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Jobs! Pipelines! Help is on the way! Or ... maybe not: Election hot takes from Alberta

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Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley on Tuesday night. Photo: David J. Climenhaga.

Tuesday night's Alberta election results pretty well put paid to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's "Grand Bargain" with Alberta on climate change, the terms of which were basically that the province could have a pipeline to tidewater if we play nice and put a price on carbon.

Incoming premier Jason Kenney has made it unequivocally clear there will be no more provincial carbon tax as quickly as legislatively possible, and he and the other boys from the cover of Maclean's will do whatever they can to sink the federal carbon tax too, insofar as it applies to the provinces.

For places like British Columbia and Quebec, that will make opposing Kenney on the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project synonymous with opposing alt-right environmental conspiracy theories and full-blown climate change denial.

So it's not necessarily a bad thing for the governments of either of those provinces if an argument over economics turns into an all-out culture war. With Kenney's face on the TMX, what are the chances fence-sitting British Columbians in particular will flee in droves to the anti-pipeline camp? Pretty good, I'd say.

What will Rachel do?

As noted here Tuesday night, sticking around as Opposition leader isn't going to be all that much fun for soon-to-be-former premier Rachel Notley.

Notley is not a flake. So there was no Jim Prentice–style tantrum the instant the election results were in, but she's got to be thinking about her future, not to mention the future ability of the NDP to form a government in a province as solidly cap-C Conservative as Alberta now is, especially without a wild rose bush in sight.

Already, some people in political Alberta are whispering about the idea of Notley resigning in time to run for the New Democratic Party in the federal Edmonton Strathcona riding, which occupies much of the same territory as her provincial riding that's only a hyphen away from having the same name. Yes, Heather McPherson, the current nominated candidate would have to step aside, but stranger things have happened.

That could set Notley up for two epic battles: First, perhaps, with Avi Lewis or someone like him from the Leap wing of the federal NDP for the soul of the national party, and after that, if the planets were all in alignment, for a rematch Rumble on the Rideau with Jason Kenney to replace the increasingly rudderless Trudeau.

Likely? Probably not. But it's fun to think about.

The next logical move for PMJT would be …

Speaking of Trudeau, if he were smart, he'd cancel the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project right now.

Why? The Art of the Deal, of course.

With Jason Kenney about to be sworn in as the big kahuna in Edmonton vowing that his Bill 1 will be the Carbon Tax Repeal Act, that would be your ultimate, no foolin' around federal bargaining chip, don't you think?

And it would be popular in certain parts of Canada that are important to Trudeau's re-election hopes.

Fortunately for Kenney, evidence is mounting Mr. Trudeau isn't all that smart, or at least that he's lost his mojo since Gerald Butts took the high jump.

This just in from the press room

While other Postmedia columnists were rejoicing about the UCP victory -- as well they should, most of them have devoted themselves to task of ensuring it happened every day for the past four years -- Rick Bell still found time to whine about how the NDP treated him.

"Long before Jason Kenney came along, this scribbler who crusaded against the corruption and abuses of Toryland and wrote about Notley's rise before others, became an unperson in the Notley NDP world," Bell whinged.

Chin up, Dinger! Time to stop choking back the tears. It's not all about you. We were all unpersons!

So long, Alberta Party! Just go away

Born of the "Big Listen," a province-wide kaffeeklatsch, the Alberta Party started out as a home for disgruntled Blue Liberals a decade ago.

When the smart ones all got elected as city councillors in Calgary and Edmonton, it morphed into a post-UCP home for disgruntled Red Tories.

Under the leadership of Greg Clark, the Alberta Party managed to shuffle unconvincingly along through the Notley Years in the Alberta legislature, even attracting a disgruntled New Democrat MLA and a disgruntled UCP MLA to its caucus.

But then Stephen Mandel, the bored and cranky former mayor of Edmonton and sometime Progressive Conservative cabinet minister, got the idea of duplicating Kenney's double-reverse-hostile takeover of the PC Party and the Wildrose Party, which had resulted in the UCP.

If only … Mandel seemed to think. On Tuesday, the political party that never, ever captured the imagination of Albertans despite having a great name, was totally skunked. Of the full slate of 87 candidates it ran, none were elected, and that included Mr. Mandel.

Seventies pop icon Debbie Harry had the right advice for the Alberta Party at this point in its history: "Don't go away sad. Don't go away mad. Just go away!"

How's that Kenney schtick goin' down in Quebec?

Message from the national assembly in Quebec City: Congratulations Jason Kenney! Now get lost!

Yesterday the national assembly considered a motion by the Québec solidaire political party that congratulated Kenney for his victory Tuesday, and added: "Qu'elle rappelle que le Québec a la pleine légitimité de refuser des projets d'oléoducs."

That basically means, in the event like me you're condemned to speak only English, that just in case you forgot, Quebec reminds Albertans it has the legitimate right to refuse pipeline projects.

The party elaborated further in a Facebook post: "Merci, mais non merci."

The motion was passed unanimously by the assembly.

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with The Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. This post is also found on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Photo: David J. Climenhaga 

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