Not­ley may have learned po­lit­i­cal les­son too late

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - OPINION - CHRIS NEL­SON

Peter Lougheed would later ad­mit it was the big­gest mis­take of his long and suc­cess­ful po­lit­i­cal life.

It was, of course, al­low­ing him­self to be pho­tographed clink­ing cham­pagne glasses with Prime Min­is­ter Pierre Trudeau back in 1981 after the pair had made some tweaks in Al­berta’s favour to the re­viled Na­tional En­ergy Pro­gram, then dev­as­tat­ing the prov­ince.

The Al­berta premier never re­peated the mis­take be­cause this was a time when sep­a­ra­tion talk was in the prairie air and man­nequins of Trudeau were be­ing hoisted and burned atop other­wise idle drilling rigs in places such as Le­duc.

I missed that par­tic­u­lar episode by a few months, later ar­riv­ing in Ed­mon­ton from the post-in­dus­trial waste­land of North East Eng­land, where they would have hoisted and burned not man­nequins but Mar­garet Thatcher her­self if she’d dared set foot on Ty­ne­side back then.

By that spring of 1982 Al­berta was hurt­ing: thou­sands los­ing their jobs as in­ter­na­tional en­ergy com­pa­nies left the prov­ince, houses sold for a sin­gle buck to the in­fa­mous dol­lar-deal­ers as fam­i­lies fled back to places they’d once ar­rived from such as On­tario and the Mar­itimes, while Lougheed fa­mously an­nounced a mort­gage sub­sidy pro­gram from the rainy day fund be­cause, as he said in that provincewide evening TV broad­cast: “Folks, it’s rain­ing out there.”

There are twice as many Al­ber­tans to­day yet even those re­cently ar­rived from else­where or those not even born by 1982 un­der­stand through cul­tural os­mo­sis that this prov­ince should be very wary when it deals with a rul­ing Lib­eral party in Ot­tawa.

And if that ac­cu­mu­lated wis­dom and shared his­tory aren’t clues enough, then does the name Trudeau not set off a few warn­ing sirens?

Not with our cur­rent premier, who, de­spite tak­ing po­lit­i­cal science at the Univer­sity of Al­berta, ap­pears to have missed the lec­tures on how Ot­tawa shafted Al­berta right from the start — not giv­ing the new prov­ince con­trol over its nat­u­ral re­sources, un­like On­tario, Que­bec and B.C. (The United Farm­ers of Al­berta would later fight a long bat­tle to have that re­versed and, in do­ing so, ef­fec­tively de­stroyed any chance a provin­cial Lib­eral party would ever again rule Al­berta.)

The fed­eral Grits would try it again over the con­trol of pipe­lines on Al­berta soil (hey, some­times his­tory doesn’t just rhyme but ac­tu­ally re­peats) dur­ing the So­cial Credit years, but by 1950 Ernest Man­ning had suc­cess­fully fought them off after a long and ar­du­ous po­lit­i­cal bat­tle.

So how gullible do you have to be as a po­lit­i­cal party to hitch your fu­ture to the fed­eral Lib­eral party, es­pe­cially when the fel­low head­ing the out­fit is the di­rect de­scen­dant of a former prime min­is­ter still re­viled in Al­berta?

Well, as gullible as the NDP gov­ern­ment of to­day and its leader and our cur­rent premier.

She be­lieved all this so­cial li­cence non­sense and im­posed a car­bon tax upon Al­ber­tans, which al­lowed Trudeau the Sec­ond to mer­rily swan off to an en­vi­ron­men­tal con­fer­ence in Paris (along with hun­dreds of happy hang­ers-on, of course) and an­nounce that Canada was back and ready to lead the charge on cli­mate change.

Yes, lead the charge and so briefly be­come the dar­ling of the world’s me­dia by stab­bing Al­berta in the back, or at least get­ting his new best friend back in Wild Rose coun­try to do the po­lit­i­cal heavy lift­ing.

But now re­al­ity dawns and Not­ley is do­ing her best “let them freeze in the dark” rou­tine, cur­tail­ing oil ship­ments while get­ting into the rail car busi­ness.

It is too late. Re­mem­ber that photo op that Lougheed al­ways re­gret­ted? You can look it up us­ing Google. And af­ter­wards, type in Not­ley and Trudeau and hit “im­ages.” Then look at all those ac­cu­mu­lated shots: not one but dozens. See that smile and that body lan­guage, then make up your own mind.

Yes, pic­tures can tell many sto­ries. But in this case they point to just one — the NDP will be sav­aged in the next provin­cial elec­tion and might not see power again for a gen­er­a­tion.

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