Former Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall talks Canadian energy
Disclosure: Alex Singh Dhaliwal is a fourth-year Political Science and History student at the University of Calgary, where he serves as the President for its Campus Conservatives. He’s a former campaigner for the United Conservative Party of Alberta.
Having served in the past as Saskatchewan’s premier for over a decade, Brad Wall is no stranger to combating western alienation.
Initiatives like the Buffalo Project seek a ‘fair deal’ under our federation, amidst an oblivious and often disinterested federal government.
Mired by mixed messaging and numerable ethics violations, Saskatchewan’s
With less than 70 days until the provincial vote, issues like Ottawa’s carbon policy, pipelines, and equalization will dictate the trajectory of the Western Canadian vote. Even Albertan separatism has become more mainstream, with three in ten supporting the cause.
The former held towards the end of and following Wall’s tenure. While not a fan of the separatist crusade, he recognized the need for a “fairer deal.”
Today, a subset of the population feels disenfranchised by the federal government. Naturally, tensions are bound to rise as the bonds of confederation crumble.
When the prime minister widens the cleavage along regional lines, unity is not what you preach.
With climate change at the forefront of political discourse, declaring the ‘climate crisis,’ a national emergency irks many the wrong way.
Fifty-eight percent of Canadians note that the lack of pipeline capacity a crisis. However, that sentiment fell on deaf ears. Beyond misguiding partisan speeches, little has been implemented or exacted, especially with the Trans Mountain Expansion.
In an exclusive interview with Brad Wall, the Post Millennial touched on the future of Canada’s energy sector. As well as the insecurities projected through the Buffalo Project.
TPM: As the former Premier to Saskatchewan, how has the debate on pipelines and the oil and gas industry changed from then till now?
Wall: Well, it’s got a lot more challenging to get pipelines built. When I got started as Premier in late-2007, the prospects of getting a pipeline approved were much better than they are now.
What’s happened in the intermediate period is the very well organized opposition, funded by foreign ENGOs, as found in the research conducted by Vivian Krause. We also know of the opposition in Canada, mainly provincial governments, which we’ve been caught off guard by how effective they’ve been, given that everybody understands that oil will move. The safest way to move it is by pipeline.
I remember when Energy East was in the works – it wasn’t going to be a slam dunk, but it will be much easier because it’s converting an existing line. It’s not brand new, and secondly, it’s about Canadian energy.
In the Atlantic parts of the country, they currently import the oil they refine, despite copious amounts in Western oilfields. The federal Liberal government changed the rules and made it difficult to get a pipeline approved, as we’ve seen with Energy East – which was abandoned altogether.
TPM: Given current legislation under Bill C-69, which has hindered progress on TMX and has facilitated significant oil and gas producers setting up shop elsewhere. Is there any way to salvage these pieces of legislation while promoting responsible resource development?
Wall: Well, I know some oppose Bill C-69 as I do, while others proposed amendments to this piece of legislation. Some believe the amendments would have been enough, but I wanted to see it scrapped.
After all of these years, and all the various consultations, including the disappointing ruling that stopped TMX, the federal government is getting to know what was required of our regulatory approval process. However, I do appreciate that others thought it more reasonable that maybe the liberals would at least make some changes, so they were proposing amendments to prove it.
Of course, the liberals rejected the most important part — the most important of those amendments that would have left us with more hope in our regulatory system. Unfortunately, shovels have yet to hit the ground.
TPM: In the current political climate, we’re seeing politicians who are beholden to the environmental lobby, as we’ve seen with Premier Horgan and his coalition with the Green Party.
If you look closely at their messaging, their pro-environment agenda remains when it comes to pipelines, but not to dumping raw sewage off the west coast. In the lead up to the upcoming federal election, how do Canadians relay a message in favour of responsible resource development that assuages the concerns on both sides of the debate?
Wall: Politicians and others need to point out the hypocrisy you noted. We know that luxury cruise liners have a huge carbon footprint and are massive disruptors along the coast of British Columbia.
It’s pristine to make money from the cruise line, yet little is done to stop the dumping of raw sewage into the Pacific Ocean. At this rate, it would be easier to get a permit from Minister McKenna on dumping raw sewage than it would be for pipelines.
