A trade war heats up in Canada
April 17, 2018 5:59 AM   Subscribe

Three years ago, the left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP) achieved a shocking victory in Alberta (previously). One year ago, the NDP won in British Columbia and formed a government with the support of the Greens. But now the two provinces, united by party, find themselves divided by the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

B.C. has vowed to use every tool to block the pipeline. In retaliation, Alberta instituted a ban on wine imports from B.C. in February, but quickly backed off when it seemed that negotiations would lead to a solution. They didn't, and the trade war is heating up again. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to get the pipeline built. First Nations are divided on the pipeline; caught between a pipeline and a hard place, many of them having signed mutual benefit agreements with Kinder Morgan while others are challenging the pipeline in court. Yesterday, the Alberta government introduced a bill which will allow its energy minister to to limit exports of crude, natural gas and gasoline to B.C. B.C. immediately threatened to sue if the legislation is used against it.
posted by clawsoon (66 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is the worst Kinder Surprise.
posted by duffell at 6:06 AM on April 17 [20 favorites]


It's interesting to watch waves of meme-style arguments drift through our overheated media. Today's favourite is, "BC has done a terrible job of protecting its environment! Therefore they're hypocrites and have nothing to say about this pipeline." Or, "BC dumps x tonnes of sewage into the ocean every year, therefore a pipeline and more tanker traffic won't make any difference." It's such a weird style of argument.

I would have thought, "BC has done a terrible job of protecting its environment but this time it's giving minimal attention to its environmental & First Nations treaty responsibilities," was a sign of progress.

This Globe & Mail article is aimed at the costs & future of building fossil fuel infrastructure if we're planning on taking climate change seriously.
posted by sneebler at 7:09 AM on April 17 [3 favorites]


With climate change leading to the increased navigability of the northwest passage, is anyone talking about making a pipeline from Edmonton to somewhere like Churchill Manitoba instead? Sure it's further away from Edmonton, but it also isn't crossing the Rockies. And the governments of Saskatchewan and Manitoba might be more friendly to the proposal.(the first nations whose land the pipeline would pass through might not agree though).

For not Canadians reading this - Canada's Federation means that our provinces have much more power and responsibility than US States. I always think it's funny when some American politician referes to their home as. "The Great Sovereign State of..." considering the individual states have much less authority and control than a Canadian province.
posted by thecjm at 7:12 AM on April 17 [4 favorites]


Social Democracy with Albertan Characteristics means call in the troops so Kinder Morgan can save $10 / barrel.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:23 AM on April 17 [3 favorites]


If you oppose the pipeline expansion and want to support the protest movement, consider a donation to:

Protect the Inlet
or
RAVEN Trust.
posted by Evstar at 7:37 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


Social Democracy with Albertan Characteristics means call in the troops so Kinder Morgan can save $10 / barrel.

I think it might have more to do with the Albertan NDP wanting to win the next provincial election. One thing the Albertan electorate seems to respond to is talking tough regardless how futile it might be in the end.
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:38 AM on April 17 [4 favorites]


A trade war is fun, livens up politics. Besides, if you want to motivate people to replace their SUVs with smaller cars or find ways to drive less then suddenly having gas prices spike above $2/L wouldn't hurt.

When oil is down everyone talks about how Alberta should diversify its economy, then when opportunities to jump back on the oil train come by suddenly it's imperative that we pour public money into this and damn the consequences. Which puts the province in an awkward position if they do invest: if we are actually going to be serious about regulating industry to fight climate change then the pipeline wouldn't have much of a useful life anyways, because ultimately the oil flowing through it will have to stay unburned, and carbon intensive extraction methods (like the oil sands) should be the first to close. So basically they're advocating either throwing our tax payers money away on a bad investment or backing down on climate change regulation.

I think the moment Kinder Morgan stepped back should have been a sign that this wasn't a hill worth dying on.
posted by selenized at 7:46 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


The B.C. government is fighting for its constituents and on its mandate, as well it should. The Alberta government is fighting for its constituents and on its mandate, as well it should.

It's a conflict which needs to be resolved at the federal level. Trudeau wants the pipeline built (which was in his mandate if people cared to look at the time). As I see it, in negotiating with BC, Trudeau wants BC to cave so he doesn't have to wear this with its unknown impacts on the environment (and perceptions on environmental treatment across the country), and on First Nation relations. And, well, no. BC is right to stand up for itself, just as Alberta is right to stand up for itself, and if Trudeau wants this pipeline that badly, he should carry the political costs for it.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:55 AM on April 17 [6 favorites]


is anyone talking about making a pipeline from Edmonton to somewhere like Churchill Manitoba instead?

