Fraser Forum

Notley, Trudeau and pipelines: A Nixon to China moment for Canada?

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The Americans have a saying: “Only Nixon could go to China.” What they mean by that was that, ironically, only a conservative president with strong record of anti-communism could allay conservative opposition to opening discussions with China’s communist government. Could the Canadian version of that saying turn out to be, “Only Notley/Trudeau could build a pipeline?”

It seems possible.

In recent days, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has sharpened her rhetoric, calling for pipelines to carry Alberta oil to ports in the Atlantic and Pacific, to allow for export to Asian and European markets. She has linked electricity imports from British Columbia to securing a pipeline to the west, and she has told the federal government that Alberta will not return as an engine of economic growth without a pipeline to the east.

And Prime Minister Trudeau, who in 2013 was somewhat tepid (though not opposed) to pipeline development, seems to have evolved on the issue as well, instructing his staff to draw up plans that would let pipeline construction move ahead.

That is not to say that there is unanimity on in either Premier Notley’s or Prime Minister Trudeau’s parties with regard to pipelines. Premier Notley, for example recently endured a snub of significant dimensions when the federal NDP, in her own capital city, voted to consider the provisions of the LEAP manifesto in policy development. Premier Notley has bravely rejected the LEAP manifesto’s provisions that would essentially ban new infrastructure for producing or transporting Alberta’s oil resources to world, or even internal markets in Canada.

As we have written, Canada badly needs infrastructure to bring its oil and gas to markets in the face of diminishing U.S. demand. Canadians lose billions of dollars every year because Alberta’s landlocked oil sells below the international price for internationally mobile crude oil. Let’s hope that, if “Only Nixon could go to China,” that Premier Notley and Prime Minister Trudeau can take Alberta’s oil to tidewater.

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