Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has spent the last week on a tour of several major cities across Canada, prodding the federal government and other provinces to “step up” on Kinder Morgan’s controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and calling on Ottawa in particular to “articulate and defend the national interest”.
Arguing that the importance of new pipelines in Canada transcends “partisan political divides,” she “appealed for support from the federal NDP, which has taken a position opposed to pipeline projects, and from the federal Conservatives and the United Conservative Party in Alberta,” CBC reports.
“We risk being out-shouted by determined advocates,” Notley warned, contending that pipeline opposition fails to factor in the economic impact on “working families” if Trans Mountain is cancelled.
To her credit—or inconsistency—Notley is applying a different, more forward-looking logic to her province’s effort to phase out coal-fired generation by 2030. But her comments in Ottawa last week captured the reality that the post-carbon shift can only succeed if there’s a future in it for workers and communities that now depend on the fossil industry.
“We cannot put a generation of people out of work and then look surprised or act surprised when people reject the purpose for that, reject climate change, reject the efforts to protect the environment,” she said.
While Ottawa approved the pipeline, Notley is calling on the federal Liberals to “step up their game in explaining why they decided Trans Mountain was in the national interest,” Canadian Press reports.
“Part of governing is talking to citizens about what your plan is, what it’s there for, what you’re trying to achieve,” she said. “That’s something they could do with more enthusiasm.”
At the same time, she pushed back on voices that deny climate change or set out to block climate action. “That stance, she said, is why pipelines aren’t getting approved or built in Canada,” CP states. “The only way to get it done is to get environmentalists onside and prove to them it can be done sustainably.”
In a talk Thursday to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, Notley was upbeat about her eastern swing.
“When I’ve been speaking Canadians out east, to the moderate majority, about what’s at stake, about the importance of our energy industry to the economic security of hundreds of thousands of working families across this country, and about how we can tackle climate change and at the same time support those all-important mortgage-paying jobs, I actually find that the vast majority of Canadians listen to and support our position,” she said.
And she reminded the hometown crowd that Alberta is Canada’s biggest fiscal contributor, sending a net C$22 billion per year to Ottawa’s coffers. “The federal government can’t do its work for Canadians if it can’t pay for it,” she said, “and that’s the bottom line.”