Alberta Politics
Brian Mulroney meets Pierre Trudeau, whom he would come to see as his nemesis for his role in undermining the Meech Lake Accord, in 1984 (Photo: Newfound and Labrador Historical Archives)

Rachel Notley, Alberta’s tough NDP premier who has clearly concluded her government’s survival depends on there being shovels in the ground building a pipeline by the time she asks the lieutenant governor to call an election next year, rolls the dice a lot like Brian Mulroney.

Well, not exactly like Mr. Mulroney. She is more disciplined and less garrulous than the old Irish-Canadian baritone from Baie-Comeau. The words “roll the dice” will never pass Ms. Notley’s lips. Nor will an admission, which she surely understands, that a pipeline to B.C. may never deliver the economic nirvana most Albertans have persuaded themselves it will.

Still, both Ms. Notley and Mr. Mulroney are former labour lawyers who know a thing or two about hard-nosed negotiations. There is more of Mr. Mulroney’s style in Ms. Notley’s approach than I imagine either she or he would be comfortable publicly admitting.

When Mr. Mulroney spoke the fateful words “roll the dice” in an interview with the Toronto Globe and Mail in 1990, he arguably unintentionally delivered the coup de grâce to his Meech Lake Accord strategy to revise Canada’s constitution and bring Quebec, officially and irrevocably, into the Canadian constitutional family.

In an interview on June 12 that year, 11 days before the Accord’s final deadline, Mr. Mulroney told the Globe’s Susan Delacourt that to win the game for Canada he waited to the final moment to “roll the dice” to get…

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