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Bell: Alberta oil patch anger boils over, poll says NDP in big trouble

Rick Bell 
Originall published: December 13, 2018 in the Calgary Sun

Now it is truly the winter of our discontent.

And there is no relief. Only discontent unanswered, discontent unaddressed, grievances ignored and tossed aside.

Alberta, the chumps of Confederation. Others take our money and crap on us while doing everything they can to stop us making the money they take.

It is pretty close to the definition of insanity. It is also today’s Canada.

We complain. We sound off. We yell. We scream. We howl the outrage. Some of us take to the streets. Some talk of calling it quits on this country.

We search for leaders. Preferably those who will not bend the knee to the likes of Justin Trudeau.

W. Brett Wilson is a business leader and a man not in the habit of mincing his words.

Wilson is a speaker at a pro-oil, pro-pipeline event in downtown Calgary where well over a thousand gather Wednesday night.

Before entering the room, he stops to talk, pointing out he’s no separatist.

But …

“If we can’t get the respect and the deal we need to be part of Canada there’s a lot of Albertans saying: Why are we here?

“And I’m one of those questioning. Right now Alberta ain’t gettin’ no respect.”

Inside the room, talking to the crowd, Wilson again says he’s not a separatist but uses the I-word.

“I’m tired of being pushed. Some days independence does feel better.”

Wilson says those in charge in Ottawa are “pushing Alberta and Saskatchewan out of Confederation.”


Elsewhere, United Conservative leader Jason Kenney hammers away.

When not huddling with other premiers about battling the carbon tax Kenney knows a battleground when he sees one.

The UCP leader vows to make the fight for fairness in this country a central issue in the upcoming Alberta election.

We are now in Trudeau’s Canada, where Quebec gets a veto over a pipeline going east while gobbling up a big bump-up in equalization dough.

Yes, $13 billion next year thanks in part to the oilpatch.

“It is not acceptable for a province to block our resources while benefiting massively from the wealth they generate,” says Kenney.

Kenney says the NDP is “indifferent” to this problem, having “surrendered to Justin Trudeau’s five-year extension of the equalization formula and his regulations that killed Energy East.”

Yes, the story few want to write.

The failed alliance between Trudeau and Notley.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meet in Edmonton on Sept. 5, 2018. Jason Franson/The Canadian Press
And what do we have here.

Internal polling done for the United Conservatives by Maple Leaf Strategies.

Now we know what some people will say. The United Conservatives paid for the poll so it must be fixed.

“Look at my track record,” says pollster Dimitri Pantazopoulos.

“I’ve got one of the best, if not the best track record in the business for getting this stuff right.”

Pantazopoulos says his polling was bang-on in the recent Ontario vote and in the 2013 and 2017 elections in B.C.

The United Conservatives wanted to poll some Calgary ridings held by the NDP and where Notley is most likely to still be in the fight.

The telephone poll of landlines and cellphones finished up in early December.

Calgary-Klein. UCP with 34% lead.

Calgary-Varsity. 23% lead.

Calgary-Currie. 21% lead.

Calgary-Buffalo. That’s NDP budget boss Joe Ceci. 13% lead for the UCP.

Calgary-Mountain View. 7% lead.

All leads for the UCP and these are the Notley NDP’s high spots!

Outside Calgary …

Lesser Slave Lake, UCP by a 27% lead.

Two Lethbridge seats, both held by the NDP, one by Shannon Phillips, the NDP’s minister for Mother Earth.

UCP, a 19% lead in both seats.

These are all outside the margin of error.

Back in November, they polled Calgary-Elbow, held by former Alberta party leader Greg Clark.

UCP up 24%.

In October, the UCP were leading right around Edmonton, ahead in a half-dozen seats in the capital and neck-and-neck with the NDP in six more seats.

This is Edmonton.

How does it look for the Notley NDP?

“It shows how tough a road she has to re-election. Nothing’s impossible. But where things stand right now it’s highly unlikely,” says the pollster.

A highly-placed UCP operative says an out-of-touch Notley keeps telling Albertans life is getting better when the province is in a world of hurt.

In downtown Calgary, we are in the world of hurt.

Deidra Garyk was at the protest when Trudeau last visited. She works in the oilpatch.

“People are scared, feeling hopeless, uncertain and extremely, extremely angry,” says Garyk.

“We’ve been kicked and kicked until we’re bleeding and we’ve been abandoned.”

This is real pain. Politicians, read these words and beware.

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