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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Goodbye Alberta -- hello Saskatchewan?

The timing is perfect: just as Alberta is about to bring in a Tommy Douglas-style tax hike on the oil patch (and -- worse -- rip up signed contracts with the oil sands), Saskatchewan is about to elect the free market Sask Party.

Here's a column I wrote with Lyle Dunkley about it in today's National Post. Here's an excerpt:

Alberta's oilsands can't be moved. But what about oil sands and oil shale in Saskatchewan? The same geological formation that lies under Fort McMurray stretches across the border, into Saskatchewan's Clearwater River Valley. It was explored to some degree in the 1970s, but not developed for economic and political reasons. But new technology has made once-uneconomic oil sands profitable -- and oil at US$90 a barrel helps, too. Combine that with a new, property-rights-respecting Saskatchewan Party and hundreds of experienced oilmen returning home from Alberta, and you've got an interesting possibility. A company called Oilsands Quest is back out there already, drilling exploratory wells.

Don't get me wrong; Saskatchewan has 60 years of catching up to do. But it looks like 2007 alone will close that economic gap by about a decade.

Posted by Ezra Levant on October 27, 2007 | Permalink


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...naw won't happen. When a culture has been raised to suck on the teet for so long, it can't change overnight to become an adult.

It's like hoping Atlantic Canada would rebound and become a self-sustaining economic zone.

From Electric cars being produced in Quebec to anti-war whiners in UofVic, this country is one sick puppy.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2007-10-27 12:15:54 PM

...oh the electric cars being produced in Quebec can't be sold in Canada...

Union/Government thing you know.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2007-10-27 12:30:54 PM

I wish Saskatchewan well and I wish B.C. well.

There is plenty of room in western Canada for prosperity.

This is about catching up to the insfrastructure needs Klein ignored, not about nationalizing the oil industry.

If anybody broke a contract, it was the trust Klein broke with the electorate to do his job of keeping up with the infrastructure needs of a booming economy.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-10-27 12:31:32 PM

There may be hope for Saskatchewn yet.

Kate McMillan (DSA) today has given the blogging world a heads up of the potential of Saskatchewan.
Now if only the leader of the Sask Party ( Wall ) has the will to sell the electorate on a different vision for Saskatchewan from the closet communistic view of Lorne Calvert.
This guy Calvert reminds me of
a (our) former Ontario premier Bob Rae.
Socialist to the core.

Posted by: Joe Molnar | 2007-10-27 12:38:47 PM

...i agree. A healthy Saskatchewan would be good for Western Canada. Same with Manitoba if they ever shed their lack of identity in Canadian politics.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2007-10-27 12:39:11 PM

...Joe, it's SDA, but i've started not reading as much there, seems a lot of leftist and gang piling mentality has crept into that blog.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2007-10-27 12:40:37 PM

Egg Zactly

Let's hope Saskatwans do the right think in the election.

We have to keep opening cans of "Commies Begone"

Posted by: John | 2007-10-27 12:43:36 PM

SDA has it's share of trolls and also some legit decenters, that's what makes a debate.

If we don't have some debate then we all become bobble heads patting each other on the back for agreeing so creatively.

Hard core trolls are banished when they become too obnoxious, but everyone gets a fair shake at SDA.

Posted by: John | 2007-10-27 12:47:43 PM

Meant Kate's (SDA)

Posted by: Joe Molnar | 2007-10-27 12:48:06 PM

please visit

you will see PHOTOS of WHO and WHERE Bin Laden and his NETWORKS ARE….


Posted by: gabriel christou | 2007-10-27 1:15:55 PM

Saskatchewan is about to light the fuse and explode into an economic giant (after fixing the obvious infrastructure problems). she has loads of cheaply extracted well oil, besides oilsands.

once Saskians get used to "have" province status and develop their newly acquired capitalistic self esteem, they'll shake their collective (maybe that will be the wrong term by then) heads and ask, "what were we thinking? socialism really DOES suck!".

in the end, the success of Sask means the success of Alberta and the West. competition between provinces sharpens provinces, and forces them to become more business friendly.

capitalism wins, the markets win, the economy wins, and the individual wins.

good night

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-27 1:30:38 PM

I like the tone of this thread because it addresses the posibilities of positive outcomes under a free-market system.

