Alberta pipeline advocate highlights how provinces are key to resource development

Written By Wyatt Claypool, Posted on December 18, 2019

“[Alberta] is founded by people who are here to do better, not just for themselves but for their family. Everywhere I turn, I see people working towards the betterment of their family,” said George Clark, a pro-resource development advocate.

Clark, while being socially progressive, is fully supportive of new oil development projects like the Eagle Spirit pipeline. Though he holds the environmental standards of these projects with high regard, he believes that resource development can take place and satisfy westerners and easterners. Reconciling differences amongst indigenous groups can bring all sides to the negotiating table. 

Clark pointed out that, “I conducted under my Twitter handle, an open poll 24-hours ahead of the election. With over 2100 votes, 81% responded that they would be prepared to separate from Canada outright. Another 11% suggested that they would be willing to separate if, for any reason, TMX wasn’t built.”

During the interview, Clark emphasized that if anything gets done, the people most affected by current federal policy need to be heard. In this case, Canadians from the midwest. Premier Kenney is cited as an example of a leader who is determined not to push his agenda, but portray to the federal government what the average Albertan thinks.

“In my opinion, the fair New Deal panel demonstrates how closely Jason Kenney and his team were listening to Albertans over the last three years,” Clark explained.

“When you have over 150,000 members in the United Conservative Party, it provides a pearl of collective wisdom to the party.”

Clark is optimistic that Western Canada, and especially Alberta, is on its way to a fairer deal, despite the potential for a minority coalition government. He believes our leadership is ready for a battle. 

Clark makes a point that despite being a federalist country with balance between the provincial and federal government, “The issue has been, we’ve had very lazy politicians in the provinces, and they would rather stand up and be the good guys with tax rates of 10 or 12%, and let the federal government carry the load of being responsible for the larger portion of 16 to 18%.” 

Clark iterates that provinces have allowed the federal government to have their way to maintain a non-combative relationship. All that has done is to reduce the ability of provinces to resist unfavourable federal legislation.

When it comes to the Eagle Spirit pipeline, Clark is optimistic that it will get built with stronger provincial government involvement in the project over the federal government. 

Clark explained that previously:

“proper consultation and engagement with First Nations have never been a provincial responsibility. It’s not within our constitutional obligations. It’s always been a federal responsibility. That’s why we’ve ended up with the very disastrous system that we have in regards to indigenous relations.”

Clark believes indigenous relations and consultations should be a task spearheaded by the provincial governments rather than letting the politics of the federals taint the process. It prevents the federal government from coming into Alberta to speak to Indigenous Canadians, only looking for opinions that affirm their stances on energy development.

“Jason Kenney took on a policy, largely because [others including myself] were recommending it at the time,” says Clark. “[He understood] that we need to look at our indigenous relations the same as we look at the rights of property holders because their rights are based on the same type of basic law, as we value as landowners.”

“When you start looking at it that perspective, then you have to look at, okay, where have we failed, and the failure has been federal. It’s not been a provincial failing. So yes, I know, the federal government likes to say, look at ‘big bad Alberta’ and how bad we treat indigenous populations. But nothing could be further from the truth.”

“It’s never been our responsibility to do the things that the federal government has been and nowadays, and he has taken the unprecedented step of [taking] actions to assist and help Indigenous nations become empowered members of our society.”

Clark recognized the positive moves by Premier Kenney regarding indigenous Canadians. Similar steps are sorely lacking from the federal government.

“The Alberta indigenous opportunities Corporation, which is just grants and loan guarantees, have come forward for private enterprise. This is just expanding it to the indigenous community. That is not an obligation of our provincial government, and the fact that [Premier Kenney] doing it is scaring the crap out of the people in Ottawa right now.”

On the topic of the Eagle Spirit Pipelines, Clark is also hopeful that the project will go through as, in his opinion, the current NDP Premier John Horgan to secure a majority for the next election and get rid away from the Green-NDP minority, he will support the Eagle Spirit pipeline. 

It is widely known that Eagle Spirit is the most environmentally friendly pipeline project plan in Canada, and the B.C. NDP will be able to straddle the line between environmental conscientiousness and promoting energy infrastructure.

This would involve Premier Horgan challenging Bill C-48, known as the “tanker-ban” and removing caps on how much Alberta LNG is exported from B.C. ports. LNG from Alberta constitutes 0.37 Bcfd, which is 10% of all LNG exports, according to Ceri Study 182.

From Clark’s perspective, Canada needs its premiers and legislatures to take its sovereign claim back from the federal government. Especially in Alberta. We need to get pipelines built and become reliable partners in the development of ethical Canadian energy.

Wyatt Claypool

Wyatt is a student at Mount Royal University, where he is the president of its Campus Conservative club. In his writing, he focuses on covering provincial and federal politics, firearms regulation, and the energy sector. Wyatt has also previously written for The Post Millennial.

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