Way ahead of you.
posted by nubs at 8:03 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


It seems to me that pipelines are mostly a political football, great for everybody having arguments and getting up on their high horses (and hopefully - in the case of all three actors here - winning reelections) without actually meaning much.

Oil is a global commodity, it comes from a large number of countries all over the world and is transported at low cost. The construction or halting of a pipeline does not substantially change availability. If a little less Canadian oil enters the market, the Russians or Saudis or Iranians or US frackers will fill the gap. The fundamental problem leading to climate change is our overconsumption of it, through the way we build our cities, transport ourselves, run our industry.

It's like the war on (some) drugs - it's fundamentally a public health problem and one bred from users lacking better options; arresting a drug trafficker or a dozen isn't going to stop people in an area from getting drugs. It's not really possible to stop the supply, and doing so has been incredibly expensive and destructive for decades with no real change in the consumption. We need a harm reduction strategy for the climate.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 8:17 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


It's a conflict which needs to be resolved at the federal level. Trudeau wants the pipeline built (which was in his mandate if people cared to look at the time). As I see it, in negotiating with BC, Trudeau wants BC to cave so he doesn't have to wear this with its unknown impacts on the environment (and perceptions on environmental treatment across the country), and on First Nation relations. And, well, no. BC is right to stand up for itself, just as Alberta is right to stand up for itself, and if Trudeau wants this pipeline that badly, he should carry the political costs for it.

As I understand all the relevant legislation, at this point it is definitely a federal issue. I'm not even sure that what Alberta introduced yesterday would pass a legal challenge (and, as many commentators here have pointed out, using the legislation will hurt Alberta as well as BC); there's a lot of posturing going on, especially with Notley about a year away from an election and the UCP under Kenney emerging as the putative front-runners (gah). I think she's been trying, as best she can, to give the feds space and time to take steps to solve this, but everyone is on a clock now. Notley is likely doomed no matter what the outcome is, but she's doing her job, just like Horgan is - and Horgan is likely doomed if he backs down. Trudeau doesn't want to force the issue because he knows that whatever he does, Alberta voters won't really be thankful, and he'll potentially lose BC voters if he pushes the pipeline. It feels like a lose-lose-lose all the way around at the political level, not to mention the local impacts of the pipeline being built or not.
posted by nubs at 8:17 AM on April 17 [6 favorites]


Seven billion dollars would install a lot of solar panels. Would be nice to see some leadership on that.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:26 AM on April 17 [13 favorites]


Trudeau doesn't want to force the issue because he knows that whatever he does, Alberta voters won't really be thankful, and he'll potentially lose BC voters if he pushes the pipeline.

In addition, he'll lose voters in Quebec. Quebec has a great environmental sensitivity over pipelines generally, and (from what I've seen) voters there have adopted BC's fight as their own.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:27 AM on April 17 [7 favorites]


France announced last year, they're banning offshore drilling

Last week, New Zealand banned offshore oil drilling

Meanwhile, Canada opens up marine protected environments for drilling. The CBC article puts forth the theory that one part of the gov't had no idea what the other part was doing. Which is a framing the debate as an oversight. As if the gov't hadn't heard of this WWF campaign. Hadn't heard (Elizabeth May, David Miller, David Suzuki) and their public comments against it. Hadn't heard the Globe and Mail coverage.

Trudeau is going all in for oil :(

The science is inarguably correct. There is only one course of action which would allow humanity to survive. And Trudeau's stepping in on the accelerator in the opposite direction.

---

France will 'ban all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040', and "New diesel and petrol vehicles to be banned from 2040 in UK", and China bans production and sale of fossil fuel cars 'in near future'. Where is Trudeau on banning GHG emitting cars? He's busy flying around the world for photo ops, normalizing massive GHG emissions.

---

After every mass shooting. The gun lobby says now is not the time to discuss legislative change. That is not acceptable. We have to shift the Overton window.

After the Humboldt deaths, the media is not covering the need for legislative and cultural change. More than 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes. ... Between 20 and 50 million more people suffer non-fatal injuries, with many incurring a disability as a result of their injury..

