Sunday, July 20, 2008

"Resentment"?

I'm reading two seperate stories, both on the same theme, the emerging narrative that there is a mounting "envy" within parts of Canada against Alberta. I would argue no such thing, people guilty of confusing issues, but here is some of the sentiment:
"All of a sudden Alberta is not just prosperous, Alberta is off the scale, while many other provinces are struggling," says Peter McCormick, political scientist at the University of Lethbridge.

"That makes us a target. That makes us unique, unlike any other jurisdiction in the country, and therefore resented."

----

Peter Lougheed, Don Getty and Ralph Klein told the Calgary Herald that record energy prices - and the province's mounting billions in resource revenues - are feeding an "Alberta envy" in the rest of Canada.

"There's always envy when we're making money," added Klein, who led Alberta from 1992 to 2006.

We lived through that. There was a significant amount of -- the actual word is jealousy -- by citizens at large in other parts of Canada, particularly Central Canada and Atlantic Canada," Lougheed says.

"You're not going to overcome it completely. It will be there."

Lougheed's successor, Don Getty, believes jealousy is leading some political leaders in Canada to look for ways to siphon Alberta's petro dollars.

"There is a bit of targeting going on here," Getty suggests. "There are people looking at the wealth of Alberta and starting to talk about taxes. It started so innocently in the past."

First of all, if there is any criticism levelled against Alberta, from what I can tell, it stems from environmental concerns, rather than any jealousy about prosperity. I think people are confusing targetting a problem with targetting a province, or region. If you start with the premise, which is completely outside of economic consideration, that Canada needs to cut its greenhouse gases, then it is beyond obvious to look at the major sources. That isn't part of some plot, it's simply the reality, factually based, empirically sound, it is what it is. Now, when certain people spout off about transferring wealth, it feeds any paranoia, but for the most part, I don't see any economic consideration in environmental concern. People like Klein don't really see a problem, "dinosaur farts" and all, so obviously they reject the impetus, which leads to "alterior" motives. Those people can say what they want, but if you believe the environmental "cause", it's a natural concern.

I want a diversified Canada, the more "powerhouses" the better, no matter the set-up, we all prosper as a whole, when certain portions do well. It's a positive development, if the west's influence is greater, in the end balance may help deter all the regional tensions. Envy is the last thing on mind, and from what I can tell, it really isn't even on the radar in the supposed "resenting" regions. I keep hearing about it, but strangely the sentiment rarely comes from the supposed source.

This isn't the 1970's, which isn't to say we should ignore history. In 2008, Canadians from various regions have an unprecedented understanding of areas outside of their immediate jurisdictions. Rather than be a slave to the past, which by definition has nothing to do with NOW, people need to acknowledge the differences. Right now, on this blog, there are people from Alberta, people from all over Canada. In the age of interconnectedness, I find it outdated to cling to notions of misunderstandings, there are a million mediums to "learn" about opinions outside of your street, town, province, country. Heck, on satellite I can watch Vancouver newscasts nightly if I choose, another example of decaying "barriers". Canada is getting smaller over time, which is why I find the "distance" all the more confounding, and why people who cling to that really fly in the face of reality.

I'm not jealous of anybody, I want us all to succeed. The problems seem to stem from a lack of the "Canadian" dimension. If people want to start carving up the country, us vs them, pitting citizens against each other, then have it at, but I'll have none of it. It's merely a desire to see Canada actually "lead" on the environment, that's my bias, that's the starting point. It has nothing to do with envy, more like simple reality. The ironic part, if not for the tar sands, Alberta would probably be viewed as the environmental leader in confederation, some of the best innovation and forward thinking projects coming from that part of Canada, an example that others should follow. But, the tar sands are on the radar, and people would be wise to stop confusing environmental concern with NEP II, or plots to rob and transfer. Sure, you can always find a asinine comment, or examples of ignorance, to support the narrative, but let's look at things in totality, that provides a more honest assessment.

15 comments:

Mark Francis said...

Myths can be very powerful, and, unfortunately, they are hard to dispel.

There are a fair number of people in AB who do not think like that, however, they are not the ones in power.

Anonymous said...

Rather self-centered isn't it? To think that other provinces, especially Ontario, have Alberta on their minds every minute of their day while working, taking care of their families, etc.

Jealousy? Of what?

Oh the arrogance.

Joe Calgary said...

I've been in Hamilton for the last week.

I've met so many people interviewing to go to work in the patch... They all say the same thing, "why stay here for $xx, when I can double that and pay my mortgage off in twice the time by heading out to Alberta".

One guy in the "Beer Store" says to me "you must be spending you oil cheque today". When I asked him what he meant, he replied "well, don't you guys get a cheque every year from the government?"

No... we go to work everyday, and earn our pay, just like you.

There are no free rides. I would suggest there are just as many "myths" about Alberta in the Central part of Canada, as there are in the minds of Albertans about the rest of the nation.

