Brian Jean: It’s time for Alberta to demand a fairer deal from Canada

Brian Jean: It’s time for Alberta to demand a fairer deal from Canada

Opinion: Alberta has carried the weight of Confederation on their shoulders for several decades and has spent billions on services for other provinces

Brian Jean is the former leader of Alberta’s Wildrose Party. POSTMEDIA NETWORK
A column in Maclean’s last month told Albertans to “Get A Grip” in regard to the pending demise of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. “You are not victims,” Stephen Maher lectured us. “You should count your blessings, stop feeling sorry for yourselves and quit yelling at people who disagree with you.” I would argue that it’s not Alberta that needs to get a grip. It’s those that believe constitutional rights are meant to be one-sided

Albertans have disproportionately carried the weight of Confederation on their shoulders for the last several decades on almost every metric. Between 2007 and 2014, Alberta was the only province to not be a net-positive recipient from the federal government. On average, Albertans contributed over $20 billion per year more to Ottawa than they ever got back in transfers or services. Alberta billions financed services for other provinces.

Albertans have disproportionately carried the weight of Confederation on their shoulders for the last several decades on almost every metric

Yet during that same period, all levels of government across the country were launching unprecedented attacks against Alberta’s industries and livelihoods while continuing to cash the Alberta-funded cheques pouring in.

The proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would have added hundreds of billions in economic activity to the Canadian economy over the next several decades, passed a rigorous, independent, scientific-review process. With the swipe of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pen, Northern Gateway disappeared, and with it, the credible reputation of our regulator.

To rub it in, a crude-tanker ban was implemented on British Columbia’s northern coast. Yet at the same time, thousands of foreign oil tankers continue to travel Canadian waters off B.C.’s coast and up the Saint Lawrence River.

Then there was the biggest no-brainer of all — the proposed Energy East pipeline — which would have bound our country together and helped to put an end to our costly reliance on oil imported from foreign countries like Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. That’s 700,000 barrels per day costing Canadians $20.4 billion per year — money sent to countries with far lower environmental standards, emission standards and human rights standards.

Trudeau effectively killed Energy East by adding redundant and unnecessary new red tape and regulatory requirements on downstream emissions. Everyone was left shaking their heads. Nothing like it had ever happened before, anywhere in the world, and you can bet it has never happened to any industry based outside Alberta.

Both of these pipeline projects were common sense. Both would have established Canada as the emerging energy superpower that it deserves to be, given that we sit on the third-largest oil reserve on the planet.

Trudeau did have some help. The province of Quebec, while living off billions of dollars of Alberta-funded equalization, piled on with its own opposition. It cited unfounded environmental concerns while dumping untreated sewage into its waterways.

The government of B.C. takes the cake for hypocrisy by sowing fear and division over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion while quietly granting permits for mining companies to pipe tailings waste directly into mountain lakes.

Trans Mountain has operated for over 60 years without a single incident involving tankers. Canadian regulations and safety standards governing tanker traffic are the best in the world and continue to be improved upon. The B.C. government ignores these facts and fails to mention that there is a daily stream of U.S. oil tankers travelling through the Juan de Fuca Strait every single day, just kilometres from our coastline. That means over 25 million barrels of U.S. oil travelling along western Canada’s coastline every year.

Meanwhile, B.C. Premier John Horgan is selling out his Canadian neighbours in Alberta to benefit his friends in the state of Washington. In one of the most outrageous press conferences held by any provincial leader, he stood beside the governor of Washington to announce that they would work together to stop the Trans Mountain expansion. All this while B.C. has said yes to a new pipeline to bring fuel from the U.S. to the Vancouver airport. It appears to this Albertan that politics may be trumping integrity and honesty.

This is the state of Canada today. Intentionally selling out and attacking our own Canadian brothers and sisters in order to benefit our American competitors. Canada should be ashamed.

A year ago, I called for our province to hold a referendum on equalization, which Albertans overwhelmingly supported. Alberta’s new opposition leader, Jason Kenney, has taken up that call. Albertans do very much need to get a grip on things, and I can’t think of a better way than to force the rest of Canada to revisit the inequity of equalization. Ottawa needs to hear loud and clear that Albertans are no longer interested in being treated like a colony of Canada.

Brian Jean is the former leader of Alberta’s Wildrose Party.

http://edmontonjournal.com/opinion/brian-jean-its-time-for-alberta-to-demand-a-fairer-deal-from-canada/wcm/5279867c-5666-4b53-a497-d1e2734d7912