Tag Archives: Justin Trudeau

Donald Trump’s trade war, the Ontario Election, the Trudeau government’s pipeline and more

Photo: Donald Trump with United States Secretary of Commerce Kim Kardashian (kidding). 

There was no shortage of political news to talk about this week on the Ryan Jespersen Show.

On Friday morning I joined political analyst John Brennan, Global News provincial affairs reporter Tom Vernon and Ryan Jespersen to talk about Donald Trump’s trade war against Canada and the European Union, the federal government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, the gong-show that has become Ontario’s provincial election and the decision by United Conservative Party MLAs to boycott debate on a bill that would protect patients and abortion clinic staff from harassment.

Listen to the panel discussion:

Rachel Notley, Justin Trudeau, John Horgan Bill Morneau and Andrew Weaver.

We bought a pipeline! How the key players are impacted by the federal government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline

We own a pipeline!

Well, not yet.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced yesterday that the federal government plans to purchase the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline from Kinder Morgan Inc. by August 2018 if another investor cannot be found. The federal government has committed to help the Texas-based corporation find a new owner for the pipeline by August 2018, or else Ottawa will “purchase the company’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project and related pipeline and terminal assets for $4.5 billion.”

In the meantime, the federal government will loan funds to Kinder Morgan Inc. in order to start construction on the pipeline this summer. If the federal government does purchase the pipeline, which seems likely, then a Crown Corporation will be created to complete the estimate $9 billion expansion of the currently existing pipeline.

Morneau declared the federal government would be eager to sell the pipeline back to a private company once it is built, but if the project is truly in the national interest – and going to be built with public dollars – then maybe it should remain an asset of the federal government and the people of Canada.

Here is a look at how yesterday’s pipeline announcement impacts some of the key players in this seemingly never ending political dispute:

Justin Trudeau: The Prime Minister of Canada silenced conservative opponents from claiming he was secretly plotting the pipeline’s demise and mutes his social democratic opponents who say he was just kowtowing to a Texas-based oil company. While the project will move forward with the powers of the federal government behind it, it is unclear if this will help Trudeau’s Liberals electorally in Alberta (where his Liberal Party holds three seats) or in British Columbia (where his party holds 19 seats).

Rachel Notley: This is a big win for the Premier of Alberta. Notley has been the strongest public advocate for the pipeline expansion and has poured almost all of her political capital into the success of this project. She has taken a firm line with pipeline opponents, most notably the Government of British Columbia, by threatening to slow or halt the transport of oil and gas from Alberta into BC.

Kinder Morgan Inc: If all goes according to plan, Texas-based Kinder Morgan Inc. will walk away with a big $4.5 billion payment from the Government of Canada, all because our system of democracy and federalism inconvenienced its shareholders.

John Horgan: The Premier of British Columbia says he will continue to use the tools available to him to oppose the pipeline expansion, including its current legal challenges. The entry of the federal government as the owner of the pipeline introduces a new dynamic between the governments in Victoria and Ottawa. As many premiers have discovered, running for re-election with Ottawa as your main opponent can be a recipe for success.

Andrew Weaver: The leader of the BC Green Party holds the balance of power in his province as long as his 3-MLA caucus continues to support Horgan’s NDP government in Victoria. The Green leader described the federal government’s intervention as “a betrayal by a government who ran on a hopeful vision for a better future.” The Greens will expect Horgan to continue their fight against the pipeline and likely will not consider ending their agreement with the NDP until sometime after the upcoming Proportional Representation referendum.

Jason Kenney: The leader of the Official Opposition in Alberta supported Notley’s pitch last month for the Alberta government to invest in the pipeline, so he has once again been relegated to the sidelines on the pipeline issue.

Andrew Scheer: The leader of the Official Opposition in Ottawa attacks the Trudeau Liberals for driving away private sector investment and claimed Trudeau forced through expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline by nationalizing the project. To better understand the track record of government involvement in the energy industry, Scheer would benefit from taking a crash-course in Canada’s energy history. I recommend he start his education by reading Larry Pratt’s The Tar Sands: Syncrude and the Politics of Oil, which is an essential text on the history of Alberta’s oil sands.

Will the pipeline actually get built? Maybe. 

Ownership of the pipeline will change and the federal government does have powers, both political and legal, that a private corporation does not, the opposition to the pipeline has not magically evaporated overnight. Public opinion remains mixed in British Columbia and the opposition to the pipeline expansion is firm. There will continue to be protests against the pipeline and demonstrations of civil disobedience can be expected.

There are also a number of court challenges underway, including the BC government reference case and challenges from First Nations communities to the Federal Court of Appeal.

There is also a federal election scheduled to take place in October 2019 and a provincial election expected to be called in Alberta in spring 2019.

While Morneau was clear he wants construction on the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion to begin immediately, a number of legal and political challenges still stand in the way of the project’s completion.

Episode 12: Trans Mountain Pipeline deadline, NDP family conflict, and Horwath NDP vs. Ford Nation in Ontario’s Election

How are Canada’s political leaders are positioning themselves ahead of the Kinder Morgan corporation’s imposed May 31 pipeline deadline? What will federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau say when he visits Calgary this week? What is the long term impact of the pipeline dispute between the provincial and federal New Democratic Parties? Will Andrea Horwath’s NDP sweep Ontario’s provincial election or can Ford Nation manage to win? These are a few of the topics Dave Cournoyer and Ryan Hastman discuss in this episode of the Daveberta Podcast.