Cap speed limits at 30km/h. Today. Fewer deaths, fewer GHGs, much easier problem for automated vehicles to handle, less energy required overall so electric vehicles perform better. Do that and maybe advanced human civilization survives.
posted by ecco at 8:43 AM on April 17 [8 favorites]


The thing that makes me so angry about Justin Trudeau is - I believed him. A lot of the lefties I run with believed him. I believed in my local candidate Catherine McKenna was the environmental minister we absolutely needed.

I believed he was committed to democratic reform. I believed he was committed to addressing climate change. I believed he really wanted reconciliation with our first nations.

Now he's floating the idea of giving taxpayer money to a pipeline corporation for their crying over spilt milk while running legislative roughshot over the aboriginal communities in B.C.

What makes me angry is - I got hoodwinked to a degree I thought I was past at 35. I hated Harper enough to talk myself into a deal with the devil. I voted and volunteered for this guy and I've spent the last couple of years coming to the realization that, past the pink shirt at Pride surface level photo op stuff, this is a right wing government through and through. Never again Justin. I see you now.
posted by notorious medium at 9:11 AM on April 17 [11 favorites]


this is a right wing government through and through.

Justin did what all Canadian Liberals governments have done for decades - campaign on the left and govern on the right. They always bow to pressure from corporations and appeasing industries that should be mothballed. They will always choose the cheapest path of least resistance when it comes to groups like First Nations groups. The problem is none of the other parties are going to do much better. So where does that leave us?
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:18 AM on April 17 [16 favorites]


Indeed. And when they lose out at the Federal level because we won't vote for them again and -- because vote splitting -- we wind up with a blue PM once again, he'll be really sorry he didn't deliver on his promises. And so will we. And the moronic pendulum cycle of Canadian politics will swing back and forth and back and forth....
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:19 AM on April 17 [3 favorites]


I suppose this might be a good moment to link to this site again, which tracks the broken and the fulfilled of Trudeau's campaign promises: https://trudeaumetre.polimeter.org/
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:29 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


is anyone talking about making a pipeline from Edmonton to somewhere like Churchill Manitoba instead?
Way ahead of you.


Alberta is desperate to pipe their bitumen in literally any direction that leads to ocean. They've tried to expand the Energy East to the Atlantic, Keystone XL to the gulf, Trans Mountain and Northern Gateway to the Pacific (across BC), and yes even the Mackenzie Valley pipeline to the Arctic. They've run into opposition at every pass, and most of these projects have been dropped (still trying though!)
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:31 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Alberta's minister of energy will have sweeping discretionary powers to limit exports of crude, natural gas and gasoline to B.C. under much-anticipated legislation introduced Monday.

Bill 12, titled Preserving Canada's Economic Prosperity Act, gives the Alberta government the ability to retaliate against the B.C. government for any delays to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, by driving up gas prices or slapping restrictions on shipments of other energy products.

"We are very committed to putting pressure on B.C. to come around and focus on what this pipeline actually means," Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said.


Confidential to Rachel Notley: When you start behaving towards another province like Vladimir Putin, Rosneft and Gazprom behave towards Ukraine, you're governing wrong.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:35 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Cap speed limits at 30km/h. Today. Fewer deaths, fewer GHGs, much easier problem for automated vehicles to handle, less energy required overall so electric vehicles perform better. Do that and maybe advanced human civilization survives.

Why stop at 30km/h, let's cap it at 0km/h and watch the savings and environmental benefits roll in.
posted by furtive at 10:12 AM on April 17 [3 favorites]


The Alberta government is fighting for its constituents majority foreign-owned oil corporations and on its mandate, as well it should. so fuck ‘em.

FTFY.

It might behoove the other provinces to counter any trade bullshit by simply importing all the BC wine (etc.) Alberta won’t take.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:28 AM on April 17 [8 favorites]


Trudeau is a despicable climate quisling and I am looking extremely forward to voting him out of office in 2019.

As for other parties not doing much better on Indigenous issues, I tend to agree. I'll still be voting for Jagmeet Singh though because I think it's the best shot at seeing some kind of improvement. In the meantime I'm doing what I can to support groups like Tiny House Warriors, who are building pipeline resistance camps in unceded territories.

Really though I want to see this issue go to the supreme court, and have them uphold and reaffirm Section 35 of the constitution, and maybe set some very firm judicial precedents on Indigenous sovereignty.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 10:30 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion (people forget there is already a pipeline that's been in place since 1953) was supposed to be a carbon tax transition project that was going to be a little old school, a little new school, and a compromise to help shift things towards phase II: getting Alberta off the oil patch in a phased manner.
Just as importantly, this was also supposed to be the transition project for Alberta from conservative thinking to more liberal and NDP thinking.

