The Alberta government gets a taste of victory. Now they want the Big Gulp.
There’s no Friday the 13th bad luck around the government of Premier Danielle Smith this day.
No dark clouds on Alberta’s horizon this time. Not the anticipated butt-kicking from Ottawa.
No, Premier Danielle Smith is celebrating. Alberta beat the feds.
And the extremely pleased premier doesn’t take long getting to the story behind the story.
The Supreme Court of Canada weighs in on Ottawa’s scheme to judge the impacts on the environment of major projects.
Most judges find it largely unconstitutional, this Bill C-69, this made-in-Ottawa power play Smith calls the Don’t Build Anything Anywhere Anytime Act.
Recommended from Editorial
Business groups applaud Supreme Court ruling against federal environmental impact law
Premiers jubilant after Supreme Court finds federal environmental impact assessment law unconstitutional
For Smith and her people, this win turbo-charges the provincial government in its ongoing fight against the Trudeau government.
“It significantly strengthens our legal position,” says the premier.
Once again, Smith vows Alberta will never follow the Trudeau government’s plans to force Alberta to a net-zero electricity grid by 2035 when the province relies on natural gas.
Also a You Know Where You Can Stick It also applies to Ottawa’s desire for a 42 per cent cut in oil and gas emissions in seven years.
“Alberta will simply not accept being handcuffed by Ottawa. Enough is enough,” says Smith.
When enough is enough she would then trigger the Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act to push back against Trudeau. She would use Alberta’s Supreme Court win as ammo.
She would say Ottawa is sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong and where Canada’s constitution says it cannot go.
Smith’s team remains tight-lipped about the timing for the sovereignty act coming out of the drawer but the smart money bets this fall, within mere weeks. That is, unless Trudeau’s people play nice and deep-six their plans.
The premier has a message for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his sidekicks in this scrap, Steven Guilbeault and Jonathan Wilkinson, who have turned into playing Bad Cop, Worst Cop.
“They have not been acting in good faith. They should stop micromanaging our affairs,” says Smith.
Smith says Guilbeault, the Greenpeace activist now cast as Trudeau’s green guru, has done more damage to investment in Alberta than probably any single federal government bigshot she’s ever seen.
“If they are trying to pretend they somehow still have the right to proceed with their offensive pieces of legislation they’re fooling themselves. It’s illegal and we’re not going to stand for it.
“I hope Ottawa will learn from this mistake. They should not play cute with this.”
Skill-testing question. Does the Trudeau government play cute with this? Hands up if you know the answer.
Yes, Premier Smith. Do you think you have the answer?
They’re playing cute.
“They tried to position this as a win,” she says. A win for them.
“It is not. Clearly, they simply aren’t listening.”
No, they’re spinning.
Wilkinson, Trudeau’s main man on the energy file, was seen by some of the Smith folks as kind of a reasonable sort who might be able to talk sense or even rein in Guilbeault.
Hope can be so fleeting.
Wilkinson hopes Alberta commits to this being the last time differences are settled in court.
Is that hell I see freezing over?
Guilbeault has the confidence of the true believer, the man on a mission, and nothing will knock him off his game.
“The law is not struck down,” he says.
“This is not a decision by the Supreme Court, it’s an opinion by the Supreme Court.”
TRANSLATION: They didn’t lose. They just have to tweak the law.
“Oh boy, they just don’t stop, do they?” asks Smith.
As a matter of fact, no, they do not.
What does this all mean on the street?
An example. Alberta needs natural gas.
Smith says there are almost zero projects in the queue for natural gas.
The premier adds nobody wants to invest because of the uncertainty the federal government created with its meddling.
How many projects would there be if all was well?
Smith doesn’t have a number but says “it would be a heck of a lot more than zero.”
So what will Alberta do?
“We have the ability to approve projects and we’re going to approve them.”
Talk is one thing. Walking is another. Is this just posturing or is this real? Is Alberta going to stand up for itself?
“You’ll see,” says Smith.
And we won’t have to wait long.