Daveberta Podcast Alberta PoliticsRyan leads this week’s ‘So you want to be a candidate‘ segment with volunteer recruitment and management tips for anyone planning to run in next year’s election. And we answer a few questions from our listeners.

The Daveberta Podcast is a member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB Financial. The network includes more than 30 podcasts, including the awesome Let’s Find Out Podcast.

You can listen and subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, or wherever you find podcasts online.

Enter our contest! If you leave a review on Apple Podcasts before May 31, 2018, you will be entered into a contest that will include awesome prizes, including a copy of The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America by Thurston Clarke.

We’d love to hear what you think of this episode, so feel free to leave a comment on this blog, Facebook or Twitter or send us an email at podcast@daveberta.ca.

We are always thankful to our hard working producer, Adam Rozenhart, who helps make each episode of the Daveberta Podcast sound so great.

Thank you for listening!

Additional reading:

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion must be built, by Rachel Notley (May 22, 2018)

Jason Kenney’s Guardian Role, by Jared Wesley (May 26, 2018)

Five things to know about the 2018 Alberta Budget, by Nick Falvo (March 26, 2018)

CBC Ontario Election Poll Tracker

OnPulse: In-depth analysis, research & insights on the 2018 Ontario election

Context for the word “Goat Rodeo,” in an article by Daniel Dale (May 24, 2018)

LISTEN TO THE LATEST EPISODE OF THE DAVEBERTA PODCAST:

Premier Rachel Notley met with steel workers during a tour of the Tenaris Prudential welded pipe mill in Calgary on Feb. 8, 2018. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Notley NDP pass bill to halt oil and gas to BC as Jagmeet Singh finally shows up to the pipeline party

What a day.

Turn off the taps: Bill 12: Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act passed third reading Alberta’s Legislative Assembly and once the bill is given royal assent, proclaimed into law and accompanying regulations are written, New Democratic Party Premier Rachel Notley‘s government would have the power to halt the flow of oil and gas into British Columbia. The move is the nuclear option available to the Alberta government in the event it feels the need to implement major retaliations against BC for its opposition to the Kinder Morgan Inc. Trans Mountain Pipeline.

Kinder Morgan Inc. has given the provincial and federal governments a deadline of May 31, 2018 to sort out the political dispute over the expansion of the already existing pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby. But it appears as though federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau saying the federal government is willing to offer significant financial support to the corporation to compensate for any inconveniences our Canadian system of federalism and democracy may cause the Texas-based corporation.

Jagmeet Singh NDP

Jagmeet Singh

Singh shows up to the party: Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh finally waded into the debate over the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline today. Singh tweeted that “Liberals are giving Texas oil company #KinderMorgan a blank cheque while dumping all the risks on Canadians. Rigged process, First Nations & local communities shut out, oil spill threats, science ignored & now billions on the line It’s clear this pipeline should not be built.

Singh’s choice to oppose the pipeline reflects the composition of his federal caucus of 43 Members of Parliement, which includes 1 MP from Alberta and 14 MPs from British Columbia.

In deciding the pick the side of Premier John Horgan‘s BC NDP in this dispute, it appears as though Singh has come to the same conclusion as Jason Kenney about the likely outcome of Alberta’s 2019 election.

There is also speculation that Singh could run in an upcoming by-election in Burnaby-South following MP Kennedy Stewart’s decision to run for mayor of Vancouver.

Giant new provincial park: Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips announced the creation of five new wildland provincial parks covering 1.3 million hectares of new protected areas in northern Alberta. Along with the Wood Buffalo National Park, and the Caribou Mountains Wildland Provincial Park these new wildland provincial parks are the biggest contiguous legislated protection the world’s boreal forest. According to a Government of Alberta press release, the new protected areas were created through a partnership with the provincial and federal governments, the Tallcree First Nation, Syncrude and the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

“Protecting landscapes from industrial activity is an essential element of responsible oilsands and oil and gas development,” said Simon Dyer of the Pembina Institute.

“Other planning processes underway will further protect under-represented ecosystems and habitats for woodland caribou. We look forward to Alberta becoming the first jurisdiction in Canada to achieve the benchmark of 17 per cent of its landscapes as legislatively protected areas as landscape planning is completed in other parts of the province,” Dyer said.

Do as I say, not as I do: It was not long ago that United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney declared that “I believe that we can have a respectful debate on ideas without resorting to the nasty politics of personal destruction.

But this week, Kenney unleashed the nasty politics of personal destruction against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a column written by Postmedia’s Rick Bell. Of Trudeau, Kenney claimed that “He doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing. This guy is an empty trust-fund millionaire who has the political depth of a finger bowl. He can’t read a briefing note longer than a cocktail napkin, O.K.

Kenney’s harsh words give an indication of how relations between Alberta and Ottawa could sour if he becomes Premier of Alberta in 2019.

Episode 10: Week 300 of the Trans Mountain Pipeline debate, and predictions for Alberta’s 2019 Election.

This episode includes analysis from Dave Cournoyer and Ryan Hastman about week 300 of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline dispute (including updates from Ryan, who was behind enemy lines in Vancouver) and the latest candidate nomination updates ahead of Alberta’s 2019 election.

So you want to be a candidate?

