Has Ottawa Gone Completely Crazy?
We told you it was coming.
The Liberals are, once again, thinking about nationalizing the natural resources sector.
How do we know?
They said so themselves!
If you’re not shocked, join the club.
Most farmers remember, with disdain, the Canadian Wheat Board - which forced them to sell their product to eastern Canada at below-market prices.
Many western Canadians remember, with even more disdain, the National Energy Program that completely destroyed the energy industry in Alberta and undermined national unity for decades.
Western Canadians have had an axe to grind with Ottawa for decades, and for good reason.
We are all very familiar with the efforts of the Justin Trudeau-led Liberal government to completely dismantle the energy industry, no matter the cost to our wallets, or our national unity.
It started with a simple “revenue-neutral” carbon tax that was supposed to suffocate the energy industry until it is completely taxed out of business.
Then, Ottawa created a series of new, complicated environmental regulations that seem to shift on a whim whenever energy companies come close to complying.
These regulations had the desired effect of killing any major infrastructure projects - like pipelines and mines.
After all, why would any company invest in a major project if the rules are going to change with the direction of the wind?
To make matters worse, the federal government bought a pipeline in the middle of a major expansion, slow-rolled its construction, and watched as the costs ballooned from $7 billion of taxpayer money in 2018 to over $30 billion last month.
(The Trans Mountain Expansion Project STILL isn’t finished, by the way.)
Ottawa followed that up by introducing the “Impact Assessment Act,” which gives them regulatory control over pretty much any project in any province, whether it crosses provincial borders or not.
And, if that wasn’t enough, earlier this year, they announced the “Just Transition,” a series of policies literally designed to legislate the well-paying jobs of the entire energy industry out of existence.
So, if you think what I’m about to say is crazy, just keep all of the above in mind.
Here it comes.
Just the other day, the federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, David Lametti, floated the idea of rescinding the Natural Resource Transfer Agreements.
The Natural Resource Transfer Agreements are the agreements that gave Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba control over their natural resources, but they only came about after a hard fight by the West to be treated equally to all the other provinces, who already had those same rights to their natural resources.
Rescinding the Natural Resource Transfer Agreements would effectively nationalize natural resources in the western provinces, despite it now being a core part of the Canadian constitution that the provinces control these resources.
It would also re-create the preposterous position where eastern provinces own their resources while western provinces don't!
So, given all the above, you'd like to think that if the federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada was asked about doing this, it would be pretty easy for him to just say no, right?
Instead, Lametti committed to looking at it!
Now, to be fair, committing to look at something isn’t the same as committing to doing something.
But why is he even willing to do that?
It would be unfair to the West, it would be unequal across the provinces, and it would be unconstitutional, so it should be a simple no.
It's crazy to even contemplate the federal government violating the Constitution so blatantly - it would be a flashpoint for a Constitutional showdown that would make Quebec separation look like nothing.
Lametti himself even admitted that what he was saying was controversial - so it's not like he can feign ignorance, or pretend that's not what he meant.
So, again, why wasn't it just a no?
Premiers Danielle Smith, Scott Moe, and Heather Stefanson issued a joint statement opposing the comments, in which they said:
“The federal government cannot unilaterally change the Constitution. It should not even be considering stripping resource rights away from the three Prairie provinces.
“The Prime Minister needs to immediately retract these dangerous and divisive comments by the Justice Minister.”
There has been no retraction, only a "clarification" from Lametti that he wasn't committing to doing it, only committing to look at it.
That's literally the problem!
No one complained that he committed to doing it; we complained that he committed to look at it!
Thanks so much for "clarifying" that the government is not, at this time, committing to completely ignore the Constitution and strip natural resource jurisdiction from the western provinces.
Thanks so much for only committing to look into potentially doing it at a later date.
This all sounds crazy, I know.
I can’t believe I’m writing about it, either.
But, hey, eight years ago, the concept of a “Just Transition” was so far-fetched that only the Alberta NDP was talking about it.
All I’m saying is that, in 2023, Canada’s Attorney General committed to look at nationalizing all natural resources.
On the record.
That’s crazy, right?
If you want to help us make sure this remains nothing more than a crazy idea, please consider making a donation to fund our research, advocacy, communications, events, and activism:
We need every Canadian to understand what is at stake with a federal government that wants to violate the Constitution at every turn.