Saskatchewan, of course, will have to look after its neglected infrastructure. That will cost loads of money and royalty rates will have to be adjusted for the increased activity due to the presence of oil exploration and develoment.

That's exactly what Stelmach is doing now in Alberta after infrastructure needs went unrecognized by his predecessor.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-10-27 1:54:52 PM

" ...naw won't happen"


i don't quite agree with you. i'm thinking of the difference between Sask and Que. they both have vast resources and potential, and they are both socialistic. but i think that's where the similarity ends.

Que has a deeply and culturally developed victim complex (with the inherent abdication of personal responsibility and accountability which comes attached). there's alot of collective self pity and political frustration there. until they tackle this, they will be socially and economically paralyzed.

Sask doesn't have this complex to nearly as high a degree. i think they are simply used to the welfare State, and just need a little kick in the ass to wake 'em up. they will soon discover their testicles.

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-27 2:11:52 PM

shel, you are correct in your observation between QC and SK.

Only problem is like SYF said, the infrastructure is going to need major overhaul.

If the Saskparty gets in and opens a regulated free market (i know, sounds like a contridiction, it is not) then Sask will take off.

Maybe part of the royalty deal would be to repave the roads?

But not put a hospital in every village, but better roads to access them.

Oh, and change some names. Elbow, Eyelash, Moosebreath and so on don't sound too economically viable for marketing.


In my world, I'd merge Alberta, Sask and South Eastern BC into one province, country, whatever.

It would become an economic powerhouse.

Manitoba, and Northwestern Ontario, once they decide what fence they want to sit on can join us at any time.

Lower Mainland?

Make pot smoking legal, jackhammer the area off and let them float into a Pacific sunset...

Posted by: tomax7 | 2007-10-27 2:39:14 PM

Tomax7 - an interesting idea - one that scares the east - you have reitterated precisly what the Eastern'establishment' feared when the gov't of the day devided the NWT into three provinces instead of one! Divide and keep under control was the motive.

Posted by: jema54j | 2007-10-27 4:26:43 PM

Hey, except for the Vancouver area and parts of the island, most of BC is pretty conservative. Let us stay in. The limp wrists will wash our or get more real eventually.

Posted by: John | 2007-10-27 4:36:21 PM

Merging Alberta with Saskatchewan is like going swimming with an anchor around your neck.

Western separatism is a dead letter. If (shudder) Dion becomes PM and implements some sort of NEP II, Alberta should consider separating on its own. The rest of the west are a bunch of NDP loving pinkos, just as bad or worse than easterners. Sorry but there's only one conservative province in Canada, and I say that as an Ontarian.

Now can y'all replace Stelmach with Morton already?

Posted by: JP | 2007-10-27 5:30:24 PM

"Que has a deeply and culturally developed victim complex".

Eh ?
Quebec is known Worldwide for it's bouillant culture and it's wish for becoming it's own country. Canada appears on the worldwide stage mostly because of preeminent Quebecers and organizations in incredibly various spheres of interests. Quebecers are well known for having no fear of expressing their opinions. On what do you base yourselves to compare this crap about us ?
Alberta ?

What do you have to offer? An annual Rodeo?

...Saskatchewhat ?

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-27 7:03:46 PM

That is exactly why nationalistic movements are so dangerous - and the home of extremist haters. It is not sufficient for them to boost their so-called identity strengths, but they have to put down others in the process.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-27 7:18:05 PM


Glad to hear from you. I tought you were dead.
Not that I'm wishing this at all but you stoped posting for almost a day...

Strangly, it was question of the place you call home; witch proves me what manny here tought: You're pretty good for rants and posting biased news but as for anylsing some local problems and proposing solutions you worth 0 plus a bar. Dont tell me to go "mange ta mere" because you've already lost.


"That is exactly why nationalistic movements are so dangerous - and the home of extremist haters. It is not sufficient for them to boost their so-called identity strengths, but they have to put down others in the process."

Why do you try to compare Israel and Québec ?
Try to stay in the same country at least.

I only know separatists and federalists. Stephen Harper is the Nationalist.

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-27 7:37:51 PM

Ezra -

These topic threads seem to touch important aspects of Canadian potential while wrestling with existing-past problems (tax schemes, etc.).

In the blog format, it is VERY difficult for the uninitiated-uninformed to either learn or catch up with the conversation. The postings "must" be shorter (online) than on a magazine page. You regularly provide embedded links which are helpful but not everyone does this (nor do I trust or risk following many of the commenter's links).

The Western Standard magazine provided greater depth and perhaps redundancy in the articles so that a casual observer or an outsider could better participate.

I am interested in Canada but this space isn't providing enough context or thorough referencing in order (for me) to keep up.

I wonder if perhaps a section devoted to ongoing topics-threads, or perhaps periodic summaries or updates on past topics might be introduced or linked as sort of a reference library.

I don't know how many of your readers-participants are Americans but it seems quite a few. Perhaps everyone already knows everything or doesn't care, but I don't and I do.

There is good stuff going on here. I don't have a clear idea about how to handle it but I just wanted to offer my concerns into the discussion.

Posted by: Conrad-USA | 2007-10-27 7:46:15 PM

I'd be curious to see if someone could be so kind as to enumerate exactly what urgent "infastructure needs" were not being met with the highest per capita rate of government spending in the country - and could not be paid for out of the massive accumulated surpluses of the government.

From his tone, I'm going to guess that "set you free" isn't a liberal so much as he's ether a Stelmach or PC Party loyalist, defending a policy which is indefensible on ideological grounds.

This is the limp hand of a failing and practically brain-dead government that we're dealing with here. Having run out of any real reason to govern - or any guiding vision - they're simply looking for a way to buy their way into another term.

Posted by: Adam Yoshida | 2007-10-27 8:12:03 PM

obc - but they have to put down others in the process.

Hahahahaha - coming from a miserable, humourless person like you, who insults everybody who does not agree with you, is the funniest thing I've heard in a few days.

Posted by: O'REILLY | 2007-10-27 9:02:09 PM

Adam Yoshida - I'd be curious to see if someone could be so kind as to enumerate...............

I'd be curious to know whey you are standing in front of a US flag pretending to be taking questions from the press?

Posted by: O'REILLY | 2007-10-27 9:15:18 PM

Great question Mr. O'Reilly.

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-27 9:38:57 PM

Hahahahaha - coming from a miserable, humourless person like you, who insults everybody who does not agree with you, is the funniest thing I've heard in a few days.

Posted by: O'REILLY | 27-Oct-07 9:02:09 PM

That's probably why he took a day off, to come up with something funny.

And for Ezra, sure, go, blame the "money grabbing Government" for this it could of course never have anything to do with your beloved Oil companies trying to escape the expensive Alberta, and by that I don't mean the taxes.

Posted by: Snowrunner | 2007-10-28 1:14:39 AM

Adam Yoshida~

you're correct. i believe royalties were raised 20%. 20% of very little is very little, but still a hell of a lot of money to put into government coffers. this was nothing but a tax grab from the get go.

this scam was simply a ruse to make the tired Tories look like heroes in front of apolitical folk who don't think things through, and populists who don't understand this tax grab will not benefit them in any way. infrastructure will not increase. the oil sector will be fine, but because the gas sector is being hit hardest, our bills will get bigger because companies can't absorb costs.

people don't think.

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-28 10:07:27 AM

And in news from Quebec:

"Scandinavian Airlines grounds Bombardiers"

STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Scandinavian Airlines said Sunday it will stop flying Bombardier Q400 turboprops after a string of crash landings caused by landing gear malfunctions.

The company took the decision the day after an SAS turboprop with 44 people on board crash-landed in Denmark when part of its landing gear collapsed.

“I have decided to immediately remove Dash 8 Q400 aircraft from service,” SAS chief executive Mats Jansson said in a statement.

