WINTER 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.
Citing 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.
LEADERSHIP OR CAPITULATION?
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.
OIL & GAS RESOURCES BELONG TO ALBERTANS
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.
This 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]
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