When elected officials are just schoolyard bullies
ELIZABETH MCCARTHY // Contributor
Rachel Notley is a bully. The current premier of Alberta is lagging behind in the polls and afraid of losing the next election, so she has taken to attacking small BC businesses to position herself as an ally to Albertans. Specifically, she’s been boycotting the BC Wine industry. Alberta buys up to $160 million retail a year in BC wines, which means a boycott could seriously hurt the industry. Notley may like to spin the media into believing she is fighting for jobs, the Kinder Morgan pipeline and even her beloved province, but she is only out to win the next election.
“In Alberta, we don’t back down. This is our economy, these are our jobs. It’s also our country, and Albertans’ rights, and Canadians’ rights must be respected,” Notley told the CBC on Feb. 7. In reality, she doesn’t care about BC jobs, especially those that will take a financial hit from her boycott, or the job losses that will result in the event of an oil spill that would seriously damage the BC coastline. As an industry, BC film brings in $2.6 billion. How many movies will be shot here if there’s a huge oil spill and the west coast is irreparably damaged? Notley couldn’t care less about an oil spill that would hurt those living and working in BC, because she believes that Alberta’s rights are the only ones that matter. If you don’t give her what she wants, she will try and bully you into what she and the oil companies want. On top of her bullying is a track record of mismanaging Alberta’s oil industry. Alberta extracted $500 billion more than Norway, yet Norway was able to turn a $1 trillion USD profit.
This petty boycott has inspired the entire country to jump to the defence of small businesses. Across social media there has been a surge of hashtags from #pinotnotpipelines to #buybcwine, and is there a better way to give Notley a middle finger than by buying BC wine? The countrywide push back isn’t just against soon-to-be out-of-office Notley’s bullying tactics, but because the argument against the planned pipeline is perfectly legitimate.
In one camp, supporters believe the hype and media spin pushed by Kinder Morgan that this shiny new pipeline will be just like the one we already have and use, only better. The truth is this pipeline is not about Canadians having oil-based products to fuel their cars, this is about the oil companies making a bigger profit off oil and unrefined bitumen by selling it to China. Those that are for the pipeline, and are not working in the oil and gas industry, support it only because they don’t understand its implications.
BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver stated during an interview with the CBC that “The reality is this, the decision to approve Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion is entirely political… if we had any common sense in this country we would be refining our products within our country.” The Green Party and the NDP are not talking about shutting down the oil sands and asking everyone to give up their gas-guzzling automobiles, nor are they talking about shutting down the existing pipeline. The BC NDP and Green Party are asking to not move ahead with this new plan for the pipeline. The twinning of the existing pipeline will result in an increase in the number of barrels of oil per day from 300,000 to 890,000, which means increased profits for Kinder Morgan by $73.5 billion. This money is not going into Canadian pockets. Instead of creating offshore jobs, the government can take the existing, unrefined product and upgrade it in Canada, effectively creating more jobs over here.
For those against the pipeline, they understand that the likelihood of spills increases, but the increased tanker traffic in and out of Vancouver will also increase pollution. This new plan for the pipeline means going from five tankers a month to 34 coming through the Port of Vancouver.
Notley views BC’s stand as being in breach of interprovincial trade rules. The Environmental Management Act puts the province within its legal rights to defend its coasts. For Notley’s allies, remember that slavery and Colonialism were both legal. Legality is not about justice. It’s about power. BC has the right to fight that power and to have a voice in the discussion over what happens here, no matter what oil companies desire. In the meantime, I will be buying and drinking BC wine, because no politician should be allowed to bully small businesses, especially one who sides with oil companies instead of the people. Cheers.