But Bombardier — a Canadian aircraft manufacturer — is recommending airlines continue to fly its Q400 aircraft.

OF COURSE THEY recommend that! You think they'll warn folks of the danger from their shoddy, government-subsidized product? SHEEESH!

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-28 11:12:21 AM

would you buy a Lada?

would you buy a Saab?

government subsidised sh:)t.

no competition, no quality.

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-28 11:28:06 AM

. . . and yet we are "forced" to buy their health care.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-28 11:37:06 AM

Hey obc,
Posting some irrelevent news agan ?

How about posting any news, comments or any crap you can come up with but, ON the subject...

Seriously man, where do you stand on this concern that's happening in your backyard ?

You're affraid of what ? expressing yourself ? the jugement of others ?

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-28 11:38:52 AM

The 60 years of catching up makes it even more appealing. That's Alberta's biggest problem right now. We're all caught up. The conventional oil and gas are mostly depleted, and we've been scrounging for ways to suck the last drop.

It was the developmental stages of Alberta's oil industry that created most of the wealth. Most of the good investment opportunities have slipped away. It's not much different than any other investment, once it's big news you've missed the window of opportunity.

Saskatchewan is almost at that critical mass. I have it on good authority that there was an unusually large number of Alberta license plates spotted in Swift Current over the last 2 days. In fact it's already too late to get onto the ground floor there. We shifted our focus to Swift in the early summer, and almost missed the boat at that rate.

I don't think it's all that important who the government of the day is, it's going to go big time. Oil companies will be more willing to negotiate when the reserves are worth haggling over. That's not the case in AB any more. Even surface lease costs are lower by almost 1/2. The work force in Sask is in better shape too. Where d'ya think all those roughnecks came from in the first place? There are more Sask farm boys work ing the AB oilpatch than any other group.

Posted by: dph | 2007-10-28 12:03:53 PM


speaking of "off topic":

"Quebec is known worldwide for it's bouillant culture and it's wish for becoming it's own country".

an "ebullient culture" does not a nation make. a "culture" (language, food, art, collective traditions, etc.), while important for the health and morale of a nation, is a subjective, intangible thing. on it's own a culture cannot hold a nation up.

capitalism, industry, production, technology, and technological innovation and progress are objective, tangible values which contribute to the success of a nation. to be successful, you must develop a socio-economic political philosophy based more on individualism than Statism. you haven't developed this yet.

the University of Alberta is an international leader in medical and industrial progress.

the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (where i'm presently attending for upgrading my career) is the only technical school in the world recognised by other nations. i can work anywhere.

you've offered nothing but subjective values on your post. these mean nothing. what this proves is, collectively, you've been protected and coddled by the taxpayers of the ROC for so long, you actually believe that, should you separate, you can make a go of it as a nation, based on your "culture".

Marc, you're living in a french fairyland.

btw, Que won't separate. deep down, you know you're co-dependant, and too scared to step out on your own.

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-28 12:06:30 PM

"speaking of "off topic""

Sorry shel but you've attacked Quebec out of the blue and I was adjusting the shamefull lie you were trying to set. Previous to that, I had express myself on the reality of your royalties revenues - and took the time to tell everybody that I'm just an outsider regarding those local questions.

Arent you curious of where obc stand on those questions ?


Well, mon ami, every experts, for or against, Quebec separations are saying Quebec can exist pretty well without the ROC.

Quebec is fully developped on any of those "objectives" you're putting on the table and much more.

You're gonna have to do better than that. And after your upgrade, don't be shy and call me, I'll refer you to my pals at CGI.

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-28 12:29:30 PM

obc - STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Scandinavian Airlines said Sunday it will stop flying Bombardier Q400 turboprops after a string of crash landings caused by landing gear malfunctions.

But Bombardier — a Canadian aircraft manufacturer — is recommending airlines continue to fly its Q400 aircraft.

OF COURSE THEY recommend that! You think they'll warn folks of the danger from their shoddy, government-subsidized product? SHEEESH!