We need to have a great discussion in addressing this hypocrisy and others like it, moving forward. That being said, I’ve liked what I’ve heard from Andrew Scheer about an Energy Corridor, where we seek to approve it for hydrocarbons, hydroelectricity, you name it. I’m hopeful that that will gain traction in the months ahead.
TPM: It’s interesting you bring up the National Energy Corridor. After Quebec vetoed Energy East, the federal Liberals gave the province of Quebec a $1.8 billion increase in equalization payments. Do moves like this alienate western provinces further? Does this make the notion of separatism a more mainstream idea now than it was 10-20 years ago?
Wall: I don’t know about separatism, but it makes sense of alienation more broadly felt. The Federal government unilaterally re-upped the probation program, where they showed little regard for the concerns widely held by Western Canada. It pointed out Quebec getting well over half the 19 billion dollars in equalization payments, with a 400-year-old economy and the second-most populous province. Discord in the country is on the rise, according to public opinion polls, and I do not think that is a trend that will be averted any time soon, with our current trajectory.
TPM: In April 2019, we saw Alberta lose over 9000 oil and gas positions, while British Columbia stood to gain about 200 jobs. According to PetroLMI, many of these positions were lost due to technological advancement, where low-skill labour positions became obsolete. How do Canadians navigate the post-recession projection for the oil and gas industry?
Wall: Well, we need to get our act together and protect our energy sector, which has the third-largest reserves. We need to better communicate with ourselves and the world that energy demand is going to increase until at least 2050, and those who meet that supply will benefit immensely from that.
If it’s not Canada, it will be countries who don’t care much about the environment, about responsible resource development like Canada does. It will be a massive loss to the planet if we continue to rely on those who do not maintain similar ethical standards.
It’s an enormous loss for a country in terms of jobs and investment. Without that revenue, social programs lose funding, leaving the country in a worse position moving forward. I hope the federal government sees that.
TPM: With discussions on climate change at the forefront of political discourse, how do politicians on both sides, seeking a more pragmatic approach, combat that?
Wall: First of all, you recognize the reality of climate change. Then you propose a better plan with Canada leading the charge, as a country that produces 1.3% of global emissions. However, we also need to focus on developing technology to solve problems that we see arise from our nearly 1,600 coal plants.
TPM: When it comes to reducing carbon emissions from the heaviest emitters, a carbon levy has been proposed by the UCP in Alberta for January 1st, 2020. Will this be enough to protect the environment? Why do you feel that a carbon tax may or may not be the solution to promoting responsible resource development?
Wall: I think it does more than a broad-based carbon tax, especially if they can earn that money back by deploying green technologies to reduce their carbon footprint, as then it’s about production and not just a tax. The carbon tax was implemented when Alberta’s economy was reeling for several reasons, and punishing people for heating their homes and driving their cars was inexcusable.
From senior centres to recreational facilities, the decision by the government to move ahead with that massive tax increase at the time. A more focused approach is needed that will benefit the economy and the environment, rather than a cash-grab that punishes those struggling to get by.
TPM: Many remain undecided on who to support this federal election. With the return of Gerald Butts to the scene, his antagonistic view towards our oil and gas sector, responsible resource development or otherwise proves concerning. What is your message to the said undecided swing voters?
Wall: Well, the economy pays for everything. Every social program the government offers; every road you want to pave, school and hospital you want to build are funded by way of the taxpayer. Under a growing economy, we have a broad tax base we can tax at a lower level.
If we eliminate a sector for ideological reasons that are in the top three or four sectors, it will impact our ability to sustain critical social programs, moving forward. Quality of life will suffer.
If the federal government does not meet the rising global demand for oil and gas, then other nations will. Effectively, a pragmatic approach is needed to provide what many major oil-producing countries do not have – an affinity to protect the environment while growing their respective economies.
An Edmonton man has been arrested after a string of poppy box robberies in Lloydminster, Alta., and Sherwood Park.
RCMP responded to a call at a Lloydminster Tim Hortons after the thief stole a poppy box off the counter and walked out.
