12.04.2014 06:26 PM

In Friday’s Sun: Wall’s wilful whoppers

There’s a reason why Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall is consistently ranked as one of the country’s most-popular Premiers.

He knows how to communicate. And he aggressively represents his constituents. He does his job, in effect.

That doesn’t mean he is doing the right thing all the time, however. And it certainly doesn’t mean that Saskatchewan’s interests are identical to the national interest. Or, for that matter, the collective interests of Ontario and Quebec.

Wall, who knows his way around a scrum, is lately in high dudgeon. He is angry – or he is pretending to be – at Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard over the Energy East pipeline.

Speaking to the media a few days ago, Wall said he was “surprised,” “concerned” and “very concerned” about what Wynne and Couillard have said about the $12 billion project, which would carry millions of barrels in Alberta and Saskatchewan crude to refineries in Eastern Canada.

What have Wynne and Couillard said that has whipped up Wall’s wrath? The following:

· Ontario and Quebec have said they’d like to see the pipeline follow environmental best-practices.

· They want some consultation with aboriginal people, over whose land the pipeline will traverse.

· They’d like to see effective emergency response, in case something goes wrong.

· They want some kind of benefit for folks in Ontario and Quebec, and particularly natural gas consumers.

· And…that’s it.

Shocking. Reads like a ransom note, doesn’t it? What’s next? Nationalizing the petroleum industry?

Not quite. Wynne and Couillard are raising eminently-sensible questions about the Energy East pipeline. That’s their job, after all.

That hasn’t stopped Wall from attempting to pick a fight with Ontario and Quebec, however. He has said that Wynne and Couillard are imposing “conditions” – even though they’re not, because they can’t. (Approval for the pipeline falls squarely within federal jurisdiction.)

There is a proud and time-tested tradition, of course, of Canada’s Eastern and the Western parts screaming bloody murder about the arrogance and dominance of the Central part. It results in votes, and sometimes it attracts federal largesse. Sometimes, it’s even right.

In this case, it is not. What Brad Wall is doing is disingenuous, and he knows it.

Take, for instance, Wall’s bunkum about how Western oil is being held to a higher standard than, say, Middle Eastern oil. Wynne and Couillard seem “almost ashamed the country has oil,” Wall huffed.

“Interests in Central Canada” – presumably Wall means the duly-elected representatives of two-thirds of Canada’s population – have “never” raised concerns about imports of “oil from Venezuela, Algeria or Iraq,” Saskatchewan’s Premier claims.

Wall isn’t directly stating that Ontario is getting all of its oil from ISIS enclaves in Iraq, but he probably wouldn’t be upset if Ontario voters were left with that impression.

The reality is that crude oil imports to Canada from afar have significantly decreased. In the first eight months of 2014, in fact, imports from overseas dropped – and less-expensive North American sources now represent about half of all crude oil imports into Canada.

And, when one considers that Ontario ultimately gets 99.7 per cent – that is, just shy of 100 per cent – of its oil from Western Canada, Wall is indulging in the sort of sophistry that assists no one. As the Government of Saskatchewan itself admits on one of its shiny web sites: the amount of Saskatchewan oil that is “shipped to Ontario” is, um, “substantial.” No kidding.

Premier Wall, you are aggressively representing your province’s interests. Fine. You are doing your job. Fine.

But reflect on Alberta Premier Jim Prentice’s approach – he was this week in Ontario to meet with Premier Wynne, and he moved the Energy East pipeline towards approval without indulging in histrionics and petty regionalism.

That’s the best way to represent the people who elected you, Premier Wall: you know, by building the country up, not tearing it down.

22 Comments

  1. smelter rat says:

    Wall’s hubris is a thing to behold. Another Ralph Klein wannabe.

  2. Jeff says:

    If I was a Liberal, I would find Brad Wall scary too.

    • pc says:

      You do, of course, realize that the Saskatchewan Party was born of a union between provincial Liberals and those members of the Devine PCs who managed to avoid jail time, yes?

  3. Raymond says:

    Hate to kick the hornet’s nest, but I recall a certain masterful Liberal webmaster who was all over Christy Clark when she made similar demands of Allison Redford’s province a couple of years back.

  4. JH says:

    Sorry, but I don’t think two Liberal premiers, percieved as creating difficulties for the economy are going to help Trudeau. He’d be wise to stay far away from this one. And Mulcair if he falls into the trap will pay the price outside of Quebec.

