Rex Murphy: What’s this election about? The future of Alberta

National Post

I think we’re all glad that the suspense over the coveted electoral benediction of Barack Obama is over. It’s been a question that has had many Canadians on “pins and needles” (whatever that strange idiom really means) for weeks. Would it be for Singh, or May, or Bernier, or Scheer? Who could tell?

Or, and this was an outsider’s bet, would it be for the fellow who came to earth on third base, blinded by his self-confessed “white-privileged” existence, with a taste for blackface when he was a mere urchin of 29? Certainly the consensus was that the most highly regarded, even reverenced, progressive in the whole world, would fret a little at tossing the manna of his approval on so déclassé a performer.

But hey, this is politics, and what’s a little boot polish between friends, as long as they are united under the glorious banner of global warming.

It was therefore a great coup for Justin Trudeau to win the cherished Obama endorsement. This probably means a landslide for Mr. Trudeau. We Canadians are notoriously obliging, and courteous even to a fault. So I cannot imagine even the most passionate Scheerite or fundamentalist Greenist, now that Obama has graciously instructed Canadians in the matter of our election, doing other than setting aside their real and personal preferences, and yielding to the superior judgment of the former American president. (Obama also made it clear, as is his way, that there is no worry — if you vote for Trudeau, you can keep your doctor.)

The only mosquito in the face cream, is of course, St. Greta of the Frowns and Glares, more familiarly known as Greta of Green Fables. She sees Trudeau as a climate slacker. He’s a pipeline buyer, which according to the Thunberg gospellers, makes the angels of the troposphere weep in shame and anger. To young Greta, such is her passion, not to be living in an unfurnished cave, tweeting via smoke signal, and travelling only as the wind lists, means you are a pagan/heretic — and even worse, you may be an adult.

As I write, she’s visiting Edmonton, and it is a valid consideration that the political shock wave from so potent a voice, should she again rebuke Trudeau (“He’s not doing enough”), might displace or even nullify the recommendations of Obama. How tangled politics is.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, speaks outside the Alberta Legislature on Oct. 18, 2019. Shaughn Butts/Postmedia News

Now that we have celebrity endorsements out of the way, what is the key issue of this election? It is the clash between the virtue merchants of climate change, and the future of Alberta. The last days of the campaign have shown a desolate tendency, principally from Trudeau, but wholly embraced by Elizabeth May and Jagmeet Singh, to declare with adamant conviction that they see the Alberta oil sands as the Hell mouth of global warming. That if they could politically get away with it, they’d shut Canada’s oil and gas industry down in a moment. And that all three, very kindly, have plans to “transition” all who work in energy and related fields — hundreds of thousands — ever so painlessly, to “other jobs.” Which has to be the most insolent and paternalistic fiction peddled in any election.

Trudeau is the worst. In the most reckless fashion, he gave a speech declaring he wanted “more Quebecers, more francophones, to vote Liberal” in order to stop those under the thumb of the oil industry, meaning in particular Jason Kenney and Alberta. Such is the hypnotic pull to be seen as a great fighter against global climate change, it blots out the perception of what he may be stirring up in the country he presently leads. It was Don Braid of the Calgary Herald who spotlighted the (to me) strange turn in the French debate where Trudeau made this appeal: “It’s necessary to have a strong government, full of Quebecers, full of francophones, who are going to be able to continue the fight” against Conservatives who, in his view, “wouldn’t do anything.”

I do not know quite how to take this statement. When was the last time any prime minister called upon one set of Canadians to provide a fort, a bar, an emergency guard, against the feelings and livelihoods of another set of Canadians? This is the most reckless rhetoric of any Canadian leader in the past 50 or 60 years. It is separatist rhetoric, in that it invokes the citizens of one province to tame or nullify the valid concerns of the citizens of another province.

To put this in the plainest terms, this is not the time to be poking Albertans with a stick. They’ve had quite enough from the environmental fanatics, and from Ottawa. They have been wound up to the max by the righteous of every political party dumping on the industry and the workers who have been such a boost to Canada’s economy and well-being.

If we get a mixed result on Monday, and it turns out the price of a coalition is a string of anti-oil, anti-Alberta commitments — mark it down, the threat of separatism will no longer have to depend solely on the various fortunes of the Bloc Québécois. The stir out West will be something that not even sweet words from a foreign president or the always charming sermons from the Littlest Scold will avert.

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