The NDP has made huge inroads on the social side, and significant inroads on the environmental side, esp. putting in place the carbon tax. This was going to be the recovery strategy and compromise back to oil companies, to Fort Mac, and workers that would help the NDP get reelected in 2019 so that we could continue the second phase; shifting to renewables. As it stands right now, if Kinder Morgan fails then we get Jason Kenny and his lunatic fringe conservatives next year who will undo the NDP's work faster than Trump undid Obama's, both from a social and environmental perspective.

I think that BC is in the right, but if they gave Alberta this bit of leeway we could have seen a more progressive and united BC/Alberta in the long run, now I'm not so sure.
posted by furtive at 10:50 AM on April 17 [5 favorites]


I think that BC is in the right, but if they gave Alberta this bit of leeway we could have seen a more progressive and united BC/Alberta in the long run, now I'm not so sure.

Yup. The NDP in control of resource development is the best bet for the future. Socialists globally have to show that they are the only ones capable of managing the economy in these turbulent times.
posted by No Robots at 10:58 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


like all countries, Canada is more complicated than most folks want to acknowledge when they're trying to get whatever it is that they want.

Three things come quickly to mind with regard to this current situation:

A. why (in the mainstream Canadian media) am I hearing nobody from Alberta even half-way try to understand why coastal British Columbians might want to oppose this pipeline (beyond the tired ecco-hippie tropes, of course)?

B. (related to A) given that I've already seen two good friends (neither of whom present as remotely ecco-hippie) get arrested for standing in protest, I know which way my push is likely to shove should things go that far.

C. I won't be remotely surprised if the first nations "wildcard" ends up being the most significant piece of all of this. While everybody's been conveniently looking the other way, a generation of indigenous youth have grown up without the horrors of the residential schools etc, and haven't exactly been sitting idle. They're lawyers now, historians, economists even, and won't be just getting brushed aside anymore.

Interesting times.
posted by philip-random at 11:10 AM on April 17 [7 favorites]


A. why (in the mainstream Canadian media) am I hearing nobody from Alberta even half-way try to understand why coastal British Columbians might want to oppose this pipeline (beyond the tired ecco-hippie tropes, of course)?

That's easy enough. Because the whole reason there's a "divide" to be bridged in the first place is that our corporate masters find this division useful for their purposes. They can tell one side that the out-of-touch coastal elites are trying to destroy their way of life while trying to use this kind of "crossing the aisle"/"bridging the divide" narrative to shame the other side into drinking the oil-flavoured kool-aid as well.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:21 PM on April 17


Incidentally, the movement among First Nations (and Native American, on my side of the border) youth that you mention is also significant because they fall outside the narrative framework that the oil companies (and Western conservatism more generally) have been able to use so well against white voters. Hopefully, that oversight leads to the oil companies losing control of the narrative entirely, but that will only happen if white people start to actually listen to those anti-colonialist voices.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:26 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]


Trudeau is a despicable climate quisling and I am looking extremely forward to voting him out of office in 2019.

Sadly, the only electable alternatives appear to be the climate change quisling and the climate change denier (which is what Harper basically was, and I doubt that Scheer would be different). There just isn't enough voter traction to support someone who is serious about implementing policies that reduce climate change - these policies have real costs, and most voters are unwilling to pay them.

They won't be willing to pay them until the effects of climate change start to do significant damage to their pocketbooks or their lives. And that might be too late.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 12:44 PM on April 17 [4 favorites]


Well, it's already too late to prevent catastrophic and devastating changes to the climate.

The best we can hope for now is make a principled stand against the industries responsible, and their enablers in government.

And if we do that, and give absolutely no quarter, we can maybe limit the damage enough to allow for at least some form of post-apocalyptic life to exist on earth down the road.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 1:31 PM on April 17


BC is not doing much if anything at all to oppose the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Development permits are being issued by the BC government. Local government is paying for the cost of policing the protests in Burnaby and other places. So, it's hard to figure out exactly what Notley and Moe want BC to do. I guess they want the BC government to embrace the stupid pipeline.

But, forgotten by virtually everyone, including the Alberta government, the BC government and the pipeline protesters is the primacy of indigenous sovereignty in this debate. Ultimately, even if the BC government did embrace the pipeline, First Nations along the route can take Kinder Morgan to court anyway to block it. Some First Nations support the pipeline, and have worked out agreements with Kinder Morgan for jobs and other things.

