DEEP DIF­FER­ENCES

Lit­tle sup­port for Al­berta oil and gas from fed­eral party lead­ers and prov­inces

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS - Gra­ham HICKS

As this un­com­fort­able fed­eral elec­tion stum­bles its way to Oct. 21, there’s early-warn­ing signs of ir­rec­on­cil­able dif­fer­ences be­tween prov­inces, be­tween prov­inces and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, be­tween Cana­di­ans of dif­fer­ent age groups, be­tween re­gions within the coun­try.

All over Canada’s ap­proach to cli­mate change.

As Cal­gary Herald colum­nist Don Braid so gloomily and ac­cu­rately pointed out, four of the five fed­eral party lead­ers have cast their lot, sup­port­ing poli­cies that mean the end of oil and gas.

The worst-case out­come of the fed­eral elec­tion would be a Lib­eral mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment, kept in power in coali­tion with ei­ther the NDP or the Greens, both deeply op­posed to any new oil pipe­lines out of Al­berta/ Saskatchew­an, both seek­ing sooner-rather-than-later clo­sure of the oil­sands.

There is huge op­por­tu­nity for Cana­dian oil and gas to be part of the so­lu­tion to cli­mate change — as has been de­tailed ad nau­seam in this col­umn over the last five years.

Yet the lead­ers of the Lib­er­als, NDP, Greens and Bloc Québécois harden their an­tifos­sil-fuel sen­ti­ment with each suc­cess­ful elec­tion­eer­ing pro­nounce­ment.

One part of this coun­try — this one — is fright­ened in the ex­treme. We are los­ing the back­bone of our pro­vin­cial econ­omy with no prac­ti­cal re­place­ment in the com­ing decades.

The other part — as Braid puts it — “swaths of youth­ful opin­ion,” plus “pro­gres­sive” Cana­di­ans, are equally fright­ened about the ef­fect of global warm­ing on the planet.

They deeply be­lieve our oil and gas pro­duc­tion has no part to play in a global warm­ing so­lu­tion and should be left in the ground.

Que­bec res­i­dents res­o­lutely op­pose the pipe­line trans­mis­sion of Western gas or oil across Que­bec to Mar­itime oil ports.

A size­able por­tion of the Bri­tish Columbia pop­u­la­tion, plus the cur­rent B.C. gov­ern­ing coali­tion, vig­or­ously op­poses any oil pipe­lines, though they seem rea­son­ably happy de­vel­op­ing their natural gas re­serves.

These deep dif­fer­ences have come spilling out in this elec­tion.

Quite pos­si­bly the Justin Trudeau Lib­er­als will squeak through with just a few more seats than Andrew Scheer’s Con­ser­va­tives, nei­ther with a ma­jor­ity.

The only deal the Lib­er­als can make to stay in power is with the Greens and/or the NDP. And that deal would have to in­clude a tacit agree­ment to screw the economies of Al­berta and Saskatchew­an, to move hard and fast to fight global warm­ing by ac­cel­er­at­ing the end of oil (and to a lesser de­gree natural gas) pro­duc­tion and use in Canada.

The reper­cus­sions in Al­berta and Saskatchew­an will be some­thing ter­ri­ble.

We will be — in Mr. Trudeau’s eru­dite vo­cab­u­lary — so “pissed off” that the no­tion of leav­ing Canada will cease to be just a play­ground of the ru­ral right and will spread like wild­fire across the Prairies.

Al­ber­tans will not roll over and die, pa­tri­ot­i­cally sac­ri­fic­ing our econ­omy and well-be­ing on the al­tar of cli­mate change as pre­scribed by what could be a bare ma­jor­ity of the Rest-of-canada.

We will not sit by and watch pas­sively as Al­berta’s econ­omy shrinks, as our chil­dren re­luc­tantly leave for lack of op­por­tu­nity.

Es­pe­cially when global warm­ing so­lu­tions — us­ing Cana­dian oil, natural gas and made-in-al­berta tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances — are at hand.

Ev­ery day, it seems, reports of new tech­nolo­gies low­er­ing green­house gas emis­sions come out of the Cana­dian en­ergy in­dus­try.

Re­plac­ing wa­ter with re­cy­clable sol­vents, ship­ping so­lid­i­fied bi­tu­men, sim­pli­fy­ing the bi­tu­men up­grad­ing process … the list goes on and on.

Al­berta has been a long-sim­mer­ing pot. If the heat is turned up by other Cana­di­ans want­ing to crip­ple our econ­omy “for the greater good”, that pot will go to a full-tilt boil.

Could the un­think­able hap­pen? Could Al­berta/saskatchew­an se­ri­ously think about a land-locked, in­de­pen­dent na­tion, sur­rounded by what’s left of Canada?

It is near im­pos­si­ble to con­ceive.

But if we con­tinue to be piled upon by other Cana­di­ans will­ing to un­nec­es­sar­ily sacrifice Al­berta’s stan­dard of liv­ing — in the name of barely per­cep­ti­ble low­er­ing of global green­house gases — the unimag­in­able will gain great trac­tion.

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