‘Come Hell Or High Water,’ Kenney Fights For Fair Deal For Alberta

Calling it a ‘first measure of good faith,’ Premier Jason Kenney called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau not to make any deals with the NDP, the Bloc Quebecois or the Green Party that could endanger progress on the TMX pipeline.

In a speech to the Legislature responding to the election results, Kenney did not waste any time in pressing the newly elected minority Liberal government for a fair deal for Alberta.

Kenney said he heard “fine words” from Trudeau about support for Alberta and Saskatchewan in his victory speech but those words need to be followed by real actions that demonstrate fairness in the Canadian federation in order to avoid real and lasting damage of unity and prosperity.

“If you want to support us then you must support us to get our oil and gas to international markets,” Kenney said. “Support us as we reduce our emissions as well so we can have the cleanest oil and gas industry in the world.”

Nothing is more important than the successful, rapid completion of the TMX expansion project, said Kenney, noting two-thirds of Canadians voted for parties that supported the expansion.

“There has always been some concern in Alberta that the federal government is not fully committed to the completion,” Kenney told reporters. “One can imagine a scenario in a minority Parliament where parties holding the balance of power might try to negotiate their support for confidence measures, such as a budget, contingent upon federal withdraw from TMX.… If the prime minister means what he said [Monday] night about listening to Alberta and Saskatchewan, the clearest way he could do so is to unequivocally commit this new government to the completion of the pipeline that the federal government owns.”

Kenney sent a five-page letter outlining concrete steps that the federal government could take to demonstrate a good and fair deal for Alberta in the federation, many of which are in the UCP’s platform. In it, Kenney called on the federal government to create a national energy corridor, reform equalization, repeal Bill C-48 and Bill C-69.

“We demand fairness,” Kenney told the Legislature. “We demand respect. We demand the right responsibly to develop the resources and wealth on which our whole country depends. And we demand the Constitution of Canada be respected. With its original vision of Federation as an economic union.”

The UCP built into its platform commitment leverage points including forcing a referendum on equalization in the next provincial election, “if we can’t get fairness, we don't get a pipeline built,” said Kenney. 

“We are going to force our fight on for a fair deal on to the national agenda come hell or high water,” said Kenney.

Kenney announced the province is creating a panel of eminent Albertans “to consult broadly” through public hearings across Alberta on other ways to secure Alberta’s role and to obtain fairness in the federation. More details are expected to be released next week.

On leaving Canada

If frustration and alienation in Alberta continues to mount, it will pose a very serious challenge to national unity, said Kenney in response to a question from reporters about the challenge to national unity.

Kenney said: “If you care about unity and prosperity, you should care about how Alberta’s doing.”

The talk of a separatist movement in Alberta has not escaped Kenney’s ears. He said it’s an emotional one because he believes most Albertans are patriots.

“We have allies across Canada,” said Kenney. “We have provincial governments who’ve got our back on a number of these issues, including a fair deal for our resource sector and our oil and gas workers. So we’re not isolated, we’re not alone. People shouldn’t draw that conclusion from [Monday] night.”

Kenney said landlocking Alberta through separation is not a solution.

“We’re not going to get one inch closer to a pipeline by closing in on ourselves as a landlocked jurisdiction,” he said.