Ryan leads this week’s ‘So you want to be a candidate‘ segment with useful tips for Albertans wanting to run in next year’s election. And we answer a big question from listener Eric Grenier about the Rachel Notley NDP’s chances of re-election.

The Daveberta Podcast is a member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB Financial. The network includes more than 30 podcasts, including one of our favourites, The Expats.

Listen and subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, and wherever you find podcasts online. If you leave a review on Apple Podcasts before May 31, 2018, you will be entered into a contest that will include awesome (and yet to be determined) prizes.

We’d love to hear what you think of this episode, so feel free to leave a comment on this blog, Facebook or Twitter or send us an email at podcast@daveberta.ca.

We are always grateful for our producer, Adam Rozenhart, for his help in making this podcast a reality. This episode was recorded over Google Hangout.

Thank you for listening!

Update: When we recorded this episode, we mentioned that NDP MLA Shannon Phillips had not yet announced her plans to seek re-election. The day after we record this episode, Phillips announced her plans to seek re-election in Lethbridge-West.

Alberta threatens to turn off the taps to BC as the Trans Mountain pipeline dispute continues

With little appearing to have changed after Sunday’s pipeline summit in Ottawa, the political dispute over Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline continues to escalate.

Marg McCuaig Boyd (photo by Connor Mah)

Marg McCuaig Boyd (photo by Connor Mah)

In Edmonton today, Alberta Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd introduced Bill 12: Preserving Canada’s Economic Prosperity Act. The bill would give the Minister of Energy sweeping powers to “make an order directing an operator to cease transporting natural gas, crude oil or refined fuels in the operator’s provincial pipeline, or by the operator’s railway or commercial vehicle.”

It makes February’s wine boycott sound cute.

Use of the powers included in Bill 12 could have serious political and economic consequences for Alberta and BC. Ceasing the transport of oil and gas to BC could convince BC Premier John Horgan’s government to back down from its opposition to the pipeline expansion, but it could also backfire by escalating political tensions between the two provincial governments.

There is a little bit of irony in the Alberta government granting itself the powers to slow down the shipment of oil and gas to BC. The BC government’s initial move to limit shipments of diluted bitumen 11 weeks ago, a move Notley then described as unconstitutional, is what escalated the current political dispute between the two provinces.

It is not clear whether Premier Rachel Notley‘s government would actually ever use the powers include in Bill 12. But at the rate this political dispute is escalating, I would not be surprised if McCuaig-Boyd started threatening to turn off the taps by next week. It feels very Lougheedian, but without the $100/barrel oil.

David Swann Liberal MLA Calgary-Mountain View

David Swann

Bill 12 will likely get unanimous support from the Jason Kenney-led opposition, leaving Alberta’s lone Liberal MLA as its only critic in the Assembly.

“The NDP Government wants extraordinary powers to interfere with the oil and gas industry but won’t provide specifics or limitations on those new powers,” said Calgary-Mountain View Liberal MLA David Swann, criticizing the the lack of details in Bill 12.

BC Environment Minister George Heyman says his government could take the Alberta government to court over Bill 12. “I’m not counting on Alberta taking extreme or unlawful actions, but if they do, we’re prepared to defend British Columbia’s interests with every legal means available,” Heyman said.

Hogan says his government will continue with its legal case to determine if the province has the jurisdictional right to stop the project. But it is unlikely the court will rule on this case before the May 31, 2018 deadline imposed by Texas-based Kinder Morgan Inc., which succeeded in generating a quick response from the Alberta and federal government.

A political dispute, not a constitutional crisis or a broken country.

As the political rhetoric runs high, it is important to take a deep breath. We are not on the verge of a constitutional crisis, as Notley has suggested. The country is not broken, as Kenney suggested. And we do not need to call in the army to protect the pipeline from eco-terrorists, as former Alberta energy minster Rick Orman suggested on CBC radio this morning.

As David Moscrop wrote in Macleans last week:

“What we’re seeing with the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline debate is democracy, federalism, and the rule of law at work: a divided country working out their opinions on the matter, split jurisdiction actors pursuing their interests, responsive governments keeping their promises, political and legal battles across several sites of licit contestation—and, to boot, a market response of potentially pulling the plug on the project as shareholders vote with their confidence and their dollars.”

BC MPs face civil contempt charges over acts of civil disobedience

Meanwhile, Green Party leader and Sannich-Gulf Islands Member of Parliament Elizabeth May and NDP MP Kennedy Stewart face criminal contempt charges after entering a 5-meter ‘no-protest’ zone surrounding Kinder Morgan’s pipeline construction site on Burnaby Mountain. A conviction will not necessarily lead to the two MPs losing their seats in the House of Commons.

Section 750(1) of the Criminal Code, which applies to members of both the Senate and the House, stipulates the following:

Where a person is convicted of an indictable offence for which the person is sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more and holds, at the time that person is convicted, an office under the Crown or other public employment, the office or employment forthwith becomes vacant.

Through the Looking Glass – NDP cabinet ministers awkwardly join pro-pipeline, pro-UCP rally

Today’s rally at the Alberta Legislature in support of the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline was one of the strangest rallies in recent memory.

Maybe it was because the first speaker introduced himself by bragging about having confronted actor Jane Fonda in a parking lot outside a Moxie’s restaurant.

Maybe it was because in the crowd of 600 or so Albertans I was standing between one guy who kept yelling “Free Alberta from Canada!” and another who was yelling “Go back to Ottawa you Commie!”

