With Rachel Notley off to Texas, it helps to understand why Canadians and Texans are naturally simpatico

Posted on March 06, 2017, 12:57 am
6 mins

PHOTOS: The magnificent Texas State Capitol in Austin – taller that the U.S. Capitol in Washington! Below: The interior of that Texas dome and some musicians making the scene in Austin, which is not only warmer than Edmonton, it’s more liberal too, and the sort of thing I had in mind when I made the crack about the VW bus.

While Alberta’s leading right-wing politicians engage in their usual sophomoric Twitter bitter battles this week, our social democratic premier will be far above the fray, hobnobbing with the titans of the oil industry in Houston and the political movers and shakers of the Great State of Texas in Austin.

I expect Premier Notley and Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, the NDP Government’s energy minister, will be made to feel right at home by the nabobs of the petroleum industry in Houston, and will feel naturally at home in Austin, the state capital.

The U.S. oil industry, after all, is pretty sophisticated about getting along with folks who can help them make money, whether or not their political convictions are precisely calibrated with those that prevail in the office towers of Houston. Premier Notley and Minister McCuaig-Boyd have already proved with their royalty and pipeline policies that Alberta social democrats can go along to get along. So I doubt Houston will think we have a problem.

Anyway, Texans are unfailingly friendly and polite because, as a security guard scanning me for metal objects at the Texas State Capitol a few years ago matter-of-factly explained, “an armed population is a polite population.”

So Ms. Notley and Ms. McCuaig-Boyd should have no problems in Texas other than their shock at the size of the sales tax – 8.25 per cent in both Houston and Austin. (I know, I know, they don’t have an income tax in Texas … which is why municipal taxes are so high. But let’s not get sidetracked by that right now.) Plus, the temperature is forecast to be about the distance from zero today as it is in Edmonton, in the opposite direction.

I notice that CERAWeek, the major oil industry conference the two will be visiting today, is even welcoming a speaker this year from a country with a nationalized oil company that’s high on the current U.S. president’s hit list, not to mention some guy named Justin Trudeau, who the new American president has apparently taken a shine to.

There doesn’t seem to be a speaker from Russia this year, but that’s OK. Past guests have included Rex Tillerson, late of Exxon Mobil, and he got a medal from Vladimir Putin, and Mr. Putin in turn is the president of Russia. (In case you missed it, Mr. Tillerson is now the U.S. secretary of state, so maybe there was no need for a speaker from Russia.)

On Tuesday, Ms. Notley and her small entourage will go to Austin, where she’s scheduled to meet Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who is also commander-in-chief of the Texas National Guard. Just sayin’.

As noted, though, Ms. Notley would feel right at home in Austin even if she’d gone there with Lou in a VW bus. For one thing, Austin is considerably more liberal than anywhere you’ll ever visit in Canada, and that includes Edmonton, which people in Calgaryused to think it was funny to call Redmonton. (This is a reference to the European political party that used to be associated with the colour red, not the American one that is now, although both, it could be argued, have strongly authoritarian tendencies.)

Accordingly, Texans from elsewhere will never miss an opportunity to tell you that “Austin isn’t the real Texas,” which is what Albertans used to mean when they said Edmonton isn’t the real Alberta, a place that therefore would never vote NDP.

But that was before demographic change, which, come to think of it, is also happening in Texas.

If Ms. Notley learns nothing else from the elected officials she meets in Austin, she should take note of the fact that the magnificent State Capitol Dome is taller than the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. This was probably easier to do than it would be to retrofit the Alberta Legislature’s dome to make it taller than the Peace Tower in Ottawa. Still, it’s worth thinking about.

I am sure Ms. Notley will find that Canadians and Texans are just naturally simpatico. I have a theory about this: You see, we’re both from places that occupy some of the world’s most beautiful real estate, and we’re both citizens of countries that used to be independent.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

16 Comments to: With Rachel Notley off to Texas, it helps to understand why Canadians and Texans are naturally simpatico

  1. Bill Malcolm

    March 6th, 2017

    I think you kind of missed the point here, Dave. Notley’s off on an oil rampage, hardly a typical social democrat priority worldwide.

