REGINA, SASK : May 1, 2017 – Brad Wall speaks to reporters at the Legislative Building. MICHAEL BELL / Regina Leader-Post.
Brad Wall, the still-popular former Saskatchewan premier, isn’t mincing his words. He’s not that kind of guy.
He’s talking truth to power.
That’s a good thing, a very good thing, especially when this brutal election campaign enters its eleventh hour.
And speaking of the soul-destroying ballot battle and the NDP strategy of character assassinating United Conservative leader Jason Kenney, Wall the veteran campaigner knows the game.
“I just think they decided the only path to victory is won through the mud.”
Wall sees their muddying the waters as a way of riling up the NDP faithful but not a winning game plan.
“The NDP are kind of desperate, looking around for something they can say every day that will change the subject from the economy or from their track record,” he says.
Wall figures they can’t do much else but run hard on the social media trail of candidates and go after Kenney every which way they can.
He figures the Notley NDP were also probably worried the election campaign would be all about what they’ve said and done in the past.
This is where we get to the guts of the matter. Remember, Wall was premier of Saskatchewan while Notley was premier of this province.
He’s seen her around the table of premiers. He knows more than we know.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley held a rally to support NDP candidate Janet Eremenko and greet supporters at cSPACE in Calgary on Monday, April 8, 2019. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia
Brad, start your engine. What do you have to say to Albertans as they wade through the mud? What’s the real story?
“The premier’s record on pipelines, which I can attest to personally, is not one of support, I can promise you that.
“That’s what I saw first hand.”
Keep ‘er comin’.
“They don’t like the energy sector,” Wall says of the Notley NDP.
“Deep down where they live they were protesting only a handful of years ago against the sector that pays the bills in this province and for so much of the country.”
Wall remembers the exact day Notley announced the carbon tax she never campaigned on in the last election.
“The premier basically says those who criticize our industry, they’re right. Maybe it is dirty oil,” recalls Wall.
“So we’re going to tax ourselves. We’re going to charge this indulgence for our sins and maybe get some sort of social licence.”
How about Notley on the Keystone XL pipeline? Missing in action.
What about the Northern Gateway pipeline?
“She walked away from demanding the federal government continue on with it.”
Wall says Notley gave Ottawa complete cover for their exit.
He sensed from the get-go Notley was not comfortable with the oil and gas industry.
He was shocked she was “sort of muted on the energy issues.”
“I just got the sense she sort of felt apologetic for Alberta.”
But Notley insists she loves the oilpatch.
“It’s a dusty road, that Damascus road,” says Wall.
“It sounds to me like a conversion that is more about trying to win an election.”
Then there’s a further indictment. Trudeau.
“Here’s what I saw,” says Wall.
“The premier was a very reliable ally of the prime minister at every turn.”
He tells a story. Wall pitched Trudeau to cough up cash so oilpatch workers could get back on the job cleaning up abandoned oil and gas wells.
Trudeau turned Wall down flat. Notley wasn’t interested in Wall’s idea. She didn’t back Wall.
“She had more leverage to get a program like that out of Trudeau than I did,” says Wall.
He believes the carbon-taxing Notley had the opportunity to use leverage to get Northern Gateway done or the program for unemployed workers or both.
Why didn’t she do it?
“I think, frankly, out of deference to Justin Trudeau.”
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Wall says he has a “high degree of respect” for the premier. He says she is “exceedingly intelligent” and a “very effective communicator.”
But for him it’s been painful watching what’s happening in Alberta from next door in Saskatchewan.
He admits he’s cheering for change. He thinks if there is change there will be some hope jobs will be at the top of every meeting’s agenda.
If Notley wins …
“If four years become eight years and if I was living in this province, I wouldn’t bet my future on it.”
These days, Wall advises companies, comes to Calgary often and still is a Riders fan.
We talk about old-school country music and his 1973 Cadillac Eldorado convertible, previously owned by Waylon Jennings.
“More ashtrays than seat belts, 500 cubic inches and my own personal carbon footprint.”
I said he didn’t mince words.