Or maybe it was because as this was happening, there were a dozen New Democratic Party cabinet ministers and MLAs standing beside the podium, with most of the United Conservative Party caucus standing beside them.

We are through the looking glass.

Organized by the pro-pipeline Rally 4 Resources group, the event was promoted by both the NDP and UCP, and included speakers ranging from NDP cabinet minsters to UCP leader Jason Kenney to Edmonton mayor Don Iveson.

Despite the presence of senior NDP cabinet ministers and backbench MLAs, and two mass emails promoting the event sent by the NDP caucus, one from Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson and one from Calgary-Shaw MLA Graham Sucha, the crowd did not feel like an NDP friendly group. Or at least not any type of NDP-friendly group I would recognize.

Cries of “bullshit” could be heard as Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous spoke at the mic. The crowd booed, jeered and heckled federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi, a popular former Edmonton city councillor, as he spoke about the Trudeau government’s commitment to the pipeline expansion.

A small group can be heard on video trying to begin a chant of “NDP, NDP, NDP” as Kenney spoke, but it didn’t catch on.

While the rally was billed as a non-partisan event, it felt like the NDP showed up to a UCP rally, or at the very least an anti-NDP rally.

Premier Rachel Notley is on a roll as Alberta’s top pipeline champion, but this rally should give the NDP pause about whether hitching the final year of their first-term as government to the pipeline issue was a smart move.

As a government in Alberta, being anything but pro-pipeline is an almost impossible option. Support of the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline in Alberta is likely somewhere near 98 percent (with a 2 percent margin of error) and I suspect many Albertans are becoming increasingly frustrated with pipeline opponents in British Columbia (where opposition to the pipeline is a valid mainstream opinion).

Supporting these rallies and escalating the war of words into drastic action against BC may play well with the Chambers of Commerce and certain Postmedia columnists, but it may fall flat among the supporters the NDP will need to activate and energize in the next 12 months.

Notley will meet with BC Premier John Horgan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa next Sunday to discuss the pipeline dispute. If the meeting can deescalate or even resolve the pipeline dispute to end official political opposition to the pipeline in BC, then perhaps Notley’s gamble will pay off. But it not, then we may witness more pro-pipeline rallies with NDP cabinet ministers standing awkwardly in front of crowds of UCP supporters.

(photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Kinder Morgan drops a Sunday afternoon bombshell in the never-ending Trans Mountain Pipeline dispute

“Alberta is prepared to do whatever it takes to get this pipeline built” – Rachel Notley

It was a busy Sunday afternoon in Alberta politics.

We appear to have reached another stage in what feels like a never-ending political dispute over the expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby. Late on Sunday afternoon, Kinder Morgan released a statement declaring that it was “suspending all non-essential activities and related spending on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.”

The company plans to “consult with various stakeholders in an effort to reach agreements” by May 31, 2018.

It feels like a big win for British Columbia Premier John Horgan and opponents of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion. But this announcement by Kinder Morgan could also be part of a strategy to increase the pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to convince Horgan to back down from his opposition to the pipeline.

Kinder Morgan Inc. is the key player in this dispute but has remained largely silent in the public debate. But when the Texas-based company finally spoke this afternoon, all the political players jumped to attention.

Notley responded to Kinder Morgan’s announcement with a message that is pitch perfect for Alberta-ears. Notley called on Trudeau to stand up for Alberta’s interests as he has for economic interests in Ontario and Quebec. And in a move that will remind Albertans of Peter Lougheed, Notley went as far to say that “Alberta is prepared to be an investor in the pipeline” if opposition to the pipeline caused private investors to flee.

Trudeau responded very clearly with a tweet declaring that “The Trans Mountain expansion will be built.” And federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr reinforced support for the pipeline in a written statement.

All that said, it remains unclear what the federal government will do to stop what is mostly verbal threats by the BC government to stop the pipeline.

In a statement released today, Horgan stated that “the federal process failed to consider B.C.’s interests and the risk to our province” – a sentiment that most Albertans might agree with on many other issues. But with the BC NDP government now trying to jump-start the west coast liquid natural gas industry, it seems clear that neither climate change or the transportation of natural resources are the actual reasons for opposing this pipeline.

Creating political obstacles that could convince Kinder Morgan to lose interest in the project is part of Horgan’s strategy, and maybe one of the final tools in the now infamous ‘toolbox’ referred to in the 2017 Confidence and Supply Agreement between the BC Green Caucus and the BC NDP Caucus.

The Notley government is expected to introduce legislation giving the government the authority to limit oil and gas shipments to BC, a move that could have serious political and economic repercussions for Alberta, BC and Canada. I would imagine this drastic move by the Alberta government would provide some incentive for Trudeau to figure out how he might provide an opportunity for Horgan to gracefully save face on this issue.

I expect this might not be the last time this never-ending political dispute makes big news on a Sunday afternoon.

Notley claims victory in the courts, but opponents of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline are not going to just disappear.

Another victory for our economy. Another victory for our climate plan. Another victory for the pipeline and another victory for all Albertans and all Canadians,” was the message Alberta Premier Rachel Notley reportedly delivered at a press conference in St. Albert. Notley was of course referring to the decision by the Federal Court of Appeal to dismiss the British Columbia government’s bid to challenge a National Energy Board ruling allowing Kinder Morgan Inc. to bypass City of Burnaby bylaws meant to block the expansion of the corporation’s Trans Mountain Pipeline.

