Wednesday, 10 February 2016 16:49

Laid-off oil workers plan shows the differing political styles of Notley, Wall

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With Canadian Football League free agency going this week, one could equate Sask. Premier Brad Wall a self-acknowledged football fan, as a quarterback reading a defence — which all of a sudden, is blitzing him from all sides.

Wall, who has been able to sit in the pocket and pick defences apart, right now is rolling out and seriously scrambling, really for the first time since he was elected premier in November 2007.
He’s undeniably been the most popular premier since he took office, but right now, he faces some challenges.
The Canadian economy is sputtering, the petroleum industry is spiralling and while unemployment could be worse in Sask., the numbers aren’t great there either. Add in a controversy surrounding an already-contentious Regina overpass, land deal situation. Time will tell what comes of that.
All of this negativity is a 180-degree turn from what has been nothing but a meadow of voters skipping in a field of western red lilies (of course).
A true measure of a leader is when adversity hits. Does the leader panic and flail or stay calm?
So far, Wall is staying calm like that quarterback reading an onrushing defence: “buy some time, buy some time, buy some time...”
For example, Wall has been really dogging the federal government in recent memory. Last week, it was to push Trudeau to support the Energy East Pipeline which was criticized and shot down by some civic politicians in Quebec. Last year, he had lobbied the feds to slow down the immigration of Syrian refugees.
A Canadian Press report this week informed that Wall is now suggesting Trudeau set up federal funding for a program called the Accelerated Well Cleanup Program (AWCP) which would have laid off oil workers cleaning up abandoned or inactive oil sites. The idea was initially suggested by Dan Cugnet, chairman of Valleyview Petroleums Ltd., an exploration and production company based in Weyburn.
It creates employment and helps the environment while buying some time for the oil industry to traditional come back which many are counting on.
Wall notes the federal government should be helping the west out especially considering the amount of equalization payments have been pretty one-side for the east recently.
In fact, upcoming in 2016-17, B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland will combined get a grand total of $0 in equalization payments.
Ontario will garner $2.3 billion while Quebec (see above opposition to Energy East Pipeline) will receive $10 billion or more than half of that money.
The debate of course is whether taxpayers should fund this considering it was the oil companies which came, created and handsomely benefitted from the sites and the aftermath which remained in the first place.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, critics will state predictably, has said it’s the oil companies which should pick up the tab and certainly an argument can be made to that case.
It’s a matter of perception — moral obligation versus practicality. Philosophically, oil companies should clean this up because they have millions and billions of dollars earned in oil revenue, but left before cleaning up the mess versus somebody needs to get this done, it still is Canada, it’s still the federal government’s house and there are a lot of people unemployed.
Therein lies the difference between Notley and Wall. Neither is totally right, it’s just a matter of styles. Back to the quarterback comparison, Notley stands in the pocket, makes her read and fires. Wall, rolls out, sees what’s happening and then decides what to do.
Wherever your philosophical feelings lie, realistically if you’re a petroleum producer hearing all of the negativity going on around Alberta these days, whenever petroleum prices improve, which are you province looking at?
Wall is trying to make sure he doesn’t tick off the oil industry.
The argument is of course, maybe Notley is correct in looking at different avenues and not catering to the petroleum sector.
Hence, the different reads of two different quarterbacks.
Wall has another problem right now as he is trying to deal with the Regina bypass/land deal controversy. Wall is also hearing complaints about not releasing an official budget until after the election although the Swift Current resident would still hear complaints if he did table and pass a budget — i.e. the Opposition would probably criticize Wall about not having an official mandate.
There will always been complaints no matter what. There is still a lot of game to be played and as fans/voters/political spectators it’s not only infinitely interesting, it’s also critical to everyone’s future what the leaders’ reads are and the decisions they make.
Any veteran football fan will tell you, a smart quarterback will be able to get himself out of trouble. Football fans, voters and political junkies are about to find out what kind of team leader and political quarterback Brad Wall is. 
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact him with your comments at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor