Why it matters that left-wingers just won in oil-rich Alberta


An article by Ben Adler, Grist (abridged)

. . . On Tuesday [May 5], the lefty New Democratic Party (NDP) won the provincial elections on a platform that promises to diversify Alberta’s fossil fuel–dependent economy. The NDP campaigned on criticism of the Conservatives for being too close to the oil industry and a pledge to tax more oil profits. From The Wall Street Journal:


“The longtime ruling party of Canada’s energy-rich Alberta province lost its four-decade hold on power on Tuesday, ushering in a left-leaning government that has pledged to raise corporate taxes and increase oil and gas royalties.

“The Alberta New Democratic Party swept enough districts to form a majority, taking most of the seats in both the business center of Calgary and the provincial capital of Edmonton, according to preliminary results from Elections Alberta. . .

“We need to start down the road to a diversified and resilient economy. We need finally to end the boom-and-bust roller coaster that we have been riding on for too long,” NDP leader Rachel Notley, who is expected to succeed [Jim] Prentice as Alberta’s premier, said at a news conference.

“The NDP has long been a marginal force in Alberta’s traditionally conservative politics, but recent public opinion polls showed its popularity surging. In the campaign, Ms. Notley attacked Mr. Prentice for reinstating provincial health-care premiums and being too cozy with oil-patch interests.

“In a move that spooked some energy company executives during the campaign, Ms. Notley raised the specter of increasing royalties levied on oil and gas production, although she said that her party would only consider that once crude-oil prices recovered from recent lows.

“She also signaled her party wouldn’t support a proposed Enbridge Inc. crude-oil pipeline, called the Northern Gateway, which would connect Alberta’s oil sands with a planned Pacific coast terminal in British Columbia, telling a local newspaper that ‘Gateway is not the right decision.’:

Notley also doesn’t support plans for Keystone XL, and pledged to stop spending taxpayer dollars to push the pipeline in Washington, D.C. (She does support two other tar-sands pipeline projects, though.) And she wants Alberta to get more serious about climate change, as the Globe and Mail reports:

“Another focus, according to Ms. Notley’s platform, will be bolstering the province’s reputation on climate change as previous governments have resisted establishing tougher targets for carbon reduction from the oil sands and other industries.”

The NDP triumph in Alberta may put political pressure on the Harper government, which is facing a federal election this fall. The province’s voters sent the message that they want more protection for the environment and less pandering to oil interests. This couldn’t happen at a better time, as environmentalists are nervously awaiting Canada’s proposal for carbon emission reductions heading into the U.N. climate negotiations to be held this December in Paris. Will Harper now make a more significant climate commitment? We’ll all be watching to see.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Question for this article:

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

See the comment below. CPNN readers are encouraged to add to this discussion.

One thought on “Why it matters that left-wingers just won in oil-rich Alberta

  1. The vested interests of companies and governments are usually ignored by the mass media who are part of the problem, since they are linked in financially and they control the news in order to avoid criticizing them. But this week there was a breakthrough. The Guardian Newspaper in England finally published some of the facts about the subsidies given by governments to the big oil companies.

    Here are the three examples they published:

    A proposed Shell petrochemical refinery in Pennsylvania is in line for $1.6bn (£1bn) in state subsidy, according to a deal struck in 2012 when the company made an annual profit of $26.8bn. The deal was struck by the then Republican governor, Tom Corbett, who received over $1m in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry.

    ExxonMobil’s upgrades to its Baton Rouge refinery in Louisiana are benefitting from $119m of state subsidy, with the support starting in 2011, when the company made a $41bn profit. The Republican governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal has expressed his pride in attracting investment from ExxonMobil. In state election campaigns between 2003 and 2013, he received 231 contributions from oil and gas companies and executives totalling $1,019,777, according to a list compiled by environmental groups.

    A jobs subsidy scheme worth $78m to Marathon Petroleum in Ohio began in 2011, when the company made $2.4bn in profit. Republican governor John Kasich said in 2011. “All we’re doing is helping them.” In 2011, Kasich was named as the top recipient of oil and gas donations in Ohio, having received $213, 519.

    Oil Change International, an NGO that analyses the costs of fossil fuels, found in 2014 that US taxpayers were subsidising fossil fuel exploration and production alone by $21bn a year.

    You can find the Guardian article here

    By the way, I believe it was also the Guardian newspaper than dared to publish the revelations of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden about corrupt and illegal government practices.

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