Alberta rallies troops; Rachel Notley’s NDP party trumped
for Petroleum News
Alberta’s stunning choice in 2015 of a socialist New Democratic Party government lasted a minimum four years, the first time in 115 years that a ruling administration failed to get re-elected.
The administration of Premier Rachel Notley was sent packing on April 16, with the reins of power turned over to Jason Kenney and his United Conservative Party, reinstating conservative rule which controlled the province for 44 years up to the 2015 election.
That ended a 28-day campaign marked by insults and personal attacks leading to a sharply divided electorate.
Kenney’s UCP won 63 of 87 electoral districts, with 54% of the vote, while the NDP’s standing in the legislature was slashed in half to 24, although the numbers cold change after a final vote count.
Now the prospect of a real bare-knuckles brawl between Alberta and the provinces of British Columbia and Quebec and especially the Trudeau federal administration looms large.
The fight with Trudeau will probably start with Kenney’s promise to quickly wipe out a federal carbon tax, and quickly extend to a test of wills over pipelines to tanker terminals on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, regulatory reviews of major natural resource projects and moves by Trudeau to ban crude tanker traffic off the northern British Columbia coast.
Trudeau up for re-electionThe full-frontal attack will hit Trudeau as he loses ground in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick ahead of his own bid for re-election in October.
It reminds many Albertans of the epic showdown between them and the Canadian government of then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau - the father of Justin - over the National Energy Program which targeted lower oil prices, grants for frontier exploration and increased government revenues from oil sales.
It resulted in large U.S.-based companies pulling out of Canada, tens of thousands of layoffs and bankruptcies and cost Alberta an estimated C$100 billion in the 1980-85 period that the NEP lasted.
Kenney, who scorned what he described as an alliance between Notley and Justin Trudeau, has pledged to scrap Alberta’s existing carbon tax of C$30 per metric ton on greenhouse gas emissions that is scheduled to reach C$50.
The tax is rated by Kenney as the “most hated” NDP policy, which he argues is killing investment and jobs, while being defended by Notley and Trudeau as a critical underpinning of their climate change strategy.
Currently, the tax generates C$1.3 billion a year, representing 2.5% of Alberta’s C$50 billion in revenues.
“We think it’s all economic pain and no measurable environmental gain,” Kenney said.
The Canadian government has imposed its own price on carbon of C$20 per metric ton, rising by C$10 a year until 2022, with 90% of the money being returned to Canadians through rebates.
Kenney has also declared he will no longer sit back while activist groups, many of them funded by U.S. money from trusts that are heavily invested in the U.S. petroleum industry, spread “misinformation” about the oil sands in particular.
- GARY PARK