Other First Nations oppose the pipeline. It would take just one court case by just one First Nation to delay construction of the pipeline. There's a good chance the Supreme Court would rule in favour of Kinder Morgan, but there is still some uncertainty.

But the ambiguity of indigenous sovereignty in British Columbia, where there are few treaties, is the biggest issue, and it's being ignored, typically.

It all points out to the fact that for non-First Nation politicians, the argument isn't about the pipeline anyway. It's all a bunch of hypocritical political posturing.

If Andrew Weaver and the Greens really cared about C02, they would call to place limits on thermal coal from Wyoming being exported from Jim Pattison's Westshore Terminal.

Instead it's this stupid pipeline.
posted by JamesBay at 1:46 PM on April 17 [5 favorites]


Searching the web, as is my habit, it seems like everyone publishing an opinion on this pipeline is trying to sell me something. The industry, their motivation is obvious. The other side, it looks for the most part not like "eco-hippie" anything, but simple inability to appreciate large numbers. Or to believe small numbers. Or numbers that don't fit particular preconceived notions. Some problems with numbers, anyway.

There's a lot of grasping at straws, like the alleged threat to orca from the acoustic disturbance of increased tanker traffic. Who can argue against the whales? That appears to be so much nonsense, from a study whose authors didn't know how much additional boat noise there would be so they just assumed that the water would be filled 100% of the time with oil tankers everywhere, as opposed to the less than one additional ship per day sailing past at a sedate six knots that other sources suggest.

The public debate is dominated by people who suggest that the risk of an oil spill from a tanker is "close to zero", versus people who seem to think that any risk is too much when it's more than zero and the consequences could be catastrophic (undisputedly so). Nobody is all that convincing about how much risk there is in reality. The current system of moving oil tankers in and out of Vancouver's port hasn't failed yet. It's genuinely not as bad as it used to be. If you see the reports about spills from ships, they are talking about ships that are in the vast majority of those passing through the area that are not oil tankers, even if they don't make that clear. So there's no easy way to judge how likely it is that one of those tankers will somehow lose power, get caught in a storm, and one way or another spill all its deadly contents into the sea. It's rather unlikely, but by how much exactly? Precisely enough that 34 tankers a month is absolutely unacceptable, but 5 a month is fine? How exactly is that weighed against all the other non-tanker shipping risks? Who among us has the expertise to evaluate the various reports on this stuff? Which newspaper has the budget and the stomach for it? Even if there was more certainty than there is, and whatever the result, it seems like nobody would believe it except the people you'd expect to. Even wikipedia can't maintain a consistent pretense of neutrality on this one, the page must not have had much scrutiny on it when some of those edits got made.

There's the climate change angle, but if you keep burning oil, you've got to have pipelines, and B.C. apparently does not want to stop using oil just now. Shutting down the pipelines while the sources that would otherwise fill them keep producing at full speed seems like an impractical way to stop the fossil fuel industry. For one thing it means they're selling the oil for a lower price than they ought to be. This too is disputed, but it looks to me like about 5 to 10% less depending which benchmark you measure against and what other market forces are to be imagined, in any case enough to make a serious dent in Canada's ongoing trade deficit. It's hard to imagine any significant direct impact on Canada's greenhouse gas emission targets, let alone on global climate change itself. Indirectly there are various things such as the political situation in Alberta on one side, people getting to feel good about stopping a pipeline on the other.

Given how much noise has been made about it, I'm serious about people getting to feel good being a factor. We do need people to get engaged and do stuff, and to hold the politicians to account, and to advocate for real change. If it's happening in no small part thanks to what often looks like an irrational anti-pipeline religion taking hold, well that's better than nothing I guess? I can't tell. The enthusiasm some people have for it is infectious. I don't know, consider me firmly undecided on the whole thing.
posted by sfenders at 2:48 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]


What even is the benefit to BC? They might get a tiny share of something making someone else rich? You don't need much risk to offset that.
posted by Zalzidrax at 3:00 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]


What even is the benefit to BC?

I think that question represents one of the fundamentals problems of Canada: we're not a real country (I don't know if any countries are real countries).

The pipeline is supposed to be good for Canada, "we all benefit when one region benefits." And it's sort of true. Until the United States became essentially energy self-sufficient, Alberta's energy industry helped keep the Canadian economy going following the Great Recession. You had trades flying in from Comox or Gander or wherever to work in the patch.