As Kinder Morgan and its supporters in government in Edmonton and Ottawa are racking up the legal and regulatory wins in this pipeline dispute, losses in the courts might do little to stop opposition to the pipeline.

Opponents of the pipeline, including Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, have said that despite the court ruling they will continue to oppose the pipeline. In a demonstration of non-violent civil disobedience last Friday, Green Party leader Elizabeth May and Burnaby-South NDP MP Kennedy Stewart were arrested by RCMP for protesting in a court determined no-protest zone outside of Kinder Morgan’s terminal in Burnaby.

South of the border, a Massachusetts judge ruled that more than a dozen protesters who blocked the construction of a gas pipeline were “not responsible” after they argued their actions to try and stop climate change were a legal “necessity.” I do not know if a similar outcome would be possible in Canadian courts, but I suspect we will begin to hear some of the same arguments in the coming months.

In the chambers of parliament in Ottawa, the Senate unanimously adopted a motion introduced by BC Conservative Senator Richard Neufeld urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “bring the full weight and power of his office to ensure that Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project gets completed on schedule.” This week, Independent Senator Doug Black of Calgary introduced Bill S-245, the Trans Mountain Pipeline Project Act, which would declare the pipeline “to be works for the general advantage of Canada.”

It is not clear what Neufeld believes “the full weight and power” of the Prime Minister’s Office includes, but aside from Trudeau sending in the Army or suspending constitutional rights of Canadians, we should expect the protests to intensify. The Trudeau government in Ottawa has been clear about its support for the pipeline, but the political calculus, including the 18 incumbent Liberal MPs in British Columbia, has meant most federal pressure on the BC government is likely being applied behind the scenes.

Notley was right to point out the contradiction in the BC government’s position opposing the Kinder Morgan pipeline while trying to jump-start the west coast liquid natural gas industry. Just as Albertans have discovered in this pipeline dispute, provincial governments can sometimes be much more sympathetic to their own local industries than the opinions of neighbouring provinces.

There are contradictions on both sides of this debate.

Opponents of the pipeline are happy to point out the conflicting messages sent by Notley’s government, which pushes the expansion of an oilsands pipeline while lauding its Climate Leadership Plan. The success of the oil pipeline has been made central to the Alberta NDP government’s political future, The awkward shoehorning of the pipeline issue into the provincial budget was the most recent example.

It feels unlikely this issue will be resolved anytime soon and, despite rulings in the courts, opponents of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline will likely get louder and more determined before the pipeline is expanded, if ever.

BC refuses to open the Quails’ Gate for Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline. Is Alberta up the CedarCreek without a paddle?

It has been one week since the Alberta Government began its great BC wine boycott and supplies of Okanagan wine are closer to running dry in Alberta’s privately owned liquor stores.

While Premier Rachel Notley has succeeded in draping herself Alberta’s blue and gold flag, the Kinder Morgan corporation’s Trans Mountain Pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby looks to be no closer to expansion than it was before we began to deprive ourselves of BC wine.

Wine was an easy industry for the Alberta government to boycott, as there is no shortage of wines from other destinations on liquor store shelves, and Notley had to be seen to take some sort of action in retaliation. But with our integrated and interdependent economies there might not be much more the Alberta Government could boycott to convince the BC government of Premier John Horgan to stop their environmental study and stalling of transport of dilluted bitumen through BC.

Both politicians are in need of a big political wins and both sides of this debate have continued to dig in their heels.

Premier Rachel Notley met with steel workers during a tour of the Tenaris Prudential welded pipe mill in Calgary on Feb. 8, 2018. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Premier Rachel Notley met with steel workers during a tour of the Tenaris Prudential welded pipe mill in Calgary on Feb. 8, 2018. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Notley announced the appointment of a high-profile task force of former politicians (including former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna and former deputy prime minister Anne McLellan), government bureaucrats and economists to help determine Alberta’s next actions. She also reiterated this week that the federal government should help resolve the situation.

Alberta’s Premier has found herself allied with Chambers of Commerce, federal Conservative MPs and United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney in demanding that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take decisive action to force the BC government to not stall the expansion of the oil pipeline, but it remains unclear what “decisive action” actually means.

Kenney called for an emergency session of the Legislature, which under the current circumstances would be not much more than four pro-pipeline parties professing their undying devotion and love for the oil pipeline to Burnaby (just in time for Valentine’s Day). Mixed with a large serving of BC-bashing, it would be unlikely to help warm relations with our neighbours to the west.

While the sabre rattling and economic boycotts are very visible actions, behind the scenes discussions between cooler heads will likely be what leads to a politically palitable resolution, if that is even possible at this point.

Notley will not be attending this weekend’s federal NDP convention in Ottawa, which will likely save federal leader Jagmeet Singh from being forced to join the dispute between the only two NDP governments in Canada. It has not been announced whether Horgan will be attending either.

With the Alberta flag firmly draped over her shoulders and not a bottle of BC wine to be found, Notley should take the political fight out of Edmonton’s government district. Notley should take her pipeline sales pitch on the road and tour Alberta.

She should speak out against the climate change denial rampant in opposition circles and talk about the benefits of the carbon tax, the transition to renewable energy and her government’s investments in public services and infrastructure. She can help empower Albertans with the tools they need to be active citizens and engage British Columbians and other Canadians in the pipeline debate.

