Alberta Party can end impasse, get pipeline built
Judge other leaders by their actions, says Stephen Mandel.
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.