Taking responsibility

The Trans Mountain pipeline is a good example of how ideologies taken to the extreme are not helpful.

The ND Party in B.C. and its national party in Ottawa, simplistically and unrealistically just say no to all pipelines and oil sands output.

Yet, Canada and B.C. would be in economic shambles if that strategy were enacted.

On the other extreme, the United Conservative Party (UCP) supporters tend often to use the Trump-style rant and trash talk. Complaining and negative words successfully retain the converted, but hurts attempts to broaden support across the country for pipeline construction.

In contrast, Alberta’s ND government is using a well-articulated strategy to build a pipeline, expand heavy oil processing in Alberta, move to a green economy over time and protect the environment for future generations.

They use respectful language, follow the rule of law, push hard on the Prime Minister and know the best decisions involve compromise.

Things have been a roller coaster for the Trans Mountain pipeline, but one of Premier Notley’s most successful strategies recently has been the $35-million national pipeline advertising campaign.

The ads had no whining, no attacks on other parts of Canada (other than indirectly pitting the rest of Canada against B.C) and no threats to separate. Instead they were catchy, colourful info ads addressing the complexity of the pipeline issues and its benefits to the economy and the environment.

And it’s working. Ipsos polling shows the majority of Canadians (56 per cent for; 24 per cent against; 20 per cent unsure) support the pipeline. Even the majority of British Columbia citizens (55 per cent) are in favour. Landlocked Alberta can’t do pipelines to coastal waters alone so support outside Alberta matters.

We, as citizens need to do our part. The government isn’t solely responsible for positive, convincing messaging. All Albertans, regardless of their ideology, need to send positive messages.

Let’s never forget the majority of Albertans live high compared to other provinces. We have access to superior medical care, education, seniors’ benefits and infrastructure.

Albertans have better jobs, better incomes, bigger homes, bigger vehicles and more disposal income than the majority of citizens in other provinces. We have the lowest Net Debt to GDP and the lowest government expenses relative to GDP.

Most importantly, we have chosen the boom and bust economic cycles rather than have a provincial sales tax. It may be easy to blame Ottawa or Trudeau every time our economy goes south, but taking responsibility for our own past and present actions is a sign of maturity.

Playing the ‘woe-is-me’ card when we have so much is a dodgy strategy for building national support.

A pipeline will get built if we continue to respect the Constitution, stay positive, don’t attempt to thwart the courts, set ideology aside, work together and stop the blame game.

No matter what the ideologues tell you, the ND government and the UCP want the exact same outcome.

We could achieve much more if we presented a common front of reason and humbleness to the rest of the country. Remember we’re the ones in the beggar position–desperately needing access to coastal waters.

B. Schimke
ECA Review

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