    Just to show our climate denial chops here in Nova Scotia, we opened a new coal mine last week. Beyond the locals living around the mine, just about nobody is impressed. Why not contribute to ruining the environment? is the cynical response of normal people, as phone in shows demonstrate. The coal is too dirty for even the fluidized bed combustion power plant NS Power runs, and it has magnificent precipitators, so it’ll be exported for someone else
    to burn and make a mess with. Still contributes to global warming.

    Meanwhile Notley stands up and informs us that she’s pushing for Energy East and whatever other pipeline she can. Not only is diluted bitumen from the tarsands not oil in the traditional sense, the current plan is for Irving Oil, the feudal system running New Brunswick, to export the stuff. Their refinery cannot process dilbit, so it’s just a straight export job, which has environmentalists on the US East Coast upset, let alone us.

    Your neighbours in BC are going to do anything they can to stop more dilbit crossing their territory – I presume you read MOS and Rafe Mair. Energy East hasn’t a hope of getting through Quebec, although that two-bit environmental turncoat Trudeau will no doubt try to grease the wheels.

    When is Alberta going to wake up? When our shorelines they insist on using for export are receding beyond belief, which is already starting in a big way, or when the weather gets even more crazy, or when there’s no Arctic ice left? Or ever? No it’s just foist off that dilbit crud on the rest of us so Alberta can enjoy high wages and no sales tax. The old I’m all right Jack syndrome, and we’re about done with all that squawking in the rest of the country.

    Notley has officially jumped the shark just to keep a bit “ahead” of the medieval apes and climate change deniers running for the conservative side of things in Alberta, so she can get re-elected. It’s about as obvious as the nose on one’s face. Social democrat? Hah. As for Austin, who cares? You’re deliberately missing the point I think.

    It looks like the human race is congenitally unable to face the music when they can make a buck this week, and foist off any problems on the future, when someone else has to deal with the mess, if it’s even possible then.

    Not impressed.

    • Val

      March 6th, 2017

      you envy of Alberta’s wages and absence of PST but you ignore facts how statistic works out, when 1 earns $1 000 000 per year and 9 only $10 000, by StatsCan 10 albertans average earning are $110 000 yearly. and you ignore that cost of living in Alberta: food, goods, services, insurances, healthcare, etc., because this statistic, are most expensive in the country. and you ignore the fact that Alberta, being significant contributors to equalization program, never received even 1/10th of what receives every year NS or Quebec or any other “have not” provinces.
      if tomorrow Alberta does shutdown all of it’s Oil & Gas industry, would be NS and Quebec able to replace Alberta’s contribution to national wealth and could provide well paid work for thousands of own residents, well being of which depends on Alberta’s Oil & Gas sector?
      so, what is your solution besides crying out loudly?

      it’s really sad to see mentality of fellow canadians, who have no cow, but instead to achieve one for themselves, they prefer that their neighbor’s cow to be dead.

      • Athabascan

        March 7th, 2017


        “it’s really sad to see mentality of fellow canadians, who have no cow, but instead to achieve one for themselves, they prefer that their neighbor’s cow to be dead.”

        WTF does that even mean?

        • Death and Gravity

          March 7th, 2017

          It means he’s a glibertarian whiner, who think Albertans thriftily put the oil in the ground

    • Death and Gravity

      March 6th, 2017

      Notley is leader of a precarious government in a Province where the (fossil) energy sector is very important. It can not be wished away. Substantial change in the situation is going to take decades. In the meantime, Albertans have to pay the rent. If you think any other strategy than the NDPs is conceivably electable in Alberta, I got news for you. The alternative is Kenney, or Harper on steroids, which will undo any steps the NDP have to will make to change direction.

  2. Kang the barbarian

    March 6th, 2017

    Notley feeling comfortable in Texas eh? A death penalty state where big hair and plinking with the family AR-15 is big fun. I think youa’ll better get home and have that tongue removed from your cheek.

