B.C. pipeline blockade is un-Canadian
By: Ezra Levant
Should the province of British Columbia be able to set up an economic blockade of Alberta?
Should B.C. be able to stop Alberta from having access to the Pacific Ocean?
When that happens between different countries, it’s called an act of war.
Alberta and B.C. are the closest of friends in a united Canada, not different countries. But you wouldn’t know it from yesterday’s announcement by B.C. Premier Christy Clark to extort money out of Alberta in return for “letting” Alberta have access to the Pacific.
Clark said that if Alberta oil companies don’t pay her a “fair share” of oilsands money, she’s going to block the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to the west coast.
Could you imagine if a local politician, back in the 1880s, didn’t want the Canadian Pacific Railway to go through, or in the 1950s didn’t want the Trans-Canada Highway to go through – unless the trains or trucks stopped and paid a big toll?
It’s illegal under our constitution, of course – the federal government, with its larger vision and responsibilities, gets to make those decisions.
If the federal government doesn’t ensure fair transit across the country, the results are disastrous – like what happened to Newfoundland and Labrador, with the Churchill Falls power plant.
That large power plant is completely within Labrador. But to get their power out, they had to go through Quebec.
And so the Quebec government had them blocked in. And they took advantage.
They wouldn’t let the plant export their power – they forced them to sell to Quebec under extremely cheap terms. And to this day, Quebec just resells that power to the U.S. at a huge profit.
According to former premier Danny Williams, Hydro Quebec makes about $1.7 billion a year off the plant. And Newfoundland makes $63 million a year.
And that’s locked in for a 65-year contract.
That’s what Clark wants to do with Alberta oil.
That’s un-Canadian. It’s unconstitutional. It’s unfair. It’s un-neighbourly.
What would Canada would be like if every province started to play that game? Let’s start with the Port of Vancouver – the biggest port in Canada. It’s the entry point for pretty much everything sailing in from Asia to the rest of the country – every Japanese car, every Chinese iPhone and flat screen TV.
But to get from the Port of Vancouver to the rest of Canada, you’ve got to go through Alberta by rail or highway.
What if Alberta decided to demand a toll on anything coming or going to the Port of Vancouver? Say, a $10,000 tax per train or a $1,000 toll per 18-wheeler that crosses pristine Alberta soil?
How many people have been killed on Alberta highways because of semi-trailers racing to or from Vancouver? How many train derailments – including trains carrying toxic chemicals – must Alberta endure, just to make B.C. even richer? That’s crazy talk — but it’s exactly what Clark is saying.
According to government statistics, the Port of Vancouver generates 53,100 jobs. But 47,700 are for B.C. – just 1,800 for Alberta. To use Clark’s words, why should B.C. get all the rewards, and Alberta take all the risks?
Is this what Alberta’s Alison Redford meant by a National Energy Strategy?
And is this what Stephen Harper has in mind for inter-provincial trade and national unity?
Categories: Contributor Columns