The problem that this aircraft is encountering is with the landing gear. The designer and manufacturer of the landing gear is Parker Bertea Aerospace of Irvine California. The solution would be either the American manufacturer of the defective landing gear fixes the problem or Bombardier finds a better supplier. Structurally there is nothing wrong with this aircraft.

I'm sure you believe that Boeing (as it's a US company) never had any design problems. Read on http://www.airlinesafety.com/faq/B-737Rudder.htm

Posted by: O'REILLY | 2007-10-28 12:56:56 PM

Mr O'Reilly,

You're way better than me.
I've stopped answering obc's twisted conclusions long ago; but I thank you for your answer teint of wisdom.


Enjoy this upgrade of your knowledge...



Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-28 1:12:33 PM

Mr O'Reilly,

You're way better than me.
I've stopped answering obc's twisted conclusions long ago; but I thank you for your answer teint of wisdom.

There must be a psychologist somewhere who's writing a paper on how one becomes a miserable old sourpuss. That fellow obc should apply.

Posted by: O'REILLY | 2007-10-28 1:28:59 PM


Much as I enjoy reading my pal obc's comments, I'm truly amazed by your rigorous fact-checking on this and other threads. Someone like you will force all of us here to sharpen up our comments and wean out the bullshit. You're a credit to this blog. Thanks.

Posted by: JP | 2007-10-28 1:32:44 PM


i've read your posts regarding this subject. points you've made:

oil companies won't leave- correct. i believe this too. but we will pay higher gas bills because gas companies are hit hard by the higher royalty tax. winters are cold and expensive, and our tired PCs have just made it more so.

Stelmach will increase infrastructure now that royalties are increased- like i said, infrastructure will not increase exponentially. Alta's gov. coffers are full, and there's been little exponential rise in infrastructure development so far... which proves my point: leave companies alone, and simply tax them like everyone else. if Albertans want to benefit from "our" oil, we can become investors in the industry, and assume the same risks and benefits the companies assume. we don't have to live in fear.

the middle class pays, the oil companies don't- bullsh:)t. in 2005, the top 3 Canadian income deciles accounted for 73.6% of total income tax payments.

Marc, Quebec can exist on it's own. i've said this on the Shotgun. but, despite your incredible industrial potential, you haven't taken significant steps in that direction. hydro is not enough.

give me examples of enough objective economic progress to make Quebec a viable nation. and DON'T include federally subsidised industries. these will no longer be a reality if you become a nation.

i believe CGI is a fully private company. it's nice to see capitalism isn't dead around there.

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-28 1:42:40 PM


...just like I told some people from Eastern Europe awhile back who complained about Canadians being lazy and have no class - 'hey if you don't like it, why don't you go back?'

In your case, if Quebec is soooooo good, why not just separate? No talks, just do it. Period.

How many years now has it been since FLQ? Or the Neverendum? How old are you? The years are slipping by mon ami, you might die a Canadian...

Actions speak louder than words you know, so please do it! Separate! Leave!

Mange a...never mind, just do it!

NOW! Leave, vamooose! GO!

Till then put that Federal pacifier back into your mouth and work with the rest of us to make this a great country.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2007-10-28 1:55:27 PM

shel, I don't think Quebec will do it on its own. The corruption and displaced pride go too deep into their culture.

Of course this will never happen, because, heck what part constitutes Quebec? The Inuit and such up north don't want to leave.

Hey if they want part of Alberta's oil revenue, then let us have some of their Hydro.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2007-10-28 2:00:33 PM

...you know there is an old saying:

"if yer so smart, why aren't you rich?"

So if one province is so smart, why aren't they leading or leaving Canada?

Posted by: tomax7 | 2007-10-28 2:02:00 PM


yep. you said it. Quebec is a voluntary "have not" province. that's what makes my upper lip curl. they can succeed, and they prefer not to.

for the 2006-07 term, Que has been the biggest (as usual) recipient of equalization payments in Canada, at over $5.5 000 000 000.

and they want credibility?

they love Alberta's money, but tell us we're greedy capitalists (as if the markets are evil, and human nature changes from culture to culture... naivete).

