As B.C. waits to see whether Alberta “turns off the taps” of gasoline, it seems the relationship between the two provinces has never been more fraught.
The western neighbours have been at odds for years now over the future of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which has resulted in court challenges, trade wars and bitter feelings on both sides.
Now that Alberta’s new premier Jason Kenney has proclaimed Bill 12 — with the B.C. government quickly filing legal action — the question has become whether the two provinces can ever meet in the middle.
After exploring the relationship at the height of the so-called “wine wars” that saw Edmonton halt imports of B.C. wine, Global News Radio decided Wednesday to hear from callers in both B.C. and Alberta now that things have gotten even worse.
During an hour-long simulcast between CKNW’s Lynda Steele in Vancouver and CHED’s J’lyn Nye in Edmonton, the program found some common ground between people who want the two provinces to get along and build the pipeline, while also finding some rifts on issues like climate change.
Here’s a sampling of what callers had to say.
Get the pipeline built
Many callers from Alberta agreed that building the pipeline is critical to supporting other parts of the economy besides the oil and gas sector.
“My parents’ farm, they’re hugely affected,” Greg from Alberta said. “They’re paying huge amounts, way too high for fuel and everything right now. I’m a trucker, I’m experiencing the same thing.
“Do we want more trucks on the road, more rail traffic? I don’t think so.”
WATCH: (Aired May 5) Trans Canada pipeline will be built, Jason Kenney says
Those who are championing the pipeline aren’t just from Alberta. Sharon in Burnaby said she wants Albertans to know a majority of British Columbians are pushing Ottawa to give final approval to the project.
“I live within a mile of the existing pipeline and don’t see a problem with it,” she said. “We’re frustrated by our government, the environmentalists and the Indigenous peoples, because we want it built.”
WATCH: (Aired May 1) Kenney talks about Alberta’s ‘deep frustration’ with pipeline delays
Glen from Maple Ridge said he’s also in favour of the pipeline, but said Alberta needs to work towards diversifying its economy to avoid another downturn.
“You guys really need to diversify and get away from oil,” he said. “It may not happen today or tomorrow, but it will run out sooner than later.”
The transition issue
Callers agreed that transitioning from oil to other alternatives is easier said than done, and a pipeline would solve the short-term issue of jobs.
“I want to know if anyone can put out a list of all the products that require fossil fuels just to educate everybody,” Vance from Alberta said. “We can’t just shut it off, we don’t have enough alternatives yet.”
WATCH: Livestream coverage of the simulcast between CKNW and CHED
He also said people who “protest illegally” should be criminally charged: “That would stop some of the U.S. protesters coming over the border and stirring the pot.”
‘The elephant in the room’
Not surprisingly, many callers from B.C. said tackling climate change is vastly more important than supporting Alberta’s oil industry, which has been crippled by a lack of exporting capabilities.
The timing of the special was also noteworthy, coming just days after the United Nations released a damning report that said over 1 million species are at risk of extinction unless humans intervene.
“Mother Nature does not negotiate. She doesn’t care what supports our economy or where jobs come from,” Charlotte from Vancouver said. “She just sets limits and creates crazy, devastating consequences if we exceed those limits.”
Others don’t agree, reigniting the debate on whether climate change is truly man-made, and whether all scientists accept it. Not all of those callers were from Alberta, either.
“When people use the word ‘climate change’ and say it’s been settled, no one ever references which report or which professors they’re utilizing,” Bob in Langley said. “There’s nothing definitive that everyone agrees upon, but everyone still says it.”
He also questioned why governments aren’t doing anything about climate change if it’s been accepted and proven.
“Don’t you think they’d all be banning coal or doing other things if they knew the world was coming to an end?”
Are British Columbians hypocrites?
Some Alberta callers suggested people in B.C. are being hypocritical by protesting a pipeline when they and several industries rely on fossil fuels.
“If people are so concerned with the environment, where are the protests against the sewage being dumped into the ocean, the oil ships leaving the ports, the pipeline between the airport and Washington?” Jim from Red Deer asked.
“All the cruise ships that come in, do you think they just paddled in?”
Blame the B.C. Greens
Callers on both sides of the Rocky Mountains also found common ground against B.C. Premier John Horgan and his coalition with the B.C. Green Party, whose three MLAs are against the pipeline and have advised the premier to block it at all costs.
“We’re frustrated that only three people are given the budget of four MLAs, including Dr. Weaver, can hold up the entire process,” Rory from Edmonton said.
WATCH: (Aired Sept. 6, 2018) B.C. Green Party leader praises ‘important’ Trans Mountain court ruling
Langley resident Mark was even more blunt.
“I just want to apologize to the people of Alberta for our Krusty the Klown premier, who’s being held up by slime-Green seats,” he said. “He didn’t even win the election here, the governor general gave him the OK.
“I’m embarrassed as a British Columbian and I would like to go to Alberta and turn off the taps myself for them.”
Why can’t we be friends?
Despite their differences, most callers took time to mention how much they loved the other province and wished everyone could get along despite their differences.
“I do a lot of work in Alberta, it’s a wonderful province. So I think we should have a balanced and common sense approach,” Jack from Surrey said.
Chris from Edmonton said he also loves British Columbia, and that the two provinces are being pushed into a “manufactured conflict on a red herring,” citing evidence that some environmental protesters are being paid by American oil companies to protect their interests.
“You have to follow the money,” he said. “They’re benefiting because the only place we can sell it is by piping to the Gulf . We’re talking billions of dollars here.”
George in Alberta said both provinces can find a compromise: a refinery could get built in Alberta to send discounted gasoline to B.C. while the pipeline gets underway.
“I think we should be friends with B.C. and hopefully, hopefully B.C. will allow us to put a pipeline there because they’ll see relief at the pumps, too.”
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