Trudeau, rail cars, winter…

burn baby burnWINTER in Alberta.

Right now, the NDP government—with the blessing of the official opposition in Alberta— is considering a rollback, hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil per day from the province’s production. UCP leader Jason Kenney said as much, in an extraordinary press conference, following Premier Rachel Notley’s announcement that her government will purchase rolling stock and locomotives if necessary to keep Alberta’s oil on the move — on the railway.

jason_winter is comingCiting by name Peter Lougheed that “Albertans are the owner of its natural resources,” not the companies, Jason Kenney channelled the former and much beloved premier of the province. Mr. Kenney went on to say — as if Lougheed was in the room— how he closely conferred with the petroleum industry’s leadership, its elders, and free market philosophers, to arrive at the startling conclusion that the Government of Alberta must intervene — if only for a short period — to curtail imminent disaster and the loss of companies large and small in the oil sector. It’s not about partisan politics, he said. And it shouldn’t be.


Alberta has faced economic winter before. We survived.  We survived because we understood the only people who care about us — are us.

We need to keep telling and retelling the stories of this place. And the story of Peter Lougheed, premier of Alberta from 1971 to 1985, is one of those essential stories about our province’s capacity to survive terrible winters…and then prosper. 

Over the summer, Don Hill & I interviewed twenty of Lougheed’s political peers. Many are getting to an age where their wisdom and stories could be lost if we had not recorded them. And too many Albertans under the age of forty don’t remember how Lougheed and his Team led us through the storm of the National Energy Program and major constitutional challenges in the early 1980s. It’s important — especially now — that we recall this history of leadership, and how they smartly managed crisis.


Canada’s Constitution was amended in 1930 to give prairie provinces ownership and control of their natural resources, including oil and natural gas. That paved the way for provincial leaders, including Lougheed, and now Rachel Notley, to relieve the tension of fair royalties and fair taxes and fair sharing of the province’s prosperity with a simple frame of reference: it’s stupid to sell Alberta oil for prices far below the cost of production. It isn’t fair to the royalty-owners. 

rachel_winter is comingThis whole mess is  mostly the Federal Government of Canada’s doing. Certainly Premier Notley shares in the blame, and will likely pay for her government’s naivety come spring and a provincial election. But for the moment, it’s time to put the prime minister’s sunny ways to the test of a prairie blizzard and a resilient people who know how to deal with the Trudeau clan.

Game of Thrones comes to mind — winter is coming

[This column is the consensus opinion of the writers Donna Kennedy-Glans & Don Hill]

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to BEYOND POLARITY — scroll down on your phone or tablet, or look to the right in the panel beside this post. Enter your email to FOLLOW, a wheel spins, hamsters get fed.



3 thoughts on “Trudeau, rail cars, winter…

  1. “This whole mess is mostly the Federal Government of Canada’s doing.”

    A fairly accurate statement, as far as it goes, Donna. The misleading aspect is demonstrated by your next comments, linking “the Trudeau clan” to the issue. You know better: you know that the changes to federal environmental legislation and restructuring of the NEB which led to the failures outlined in the FCA TMX expansion ruling were baked in under Harper, and the consultations began then. Plenty of blame for the feds, but for successive federal govts controlled by both major parties. You know this.

    Your bloh post doesn’t exhibit much “beyond polarity” IMHO.

  2. Bill 69 is a very new creation, IMO David. As for the beyond polarity jab, being beyond polarity doesn’t mean that you sit in the mild middle on issues. The future of Alberta is very close to all our hearts David. Yours and mine too. We all move forward to make this place a better place in the ways we can. Don Hill and I spent a lot of personal time interviewing people who were peers of Lougheed this summer, to get to a clearer understanding of what they did that worked and didn’t work. Treating Albertans as owners of our resources and standing up to federal power is part of that, as well as asking the best and the brightest for their perspectives on a problem, whatever the politics.

  3. Actually you could make a case as aboriginal or First Nations do that humans are just passing through and we don’t own anything including the oil. If we are the owners, we have done a pretty bad job of managing it and the future. We haven’t saved the revenues from the resources as we should have nor have been leaders in the area of alternative energy. As one who lived in this province during the boom time who could not afford to live on my own, it is very difficult to show the sort of love that many have for this industry. If Albertans really want to be taken seriously by other parts of the country I think it is high time that we do some real soul searching and realize that it is our decisions that have got us to this place and on one put a gun to our heads.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.