Who would have guessed that the federal employees working the hardest to get the Trans Mountain pipeline built would end up being the Royal Canadian Air Force aircrew assigned to the prime minister’s jet?
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau left Canada on Thursday, heading to meet leaders of the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru. From there, he had originally planned to fly to Europe for more meetings with allied leaders. But after criticism about the PM skipping town for his much beloved diplomatic confabs while the pipeline war between B.C. and Alberta threatened to boil over, plans were changed. Trudeau will still travel to Peru, but will return to Canada on Sunday for meetings with B.C. Premier John Horgan and Alberta’s Rachel Notley.
The intention is certainly clear enough: “PM returns home from summit” makes a decent headline. It conveys urgency. But this has never been a prime minister or a government that’s struggled to get press (although, that the prime minister is for once showing some hurry to help with Alberta’s problems is indeed news). It’s transforming all their soaring statements, grand gestures and trendy tweets into policy victories that the Liberals find so problematic.
Federalism is hard, to put it mildly. National and local interests do not always align and you cannot always horse-trade your way to a compromise everyone can live with. There’s no easy, painless, sunny-ways solution to this standoff if B.C.’s government is intent on being a bad actor, which it appears to be. The Conservatives also struggled to get pipelines built; the current iteration of the NDP seems to have no coherent thoughts and/or feelings whatsoever regarding the oilsands, let alone coherent policies.
Still, the Liberals are the government now. The buck stops with them. And while this crisis in our federation may not be new during their mandate, that’s exactly the problem: it just keeps growing, and getting worse. The longer this drags on, the more money Canada’s economy forfeits, and the more divided our federation becomes.
The need to get a pipeline built has almost certainly becoming the defining issue for Trudeau’s term. He may not have wanted this legacy. History may note the irony of the job of salvaging Alberta’s beleaguered energy sector falling to the son of the first prime minister Trudeau, but then again, Justin Trudeau auditioned for the job by assuring Albertans he would not betray them like his father …read more