The phrase “Making a virtue out of a necessity” first appears in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, written around 1390.
The Tales concern a range of diverse characters who relate their version of a particular event. Scholars of English literature observe that this produces stories with conflicting views of the same reality they all face.
As regards Trans Mountain, the difficulty facing Albertans is whose reality are you going to believe, the NDP’s or the UCP’s?
First, let me tell you the NDP’s reality.
The Premier wants you to believe that she and her party are, and always have been, pro-oil.
The Premier believes standing idly by while two privately funded pipeline projects are vetoed, but getting one moving forward with a taxpayer subsidy of $4.5bn, is a cause for celebration.
The Premier thinks you should be as enthusiastic as she is to committing a further $2bn of Alberta taxpayer money to help cover overrun on the project.
This is the UCP’s reality:
We see a Premier who, along with other NDP MLAs, attends anti-pipeline protests.
When the Premier came to office there were three companies looking to build three oil pipelines worth more than 30bn in investment. Now there is just one on taxpayer life support.
The Premier’s equally anti-oil Liberal friends cancelled the Northern Gateway pipeline and $7.9bn in jobs and economic opportunity.
The Premier’s Liberal friends also killed the $15.7bn Energy East pipeline. This would have replaced dirty oil from non-democratic regimes with cleaner Alberta crude.
The Premier was silent when her Liberal friends did nothing to combat the Obama veto of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The UCP reality is that due to these actions investor confidence in Alberta and its oil is dead.
$36bn in capital has left Alberta. Companies such as ConocoPhillips and Shell have withdrawn to other jurisdictions such as North Dakota, Iran and Kazakhstan.
In total 14 Multinationals have now brokered deals to leave the Alberta’s energy industry.
The only reality upon which the NDP and the UCP can agree is the imperative that Alberta, indeed Canada, gets coastal access for its oil reserves.
Hence, the NDP are now desperate to recast themselves as pro-oil and are determined to ensure the Trans Mountain project goes ahead by any means.
Similarly, Trudeau’s Liberals, totally against their instincts, are desperate to “rescue” this pipeline project.
Imagine my schadenfreude in seeing political opponents forced to celebrate something they ideologically, and physically, oppose.
These paradoxical public displays are the very definition of “Making a virtue out of a necessity”
The UCPs reality is that we have no confidence that the Liberals and NDP can see this through. Their hearts are clearly not in the project.
We believe that measures must be taken to keep the prospect of a coastal pipeline alive.
These measures include:
Passing of Bill S-245 declaring all Trans Mountain project activity to be the sole jurisdiction of the Federal Government.
Suspend transfer of $4.1bn and 1.3bn from Federal Government to B.C. NDP until they end their campaign of obstruction.
Withhold the $182m earmarked for B.C. under the “Low Carbon Economy Fund” until the pipeline is built.
Pull Bill C-69 and C-48 both of which impede the ability to get Alberta resources to market.
Will any of this happen? I am not convinced. Government has a poor record in managing its own operations, and a horrific one stewarding commercial and industrial enterprises.
No wonder they are now spinning hard in an attempt to “Make a virtue out of a necessity”.
However, despite my understandable skepticism, I truly hope we do get a pipeline to tidewaters.
I always have and will continue to cheer for Alberta and our energy industry.
Wes Taylor MLA, Battle River-Wainwright Constituency