With the deadline for the Trudeau government on whether to approve the Teck Frontier oilsands venture coming at the end of the month, news reports that the $20 billion project may not get the green light ought to worry right thinking Canadians.
The project, which has the support of all First Nations affected as well as the Alberta government, would create 7,000 jobs initially and some 2,000 permanent jobs thereafter.
For a province that has been wracked by unemployment and finds itself in the beginnings of a recession, the project would be a much needed boost to Albertans’ confidence. It would also reassure investors that the country is not adverse to resource development.
However, a report carried by Reuters suggests that the Liberal Party is preparing an aid package in the event the project is not green lighted.
According to the Reuters report, citing anonymous sources, the Trudeau government is considering an aid package which would include a cash injection to help clean up thousands of inactive oil and gas wells abandoned by bankrupt companies, as well as changes to how tax revenues are shared across the country.
That the Trudeau government is even hesitating to approve the project is astounding. Teck Frontier has undergone a 10 year approval process and has succeeded in meeting stringent regulatory conditions. There is no good reason to cancel the project.
Still, some Ontario and Quebec Liberals are calling for its cancellations on the grounds that its emissions do not fit with the government’s climate change plans and need to meet the Paris Climate Accord’s 2030 targets.
So once again it would appear that the province’s economic future is being sacrificed on the altar of virtue signaling.
The fact of the matter is that Canada’s CO2 emissions are irrelevant. The country produces a mere 1.6 per cent of global emissions. China and India are by far the largest producers. In fact, by 2050 China will be producing fully half of all CO2 emissions.
Demanding that Canada gut a province’s economy while accomplishing nothing is the height of madness.
It is little wonder, then, that the demands of independence could be heard loud and clear in the wake of the Reuters article.
There is a growing sentiment in the province that Alberta will never get a fair deal in Canada and that the only recourse left is outright separation.
With hard core support for independence at about 25 per cent, a rejection of Teck Frontier could easily reach 60 per cent in a matter of weeks.
As Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said while in Ottawa for meetings, Ottawa-appointed officials are unlikely to grasp the depth of sentiments felt in Western provinces against the federation.
“As much time as people like the deputy prime minister and Jim Carr have been spending in Alberta and Saskatchewan — and we really appreciate it — they don’t live there. They don’t see it and hear it every day.
“I don’t think people outside Alberta appreciate really how delicate and how dangerous the political discourse and rhetoric is.”
Indeed. Many Albertans will argue the time to leave is now.