“Premier Wall says that if standing up for your industry and your province is showboating, take me to the bridge.”—Brad Wall’s response to Rachel Notley’s comment that Wall was “showboating” on the eve of the premiers’ meeting.
Brad Wall is the second provincial premier (Jim Prentice was the first) who tried to take a bite out of Rachel Notley and ended up crumpled on the floor.
The brouhaha started when Mr Wall said Ms Notley had given Quebec a de facto veto of future pipelines when she said Quebec would support such pipelines if Alberta demonstrates it’s taking real action on climate change and environmental protection.
This, he said, was a rejection of the principles of Confederation and a failure to stand up for industry. He argued that if nothing else, forking over $10 billion in equalization payments to the have-not provinces should shut them up.
Ms Notley responded by saying the provinces could accomplish more by working together than by picking fights and that any suggestion that having a consensual dialogue translated into one province handing off its authority to another was “simply ridiculous and a bit naïve.”
Mr Wall went ballistic.
He said he felt like Homer Simpson in the episode where Homer wanted to buy a gun but was told he had to wait five days. “Five days, but I’m mad now.”* Okay, Mr Wall is angry but did he have to pick the rampaging shooter analogy?
Mr Wall decided to attend the premiers’ meeting after all. Originally he was going to stay home to deal with the forest fires. Presumably he realized that unless he was going to grab a fire hose they could spare him for a couple of days.
And guess what. At the end of the day all 13 provincial and territorial leaders, including the truculent Mr Wall, signed off on the Canadian Energy Strategy.
The Canadian Energy Strategy
The Canadian Energy Strategy is long on visionary statements and short on details…but it’s a start.
Its major shortcoming is it lacks federal government support. Once again Prime Minister Harper refused to acknowledge the meeting was going on. (When will the PM learn that he can’t run a confederation without some help from the provinces?)
The provinces agreed to collaborate on their regulatory and environmental practices but unless the feds step up to the plate, the provinces will not be able to deliver on a critical objective—to cut regulatory red tape or significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions—because pipelines carrying oilsands bitumen or natural gas destined for American or Asian markets require NEB approval.
And the NEB is a federal regulatory agency beyond the reach of any provincial government.
A back door solution
In an effort to overcome the limitations arising from the constitutional division of powers, the premiers crafted a clever work-around.
They want a seat at the table when the feds engage in international negotiations, agreements and forums on energy and climate change issues.
This is brilliant given the Prime Minister’s propensity for negotiating trade deals that allow foreign corporations to sue Canada if the provinces pass environmental legislation that reduces a foreign corporation’s profits.
No doubt this objective will go down like a lead balloon with Our Dear Leader…but it may be more acceptable to his replacement come October.
Ironically, Brad Wall fretted that Alberta was rewriting the Constitution by giving a de facto pipeline veto to other provinces when in reality it’s Prime Minister Harper who should be worried by the provinces’ desire to encroach on the federal domain.
See what happens when you refuse to acknowledge premiers’ meetings—the provinces lay siege to 24 Sussex Drive.
The still petulant Mr Wall
Mr Wall may have signed the Canadian Energy Strategy but he’s not happy.
He says the West should stop apologizing for its resources and stop being diplomatic about its message. Perhaps he can suggest a suitably belligerent alternative?
He bemoans the fact that all we’ve got to show for our goodwill is the National Energy Program (good lord, that old chestnut) and “precisely no pipelines” have been approved (well, except TCPL’s Keystone XL pipeline and Enbridge’s Northern Gateway,** approved by the NEB in Mar 2009 and June 2014 respectively).
Mr Wall concludes that more Canadians would support the Energy East pipeline if they knew it would end foreign imports from places like Venezuela and Saudia Arabia. (How? Energy East will export bitumen to overseas markets. No one can force producers to sell their product within Canada if they can get a better price elsewhere).
It’s time for Mr Wall to get off the bridge of the showboat and go down to the brig. There he can study the tape of the Notley/Prentice debate. He’ll soon learn that cheap shots will get him absolutely nowhere with the little blonde premier from Alberta.
*Globe & Mail July 17, 2015, A9
**Northern Gateway was approved subject to 209 conditions that Al Monaco, Enbridge’s CEO, is prepared to satisfy.
**Northern Gateway was approved subject to 209 conditions that Al Monaco, Enbridge’s CEO, is prepared to satisfy.” Good luck, Al, -especially with Christy Clark’s five deal-breaking conditions, and environmentalists, First Nations and a majority of British Columbians adamantly opposed!
