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Bell: Trudeau Still a No-Show on Alberta’s Oilpatch Deal


Rick Bell More from Rick Bell

April 30, 2020

What Premier Jason Kenney has to say is not good.

Predictable but not good.

“Regrettably, there has been no further action,” he says, in answer to a newshound’s question and the newshound is not your scribbler.

Every day the prime minister goes to his podium in Ottawa and speaks.

Every day Albertans wait for Justin Trudeau to make the big announcement, our big announcement.

Every day we get served nada. Every day we hear the sound of silence. Every day we get more riled up, if that’s even possible.

Kenney has been diplomatic, very diplomatic, too diplomatic for some people’s palate.

You know the drill.

Let’s not bite the hand that feeds us even though it’s been Alberta feeding Canada for longer than most can remember.

It sounds like Kenney could be tiring of playing Mr. Nice Premier when Trudeau looks like he’s playing Kenney.

On this day, the premier talks about how depressed oil prices in the extreme could last the better part of a year or longer and a fleet of oil tankers off the U.S. Gulf Coast are filled to the gunwales with nowhere to unload.

Then he gets the $15-billion question. Where is that $15-billion to $30-billion credit backstop to help the oilpatch get through the next year to year and a half?

Has Kenney heard anything?

If you’re holding your breath you can stop now.

A while back, Bay St. Bill Morneau, Trudeau’s slick budget boss, a stickhandler who should give lessons on how to talk without saying anything, said help would be on the way within hours or days.

Of course, Morneau follows the Trudeau Liberal clock bearing no resemblance to hours or days as we understand those words.

“Well, we’re now moving into our second month waiting for that significant federal action,” says Kenney.

Waiting and waiting and waiting.

Kenney offers an olive branch.

He appreciates the dough for such things as cleaning up orphan wells and cutting methane emissions and helping some smaller and mid-sized oil and gas companies. But he knows that’s not the main event.

The oilpatch is hemorrhaging cash.

Kenney says he will raise the alarm with Trudeau and company every chance he gets. The premier says he is hammering the point home.

The nail is not going into the wood.

He once again says the oilpatch helped save central Canadian car makers a dozen years ago when the global economy melted down.

Appears that helping hand and a few bucks in our pocket might one day get us a latte in Oakville.

How often have we heard this after-all-we’ve-done lament?

“After the $600 billion net we have given the rest of the country in recent decades it’s time for the rest of the country to be there for Alberta.”

Kenney admits he doesn’t know why there’s a hold-up. Guess the Trudeau Liberals don’t even have the decency to keep the guy in the loop.

The premier says Albertans are starting to lose their patience.

Starting to lose it?

This is a province where even professional nose counters tell us the economy is a bigger deal for more people than COVID-19 — and the novel coronavirus is no chump when it comes to dishing out the punishment, sticking the knife in Alberta and making a bad situation far worse.

Here most of us feel more fear of what the economy holds in store. What will be the wreckage when the smoke clears?

Jason Nixon is Kenney’s legislature quarterback and nowhere near a pal of Trudeau.

Psst … Trudeau doesn’t have a whole lot of friends in Rimbey, Rocky Mountain House or Sundre, Nixon’s part of the province.

Nixon says folks he knows are fed up, furious with “the ongoing lip service” from Ottawa and stunned the Trudeau government “does not seem to fully get it.”

The anger is real. It’s been real for a very long time and Nixon says Albertans will feel abandoned by Confederation if Trudeau doesn’t step up to the plate and knock one out of the park for our side.

But what happens now? Where do we go if we’re stiffed by the PM and his crew?

Is the wrath going to be just sound and fury signifying nothing, to quote my good friend Will Shakespeare?

Nixon thinks, in the end, the Trudeau government will step up because they don’t have a choice. They won’t sink the economy and a crippled oilpatch will do just that.

Who knows? The man could be right. Could happen today. But don’t bet the farm.

 



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