Holding town hall meetings, talking one-on-one with Albertans in coffee shops, spending more time on radio call-in shows – and maybe while Notley is doing this, her actions might remind Albertans what inspired them to vote for her party in 2015.

Construction of the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline is expected to start in 2017.

The Great Constitutional Pipeline War of the Rockies

Fresh from the Alberta NDP’s victory over Saskatchewan in the Fake Trade War on the Prairies, the ongoing political fight over the expansion of the existing Kinder Morgan TransMountain Pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby is heating up.

Rachel Notley Alberta NDP leader

Rachel Notley

In the British Columbia NDP government’s most recent move to block the oil pipeline, Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister George Heyman announced new rules today that would limit “the increase of diluted bitumen transportation until the behaviour of spilled bitumen can be better understood and there is certainty regarding the ability to adequately mitigate spills.”

A key section of the Confidence and Supply Agreement between the NDP and 3-MLA Green caucus that props up BC Premier John Horgan‘s minority government states: Immediately employ every tool available to the new government to stop the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, the seven-fold increase in tanker traffic on our coast, and the transportation of raw bitumen through our province.

“Having run out of tools in the toolbox, the Government of British Columbia is now grasping at straws,” Alberta Premier Rachel Notley read in a statement.

While the pipeline was always going to be politically challenging, with unflinching support in Alberta and unwavering opposition in British Columbia, the Notley government has poured a considerable amount of political capital into the success of pipelines. In a gamble, they even used their much lauded Climate Leadership Plan and carbon levy program as a key part of their sales pitch for oil pipeline expansion.

George Heyman BC Environment Minister Pipelines

George Heyman

But opposition in BC remains strong.

“The B.C. government has every right to consult on whatever it pleases with its citizens,” Notley said. “It does not have the right to rewrite our Constitution and assume powers for itself that it does not have. If it did, our Confederation would be meaningless.”

I am not a constitutional expert, so I cannot speak to Notley’s claims, but by questioning the BC government’s decision on constitutional grounds, she is pressuring Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to abandon his delicate balancing act of trying to appease his pro-pipeline ally (Notley), anti-pipeline ally (Horgan), and the 18 Liberal Members of Parliament who call BC home.

Trudeau will be hosting a town hall meeting at MacEwan University in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 1. Maybe someone can ask him a question about this?

The route of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby.

The route of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby.

United Conservative Party of Alberta leader Jason Kenney.

Jason Kenney as the face of Conservatism in Alberta

When the Legislative Assembly resumes for its fall sitting on Monday, there will be a new seating plan.

Brian Jean Wildrose Leader

Brian Jean

A new Official Opposition United Conservative Caucus made up of twenty-two former Wildrose MLAs and six former Progressive Conservative MLAs will make its debut.

Richard Starke of Vermilion-Lloydminster will continue to sit as a lone PC MLA and former UCP MLA Rick Fraser of Calgary-South East will join exiled former Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt as Independent MLAs. Former New Democratic Party MLA Karen McPherson will join Greg Clark in doubling the Alberta Party Caucus. And sitting alongside Premier Rachel Notley in the government front-benches will be newly appointed Minister of Infrastructure Sandra Jansen, who left the PCs to join the NDP last November.

Leading the new United Conservative Party Caucus will be former Member of Parliament Jason Kenney, who won yesterday’s leadership vote with 61 percent, defeating former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean, who finished with 31 percent, and Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer, who finished a distant third with 7 percent.

Kenney does not have a seat in the Assembly and indicated today that Calgary-Lougheed MLA Dave Rodney will resign on November 1, 2017 in order to create a by-election for his party’s new leader. Rodney was first elected in 2004.

David Eggen

As the new leader of the Official Opposition, Kenney will face some immediate issues as the Assembly reconvenes. He will need to reorganize his caucus office staff, reassign his party’s MLAs to new critic roles, and set an opposition agenda for the next 16 months. Kenney will do his best to avoid the bozoeruptions that plagued the former Wildrose MLAs in his UCP caucus and pivot to issues that will solidify his party’s conservative base.

As Kenney enters his new role as the new face of Conservatism in Alberta, the NDP will hope that Albertans forgive their more unpopular policies when reminded of the new UCP leader’s more bizarre social conservative views and rhetoric.

Education Minister David Eggen will introduce legislation making it illegal for schools to “out” students who join gay-straight alliances. Bill 24: An Act to Support Gay-Straight Alliances will reopen an issue that had conservative politicians tying themselves in knots after Kenney told a Postmedia editorial board that he would support teachers outing students who join GSAs.

Eggen has said most schools have been working with the province to establish codes of conduct against discrimination and adopt policies to protect LGBTQ youth, but a small group of mostly publicly-subsidized private schools are resisting. This bill could reignite the debate over the existence of publicly-subsidized private schools, some of which charge tens of thousands of tuition per student in order to attend.

Rachel Notley Alberta NDP leader

Rachel Notley

Despite calls from their political allies, Notley’s NDP government has avoided overhauling the structure of Alberta’s school system. But open resistance by private schools over GSAs, and by publicly-funded Catholic Superintendents wanting to dumb-down the Sexual Education curriculum, could force a debate over accountability of public funds being provided to these religious schools.

Kenney has been a vocal supporter of the Catholic schools, claiming that Notley’s opposition to a dumbed-down Sexual Education curriculum is the “statist ideology of the NDP on steroids.”