There will be no 500,000-2,000,000 bbl tankers in Douglas Channel, Vancouver’s harbours, off Prince Rupert, and in the Bay of Fundy until Al, and Russ and Al at TRP, and John at K-M admit that their golden rule of pipelines “Diluted bitumen is physically and chemically indistinguishable from other heavy crude oils.“, found on TRP’s website, is totally wrong. See: http://www.energyeastpipeline.com/facts/oil-andpipelines-101/?gclid=CIvNxrG7p8ECFQcPaQod5ZMArg#sthash.AvKC9tle.dpuf
“…TCPL’s Keystone XL pipeline and Enbridge’s Northern Gateway,** approved by the NEB…”
Unfortunately NEB approvals have lost all credibility and no one accepts their decisions because dilbit is ignored and the verdict is pre-ordained.
ABCanuck you nailed it. One needs look no further than the Enbridge spill into the Kalamazoo River for proof that diluted bitumen is not physically and chemically indistinguishable from other heavy crude oils. After spilling 3.3 million litres of dilbit into the Kalamazoo River they made a startling discovery–it sinks. Years after the spill the EPA ordered Enbridge to go back in and do more dredging because it still wasn’t cleaned up to the EPA’s satisfaction.
And yes the NEB has become a sham regulator. The final decision on whether a pipeline is approved rests with the federal government, not the regulator and we all know which way they’re going to go.
And people like Brad Wall wonder why the industry doesn’t have the public’s wholehearted support?
The NEB is a rubber stamp on political agreements. The deals are made before they go to the NEB. Example would be Highway 19 involving the Edmonton International Airport. The Airport put up a million bucks to help fund the movement of that highway.
The twinning of this killer highway was put on ice behind McMurray’s main highway and another high traffic oil highway in southern Alberta.
All parties can claim waiting for NEB approval.
All tankers are not created equal. Modern tankers have double hulls. A 36″ of air space between the outer hull and the inner hull with lots of reinforcing between the two. This is distinguished in the licensing of the tankers and is available on public record. Laws could be in place to restrict passage or loading to only double hull tankers!
The best option in my mind is to follow Oberg’s lead (never thought I would hear myself say that) and use the rail corridor to Prince Rupert to put in a new pipeline. The port itself is the attraction! There is nothing else like it in North America or the world as far as I know. A sheer cliff face reaching hundreds of meters below the surface!
Super tankers draw about 90 feet loaded. The space below a loaded supertanker would be thousands of feet! All hazards non existent.
Kinder Morgan, Rachel’s choice looked at the money on the table. At the time it was costing 2.50 per barrel to ship oil by rail and .50 to ship by pipeline so Kinder picked a high price. Blackmail is what I call it. Only one of the major oil companies Syncrude complained publicly about the rip off. But Notley in her wisdom has given her support. I can only hope someone got a deal for Alberta out of this.
Interesting information Cyberclark. Thanks.
The reason I mentioned the NEB in the first place was to indicate that for all of Brad Wall’s griping he didn’t have his facts straight. But then again, he’s a politician and most of them don’t let the facts interfere with their rhetoric and in Harper’s case he makes sure that we can’t get our hands on the facts by systematically destroying the agencies that gather them. It’s outrageous behavior in a country that prides itself on being a democracy.
I posted this earlier on the Edmonton Sun where people were trashing her stand on pipelines because she said they were safer or perhaps trashing is all they can do. Your readers may find this interesting however.
I agree with Notley’s assessment 100%. Gasoline in your tank has an additive FISK or chromium that allows static electricity to bleed off to the side of your tank harmlessly. With the additional safeguards at the pumps (baffles and shrouds around the nozzle do very well if used properly at controlling the vapor area. Rich vapors are okay but the lean ones especially at our low temperature tend to go bang in the dark.
Pipelines have anticipated this and bleed off the static charge that is built up from movement of the petroleum through the lines with zinc grounding. We have spills, and not explosions!
If you must worry; worry about how fast we can get the crude off the rail cars which are deadly unsafe because of their vulnerability when they tip over and spill. The crude oil has no such additives in them and will continue to build and build a static charge in the tanks. When they go over they light up or not. But, its not from good management. It is the state of the air space at the spill point. If it is a rich vapour area we get a free ride. If it is a lean vapor area (as in a breeze or a wind) we may not be so lucky.
We should all be supporting pipelines for our crude. Think of this when another village or town is devastated.
Agreed cyberclark, given the choice between pipelines or rail cars it’s always safer to go with pipelines. Having said that I support efforts to move us away from a carbon intensive economy but it will take a while and requires careful thought in order not to gut the economy.
“When will the PM learn that he can’t run a confederation without somehelp from the provinces?”
I wouldn’t worry too much about that now, I don’t think Harper will be running confederation for much longer.
That is well written and succint â Good on you
Thank you Robert.
Very nice to see Rachel is continuing her class act, the future looks good for Alberta
Brent, I marvel at how skillfully Rachel puts these loons in their place. Without naming anyone in particular she responded to Wall’s criticisms by calling for “intelligent, thoughtful, mature dialogue”, leaving no doubt in my mind who had engaged in a silly, thoughtless, immature rant. Chalk another one up to Rachel.