Breakenridge: All this fighting, and Alberta has nothing to show for it

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In the aftermath of the decision by the new U.S. president to revoke the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, Kenney has been advocating a forceful response. In both public comments and in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Kenney has urged the federal government to retaliate, specifically by imposing economic sanctions on the U.S.

Of course, it is possible that the premier doesn’t actually believe such a response is wise but merely that he believes the prime minister won’t actually follow through. Hence the convenient narrative that had only Trudeau heeded Kenney’s advice, KXL could have been saved.

I suppose, though, it is at least theoretically possible that “fighting back” could accomplish that goal. It is also possible — and much more likely — that such a fight could imperil other pipeline projects (namely Line 3 and Line 5), and jeopardize all sorts of other Canadian exports to the U.S.

A fight here seems spectacularly ill-considered and the fact that this comes from the same brain trust that brought us the fight-back fiascos known as the “war room” and the “public inquiry into anti-Alberta energy campaigns” only reinforces the point.

It would be grossly unfair to pin the cancellation of KXL solely on Kenney, mind you. No one has seriously argued that KXL would have been spared this fate had Rachel Notley been re-elected in 2019.

However, let’s ponder a different counterfactual: Jason Kenney as premier in 2016. Would the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project have still been approved by the federal government amid all of the “fighting” (carbon tax “fight,” equalization “fight,” etc…) we’d surely have been engaged in? For all the criticism that the actual 2016 premier wasn’t “fighting” Ottawa enough, getting a “yes” on TMX was a victory. Where are the victories that this premier can point to?

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