rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Despite NDP stamp of approval, pipeline rally on Alberta Legislature's steps looked like a UCP event

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca in its summer fundraiser today for as little as $5 per month!

Alberta Trade Minister Deron Bilous at the Rally4Resources Rally (Photo: David J. Climenhaga)

The situation may have felt normal to the cadre of Opposition United Conservative Party MLAs there, but I imagine some of the NDP backbenchers huddled on the steps of the Legislature in Edmonton yesterday afternoon felt pretty uncomfortable.

If not, they darn well should've.

I'm not talking about the effects of the icy wind that whips through the coldest spot in this cold city, but the angry pipeline proselytizers summoned up, mostly from UCP ranks or worse by the sound of them, for Thursday afternoon's big pro-pipeline rally.

It was an unedifying sight. Political reality of Alberta may require a noisy push by Premier Rachel Notley's NDP to get Ottawa to press British Columbia to let the Trans Mountain pipeline be completed before Kinder Morgan packs up its Russian steel and goes home to Texas. So, yeah, I can forgive Trade Minister Deron Bilous for spending so much of his time at the podium on the Legislature's steps ripping into the B.C. NDP for the benefit of the 600 or so people who showed up.

But if a progressive political party is going to put its stamp of approval on such a gathering, as the NDP most certainly did, it should be damn sure the majority of people there are its supporters.

And if you ask me -- and, no, I didn't check IDs -- aside from a few Unifor members and a couple of dozen freezing ministerial aides, the NDP base mostly decided to give this rally a miss, even if it was in Edmonton. This crowd looked pretty much like the Bill 6 demonstrations of 2015, only smaller, without the turkey, the Anabaptists or the sense of humour. This is appropriate, I guess, for a supposedly non-partisan rally organized by the "Rally 4 Resources movement," a group that has a sour-gas whiff of oil industry Astro-Turf about it.

In other words, this seemed like a UCP crowd to me, and not a particularly nice one. Even if Mr. Bilous got a cheer or two, as well as a few boos, these weren't people who are going to see a flash of light on the road to Damascus and start voting NDP any time soon.

And when the crowd tried to shout down federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi with cries of "go home" -- he's from here, you knuckleheads, and he was trying to take your side of this argument, God knows why the Liberals bother -- it reminded me of something the Wildrose Party and some of its less savoury internet friends might have cooked up. No wonder the former Wildrosers up there behind the NDP looked so smug.

Well, I know what I think inspired that chant, and that proved to be an excellent moment to head back toward the bright lights of Jasper Avenue. Maybe someone told the participants to stand up and stop dragging their knuckles in the dirt after I'd gone. I certainly hope so. I have my doubts, though, since one of the next speakers on the agenda was UCP Leader Jason Kenney.

At least no one was chanting, "Lock 'Er Up" this time, although I'd bet you some of them were thinking about it.

Some observers thought this looked like we'd all gone through the looking glass. When the NDP started urging people to attend this event, my friend Jason, union builder and cynic, wondered if the NDP has finally jumped the shark. I don't want to ask myself the same question for fear I might not like the answer.

With friends like Kenney, Rally 4 Resources, and the usual suspects in the Alberta commentariat, Ms. Notley and her strategic brain trust might want to give their heads a shake about how closely they wish to be tied to these guys in the run-up to an election.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to fly back from Lima, Peru, to meet on Sunday in Ottawa with Notley and B.C. Premier John Horgan to try, as the mainstream media puts it, to break the deadlock between Alberta and B.C.

Trudeau's been saying repeatedly, as did Mr. Sohi yesterday, that the pipeline will be built no matter what British Columbia thinks. The Alberta NDP vows to economically punish British Columbians if their government won't knuckle under. I'm not sure where the incentive for Horgan to compromise is in that kind of posturing, which sounds more like an ultimatum than a bargaining position. I guess we'll see on Sunday.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca

Photo: David J. Climenhaga

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. 

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.