Each and every time Premier Rachel Notley listens to Justin Trudeau’s latest monotonous mantra about how he is steadfastly protecting Canadian jobs she must feel decidedly nauseous.
Of course this relatively new “job defender” cloak our endlessly preening prime minister is busily trying to wrap himself in comes courtesy of the ongoing SNC-Lavalin scandal in which former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould had to walk the plank when the interests of Quebec big business were challenged.
When Wilson-Raybould wouldn’t play the game by allowing the company to pay a fine yet escape an actual conviction, one which would have ruled them inadmissible for a decade’s worth of future juicy federal contracts, then obviously she had to go: to heck with something as quaint and easily disposable as the rule of law.
That Wilson-Raybould is an Indigenous woman is indeed irony writ large, given Trudeau’s earlier self-serving proclamations about how he’s the first feminist prime minister of Canada and a selfless righter of past wrongs suffered by all manner of native groups.
But when a Quebec election was on the horizon last fall, all that saintly soft soap was washed away in a hurry by the age-old hard reality that’s federal Grit gamesmanship and power politics. Such has it always been.
Meanwhile back here in Wild Rose land, our premier, with her own re-election worries looming ever larger, received no such consideration, despite how keen she once was to slap a carbon tax on us all and in doing so provide her once time best buddy Justin with a heady environmental sheen to his first exalted year in power.
But proving yet again that no good turn ever goes unpunished, there would be no full court press in those closed-door federal cabinet meetings to repay that favour, such as fast-tracking the start of actual construction of the endlessly delayed Trans Mountain pipeline extension and thus give Alberta’s premier at least something on which to cling by her fingertips as another provincial election looms ever closer.
No, that project, if it ever actually gets underway, can wait for a good while yet – probably until this fall’s federal vote is in and counted, as there’s no upside for the Liberals in spooking the environmental crowd into the arms of the Greens or federal NDP before then.
Oh, and as for those thousands upon thousands of Alberta workers who’ve lost their jobs during the last four years as this dispiriting battle to get more of our energy products to market drags on? Well, sorry to break the news to our premier, but that means diddly-squat to the Liberal Party of Canada. It never has.
Now why our premier ever thought this would change is a mystery. Maybe she fell for the same charm and rhetoric that Wilson-Raybould did when Trudeau persuaded her, as a female, Indigenous lawyer, that she’d be a major player in his government to-be.
And perhaps Notley imagined as a female and not a Tory this good-looking new Grit leader would play nice.
Well, a brief breeze through the Alberta February jobs report is testament to how things have since played out.
Calgary is the worst city for jobless claims of any metro area in Canada, while Edmonton is third. Only St. John’s in Newfoundland prevents the clean sweep.
It is soul destroying. Yes, this province is well versed in boom-and-bust economics, growing things on the land and digging stuff out from beneath is how we live.
But in those previous tough times we linked arms and didn’t allow the pillagers across our border. Notley – perhaps unwittingly – ignored such wisdom. Deservedly, she will pay the price.
Chris Nelson is a long-time journalist. His columns on Alberta politics run monthly in the St. Albert Gazette.