Alberta Premier Rachel Notley arrived at the doorstep of federal power today to deliver a stern message to the Trudeau government on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion: “step up.”
The premier was in Ottawa to push the Alberta NDP government’s message that the development of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion pipeline was synonymous with a more prosperous future for the province and for the nation.
It is a message she’d like more help from the Trudeau Liberals in delivering.
Alberta recently announced, along with Saskatchewan and British Columbia, that it intended to intervene in a legal case launched by Kinder Morgan against the city of Burnaby. Kinder Morgan is alleging that the Vancouver suburb is deliberately delaying permit approvals to block the Trans Mountain project. Alberta and Saskatchewan are supporting the company in its efforts, while B.C. is defending its own right and the right of its cities to manage their own approvals process for permits.
"To the government of Canada, led by the Liberal Party of Canada, I say this: Step up," said Notley.
"Now, more than ever, Canadians need our national government to articulate and defend the national interest, because Trans Mountain is a project that we all need, and now we need to get it done.”
Demand for oil worldwide will “continue to rise,” Notley said, and “the world can either buy its oil from Alberta, where we are taking climate change seriously, or it can buy it from places with runaway emissions like Venezuela and Russia.”
But that means that Alberta, and its pipeline ambitions, “has to be on the team” for Canada to have any hope of meeting its climate targets, she said. “The federal government cannot do its work for Canadians if it can’t pay for it.”
Notley positioned herself as part of the “moderate, progressive majority in Canada” and warned this mass of Canadians “risk being out-shouted” by voices calling for provincial budget cuts or climate deniers.
“I hope the government of Canada will speak up loud and clear on these issues,” she said.
Notley also came out guns blazing to other political factions in Ottawa.
To her "friends in the Official Opposition," the Conservative Party of Canada, "and to their cousins in Alberta," the premier said: “stop playing politics.”
Denying climate change, she said, “won’t get pipelines built,” and “refusing to address climate change is offside with the energy industry in Alberta.”
And to members of the federal NDP, she pointed out her government’s support for progressive issues, like a $15 minimum wage, a gender-balanced cabinet and replacement for “regressive” taxes and “predatory lending.”
“You can’t make progress on the climate if you tell working people that their jobs don’t matter,” she said.
The International Energy Agency, an intergovernmental partnership that is considered to be a conservative-leaning body, estimated in 2012 that two thirds of existing global reserves of oil, gas and coal would have to remain in the ground, between now and 2050, to prevent global warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This temperature threshold is considered to be a dangerous tipping point that countries have pledged to avoid under the 2015 international Paris agreement on climate change.
Notley reiterated her stance that the National Energy Board's decision to consider downstream emissions in pipeline proposals is "an historic overreach, something no other industry is subject to," and "should not, and cannot, be a precedent that applies to future projects."
The NEB has decided to stage a full hearing after Kinder Morgan complained about delayed permits for Trans Mountain. Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr told reporters earlier this month that while the government wants the pipeline built, the board is "independent" and will "use its own processes" to decide the merits of the case.
Notley said the "efforts of local councils to frustrate the national government's decision, that was made in the national interest, must be met head on."
"There are legal issues that we know will work their way through the courts, as they should. And there is a discussion with the people of Canada that we need to continue to have like the one we're having today," she said.
But most Canadians, she added, "in each and every province of this country — including British Columbia — support the moderate, progressive, balanced approach that I've outlined today."
Before her speech, the Economic Club played a video produced by the government of Alberta and featuring scenes of Notley set to upbeat music, smiling and shaking hands with workers while wearing a hard hat, and video of pipelines being built, and of the premier behind a podium that said “climate leadership.”
Notley’s speech touched on many of the same themes, and included many similar passages — some practically verbatim — as the one she gave in Toronto yesterday at the Empire Club of Canada.
The premier announced Nov. 6 that she would be embarking on a cross-country tour to promote the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
After the speech in Ottawa, the premier is expected to head back to Calgary to speak at the Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 24, then to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade on Nov. 30, and finally the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce on Dec. 7.
Editor's note: This story was updated at 4:25 p.m. EST to include additional comments from Premier Notley and to provide context about those remarks.