    • Kevin T. says:

      You mean the two Liberal Premiers who won solid majorities in the last elections and who will be, barring an Allison Redford-like implosion, leaders of their provinces until at least 2018?
      The Cons are only relying on bait-&-switch commitments, gotcha moments, deliberate lies, obfuscation of the truth as well as extensive taxpayer-paid propaganda for the oil companies, and this time people are aware and fed up. Change is coming, period.

    • Bobby says:

      Agree totally!

  5. Al in Cranbrook says:

    The day after Harper decides to hang ’em up, the leadership of the CPC is Brad Wall’s for the taking. Get my vote in a heartbeat!

    • Reality.Bites says:

      Yes, he’ll be the latest in that group of unilingual provincial premiers who’ve become prime minister. John Bracken, George Drew, Robert Stanfield, Tommy Douglas

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:

      Al,

      Wall reminds me of that Ontario dog that stubbornly insists on taking a large bite out of its owner — the same guy that provides its daily [national, political] sustenance…

    • Kaspar Juul says:

      A bell painted blue with a giant c on it would get your vote in a heartbeat

  6. Ron says:

    Wall appears to me to be just another neocon. We have them in Ontario too, particularly Ottawa.

    Al would need to cross a few smouldering bridges to cast a ballot here.

  7. Marlowe Johnson says:

    good post Warren but you’re mistaken on the 99.7%. Ontario refineries still get a fair chunk of crude from Eastern Canada and foreign imports.

    “The four refineries located in Ontario have a combined refining capacity of 393,000 b/d. The NOVA Chemicals refinery and petrochemical complex, located in Sarnia, has been excluded as crude oil is not the primary feedstock. The majority of the crude processed at the Ontario refineries is sourced from Western Canada but they also refine some foreign imported crude oil and crude oil transferred from Atlantic Canada. Since August 2013, with the first phase of the Enbridge Line 9 re-reversal in operation, crude oil can flow east
    from Sarnia to North Westover, Ontario and can provide light crude oil to Imperial’s refinery in Nanticoke, Ontario. Ultimately, all refineries in the region will have access to a variety of sources and will select their feedstock based on availability and price. According to data from the NEB and Statistics Canada, Ontario refineries processed 380,300 b/d of crude oil in 2013. A further breakdown of these supplies shows 356,700 b/d (94 per cent) from domestic sources; withthe remainder comprised of imports from Norway, United
    Kingdom, Nigeria, Algeria and Mexico. ”

    http://www.capp.ca/getdoc.aspx?DocId=247759&DT=NTV

  8. Robin says:

    Chalk this up to fixed date elections. Saskatchewan goes to the polls on the first Monday in November every four years and the last provincial election was in 2011. The Saskatchewan election will happen a few weeks after the federal fixed date election which is expected to be held on Monday, October 19.

    The narrative begins which will see Brad Wall run against an uncooperative Liberal Central Canada that is frustrating wealth creation in Canada’s two western oil and gas producing provinces which will also create jobs in Ontario and Quebec. Wall can attack vehemently so that Harper will appear more moderate and reasonable when he addresses the impacts of uncooperative Central Canadian provinces stifling the economy and preventing job creation.

    A bad cop and, um, not so bad cop strategy.

    • Joe Frankson says:

      That’s factually incorrect. If the feds have their election in Oct. then SK’s will be moved to April. Nice try though.

      • Robin says:

        As long as the Saskatchewan election is after the federal election, Brad Wall can attack the Liberal provincial governments in Ontario and Quebec to set the stage for Harper to sound Prime Ministerial in his appeal to “reasonable” conservative Canadians in central Canada who want jobs and economic growth.

        In fact, moving the Saskatchewan Election Day to April 2016, makes it easier for Premier Wall to attack, since he will have time to adjust his provincial campaign strategy subject to the outcome of the 2015 federal election. Therefore, it may be factually incorrect that the “fixed date election” in Saskatchewan will be on the first Monday in November 2105, assuming Harper adheres to the federal fixed date election law, however, it is irrelevant as long as it occurs within a short time after the federal election, such as, six months or less.

  9. Joe Frankson says:

    Warren you missed the requirement for comprehensive greenhouse gas evaluation of the pipeline before receiving their “approval”. That is what Wall was angry about. Small little fact you left out, unless you were hiding that fact under “environmental best practices.” Since a comprehensive review of a projects greenhouse gases has never before been used as a determinant b a province to withhold approval (ie permit delays ect) then yes this was an appropriate issue to be upset about. Wynn also just repealed the climate change requirement you deemed not important to mention.

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