Alberta Premier Rachel Notley was in Red Deer at an event put on by the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce.
Notley was starting a victory lap of speeches, after the Government of Canada’s nationalization of the Trans Mountain pipeline all but confirmed that the embattled pipeline will indeed be built and the Alberta energy sector will finally have the access to tidewater it has been demanding for many years.
The deal is a win for Notley’s government, which has faced consistent criticism from the Jason Kenney-led UCP Party — who have been pushing the NDP to make a provocative move against Premier John Horgan’s B.C. Government to shut off the taps.
Notley, however, was undoubtedly in a room in Central Alberta with people who are skeptical of the nationalization of any project — especially one with the magnitude of Trans Mountain.
To the skeptics, the question must be presented of, ‘What else could be done?’.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Notley were both put in a bind, with Kinder Morgan — the former financier of the pipeline — setting a hard deadline of May 31st for the project to go ahead.
Critics of both Trudeau and Notley have argued that Kinder Morgan’s cold feet on the project is the result of a lack of action from government.
Much of that criticism, as Notley pointed out during a press briefing following her speech in Red Deer, comes from conservative governments that had plenty of opportunity to get Trans Mountain built during Stephen Harper’s nine-year term as Prime Minister.
While not ideal, the nationalization of Trans Mountain was a necessary step to ensure that Alberta’s key export can be fairly sold on new markets — as opposed to the pennies on the dollar it is currently fetching on the U.S. market.
While it could indeed be true that the nationalization of the project is sign of a current lack of faith to invest in the Alberta energy sector, that will likely change once the taps turn on and investors flock to the Government of Canada, who will eventually be divesting their interest in the project.
Despite Alberta’s long history of conservatism and distrust of public ownership, the nationalization of Trans Mountain is the only way that the pipeline will get built.
Now that it will get built, Albertans need to begin to realize that the resources we live on and are entitled to are always going to be a sought after commodity by big oil investors.
Big oil may feign that they aren’t interested in the regulation of the Alberta energy sector but when push comes to shove — they want whats under us and will eventually invest.
It is unfortunate that the government needed to step in for Trans Mountain in the interim, but it is an investment by the government — and Canadians — to ensure our product gets to markets regardless of private enterprise’s yo-yo interest.