“Shitheads” that’s how Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous described British Columbians this week at a meeting of Albertan Municipal leaders. The same week that Alberta’s Speech from the Throne floated the idea of punishing BC by turning off the supply of oil and gas to the province, a sensible way to demonstrate just how much communities in BC need Bitumen to be shipped to China for motorists there. Ex Wild Rose Party Leader Danielle Smith warned British Columbians that if we continue to mess with Alberta, or, well….U.S. Pipeline Company Kinder Morgan, that we are one step away from economic catastrophe. This, just mere weeks after Alberta Premier Rachel Notley boycotted BC wines in her province, something that surely involved consultation and engagement with restaurants and private liquor stores who didn’t appear caught off guard whatsoever by the eminently reasonable not-knee-jerk-gesture that was quickly rescinded.
One might think these seem like petty, vindictive, and even desperate measures to ensure a foreign owned pipeline can be built to export chemically diluted tar out of the country at basement bargain royalty rates, but the longer this abuse goes on the more likely British Columbians are to warm up to the whole idea. It’s how relationships work, dummy!
It’s common knowledge that in a relationship the best way to ensure both parties find a mutually beneficial way forward is for one to demand that the other unequivocally bend to their will, even if there are any serious risks posed by that demand. After the demand is made, sometimes boycotts, or threats of withholding something important to the daily functioning of that other person, are also constructive best practices promoted by relationship councillors. This ensures that all options are on the table and compromises and alternatives can or can’t be explored. Finally, when the threat of withholding that something, say the keys to the apartment, don’t appear to be enough to bend the other person to one’s will, then acting on that threat, like locking that person out and yelling at them while they stand in the rain, is 100% of the time proven to deepen the sense of commitment, partnership and respect within that relationship.
To illustrate, let’s say Alberta (We’ll call Alberta Rachel) and BC (Let’s call BC John) are roommates. John’s bedroom has a gorgeous view of the Salish Sea and snowcapped Coastal Mountains while Rachel’s bedroom looks out over the back parking lot of the building. It seems to go on forever. Both of them work from home. John does a number of things, people pay to come to enjoy the view, he has great food and wine, and a lot of recreational options. Also, there are a lot of movies and TV shows made in his bedroom and he even has a tech incubator in the corner. Rachel’s bedroom has a lot of silverfish but thankfully there’s a dude who lives in another apartment building a few neighbourhoods over who burns silverfish to heat his place. Rachel has been selling this guy silverfish for years in order to save up money, but sadly it has only landed her $45 billion dollars in debt. John uses some of the silverfish too because he has an international airport in his bedroom.
On the advice of her friend Morgan, a friend from Texas, Rachel wants to build a second pipeline to improve the economy and “get her silverfish to tidewater” just outside John’s bedroom window. Contrary to the economic law of supply and demand, and law of scarcity, she is convinced that having more silverfish available in the market will fetch her better prices. This at a time that key markets are looking to transition off of silverfish. Plus she might be voted out of her bedroom by the silverfish if she doesn’t appear strong on silverfish. But if this new pipeline through John’s bedroom ruptures and spills silverfish everywhere all these different ways that John makes money are threatened. These two are in a real pickle! Can’t these two roommates just work it out?
Making matters worse, the building superintendent has steadfastly supported Rachel’s friend from the United States and has only seemed to exacerbate the situation instead of trying to help find a compromise. But that’s just following best practices laid out by relationship councillors everywhere. Always pick a side. Whether it’s your own kids or employees, it doesn’t matter, if two different parties are at an impasse or arguing the best thing to do if you are in a senior position is to quickly and decisively pick one side over another in order to ensure that the other party feels undervalued and disrespected. This will in no way manifest itself later in that child’s life or employee’s relationship with the company. It’s how federalism works, dummy!
It may take time, but the longer Albertan politicians threaten and insult British Columbians, the more likely we are to get excited about this Kinder Morgan pipeline thing. And if the threats and insults don’t do it, strangling our supply of oil and gas for domestic use will surely win our support to ship bitumen overseas. With a globally competitive cluster of Canada’s leading greentech companies located in BC, nearly a quarter of all Canadian cleantech, I’m sure it won’t strengthen the case to transition off fossil fuel dependency more quickly. After several months of these boycotts, punishment, shaming, and being called shitheads we will surely come around. That’s just how healthy constructive relationships work!
Oh, also, Rachel and John’s building and bedrooms are on indigenous lands where treaties and ancestral rights to unceded territories dictate that free, prior and informed consent be received by said indigenous peoples otherwise building the pipeline undermines and discredits any so-called commitments to reconciliation and building a new partnership with First Nations. That too.