Of course, Notley is not telling publicly-funded Catholic schools not to teach Catholicism, she is telling them that they must teach consent and acknowledge the existence of homosexuality (welcome to the 21st century).

Alberta is one of a few remaining provinces that provides full public funding to Catholic schools. Former PC MLA David King, who served as education minister from 1979 to 1986, has collected close to 1,000 signatures in an online petition demanding a referendum on the future of publicly funded Catholic schools in Alberta.

David King

On the flip-side, as Kenney enters his role as UCP leader, he will hope that Albertans forgive his more bizarre social conservative views and rhetoric when reminded of the NDP’s more unpopular policies.

Repealing farm safety laws and the government’s climate leadership plan, including the carbon tax and phase-out of dirty coal-fired power plants, were two of his key promises, along with much chest-thumping about withdrawing from Canada’s equalization program (which is not something any province can do, because the funds are collected through Canadian federal income taxes, not by the provinces).

We can expect Kenney to spend a lot of time criticizing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has developed a relatively friendly working relationship with Notley’s government on issues ranging from oil pipeline construction to climate change. With deep connections to the Conservatives in Ottawa, expect a Kenney-led UCP to march in lockstep with their federal cousins on these issues.

Justin Trudeau

Notley’s NDP subtly shifted their messaging last year, focusing on launching new programs and projects they argue will “make lives better for Albertans.” This will provide the NDP with a significant contrast to the Kenney-led UCP, who they will argue would attack public services and hurt Alberta families.

Kenney has said that if he becomes Premier in 2019, the months that follow would be known as the “Summer of Repeal” as his government would immediately move to repeal legislation passed by the NDP since 2015. The trouble with Kenney’s promise to repeal all of the NDP’s agenda is that, despite anger from conservatives still bitter from losing the 2015 election, some of the changes introduced by Notley’s NDP are popular among Albertans.

Would a UCP government cancel the construction of the Cancer Treatment Centre and the Green Line in Calgary or the new hospital in south Edmonton? Would a UCP government increase school fees and cancel the $25/day childcare program? Would Kenney close schools and hospitals, like his political role model Ralph Klein did in the 1990s? Expect the NDP start asking these questions when MLAs meet in Edmonton tomorrow.

This weekend’s UCP leadership vote and the resumption of the Legislative session tomorrow marks a huge change in Alberta’s political landscape. Alberta politics has changed drastically over the past two years, and even the past decade. The next few weeks, and the next 16 months, in Alberta politics will be fascinating to watch.

Liberal candidate Brian Gold and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a campaign event in Spruce Grove on October 20, 2017

The Forgotten By-Election in Sturgeon River-Parkland

Photo: Liberal candidate Brian Gold and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a campaign event in Spruce Grove on October 20, 2017. (Source: Twitter)

Overshadowed by this past Monday’s municipal elections, the federal by-election in Sturgeon River-Parkland scheduled for October 23, 2017 could be described as the forgotten by-election. I drove through Sturgeon County and the town of Morinville this week and spotted only a few Conservative, Liberal and Christian Heritage party signs scattered on the sides of the highways alongside the soon-to-be collected municipal election signs.

It was easy to forget that the by-election was evening happening.

Dane Lloyd Conservative Sturgeon River Parkland

Dane Lloyd

Along with the municipal election, the lack of general interest in the by-election could also be a result of its widely predicted outcome – a landslide victory by Conservative Dane Lloyd.

The district re-elected Conservative MP Rona Ambrose with 70 percent of the vote in 2015. And even though Ambrose’s handpicked successor, Jamie Mozeson, was surprisingly defeated in the party’s nomination race, the outcome will likely be similar, albeit with a much lower voter turnout. This is a reliably Conservative voting area of Alberta and any candidate running under that party’s banner can expect to be easily elected.

Lloyd, a 26-year old political staffer for St. Albert-Edmonton Conservative MP Michael Cooper, earned media attention during the nomination race after calling for a “no body, no parole” law. He has also expressed some very conservative political views online about feminism and firearms.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer made a campaign stop in the district on October 10, 2017.

His party’s prospects aside, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid a visit to the district on October 20, 2017 to campaign alongside Liberal Party candidate Brian Gold.

Shawna Gawreluck NDP Sturgeon River Parkland

Shawna Gawreluck

At a campaign event in a pizza parlour in Spruce Grove, the district’s largest community, Trudeau told supporters: “I know you’re going to be talking to families and you can talk to them about the fact that the first thing we did was lower taxes for the middle class and raise them for the wealthiest one per cent. You can talk about the fact, as (Gold) said, we approved pipelines that the previous government couldn’t get done.”

Trudeau deserves credit for the visit. The Liberal leader appears to have personally campaigned alongside his party’s candidates in every by-election since becoming leader, including in past by-elections in Calgary, Foothills, Fort McMurray, and Yellowhead.

While New Democratic Party candidate Shawna Gawreluck has not had a visit from her party’s new leader, Jagmeet Singh, she has had the support of Edmonton-Strathcona MP Linda Duncan and Spruce Grove-St. Albert MLA Trevor Horne. Christian Heritage Party candidate Ernest Chauvet also had a visit from his party’s leader, Rod Taylor.

Sturgeon River-Parkland by-election.

Sturgeon River-Parkland

Voting stations will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m on Monday, October, 23, 2017. You can use the Elections Alberta online tool to locate your polling station.

