Federal party leaders ready for debate: Green Party leader Elizabeth May, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier, Bloc Québécois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.POOL / REUTERS


As this uncomfortable federal election stumbles its way to Oct. 21, there’s early-warning signs of irreconcilable differences between provinces, between provinces and the federal government, between Canadians of different age groups, between regions within the country.

All over Canada’s approach to climate change.

As Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid so gloomily and accurately pointed out, four of the five federal party leaders have cast their lot, supporting policies that mean the end of oil and gas.

The worst-case outcome of the federal election would be a Liberal minority government, kept in power in coalition with either the NDP or the Greens, both deeply opposed to any new oil pipelines out of Alberta/Saskatchewan, both seeking sooner-rather-than-later closure of the oil sands.


There is huge opportunity for Canadian oil and gas to be part of the solution to climate change – as has been detailed ad nauseam in this column over the last five years. Yet the leaders of the Liberals, NDP, Greens and Bloc Québécois harden their anti-fossil-fuel sentiment with each successful electioneering pronouncement.

One part of this country — this one — is frightened in the extreme. We are losing the backbone of our provincial economy with no practical replacement in the coming decades.

The other part — as Braid puts it — “swaths of youthful opinion,” plus “progressive” Canadians, are equally frightened about the effect of global warming on the planet. They deeply believe our oil and gas production has no part to play in a global warming solution and should be left in the ground.

Quebec residents resolutely oppose the pipeline transmission of Western gas or oil across Quebec to Maritime oil ports. A sizeable portion of the British Columbia population, plus the current B.C. governing coalition, vigorously opposes any oil pipelines, though they seem reasonably happy developing their natural gas reserves.

These deep differences have come spilling out in this election. Quite possibly the Justin Trudeau Liberals will squeak through with just a few more seats than Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives, neither with a majority.

The only deal the Liberals can make to stay in power is with the Greens and/or the NDs. And that deal would have to include a tacit agreement to screw the economies of Alberta and Saskatchewan, to move hard and fast to fight global warming by accelerating the end of oil (and to a lesser degree natural gas) production and use in Canada.

The repercussions in Alberta and Saskatchewan will be something terrible.

We will be – in Mr. Trudeau’s erudite vocabulary – so “pissed off” that the notion of leaving Canada will cease to be just a playground of the rural right and will spread like wildfire across the prairies.

Albertans will not roll over and die, patriotically sacrificing our economy and well-being on the altar of climate change as prescribed by what could be a bare majority of the Rest-Of-Canada.

We will not sit by and watch passively as Alberta’s economy shrinks, as our children reluctantly leave for lack of opportunity.

Especially when global warming solutions – using Canadian oil, natural gas and made-in-Alberta technological advances – are at hand. Every day, it seems, reports of new technologies lowering GHG emissions come out of the Canadian energy industry.  Replacing water with recyclable solvents, shipping solidified bitumen, simplifying the bitumen upgrading process … the list goes on and on.

Alberta has been a long-simmering pot. If the heat is turned up by other Canadians wanting to cripple our economy “for the greater good”, that pot will go to a full-tilt boil.

Could the unthinkable happen? Could Alberta/Saskatchewan seriously think about a land-locked, independent nation, surrounded by what’s left of Canada?

It is near impossible to conceive.

But if we continue to be piled upon by other Canadians willing to unnecessarily sacrifice Alberta’s standard of living — in the name of barely perceptible lowering of global greenhouse gases — the unimaginable will gain great traction.