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.
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.