    I just hope they don’t come back and follow the Texas example allowing almost 60 well pads per square mile for Fracking, cause’ we all know orphan wells are part of the Alberta advantage. Just sayin’

    • David Climenhaga

      March 7th, 2017

      I didn’t mean to imply I was in Texas right now. Only that I was there not that long ago. I was served in a restaurant by a Canadian-born waitron who asked me, “How are you-all, eh?” I kid you not. DJC

  3. ronmac

    March 6th, 2017

    Don’t want to alarm anybody but Notley’s trip to Texas is disturbingly similar to a visit by certain foreign dignitaries 29 years ago.

    In 1997 a delegation from the Taliban gov’t in Afghanistan went to Texas to meet with oil barons who wanted to build a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to Pakistan.

    Without going into too much detail let’s just say the negotiations didn’t end too well.

    The current day oil barons may be facing a resistance that is much more organized than those posed by the Taliban hordes across the barrens of Afghanistan. I’m talking about landowners across the US midwest who are solidly against any pipelines going thru their properties.

    I can see the Texas governor calling up his National Gurad to invade neighboring Oklahoma to quell the dissenters.

  4. David

    March 6th, 2017

    Oil is important to both Texas and Alberta, so yes they already have something significant in common. Both are also more politically diverse than the caricatures of those who live far away would give them credit for. Texas has produced Democratic Presidents and Governors, although Alberta has not produced a center left Prime Minister, perhaps Joe Clark might be closest, we have had past provincial governments that could be described as progressive (although you would have to go quite a way back in history to find them).

    I think part of the burden of being a capital is the disdain that those perhaps other envious cities or places put out, so I am not surprised that Austin is not held in high regard by all of Texas. Of course the city name can also become unfairly synonymous with bureaucracy and political complaints against a government. I always found it a bit funny that when Calgary voted for many more PC’s who were the government than Edmontonians did and they were dissatisfied with what the PC’s did they would sometimes blame the government in Edmonton or Edmonton. Of course, it was actually the government they elected that was to blame.

    By being energy producers both Alberta and Texas will have to deal with the issue of climate change, which is difficult for both. Many people in both places depend on the energy industry so while we don’t want to be climate change deniers, we also don’t want to be economic reality deniers and we have to find a way we can make progress on climate change without jeopardizing jobs. Part of the reason Trump won in the US was that Democrats did not pay enough attention to economic issues.

  5. Keith McClary

    March 6th, 2017

    “Justin Trudeau, who the new American president has apparently taken a shine to”
    My theory is that Trump likes the idea of political dynasties.

  6. Tiddo

    March 7th, 2017

    I love how Albertans love to think they are the Texas of Canada, when in reality we are more like the Oklahoma of Canada: flat, evenly split between rural and urban, produces a respectable amount of oil and gas, but now that the rush to drill is over and most of the jobs have dried up, people are noticing that the party seems to be over and maybe not coming back, or at least, it’s over for them.

    And I know of which I speak: I have lived in Texas, I grew up in Oklahoma and have lived in Alberta for 17 years.

    • David

      March 8th, 2017

      So who would be the equivalent of Texas in Canada then?

      Don’t forget Jasper or Banff is not flat, but they are in Alberta too. Most Albertans live in cities not rural. You’ve been in Alberta 17 years you say and haven’t noticed that? I can’t imagine how you missed all those Travel Alberta ads with the mountains in them.

      I’ve been here longer and recall the party being over in the early 1980’s for a while too. Maybe the exact same characters don’t always return but neither boom or bust seems to be permanent in the energy industry.

      • Tim

        March 8th, 2017

        Colorado like Alberta also has oil and gas and mountain based tourism i.e. Vail, Aspen, Telluride.

  7. Tim

    March 8th, 2017

    To be fair there is no federal sales tax in the US so in reality Texas has an 8.5% sales tax while Alberta has a 5% sales tax(Prior to Stephen Harper Alberta had in reality a 7% sales tax) My personal view is that Alberta should at the very least introduce a 2% sales tax before Ottawa gets any ideas about raising the GST back to 7%)/


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