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-28 2:28:17 PM

Hello Shel,

I've noted your opinion on my previous comments on oil royalties questions and I thank you for sharing it with me.
I will always appreciate different opinions since I believe in true democracy. Good thing you're able to make one that is filled with your personal wisdom and knowledge..regardless of what it worth.

Now teach that to your new pal, obc who, outside posting propaganda written elsewhere, he's unable to participate positivly (or any other ways) in things called blogs. someone who refuse to say is opinion dosent earn my respect.


For your concerns about Quebec:
I'm not a man of great wisdom and knowledge but I deeply believe that Quebec is a Country stocked in another country.
This, as been confirmed by anyone who ever lived in Québec - especialy provencial parties including Mario Dumont himself and Jean Charest himself. There's no questions about this and that's why we have a different chair than you on international tables. Having this proves not only that we're solid enough for having our own country but it also proves that the "bouillant" part of our culture you believe worth not much is in fact very appreciated and important outside the ROC. Im very moved by the success of this place called a province considering it's history and specificities. I'm not talking of the economic matters but the ideas and the talent of the people living their who've contributed to it's economic success. We're not better than anyone, but I enjoy our history and result better. Just like you prefer your local hockey team with all their problems and standing.
You have a problem with that ?
Look into yourself and not others for complexes.

The money made on the back of Quebecers have been used for developping the west long before you've got blind by oil. Do you see me using this to built some rants ? No. Why ? Must be my education.

Since I firmly believe in true democracy, I'm not having a problem and respect the fact that we're not already a country. I dissaprove when outsiders like the federal is playing on numbers after a referendum or injecting massive cash on interfering democracy but other than that, I beleive others have the right to express themselves as they wish. I vote PQ and BQ all the time and discuss my ideas with anyone who ask for it. I cannot do more than that regarding my political ideals and respect other opinions with it's based on honest motives.

Half of Quebecers wish to separate itself from the ROC, regarless of your analysis on our last elections and it's a daily discussed thing in the present local debate. Everyone discuss one thing: preserving our cultural basis the way we have built it (En Canadiens Francais and not la fucked up "Canadian Democracy" imposed on you and me) while keeping to progress as a "world turned" Society. The economic concerns come second in our priorities - regardless how fool this is.

Have no concerns for your provencial policies and love many Canadians outside Quebec but I believe we're stronger when we speak provinces to provinces (hopefully coontries to countries) than having to deal with this federal nonsense.

That's just an opinion and it's mine - regardless of what it worth.


What is the worst for you ? That I'm very confident of what we can acheive as a country or simply the slow speed democratie operates.
Like you said: "never mind".

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-28 3:30:00 PM

"they can succeed, and they prefer not to"

You know guys, there's also a saying in Quebec...
It goes somethin like this: "Unwise is the man who shit everywhere inside his own house".

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-28 3:33:22 PM


i have to admit, i've been moved.

please excuse my rhetoric. it's hard not to be reactive and sarcastic when i hear glib comments from others regarding my part of the world. is it testosterone? i don't know. but if we can debate with facts, i think we can learn from each other.

i have to go now, but i'll get back to your post later.

there is, finally, one thing you and i can agree on: f:)ck the Feds. decentralise. devolve the powers we used to have as individual provinces, and give them back to provincial jurisdiction.

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-28 3:47:19 PM

"devolve the powers we used to have as individual provinces"

"there is, finally, one thing you and i can agree on"

Well maybe not but I'll be here.


"Unwise is the man who shit everywhere inside his own house"

I was in fact reffering to how developing our respectable environment and not the part that we didnt already succeed - sorry - my mistake.


"they can succeed, and they prefer not to"
Guess I've already answer this in my interminable posts.

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-28 3:55:41 PM


sorry. i meant: "devolve the power from the Feds, and give them back to the provinces".

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-28 4:01:31 PM

You speak in Provinces,
I speak in Countries,
But hey, it's not like we're not used to express ourselves differently ;-

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-28 4:03:54 PM

Pepsi hunt is open - c'mon guys - hit me hard.

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-28 4:08:55 PM

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