Alberta Politics
The PM’s TMX newser yesterday – not enough smiles to suit Alberta? (Photo: Screenshot).

TMX gets the nod from Justin Trudeau’s cabinet – masterstroke or master blunder?

Posted on June 19, 2019, 2:07 am
8 mins

With his cabinet’s second approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project yesterday afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has either proved the Liberal Party of Canada’s old mojo is still intact or blown it all to smithereens.

It’s too soon to tell.

Justin Trudeau’s news conference on the same topic back in 2016 (Photo: Screenshot).

Alberta Conservatives and their legion of media cheerleaders obviously feared the first explanation was the truth, that Mr. Trudeau had somehow found the magic middle on this contentious issue and voters throughout the land would soon be flocking back to his side.

Why else would they be so cranky about an outcome that should have been easy for them to portray as a huge victory for their side?

Rather than celebrate, the Conservative commentariat spent the afternoon carping and moaning that Mr. Trudeau didn’t really mean it (a patently false narrative), that he didn’t go far enough and drop other legislation they don’t like (an argument you can make, I guess, but so what?), or that he didn’t look cheerful enough at his news conference in Ottawa.

The latter point is just pathetic. What was the prime minister supposed to do? Dance a jig? If he’d done that, these nabobs of negativity would have complained he was nothing but a flaky drama teacher!

The general tone was set by the Calgary Herald’s Don Braid, who had the cheek to publish his attack on the prime minister for doing what the columnist had demanded before the decision had even been announced. “Ottawa won’t deserve Alberta’s thanks for pipeline OK,” barked the headline, neatly summarizing this province’s inevitably ungracious reaction to anything Mr. Trudeau does.

Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

But the idea yesterday’s decision was a strategic masterstroke by the Liberals, long faces and all, is based on the assumption there is a middle left in Canada, and that we’re not becoming as polarized as Donald Trump’s America thanks to the efforts of those now-worried conservative bloviators.

It certainly assumes that no one is paying any attention any more to what Mr. Trudeau said the last time his cabinet approved the TMX, back on Nov. 29, 2016 – to wit, that “we could not have approved this project without the leadership of Premier (Rachel) Notley and Alberta’s climate leadership plan.”

“We said that major pipelines could only get built if we had a price on carbon and strong environmental protection in place,” Mr. Trudeau said then. His assembled cabinet ministers that day, then including Jody Wilson-Reybould, didn’t look all that cheerful either, whatever that meant.

For those who do remember such things, this would suggest that Liberal talk is as cheap as gasoline in Edmonton after Premier Jason Kenney tore up the NDP’s carbon levy.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

And there are plenty of people in parts of Canada that, unlike Alberta and Saskatchewan, are inclined to vote Liberal in a pinch, who now likely won’t.

They won’t vote for Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives either, of course. But this does suggest that if Jagmeet Singh and the NDP can’t come up soon with a compelling pitch, a lot of them are going to vote for Elizabeth May’s Green Party of Canada, perhaps providing it with the breakthrough Ms. May keeps predicting.

Well, like I say, it’s too soon to tell. I’ve been wrong about this stuff before, but you’d have to put me in the group that wonders if Mr. Trudeau has just blown it all to smithereens.

Two things are guaranteed, though:

  1. Building a bigger pipeline to “new markets” via the West Coast will never raise the price of Alberta bitumen as long as the law of supply and demand remains in effect.
  2. Shipping more bitumen from Alberta’s tarsands through a bigger pipe to whatever markets will buy it will not lower Canada’s carbon emissions.

St. Albert MP threatens to sue former classmates over allegations

The CBC reported yesterday that Conservative Michael Cooper was threatening to sue two of his former law school classmates for publicly alleging the St. Albert-Edmonton MP once made disparaging comments about immigrants from places insufficiently steeped in Judeo-Christian values.

St. Albert-Edmonton Conservative MP Michael Cooper (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

But first the CBC reported the two other lawyers’ allegations at length, a story you can read for yourselves here. The lawyers quoted by the CBC said they decided to go public after reading of Mr. Cooper’s behaviour before the House of Commons Justice Committee on May 28.

Mr. Cooper told the CBC he recalled the class discussion 11 years ago, but denied making the comments. “I have instructed my counsel to take all necessary legal measures,” he warned.

Politically alert residents of Mr. Cooper’s riding are advised to keep an eye on how the threatened legal action unfolds. Threatening to sue for defamation can be a tricky strategy for politicians, as Justin Trudeau discovered recently when he said he planned to sue Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer for comments he made during the days of the SNC-Lavalin brouhaha was bedeviling the prime minister.

