Al­ber­tans find PM’s ‘charm’ of­fen­sive

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - COMMENT - — Post­media News

The rest of Canada wouldn’t know it from much of the me­dia cov­er­age, but Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s lat­est visit to Cal­gary was a dis­as­ter.

The PM was met by one of the largest crowd of pro­test­ers he’s ever faced. Al­ber­tans are so frus­trated by the Lib­eral govern­ment’s treat­ment of them that hun­dreds took to the streets over the week­end in protest.

It’s hard to blame them. Trudeau’s at­ti­tude to Al­berta has ranged from ne­glect to ba­si­cally flipping them the mid­dle-fin­ger.

“We have the right to be an­gry,” writes Post­media colum­nist Rick Bell. “Still no pipe­line in the ground while we still pay a car­bon tax. Sell­ing our oil at bar­gain prices. High un­em­ploy­ment. One in four down­town of­fices empty. In­vest­ment dry­ing up.”

That just about sums it up. Oh yeah, that and Trudeau’s Jan­uary 2017 com­ment about how we need to “phase out” the oil­sands.

We’d like to call that line a gaffe. But a gaffe is when you mis­s­peak — when you make a mis­take and say what you didn’t mean to say.

Was that re­ally a gaffe? Or was it a win­dow into Trudeau’s real views about a sec­tor that is a key driver of the econ­omy?

If so, that would ex­plain why four key pipe­lines — En­ergy East, Trans Moun­tain, North­ern Gate­way and Key­stone XL — have failed to launch un­der

Imag­ine if On­tario’s auto sec­tor or Que­bec’s aerospace in­dus­try were in cri­sis.” Li­cia Cor­bella

Trudeau’s watch.

It would also ex­plain his rel­a­tive in­ac­tion on the file.

Many Al­ber­tans are frus­trated that Trudeau and Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bill Morneau don’t of­fer the same con­cern and ac­tion for their oil sec­tor as they do for job-rich in­dus­tries in other prov­inces. There was, for ex­am­ple, no Al­berta-friendly mea­sures in the fall eco­nomic up­date de­spite spe­cific mea­sures for other sec­tors such as me­dia.

“Imag­ine if On­tario’s auto sec­tor or Que­bec’s aerospace in­dus­try were in cri­sis,” Post­media colum­nist Li­cia Cor­bella wrote, af­ter in­ter­act­ing with pro­test­ers. “It would have led and dom­i­nated Morneau’s speech.”

The wounds are real. The emo­tions are raw. These pro­test­ers have noth­ing to apol­o­gize for. It’s Trudeau who needs to make a pivot in how he deals with the more than four mil­lion Al­ber­tans who have re­peat­edly got­ten the short end of the stick from the cur­rent govern­ment.

Trudeau needs to make it a pri­or­ity to show Al­ber­tans that they mat­ter.

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