Here are the list of candidates and their social media links:

Christian Heritage Party: Ernest Chauvet (Facebook)
Conservative: Dane Lloyd, (Facebook, Twitter)
Liberal: Brian Gold (Facebook, Twitter)
NDP: Shawna Gawreluck (Facebook, Twitter)

The Energy East Blame Game. Who blames who?

Today’s announcement by the TransCanada Corporation that it would no longer pursue the construction of the Energy East Pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta to Saint John, New Brunswick triggered a storm of statements, accusations and criticisms from politicians trying to drive their political narratives.

While the reasons for the TransCanada Corporation withdrawing its plans are likely influenced more by economics than by politics, there will certainly be political implications for the politicians – like Premier Rachel Notley – who have tethered their governing agenda to the approval of pipeline projects.

So, politics being politics, here is a quick look at who is blaming who for the demise of the Energy East Pipeline:

The TransCanada Corporation blames existing and likely future delays caused by the National Energy Board regulatory process, associated costs and challenging “issues and obstacles” facing the project.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley blames “a broad range of factors that any responsible business must consider.”

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant doesn’t blame the TransCanada Corporation, but recognizes “recent changes to world market conditions and the price of oil have negatively impacted the viability of the project.”

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall blames Justin Trudeau, the federal government, and Montreal mayor Denis Coderre.

Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr blames the decision to cancel the pipeline project as a business decision.

Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer blames Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Alberta Liberal MPs Randy Boissonnault, Amarjeet Sohi and Kent Hehr blame “current market challenges related to world market conditions and lower commodity prices.

Calgary Conservative MP Michelle Rempel blames “Liberal ideological opposition to the wealth and prosperity of western Canada, to the detriment of the nation as a whole.”

United Conservative Party interim leader Nathan Cooper blames the Alberta NDP.

UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean blames Rachel Notley, Justin Trudeau and Denis Coderre.

UCP leadership candidate Jason Kenney blames the Alberta NDP carbon-tax and social license, and the Trudeau Liberals. He later also blames Denis Coderre.

UCP leadership candidate Doug Schweitzer blames Justin Trudeau and Rachel Notley.

Alberta Party leader Greg Clark blames the Alberta NDP.

Alberta Liberal leader David Khan blames economic factors, describing the decision as “a business decision by TransCanada based on current economic and political realities.”

UCP MLA Drew Barnes blames Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.

UCP MLA Prasad Panda blames the Alberta NDP’s carbon tax.

Another Season of Stampede Politicking in Calgary

Rachel Notley Calgary Stampede Alberta

Rachel Notley

Politicians of all stripes descended on Alberta’s largest city this week for the annual Calgary Stampede festivities.

Though most of them have probably never ridden a horse or woke up at 5am (or earlier) to start their day on the farm, they were almost all brandishing big shiny belt buckles, wrangler-style shirts and cowboy hats of various sizes (and if they are lucky, they weren’t wearing them backwards).

Alberta’s NDP caucus held their annual summer caucus meeting in Calgary this week, which allowed most of the 54 NDP MLAs to scatter across the city to attend pancake breakfasts and BBQ lunches that could be found on almost every street corner this week.

The NDP had a particularly strong presence at Stampede events this year, signalling what many political watchers already believe – that Calgary will be a major battleground in the next provincial election. Calgarians elected fifteen NDP MLAs in the Orange Wave of 2015 but the party still remains organizationally weak in this city.

Brian Jean Calgary Stampede Alberta

Brian Jean

Premier Rachel Notley and various cabinet ministers used the week in Calgary to make a series of funding announcements, including loosening restrictions on restaurant patios, construction industry tax credits, improvements to the Canada-Alberta Job Grant and business grants for Alberta’s food processing and booming craft beer industry.

Already campaigning for the leadership of the currently non-existent United Conservative Party, Brian Jean was spotted attending some events that a leader of the right-wing Wildrose Party would not expected to be seen at – such as the annual United Nurses of Alberta BBQ and LGBTQ events. This is likely an attempt to differentiate himself from his social conservative leadership rival Jason Kenney.

Kenney, who is earning a reputation as the potshot king of Alberta politics, offered to pay for Notley to take a course in economics this week. Notley, who has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Alberta and a Law Degree from Osgoode Hall, rightfully pointed out the arrogance of Kenney’s comments.

Jason Kenney Calgary Stampede Alberta

Jason Kenney

Meanwhile, Alberta Together, a political action committee for the Alberta Party, attracted a sizeable group of disgruntled former PC Party members unhappy with Kenney’s leadership to an event this week in Calgary.

By the end of Sunday, most of the politicians visiting Calgary will have hung up their cowboy hats and packed away their boots and denim until next year. But while the Calgary Stampede may be the biggest political event of the season, it is only the beginning of what will be a summer full of political campaigns and maneuvering.

Wildrose MLA blames “hack job” for anti-Trudeau tweet

Speaking to a radio station in his Drumheller-Stettler constituency, Wildrose MLA Rick Strankman claimed the “electronic sphere” and a “hack job” were responsible for a tweet posted by his MLA twitter account last week accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of being a “gutless puke.”

The tweet appeared to have been sent in response to Trudeau’s initial plans not to attend this year’s Stampede, which he later changed (Trudeau was attending the G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany earlier this week).

The tweet, which was deleted moments after it was posted, was first reported on this blog last week.