Read this editorial by Don Braid in the Calgary Herald remarking on the similarities between Federal NDP and Official Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair’s position Canadian oil policy and more traditional Progressive Conservatives like former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed. (July 13, 2012)
CALGARY — Watching NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair at work here in Stampede city, you might expect a few similar politicians to spring to mind. (Maybe Lenin? Strictly for the beard, of course, not the ideology.)
The ones who occur to me most readily, though, are Alberta conservatives, because they’ve often sounded so much like the federal NDP leader when he talks about the energy industry.
Peter Lougheed, for instance.
Only last fall the revered ex-premier came out against the Keystone XL Pipeline, saying it would ship jobs out of Alberta.
“We should be refining the bitumen in Alberta and we should make it public policy in the province,” Lougheed said. “That would be a better thing to do than merely send the raw bitumen down the pipeline and they refine it in Texas. That means thousands of new jobs in Texas.”
Mulcair made much the same pitch Thursday, but for the whole country, not just Alberta.
He said he wants more refineries built to create jobs. He favours reversing pipelines to ship oil eastward. He opposed closing a Shell refinery in Montreal because he wants western oil refined there.
Lougheed would surely blow his venerated stack if I push this parallel too far; and to be sure, there are differences.
Lougheed always opposed Ottawa’s efforts to force Alberta to “ship jobs down the pipeline to Sarnia.”
In the days before free trade, the debate over jobs and oil revenues was purely internal. That has faded with new markets and the immense revenues they generate.
But today Thomas Mulcair and Peter Lougheed clearly agree on the folly of sending vast quantities of oil abroad.
Next, Mulcair sounded very much like former Premier Ed Stelmach.
One of Ed’s favourite lines was: “I’ve always said shipping raw bitumen out of our province is comparable to selling the topsoil on a farm.”
Stelmach created the Bitumen Royalty in Kind program, which allows energy companies to pay their royalties to government in black goo rather than cash. Ultimately, the government’s bitumen is used as feedstock to supply new upgraders on favourable terms.
It was a good idea that has not yet been a grand success.