The sweeping majority election of Jason Kenney as Premier of Alberta this week is another milestone in Western Canada’s long history of grassroots political energy, says one of the country’s most prominent conservative leaders.
Preston Manning, who founded two parties that formed the Official Opposition federally — the Reform Party of Canada and the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance — says there is potential for a coalition of conservative provincial governments to “achieve considerable things” if they work together.
“You’ve now got Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick, which together account for over 60 percent of the population. If those governments cooperate, they can put enormous pressure on the federal government to get [pipeline] rights of way to both the Pacific and the Atlantic,” Manning told JWN on Wednesday.
The challenge, however, will be to harness this political energy to constructive ends — something he compared to drillers working with unpredictable wells.
“There is such a thing in the oilpatch of a wildcat well that’s drilled into a formation where you don’t know what’s really down below, and then there’s a rogue well that actually hits something; it may be an enormous reservoir of oil or gas, but it blows the drilling platform off the wellhead and can catch fire and be a very dangerous thing.
“The way they used to control a rogue well was to drill a relief well from the side, and the angle had to be right. If it was too shallow it wouldn’t take off enough pressure, and if it was too deep it could turn into a rogue well. But if it was just right, they could take off enough pressure to control all of this valuable energy.
“In a way that’s the challenge, particularly when it starts to turn ugly like with separatist movements - you drill in from the side, and you’ve got to identify with what’s making people mad and say ‘we’re mad too, we agree with you, but instead of using that energy to tear things apart, why don’t we do the following constructive things.’”
Manning will expand on these ideas at the Canadian Energy Executive Association’s Mid-Year update on April 23, where he will be the keynote speaker. Click here for more details and to buy tickets.