Later that night, two customers at a local business in Sherwood Park saw a man stealing poppy boxes before fleeing, according to RCMP. The couple followed him and detained him with the help of an off duty police officer.
Korey McPhee, 34 of Lloydminster, was charged in the theft of both poppy boxes.
McPhee appeared in court on Wednesday.
During a meeting in Ottawa, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister gave some “friendly advice” to Justin Trudeau. Pallister told Trudeau that there was growing frustration in western Canada has towards Ottawa, according to the CBC.
In their meeting, the two leaders discussed a range of issues that came up during the election campaign. This included climate change and indigenous issues, as well as western alienation. Speaking to the CBC, Pallister stated that “there’s some great frustration with the lack of progress, not just on pipelines, but on other things.”
After the election, a deep frustration with Ottawa turned quickly into a separatist movement. This was blamed on the Liberal party, who due to a series of policy decisions, did not pick up a single seat in Alberta. Parts of British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba have also been vocal in their frustration with Trudeau’s government.
Pallister was critical of Trudeau’s carbon tax and other policies designed to hinder the Canadian oil and gas sector. This has been a deeply contentious topic in the prairies, especially due to the recession that was triggered as a result of Trudeau’s pipeline bungle.
Unlike the Saskatchewan and Alberta premiers, Pallister has not threatened to rip up the equalization agreement.
A paralyzed member of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team can now move his legs after a successful experimental surgery in Thailand, reported by the CBC. The player’s name was Ryan Straschnitzki, who is now 20 years old. Once he regained control of his legs, he immediately asked the doctor whether he could hit the gym.
The Saskatchewan hockey team got into a road accident in 2018, which injured 13 and killed another 16. After the accident, Canadians united across the country in support of the families and the greater Humboldt community.
On Monday, Straschnitzki had a device implanted into his spine that would link nerves in his limbs to the spinal cord. This implant can stimulate the nerves that provide feeling.
On Twitter, his family posted a video of Straschnitzki lifting his leg. “Ryan asks if he can go work out at the Mall Gym after. The stunned therapist said NO. You just had surgery.”
In the future, Straschnitzki hopes to win gold as a member of Canada’s Paralympics sledge hockey team.
Straschnitzki previously inked an endorsement deal with Adidas in which he was featured in an ad for the sportswear company back in September.
A new Ipsos poll has given another indicator of what many already suspected: The prairie provinces are more eager than ever to separate from the rest of Canada.
The exclusive poll conducted for Global News found that the majority of respondents in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and in the Maritimes believe that Canada is “more divided than ever,” and according to Ipsos vice-president Kyle Braid, those numbers have reached “historic” heights, specifically in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
“This is really a story of two oil provinces that feel that they made a substantial contribution to the Canadian economy during the boom years and now feel when things are not going as well, they feel isolated, underappreciated, misunderstood by the rest of the country,” he said.
According to the study, “agreement that the country is more divided than ever is highest in … Alberta (79%) and Saskatchewan (77%). A majority of residents in the two other western provinces of Manitoba (58%) and BC (54%) also agree the country is divided, but their agreement is aligned with Ontario (56%) and Quebec (54%) and not their western neighbours. Two-thirds (66%) of Atlantic Canadians agree the country is more divided than ever.”
The poll surveyed 1,516 voting-age Canadians online between Oct. 24 and Nov. 1, 2019.
Among the other questions were “Canada is more divided than ever,” “my province would be better off if it separated from Canada,” and “I think the views of western Canadians are adequately represented in Ottawa.”
According to the poll, approximately one-third (33%) of Albertans surveyed and just over one-quarter (27%) of Saskatchewanians agree with the statement: “My province would be better off if it separated from Canada.”
That separatist ethos is up 8 points compared to last year’s numbers (from 25% to 33%,) and up 14 points from the 19 percent figure found in 2001. According to the survey, “a belief that Saskatchewan would be better off if it separated is up 9 points from just over a year ago (from 18% to 27%) and up 14 points from 2001 (was 13%).”
That separatist sentiment is rivalled only by the Quebecois, where 26 percent believe that their province would fair better by leaving Canada.