But the pipeline is not supposed to be about quid pro quo.

On the other hand, why is this one particular pipeline prompting Notley and Kenney to both start talking about "constitutional crisis"? It's not like twinning TML is going to somehow magically restore the oil boom in Alberta. It's just one stupid pipeline.

What's happening is BC is bearing the brunt of the failures of the Canadian polity over the past decade to get any pipelines built. Canada has collectively made a decision: no more pipelines. And now BC is taking the blame.

The irony is that BC has moved on from being a resource-based economy. The tech sector in British Columbia now employs more people, generates more revenues and salaries, and pays more taxes than all of the traditional resource sectors -- o&g, forestry, mining and fishing -- combined.

I wonder why Alberta can't move on from resources, too.
posted by JamesBay at 3:49 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]


I wonder why Alberta can't move on from resources, too.

Resource curse.

Also, it's too damn cold.

[Grew up in Alberta.]
posted by clawsoon at 4:08 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]


I live in coastal BC -- I'm looking right now at a piece of what could be at risk. So it's pretty easy for me to find my position on all of this.

Meanwhile, some things we hear a lot here on the coast are how Albertans don't pay sales tax, how Albertans pay far lower auto insurance rates, how Alberta once had a huge "rainy day" fund that was supposed to be there for them should times and fortunes change, but it seems to be mostly gone now ... ?

I do wonder -- are there any Alberta voices willing to speak to this sort of stuff?
posted by philip-random at 4:29 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Indigenous title will be what stops this. Justeau can yell all he wants, but the Supreme Court has said that First Nations title holds above all else. As a policy wonk I once worked with back in the Iggy/Dion days commented: “Justin's dangerous. He has his father's arrogance and his mother's vanity.”
posted by scruss at 4:34 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]


Justin's dangerous

More dangerous then the vain and arrogant prime minister he replaced? I don't have a lot of fond memories of Harper's decade of Terreur.
posted by Ashwagandha at 4:39 PM on April 17 [4 favorites]


I'd say about the same. Harper, though arrogant and vain, always followed the most obviously evil path. Trudeau always goes after the one that make him look good, and hopes no-one will notice the shit-show he leaves behind.

Folks in Federal science roles are almost as scared as they were under Harper. Although they're no-longer muzzled, there are still handlers and messaging people that are in the way of public engagement.
posted by scruss at 5:16 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


It feels like a lose-lose-lose all the way around at the political level, not to mention the local impacts of the pipeline being built or not

Not the mention that 17 of the 18 hottest years on record happened since 2001.
posted by ecourbanist at 5:35 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, some things we hear a lot here on the coast are how Albertans don't pay sales tax, how Albertans pay far lower auto insurance rates, how Alberta once had a huge "rainy day" fund that was supposed to be there for them should times and fortunes change, but it seems to be mostly gone now ... ?

There's this idea that Alberta "pissed the oil boom away", but Alberta has experienced massive population growth over the past ten, twenty years. Those new residents need expensive services such as schools, hospitals and roads. So I don't think Alberta pissed it all away.

On the other hand, there's some... cognitive dissonance... when Alberta complains that it's being killed by low oil prices while preserving the so-called "Alberta advantage" of low taxes.

Got a problem with your finances? Raise your taxes! It's particularly annoying because Alberta's low tax regimen has meant that BC has pursued an ultra-low tax regimen that means that no major infrastructure like light rail ever gets built, our teachers are the second-lowest paid in Canada, BC has the lowest number of provincial employees per capita in Canada, our coastal ferry system is privatized, major infrastructure like bridges are privatized and operations are not capitalized...

But sure, BC is the bad guy because we said that we might go to court to seek clarity over jurisdiction about something or other.

Screw Notley, Kenney, Moe and, of course, Trudeau, the numbskull.
posted by JamesBay at 5:39 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]


(I'm also super proud that the premier is from Victoria and went to Reynolds. It's awesome. I live near the Leg and if you look up on the second floor of the West Annex, where the Premier's Office is, there is a Reynold's school scarf)
posted by JamesBay at 5:42 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Screw Notley

She's been threatened with assassination, and subjected to all manner of personal insult, first by the right, now by the left. Screw those guys.
posted by No Robots at 5:45 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]


Yes, fair enough. I take it back. I'll leave it at "Despite being an NDP supporter and actually being in favor of pipelines, because of her irresponsible rhetoric I look forward to her not getting elected again."

