In­dige­nous Peo­ples. Both the Harper gov­ern­ment with North­ern Gate­way, and the Trudeau gov­ern­ment with this Trans Moun­tain ex­pan­sion have not met the bar that the Fed­eral Court of Ap­peal has set.

Rachel Not­ley was quick to re­spond with an im­pas­sioned speech full of fire and anger di­rected squarely at the Trudeau Lib­er­als. While we ap­pre­ci­ate Pre­mier Not­ley’s pas­sion, her words ring hol­low. Pulling out of a fed­eral cli­mate plan that is nearly a year and a half away from im­ple­men­ta­tion will not ex­ert any mean­ing­ful po­lit­i­cal pres­sure, but it does more to dam­age good­will across Canada than it does to move this pro­ject closer to re­al­ity.

Her calls to ap­peal to the Supreme Court of Canada may play well on news­pa­per pages, but the una­nim­ity of the FCA de­ci­sions has been clear and this ap­proach would likely set the Trans Moun­tain time­line back years, if not kill it com­pletely.

An Al­berta Party gov­ern­ment would take a proac­tive ap­proach to en­sure ev­ery­one is at the ta­ble from the very start with neigh­bour­ing prov­inces and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. Our con­sul­ta­tion with First Na­tions would not just be around right of way and the en­vi­ron­ment, but job cre­ation, pos­si­ble own­er­ship and part­ner­ship.

The first step in our plan to bring this pro­ject closer to re­al­ity would be to set a test case with the Supreme Court that would defini­tively out­line the con­sul­ta­tion steps and bar for ju­di­cial sat­is­fac­tion with a gov­ern­ment/en­ergy part­ner­ship con­sult­ing with In­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties. We will ap­proach these con­sul­ta­tions as part­ners who recognize the pros­per­ity of all Cana­di­ans is im­proved when ev­ery­one feels that their com­mu­nity ben­e­fits from suc­cess.

This would be a more ef­fec­tive long-term strat­egy be­cause it would es­tab­lish in­vestor con­fi­dence in the re­quire­ments to get any fu­ture trans-bor­der in­fra­struc­ture ap­proved. We would not throw more of your tax dol­lars at a failed court strat­egy. Instead, we would fo­cus on build­ing a so­lu­tions frame­work to move en­ergy projects for­ward.

The sec­ond step an Al­berta Party-led gov­ern­ment would take would be to fa­cil­i­tate dis­cus­sions with stake­hold­ers along the planned pipe­line and tanker routes.

The Harper and Trudeau gov­ern­ments have failed mis­er­ably on this front and failed to un­der­stand that the spirit of both our Con­sti­tu­tion and orig­i­nal treaties re­quire early, mean­ing­ful, en­gaged con­sul­ta­tion with our In­dige­nous part­ners. This con­sul­ta­tion needs to be about lis­ten­ing to con­cerns, and mit­i­ga­tion, and needs to be free of in­ter­fer­ence from out­side third par­ties.

In do­ing so, we would work to ad­dress the valid con­cerns we have heard from the West Coast re­gard­ing spill preven­tion, spill mit­i­ga­tion, pro­tec­tion of species at risk, and en­sur­ing there are mu­tual eco­nomic ben­e­fits to Al­ber­tans, Bri­tish Columbians, and our First Na­tions.

Then and only then will this pro­ject be able to move for­ward suc­cess­fully.

This pro­ject is vi­tal to Al­berta and Cana­dian eco­nomic and en­ergy in­de­pen­dence, and our fu­ture.

With an in­creas­ingly un­sta­ble trad­ing part­ner south of the bor­der, open­ing new and di­ver­si­fied mar­kets is key to our pros­per­ity as a prov­ince and na­tion, and to re­turn­ing to the high pay­ing jobs and the bustling labour mar­ket that we en­joyed prior to this gov­ern­ment.

Both Ja­son Ken­ney and Rachel Not­ley have been at the head ta­ble of gov­ern­ments that have failed to de­liver. Judge them by their ac­tions; not their words.

It is time for a new strat­egy that is fo­cused on pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ships, ac­tion-based de­ci­sion­mak­ing (not just empty rhetoric), and a get-it-done at­ti­tude.

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