Mr. Scheer, of course, was the understanding boss who gently tapped Mr. Cooper on the wrist in late May for his offensive performance before the Justice Committee, in which he read into the record the anti-Muslim screed of the terrorist who murdered 51 people in March as they prayed in their mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Meanwhile, in New Zealand yesterday, a judge sentenced a Christchurch white supremacist to 21 months in prison for sharing a banned video of the terrorist attack. New Zealand has also banned publication the terrorist’s rambling manifesto, the one Mr. Cooper read to the committee.

7 Comments to: TMX gets the nod from Justin Trudeau’s cabinet – masterstroke or master blunder?

  1. Hervé Cassemur

    June 19th, 2019

    There’s a nice summary of pipeline myths on The Tyee.
    As usual, Alberta politicians take billions of dollars of Canadian taxpayer’s money with all the grace of Veruca Salt receiving another pony from her father.
    There might be an uptick in crude prices once the fracking boom goes bust in the US, but if flyover country ends up under water for 9 months of the year due to a brand new, climate change induced monsoon season, maybe there will be no place to sell the gasoline.

  2. Bill Malcolm

    June 19th, 2019

    Sometimes I wonder if all this nonsense is but a dream. The plot is worse than a soap opera’s. But then I look at Cooper’s photo with its depiction of an ostrich head firmly extended on a long neck of dorkiness, poised at the ready to plunge at any instant into a handy pile of sand, recall his voice, and realize, not even my dreams invent creatures like that.

  3. Hana Razga

    June 19th, 2019

    Who is Mr. Cooper’s barber? I think he should find another one…lol

    • tom in ontario

      June 19th, 2019

      Sweeney Todd?

  4. Bruce Turton

    June 19th, 2019

    I always find it interesting that politicians and voters who advocate for ‘individual responsibility’ take on but one choice when it comes to having to pay for their own contributions to CO2 emissions: Deny that such pollution is affecting climate in any (significant) way. With the re-awakening of naked neoliberalism in the right wing party across our nation, the only option for my grandchildrens’ future is indeed bleak at best. My apologies to them and all the kids who get to inherit our woeful regress.
    I good cartoon (from someone who can draw more than stick figures) would have J.T. announcing the “climate emergency” with fingers crossed on hand behind his back; and another of J.K. and ilk ripping the Paris Accord in half, with much glee of course!

  5. Dave

    June 19th, 2019

    There certainly is some polarization on the issue of pipelines, making it tricky for the Federal Liberals to try to occupy the middle ground. However, this is what throughout history they have done on many polarizing issues and often fairly successfully.

    Yes there are some very vocal climate change denier or ignorers on one side and some strong supporters of Greenpeace on the other side too. Neither are really much inclined to support the Liberals anyways, nor are they inclined to moderate their views preferring the comfort of their own echo chambers. Therefore the Liberals have little choice but to hope those in the middle are sufficient to support them.

    I think little infuriates those opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline as much as noting the opposition is a mix of nimbyism as much as environmentalism. Fortunately for the Federal Liberals the pipeline is not in Ontario or Quebec. They might take a hit in parts of BC, but the strongest opposition is somewhat localized. They are probably willing to concede most of Vancouver Island to the Greens anyways and it seems they can not ever be pro oil enough to satisfy very many in Alberta.

    If environmental feelings were so strong in central Canada, there would be a tanker ban off the east coast too by now. Its not 100% certain the Liberal strategy will work, but I think it has a good chance of political success.

  6. Jerrymacgp

    June 21st, 2019

    The risk here is that the anti-pipeline vote and pro-climate-action vote will splinter, with those votes being distributed amongst three parties—the Liberals, the NDP, and the Greens—while the pro-pipeline and pro-climate-inaction vote will consolidate behind the ScheerCons, leading through the vicissitudes of our single-member plurality (aka FPTP) voting system to a Conservative victory in October.

    The only hope is that we end up with a hung Parliament after all the ballots are counted, and even then that the Greens & NDP hold their noses and support the Liberals and their watered-wine climate action strategy over the Cons and their keep-the-coal-fires-burning strategy. Both of the major poll aggregators, Eric Grenier & P J Fournier, have posted seat count projections for the Cons that straddle the line between minority & majority—mathematically 169 seats, although if we then deduct one for a Speaker, it really needs to be 170—so such an outcome remains statistically plausible.


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