CALGARY – Alberta’s NDP leader spent the final day of the provincial election campaign contrasting her winning-hearts-and-minds approach to building pipelines with the more combative strategy of her chief rival.
Rachel Notley donned a hard hat and work boots Monday as she toured a pipe fabrication yard in Calgary, a key battleground in Tuesday’s election.
“Through patient and determined action, we have built a durable national consensus on the need for pipelines,” she said, the occasional clanging of machinery interrupting her remarks.
“A strong and growing majority of Canadians support Alberta pipelines, including in British Columbia. And I intend to keep it that way.
She said she’s expecting a federal green light next month for the stalled Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which would move oilsands crude to the west coast for export.
United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney has spent much of the campaign criticizing Notley for what he has said is her dithering on pipelines and collaboration with Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on energy and climate policy.
He has said that if elected, he would set up an Alberta government “war room” to go after pipeline critics in real time, file several legal actions and block energy exports to British Columbia over its government’s resistance to Trans Mountain.
Notley said Kenney’s stance puts the pipeline in jeopardy.
“Mr. Kenny is prepared to mess it all up so that he can make headlines. It’s risky. It’s wrong for Alberta. It’s wrong for our economy and our jobs, and it’s wrong for our future.”
Notley ridiculed Kenney’s promise to turn off the taps to B.C., because the province is currently not the major roadblock to Trans Mountain. Rather, the expansion was delayed last year because the Federal Court of Appeal ordered more Indigenous consultation and study into the impact on marine life.
“Unless he thinks he’s got one particular judge that he’s going to somehow pull back on their access to gas … it’s just not connected to the real problem,” she said.
“And he knows it, but he’s just playing games. It’s irresponsible and Albertans deserve better than that.”
Notley has also taken flak for declining to take legal action against U.S.-funded environmental groups that have attacked Alberta’s energy sector.
But she said that’s not a winning strategy.
“The way to fight any of these sort of external forces that are trying to take on or somehow undermine our energy industry, is to do better … The way to do it is to win hearts and minds by talking about our record of responsible environmental sustainable development,” she said.
“It’s a long game. It’s hard work. But I think we’re making progress. And it would be a real shame to go backwards on all the work that so many people in the industry have done.”