Alberta Politics

Notley opens the Quails’ Gate and lets the BC wine flow into Alberta once again.

Did Alberta win the pipeline war against British Columbia? No, but the great BC wine boycott of 2018 appears to be over.

John Horgan BC NDP Leader Premier
John Horgan

The interprovincial dispute over the Kinder Morgan Inc. Trans Mountain Pipeline is likely far from over, but Premier Rachel Notley announced today that the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission would lift its weeks-long boycott of British Columbia wine.

Notley’s announcement comes as BC Premier John Horgan confirmed his government will not restrict increases in bitumen shipments until further spill studies are conducted, a move he initially announced after last week’s Throne Speech in Victoria. But this does not mean Horgan’s government is ending its opposition to the pipeline. It will be seeking the opinion of the courts to confirm its “constitutional rights to defend against a bitumen spill.’

The pipeline issue has allowed Notley to drape herself in the Alberta flag while highlighting her government’s action on climate change, most notably the phase-out of dirty coal-fired power plants that were generating a significant amount of Alberta’s carbon emissions. 

The Alberta-BC dispute was also the first time United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney filled the role traditionally reserved for official opposition leaders in our province: Irrelevance. As Notley led the defence of Alberta’s oil industry, Kenney was left on the sidelines, jumping up and down and waving his hands, while pleading ‘pay attention to me!

This has been a good issue for Notley. She has been able to solidify herself as a champion of an issue that has near unanimous support in Alberta. While it may not be her New Democratic Party‘s golden ticket to re-election in 2019, it certainly won’t hurt her chances (as slim as they might look).

While public support is divided, opposition to the pipeline in BC remains strong and opponents of the pipeline are planning to converge on Burnaby Mountain for a rally on March 10, 2018, the location of Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Burnaby Terminal.

It is still unclear how this will end, but at least we can enjoy an honest glass of BC wine on both sides of the provincial boundary again.

Meanwhile, hundreds of climate scientists and policy makers will meet in Edmonton from March 5 to 7, 2018 at the first annual CitiesIPCC Cities and Climate Change Science conference, hosted by the City of Edmonton.

Hosting the 2018 Cities and Climate Change Science conference gives us the opportunity to share knowledge with other municipalities, while learning, advancing ideas and forming partnerships that will help the world’s cities make progress on climate change,” Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said in a statement when the conference was announced in 2017.

3 replies on “Notley opens the Quails’ Gate and lets the BC wine flow into Alberta once again.”

I think the Notley government’s take on this is that if the Horgan government leaves it to the courts to decide, the constitutional argument for the federal government’s jurisdiction over this decision is paramount, and the courts will allow the project to proceed even over BC’s objections. This is congruent with Premier Notley’s arguments that this isn’t about Alberta vs BC, but BC vs Canada, and that BC’s threatened action was ultra vires.

Whether the project will actually proceed is still in doubt. Courts or no courts, my prediction is that there will be implacable eco-activists laying down on the ground in front of construction equipment, daring the company’s building contractor to run them over. Trans-Mountain, like Trans-Canada before it with the Energy East decision, will eventually throw up its hands and walk away from the project.

Well it seems to make sense on a logical level, but perhaps not a political one. The wine ban was meant as a reaction to proposed restrictions by BC that were generally regarded to be unconstitutional. BC over reached and was slapped down. Now that BC has retreated from that, the wine ban has been suspended.

However, this issue tends to polarize people and leads people on both extremes tend to act illogically. Some in Alberta want to punish BC for failing to roll over completely and the supposed environmentalists in BC probably should be targeting the users of fossil fuels, not the pipelines. Do they really think that not expanding this pipeline will cause fewer cars to be on the roads of the lower mainland or China? Of course it might upset the Federal governments carefully crafted national climate plan. You have to wonder if the Federal Liberals are thinking is the carbon tax really worth all this grief, many Albertans are.

As an Albertan who is a pretty strong socialist, I hope to Gord that Notley does everything in her power to win the next provincial election, even if she has to stoop to pandering a little (or a lot) to Big Oil. Electing the UCP is a one-way ticket to the dark ages, which unfortunately, could happen even with Notley”s best efforts. I agree with many of your points regarding the “idiocy of the lowest order but you will find very little agreement from residents across the province because oil production unfortunately still drives the Alberta economy. I am of the opinion that public opinion will likely never change on this issue without regional catastrophe and the only way that incremental improvement on Alberta”s environmental record will occur due to outside pressure (i.e. current pipeline dispute). I do think it is naive to think that Notley doesn”t also partially understand this even if she is unable to implement useful environmental policy and have a chance of staying in power.

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