Alberta Politics

Alberta Politics Catch Up: Pipelines, Planes, Cities and Rob Anders

Stop the Pipelines Alberta Oilsands 1Spending a few days in another province can sometimes give you a different perspective on important national issues. Spending the last week in British Columbia served as a good reminder to this political watcher about how emotional the debate around pipelines and the Oilsands are in Alberta’s neighbouring province.

Stop the Pipelines Alberta OilsandsWhile I am sure opinion is divided in B.C., I lost count of how many times I spotted “Stop the Pipelines” spray painted across concrete walls or embankments in Vancouver. And it was not just graffiti, the neighbours in the respectable neighbourhood I called home for the weekend even had anti-pipeline signs planted on their front lawns.

Former bank executive Jim Prentice, who will likely become Alberta’s next premier after this weekend’s Progressive Conservative leadership vote, has pledged to get the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline built. But it will be a more difficult job than most Albertans would imagine, and we better become familiar with this reality.

Jim Prentice Alberta PC Party Premier Leader
Jim Prentice

There are many legitimate environmental concerns surrounding the construction of oil pipelines (and the Alberta government’s failure to implement a climate change strategy), but at its base, all sides of this great Canadian debate appear to be basing their positions on emotion, rather than facts and solid arguments.

Back to Alberta politics, Mr. Prentice announced that his leadership campaign raised $1.8 million, which should not be too surprising. As favourite son of downtown Calgary and the front-runner in this contest, Mr. Prentice was expected to bring in the corporate dollars.

Earlier this year, Mr. Prentice warmed up his campaign as the committee chair for the PC Party’s Calgary fundraising dinner in May 2014. The PC Party has never really had trouble raising money, their biggest challenge is that the opposition Wildrose Party is raising just as much (and mostly in small donations from individuals, rather than large corporate donations).

Thomas Lukaszuk MLA Edmonton-Castle Downs
Thomas Lukaszuk

Former deputy premier and PC leadership candidate Thomas Lukaszuk has had a rough week. First, he changed his tune on a $20,000 cell phone bill racked up while he was on vacation in Poland and Israel, now saying that he was taking an emergency call from a cabinet minister, who was in the midst of family dispute. Then, it was revealed that Mr. Lukaszuk had quietly reimbursed the government for $1,400 worth of flights on the government planes in which he brought his daughter.

Mr. Lukaszuk was a harsh critic of former Premier Alison Redford when it was revealed she had misused government planes, including taking her daughter on flights.

Manmeet Bhullar
Manmeet Bhullar

Human Services minister Manmeet Bhullar denied allegations that he offered “dirt” on Mr. Lukaszuk to the opposition parties and that he was the source of the leak. Mr. Bhullar is co-chairing Mr. Prentice’s leadership campaign and is expected to earn a big cabinet promotion if his candidate wins the leadership race on September 6.

The CBC also uncovered that finance minister Doug Horner had taken his wife on 23 separate flights dating back to 2007. Mr. Horner is responsible for the fleet of government planes.

Meanwhile, Edmonton mayor Don Iveson says that time is long overdue for the big cities and the provincial government to have a “grown-up conversation” about funding how we build our cities. In Calgary, popular mayor Naheed Nenshi has given Mr. Prentice, Mr. Lukaszuk and Ric McIver low grades on municipal issues, saying that none of the PC leadership candidate have outlined any significant vision for Alberta’s cities.

The Wildrose Party is trying to distance itself from offensive Conservative Member of Parliament Rob Anders. The party is denying it issued an endorsement after a robocall broadcast to Conservative supporters in the Bow River riding included an endorsement from former Wildrose leader and MLA Paul Hinman.

Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and Strathmore-Brooks Wildrose MLA Jason Hale issued statements late last week denying any connections to Mr. Anders’ campaign. Here is Ms. Smith’s statement:

“While individual Wildrose members may choose to support individual nomination contestants for federal Conservative nominations, Wildrose as a party is neither endorsing nor assisting any nomination contestant in the Bow River electoral district.

No nomination contestant in Bow River can claim the official or unofficial endorsement of the Wildrose Party.

We encourage Albertans who are interested in politics to inform themselves about party nominations and participate in democracy and we wish all the nomination contestants the best of luck.”

3 replies on “Alberta Politics Catch Up: Pipelines, Planes, Cities and Rob Anders”

Hi Dave
I also did a press release last week stating I do not endorse Mr Anders. As well Mr. McAllister did the same.
Take care

re: “all sides of this great Canadian debate appear to be basing their positions on emotion, rather than facts and solid arguments.”


Here’s someone taking a position…

Which observations (excerpted below) by Thomas J. Duck are ’emotional’ re the debate over investing in more fossil fuel infrastructure and its incompatibility with preventative action on climate change?

Thomas J. Duck is a professor of physics and atmospheric science at Dalhousie University.

The only reason to build more pipelines is to pump oil faster. That inevitably would increase fossil fuel usage and exacerbate the climate change problem. It also would lock us into fossil fuel infrastructure at a time when countries are making plans to move in another direction — in their own best interests. Our capital and human resources can be spent in better ways

Mr. Trudeau says he supports expanding Canada’s oil pipeline network in a manner “that fits into a long-term strategy of a sustainable environment”. But you can’t square that circle: Expanding the pipeline network would lead to an increase in oil production — which can only worsen the impacts of climate change.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that we can still avoid the worst of it by reducing our dependence on oil, gas and coal. Our options include gradually transitioning to renewable energy sources (hydro, wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, biomass), improving energy efficiency, putting a price on carbon, developing energy storage and using more nuclear power. Many nations are making great progress on developing and deploying green technologies. Canada can and should become a low-carbon energy superpower.

Environmental degradation is not inevitable. The main thing preventing a solution to the climate change problem right now is a lack of political will.

And ignoring the problem would be very costly. The National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy projected the cost to Canada would be $5 billion annually by 2020 and a whopping $21 to $43 billion per year by 2050. Accompanying these numbers will be considerable human misery: a loss of economic opportunities, the escalating costs of dealing with more frequent “natural” disasters, and more hospital visits owing to heat waves and degraded air quality.

Building new pipelines that would be expected to operate for 50 years or more is simply not consistent with a long-term strategy to combat climate change. Unfortunately, Canada is awash in plans for new pipelines, including Keystone XL, Northern Gateway, the Trans Mountain expansion and Energy East. Why are these needed? There is more than enough existing pipeline capacity to ship all of Alberta’s bitumen.

Anders has been Wildrose since day one. Danielle Smith keeps trying to run from her extremist record, but Albertans know better…

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