I do agree I should have been more careful with my language earlier and I'll try to do better going forward. Thanks for pointing it out.
posted by JamesBay at 5:48 PM on April 17


I look forward to her not getting elected again.

You know that means Kenney most likely right? Jeez if you think you have it bad with Notley...
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:56 PM on April 17 [6 favorites]


Yeah despite my misgivings about their allegiance to the oil sector, I sincerely hope the NDP stays in power in Alberta. If that can't happen without pipelines, then oh well I guess, but I hope they hang on.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 7:06 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Very clear and concise article on the issue. Most NDP'ers , other than Alberta, feel Rachel Notley has betrayed the Democratic Socialist movement.
posted by smudgedlens at 8:36 PM on April 17


While I've generally been disappointed with Trudeau as a whole, I'm more terrified of Canada going Tory again for federal. That would be worse, frankly. (Also, I hope Jahmeet Singh's candidacy has serious legs because I am excite about him.)
posted by Kitteh at 2:47 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


smudgedlens: Very clear and concise article on the issue.

The author has a grey beard, but is acting like angry arguments and threatened constitutional crises over Alberta oil are some new, non-Canadian thing. Isn't he old enough to remember the National Energy Program?
posted by clawsoon at 4:07 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]


A little more science and politics around the tar sands : Outside the Bitumen Bubble

But those hoping to expand Canadian tar sands/oil sands output are at the back of that queue. Their bitumen is too costly to develop, the quality is inferior to almost all other grades of crude, and the deposits are far from tidewater.

These oil supply dynamics are obvious to anyone who isn’t heavily invested in the bitumen bubble. They explain the recent exodus of many Big Oil players. In the first half of 2017, $22.5 billion in tar sands/oil sands assets were dumped. Money talks when it walks.

posted by ServSci at 5:29 AM on April 18


If they can't export syncrude via pipeline, the obvious next step is to build refining capacity themselves. TBH this is probably a better play for their residents, since then they capture more of the petroleum value chain and retain the high-paying technical jobs in their province, vs. what amounts to a shitty developing-world economy of raw resource extraction and export.

Apparently there's a diesel fuel refinery in Alberta, but that's about it (in terms of modern, economically-competitive plants), and diesel is still pretty low on the totem pole.

If they can't export the bitumen, they could refine it into more valuable products and export those, and the value density would allow for other types of economical transportation besides pipelines. Gasoline blending compounds and higher-fraction fuels (kero, Jet-A, etc.) can likely go through existing pipeline infrastructure; the residual heavy fractions could be used for process energy or for other energy-intensive industries like fertilizer manufacture, aluminum refining, etc., the outputs of which are valuable enough for rail export. I don't know much about Canada's power grid but that's another avenue for "export" of a commodity. Instead of being Frosty Arabia, they could basically be an environmentally-irresponsible Iceland, and there wouldn't be much that neighboring provinces could do about it.

It seems odd to me that they're so fixated on the idea of directly exporting the syncrude rather than building the infrastructure to utilize it, which would also create jobs. It suggests to me either a rather severe lack of imagination, or a lack of confidence in the whole tar-sands strategy that ought to be a red flag in general, or corruption in the form of a sellout to the companies exterior to the province who want to do the refining and capture that value themselves. Or all of the above.

My guess is Alberta can't get the outside investment that a big refining infrastructure buildout would take, probably because nobody else thinks that the tar sands are a strong play (especially given the new oil finds in the US). They should probably take that as advice.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:47 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]


No one wants to hear that their black tarry shit is now basically worthless and they may as well leave it in the ground. And apparently no one who wants to get elected is willing to say that. If only they'd take a cue from improv and follow it up with "yes, and ... now is the perfect time to switch the province to renewables, because look at all that flat ground that gets a lot of sun and wind, and we could be an exporter of nice, clean electricity rather than an exporter of planet killing sludge."

It baffles my mind. Just ... baffles. Calgary and Edmonton are the top 1 and 3 sunniest cities in the country. The wind whips across the plains like woah, and although I'm not a big fan of giant steel windmills, they're the cheapest per megawatt to install. The dots, they are right there, can no one connect them? Just GO ALL IN on it. In a decade with strong government backing the plains could re-invent Canada's energy policy.

GAH
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:16 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


My guess is Alberta can't get the outside investment that a big refining infrastructure buildout would take, probably because nobody else thinks that the tar sands are a strong play (especially given the new oil finds in the US). They should probably take that as advice.

