Where is Sgt Joe Friday when you need him? Sgt Friday is the detective from Dragnet known for saying, “Just the facts, ma’am” when he’s investigating a crime.
Why are we talking about facts?
Because Jason Kenney has yet to be sworn into office and already he’s warning Albertans to brace for the “challenging years” ahead (years, who said anything about years?). He’s softening up Albertans for the possibility that he’ll fail to deliver “jobs, the economy and pipelines”.
This will be fun.
The UCP were elected with 54.9% of the vote, they hold 63 seats, the NDP hold the remaining 24; in the eyes of their supporters there is absolutely nothing stopping the UCP from delivering on their promises, well, nothing other than Mr Kenney’s failure to give Albertans the facts.
Just the facts, please
In order to temper sky high expectations Mr Kenney should admit he over-played his hand and the facts are that:
- Proclaiming Bill 12 to punish BC for opposing the Trans Mountain expansion won’t shut off the taps, it will trigger a lawsuit from BC.
- Repealing the NDP’s carbon tax won’t get rid of the carbon tax, it will be replaced by the federal carbon tax. Mr Kenney is trying to soften the blow by saying the Trudeau carbon tax is better than the Notley carbon tax. It’s not.
- The time it takes to build pipelines won’t get shorter, it will get longer because Mr Kenney will remove the NDP cap on oilsands emissions and the federal government will exert jurisdiction on in situ emissions under Bill C-69, then Mr Kenney will have to sue the federal government to have this section of Bill C-69 declared ultra vires.
- Threatening to call a referendum to change the equalization formula is meaningless even if the purpose of the referendum is scaled back from amending the Constitution to simply forcing the feds to put it on their agenda because there is no incentive for the have-not provinces, which include Quebec and Ontario, to change the existing formula.
The only way Mr Kenney can avoid getting egg on his face is if Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party of Canada are elected in October and Mr Scheer decides it’s in his best interest to help Mr Kenney by including more pipelines to eastern Canada as part of his platform.
Why wouldn’t Mr Scheer help Mr Kenney deliver on his campaign promises?
Let me count the ways.
Big fish, small pond
Notwithstanding what Albertans have been told about how important Alberta is to the rest of Canada, we’re not a gorilla province like Ontario or Quebec. We have 11.6% of Canada’s population, we contribute 15.5% to Canada’s GDP (of which energy is about 11%) and most importantly we have 34 federal ridings that typically go conservative, but here’s the snag, our total seat count falls far below Ontario’s 121 seats and Quebec’s 78 seats.
The federal conservatives could win every seat west of Ontario and Mr Scheer would still need 63 seats from central Canada and the Atlantic provinces to form government.
Bottom line: Ontario and Quebec call the shots.
Mr Scheer needs a block of votes from Quebec and Ontario to form government so he will consider how receptive Quebec and Ontario are to Mr Kenney’s promise to build more pipelines to eastern Canada before he decides to add “more pipelines” to his election platform.
Unfortunately for Mr Kenney, Quebec made it crystal clear it has zero interest in helping Alberta get more pipelines approved. Mr Scheer knows he’s got Alberta sewn up, why would he risk alienating Quebec by supporting Alberta on this one?
That leaves Ontario.
Mr Kenney made it clear that eastern Canada should get off of “unethical foreign” crude in favour of Alberta crude, however this argument won’t hold sway in Ontario which imports about 15% of its crude from the US (the rest comes from Western Canada). And while the US president is Donald Trump, it’s unlikely Ontarians would consider US crude to be “unethical foreign” crude.
The only reason for Ontario customers to switch from American crude to Alberta crude would be if Alberta crude is cheaper. While Mr Kenney professes to know what’s best for the energy sector he does not know the terms and conditions of crude purchase and sale contracts or whether reducing the price of Alberta crude to Ontario customers is feasible.
Which means it’s not clear Mr Kenney has anything to offer Ontario. And Mr Scheer knows it.
Too late for facts
Mr Kenney made a number of sweeping promises to Alberta voters; it’s too bad they weren’t based on the facts.