Me, I'll just spend the rest of the day polishing my gold plated taps, or perhaps taking a drive down our gold paved roads.

Mushroom said...

Since I will be feeding some Scottish Nationalist propaganda in the next few days, I am going to say this in parallel:

"Ontario is the only province that is now worse off due to the oil boom"

Resentment?

Steve V said...

joe

You're a hoot. Don't they have "prosperity cheques"? Myth? That doesn't equate to "free ride", just a fact.

Anonymous said...

Actually I pity the poor people of that provence. After all the natural resources they have sold over the years they only have about 40 billion in the bank and much of their land either destroyed or about to be from pollution and climat change.

If they had charged the same royalties as Russia and other smart countries they would have several times as much money in the bank and the oil sands ready to expliot just as the technology needed to do so with less impact coming on line. They would also have a relitively clean environment to enjoy as well.

wilson said...

"prosperity cheques'' that was a one time $400 chq from Ralph Klein.

''..It's merely a desire to see Canada actually "lead" on the environment...The ironic part, if not for the tar sands, Alberta would probably be viewed as the environmental leader in confederation, some of the best innovation and forward thinking projects coming from that part of Canada...'

So is it not reasonable to also think that Albertans will use that 'innovation and forward thinking' to make the oilsands more enviro friendly, given the time to do so?
Carbon capture has already reduced ghg's = to 500,000 car's off the road. What reduction in ghg's has Kyoto produced??
Signing agreements does not reduce ghg's; new technologies do.

I just don't see how penalizing Alberta and Saskatchewan for sitting on a gold mine of oil & gas,
while rewarding Quebec and Manitoba for sitting on a gold mine of hydro power,
reduces ghg emissions.

Steve V said...

"So is it not reasonable to also think that Albertans will use that 'innovation and forward thinking' to make the oilsands more enviro friendly, given the time to do so?"

The problem is, there isn't much time, production is ramping up exponentially as we speak. Look, the bottomline, nobody outside of the Stelmach propaganda machine believes these claims, if they did, then we wouldn't see such poor grades or criticism. It's all based on maybes and future this, and future that, when really you should have the plan first, then ramp up production. The way I look at, the resource is there, it isn't going anywhere, why not pace production to coincide with environmental responsibility. It's like money in the bank, why withdraw it all now, when it could provide the same revenue stream, just spaced accordingly.

Mushroom said...

"The way I look at, the resource is there, it isn't going anywhere, why not pace production to coincide with environmental responsibility."

Is production ramping up because oil is at $140 a barrel? What if it goes down to $40? Not going to say it will now, given the inelastic demand. There will be a day when oil will become what bronze was in ancient history.

Steve V said...

mushroom

Last I read, oil needs to be 55-60 dollars for it too make sense, and alot of these projects were hatched when it was well below 100.

Acid Reflux (acidrefluxweb.com) said...

Hmmm, I think Alberta is obssessed with resentment, as is the 1970s are still alive. There is a genetic make up which makes great many in the population that like to see Ontario do badly, as sort of a pay back for being one of the dominate provinces in the history of confederation.

Interestingly enough if suggested Albertans where jealous of Ontario, you'd get the same reaction.

When the time comes, and the geopolitical field is changing, what happens. The same old thing, but in reverse.

I'm quite happy in Ontario, and probably have to kill myself living in such a conservative environment -- and yes I know there are those who are not. It is still part of the local culture. Trust me there is no jealousy there to see such a rich province those who need the support of governement social programs the most.

Sorry Joe, but Hamilton doesn't represent the average Ontarian. I'm quite aware of the good and the bad in Aberta.

It's a beautiful province, but far to isolated for me, and far too conservative.

What about the rate of homelessness going up in Calgary?

lenny said...

"The ironic part, if not for the tar sands, Alberta would probably be viewed as the environmental leader in confederation"

Brilliant, Wilson.
If not for all those people he murdered, Jack the Ripper would probably be viewed as a law abiding citizen. And if my aunt had a prick she'd be my uncle.

Steve V said...

acid

Joe tends to exaggerate, don't take it seriously.

Mark Francis said...

"I just don't see how penalizing Alberta and Saskatchewan for sitting on a gold mine of oil & gas,
while rewarding Quebec and Manitoba for sitting on a gold mine of hydro power, reduces ghg emissions."

False framing.

GH emissions are a problem, and they must be reduced.

A carbon tax, and/or cap-and-trade will force a price carbon (appropriate as carbon does cost us), so companies will strive to reduce that cost by reducing emissions.

This has worked in other jurisdictions.

Of course, predictably, those who pollute the most complain the most.

Steve V said...

"GH emissions are a problem, and they must be reduced."

Just keep repeating that, it helps with all the paranoia. It's really quite simple, no plotting required. It would have been like Mulroney trying to tackle acid rain without the Americans.