In my limited reading on the subject, I believe that is why they haven't gone in that direction.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:17 AM on April 18




seanmpuckett: "now is the perfect time to switch the province to renewables, because look at all that flat ground that gets a lot of sun and wind, and we could be an exporter of nice, clean electricity rather than an exporter of planet killing sludge."

No one is going to form a goverment in Alberta by proposing to shut down the oil industry.
posted by Mitheral at 8:35 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


No one is going to form a goverment in Alberta by proposing to shut down the oil industry.

and that is rather exactly the problem. that is the action that is environmentally and morally required, but it exists totally outside of probability when working within settler capitalist politics. we will keep digging our own graves in the tar sands right up until we collapse into them, if allowed to.

this is why I am putting all my eggs into the basket of Indigenous sovereignty. I honestly think it's our only shot.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 10:27 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


this is why I am putting all my eggs into the basket of Indigenous sovereignty. I honestly think it's our only shot.

Post-colonial service? Opinions are divided.
posted by No Robots at 11:19 AM on April 18


If they can't export syncrude via pipeline, the obvious next step is to build refining capacity themselves.

This has always struck me as the elephant in the room. It's not like there aren't sizeable refineries in Alberta, I drive past two on my way to work and there's a third just down the road, plus the Northwest Upgrader going up across the river.

Take a page from the Lougheed government and put some real incentives in processing here and all sorts of other industries will spring up too. That's what was done in the 70s with natural gas and is essentially the reason the largest petrochemical plant in Canada is in Fort Saskatchewan.
posted by selenized at 1:34 PM on April 18 [4 favorites]


Even if the pipeline expansion goes ahead, how much future is there for Alberta oil? (Too expensive, too dirty.) It can't be much or for long. As an environmentalist, couldn't you say "Sure! Go ahead! Build your crazy pipeline! You'll be lucky if there's a market left for it by the time you're ready to open it."

In the meantime, Notley saves face and has a decent chance of getting re-elected. Alberta continues to move toward a renewables future and away from oil.

There is a downside and that is the risk of a spill in the Georgia Strait but I won't be surprised if the bottom falls out of the Alberta oil industry whether there's a pipeline or not.
posted by kaymac at 5:41 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


One higher-up (high enough that I'm still not sure why they gave me the time of day) at an Alberta Ministry once told me that the tar sands aren't an efficient enough source of oil going forwards. In retrospect, it was surprisingly candid.
posted by Yowser at 6:46 PM on April 18


They weren't an expert on oil in any way, so ymmv.
posted by Yowser at 6:46 PM on April 18


quoting a Saudi prince, who was likely quoting someone else:

"The stone age didn't end because the world ran out of stone. Something better came along."

His point was that he didn't expect the world's current energy status quo to continue indefinitely and, given all the strides being made toward alternative options, he wouldn't be surprised if big change happened comparatively quickly.

That said, the world still needs fossil fuels. They are fundamental to almost everything that we think of as normal functioning. It's easy to tear into Alberta for being short sighted and/or beholden to Big Oil, but it has worked for them very well for as long as pretty much every Albertan has been alive.

this is why I am putting all my eggs into the basket of Indigenous sovereignty

far stranger things have happened in the course of world events. As I heard a neighbour put it recently. "As long as they keep the proverbial boat afloat, I don't really care who my tax dollars are going to."
posted by philip-random at 9:07 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


The two sides of the controversy.
posted by Mitheral at 12:27 PM on April 19


BREAKING NEWS: Canadian Forces & Alberta militia send guns to keep vital Rogers Pass link open. BC snowflakes retreated but more coming.--tweeted by Lloyd Ash.
posted by No Robots at 1:36 PM on April 19


^Erm, fake.
posted by No Robots at 1:49 PM on April 19


Veterans of folk protest Bob Bossin and Stringband have offered up Pipeline as a protest theme for BC's summer. Come for the catchy tune and videos of protests, stay for Grand Chief Stewart Phillip at the end.

It's catchy and they really want you to learn it! Lyrics, chords, and even sheet music available on Bob Bossin's site.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip doesn't mince words on Trudeau's failure to follow through on promises to ensure social consent.

And it seems like a lot of BCers agree... according one poll (commissioned by a Federal MP (NDP) from Burnaby, who was himself arrested at a pipeline protest) a whopping 12% of BC Citizens would be willing to engage in civil disobedience in order to oppose the pipeline.

Sometimes I love my province. It's going to be another crazy BC summer.
posted by chapps at 6:07 PM on April 30


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