Thirty-six little words. That’s all it took for the media to whip Albertans up into a “how dare you” frenzy.
It started with the BC government’s Throne Speech in which Premier Christy Clark took her new election slogan—Say YES—for a test drive.
Say YES she said to LNG, to mining, to the TPP and to Site C so that BC can become a “clean energy superpower.” (Why does everyone want to be a superpower? Can’t we just be a semi-superpower?) In order to reach that dream Ms Clark urged BC-ites to ignore “external pressures” and “internal critics” and just Say YES to economic development.
Mixed in with the 3434 words extolling the virtues of the Say YES campaign were 36 words suggesting that BC should not be like Alberta which had failed to diversify its economy or control government spending and imposed a carbon tax was not really revenue-neutral.
The leader of Alberta’s Official Opposition flew into a tizzy. Brian Jean said the onslaught was inconceivable; he’d never seen anything like it and we’d become a foot stool for other premiers. A foot stool?
In the days that followed the media continued to grind away at the gravity of the insult. They said:
- It was a uniquely low point in Canadian interprovincial relations. Oh, I don’t know, Ralph Klein’s “Let the Eastern bastards freeze in the dark” was pretty pointed.
- It failed to recognize that Alberta did expect the boom to end. Yes we did… sometime in the far away future, not last year.
- Alberta is diversified because in 1985 energy formed 36% of the economy and in 2014 it dropped to 26%. Right, and energy at 26% of the economy creates 7.4% unemployment when the music stops so a little more diversification might be in order.
The media and the Opposition demanded Premier Notley do more to “stand up” for Alberta but were short on suggestions about what doing more looks like.
It seems everyone is standing up for something these days.
Premier Clark says she’s standing up for BC by imposing the Five Conditions on heavy oil pipelines.
What she’s not standing up for is the environment as she pursues her quest to be Canada’s next energy superpower.
Ms Clark has pinned her hopes on the Pacific NorthWest LNG Project. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency says the Project will likely cause significant adverse environmental effects on the harbour porpoise and as a result of greenhouse gas emissions.
The noise from dredging and pile driving during the three to five year construction period will result in behavior changes in humpback whales, killer whales and sea lions as well as harbour porpoises.
Furthermore the Project will add 350 LNG shipping vessels a year to the 500 tankers already in the area. (By 2015 the total number of tankers will be close to 2000 but CEAA couldn’t comment on the impact of vessel/marine mammal strikes because no current data was provided).
I suppose Premier Notley could stand up for Alberta by telling Premier Clark that Saying YES to the BC Project is hypocritical given its consequences on BC’s marine life.
But that’s a mug’s game. Ms Clark’s aspersions against Alberta are nothing more than political posturing.
Premier Clark is already in election mode. She’s concerned that the NDP together with the environmentalists will be a formidable problem, especially when the environmentalists realize that Flipper makes a better poster child, er pet, than Charlie the Tuna.
The real culprit
The real culprit isn’t Ms Clark it’s the media which no longer recognize the difference between news and hype.
The News Manual sets out four criteria to determine whether something is news: Is it new, unusual, significant/interesting, or about people?
Ms Soapbox would argue that the BC government’s Throne Speech is news in BC but fails to meet the criteria for news in Alberta and should not have displaced a more important story that appeared on the same day.
The Auditor General released a report that revealed the PC government doled out $1.4 billion a year to the oil patch in royalty breaks without assessing whether the royalty reduction actually increased the extraction of oil and natural gas as it was intended to do. The report also found the PC government pushed the flood disaster recovery program out of the hands of an admittedly incompetent contractor to Municipal Affairs even though it knew Municipal Affairs lacked the capacity to do the work.
The AG’s report tells Albertans something significant—namely that the administration of PC government programs is inadequate. It puts the NDP government on notice that it must correct these flaws.
Instead Postmedia chose to go with the hype and Albertans are talking about whether to cede from Confederation because no one appreciates us anymore.
What a waste of journalistic talent.