NDP adventures in Westpolitik

Why does Paul Dewar want Alberta and Saskatchewan to stop doing what’s making them rich?


ULaval economist Stephen Gordon cracked me up on Twitter yesterday afternoon with his reaction to NDP candidate Paul Dewar’s “Western strategy”. In a CP interview, Dewar proposed “investing in strategic industries and developing ways to help Alberta and Saskatchewan make the transition from natural-resource based economies.” In a series of tweets, a baffled Gordon asked

Why does Paul Dewar want Alberta and Saskatchewan to transition away from resources? That’s where the jobs and money are!… Another victim of the Manufacturing Obsession. …I think Dewar has stumbled across why [the] NDP is weak in [the] West. “Vote NDP! We’ll make you stop doing the things that are making you rich!”

Brian Topp has also said that the NDP needs a “Western strategy”; he flew out to B.C. to announce one last month, but ended up making no discernible mention of it, instead becoming embroiled in controversy over his (and Thomas Mulcair’s) explicit advocacy of overrepresentation in the House of Commons for Quebec. Could “relatively less voting power for B.C. and Alberta” be part of a “Western strategy” along with insisting that we leave our hydrocarbons and minerals in the ground, not to mention whipping the hide off of gun-control opponents? Is all this “strategy” predicated on some perception of Western masochism, or is it just comic-book-style “reverse psychology”?

A natural place to look for the rudiments of an NDP approach to the West might be in the party’s single Alberta outpost—the riding of Edmonton-Strathcona, currently manned by MP Linda Duncan. Masochism actually seems to work for Duncan: having been returned to the House of Commons by Alberta voters, she displays what looks a bit like contempt for them.

Linda Duncan, NDP MP for Edmonton-Strathcona, said she supported the spirit of the [electoral rebalancing] bill, but questioned what Albertans would gain from their new representatives. “What difference will it make?” she asked, making reference to a lack of federal funding for projects such as the Royal Alberta Museum, announced Wednesday. “Are we going to get six more Conservatives that don’t stand up for Edmonton?”

As Jack Layton’s environment critic, Duncan also upheld the “Stop doing the things that are making you rich” pillar of the grand Western strategy, calling for a moratorium on new tarsands development and for much heavier federal intervention in the sector. She did this because she thinks tarsands exploitation does more harm than good, which is at least coherent. Dewar apparently has some economic objection, with West Texas Intermediate around $90 in spot and futures markets, to the extraction and sale of oil (and presumably gas and uranium and potash and diamonds and coal).

I don’t know what he expects Albertans and Saskatchewanians to end up doing instead—baking artisanal bread? Writing folk songs?—but it should be noted that it’s the rest of the country that would be required to foot the bill for this “transition”. Either that, or we’re gonna need to recruit a few more “have” provinces somehow.

[UPDATE: A Dewar spokesman phoned this afternoon, hoping to clarify the wire story mentioned supra. What Mr. Dewar was driving at, Kiavash Najafi tells me, was “diversification” and the capture of “value-added” jobs “in partnership with the industries on the ground” as opposed to limitations on the output of raw-resource businesses. “We’ve heard from Westerners that they’re frustrated about sending B.C. logs to China, sending raw Alberta bitumen to the United States for processing.”

I’m sure Najafi is right about this: he is describing the philosophy by which Alberta was actually governed throughout the 1970s and ’80s. I’m also sure this is unlikely to placate Gordon, who gnashes his teeth routinely over this very philosophy. But Dewar, for those who are keeping score, is eager to set himself apart from candidates who would suppress resource extraction for its own sake.]


NDP adventures in Westpolitik

  1. I don’t vote NDP, but that is the crux of their arguments against the Oil projects in the Tar sands.  They do more harm than good.  The oil has directly inflated the Canadian dollar which has hurt other export industries, the CO2 pollution is intense (per unit of production), and the physical pollution of lakes, rivers and ‘tailings’ ponds is frightening. But most tellingly there is a vibe that eminates from Alberta that declares the economic (and by extension moral) superiority of that province over those of the ‘East’ that is claimed as being because of the conservative virtues of its people.  Rather than the reality that it was an accident of geography that put oil in “them there hills”.
    The NDP notions of Western strategy may not win any more seats in Alberta, but maybe that’s the point.

    • Sorry, Ebsenism has already been ruled out of bounds. http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/01/29/to-hell-with-buddy-ebsen/

      • Ebsenism out of bounds?  On the grounds that other industries are pollution centers as well, fair enough.  I for one never want to see Sydney Steel and its Tar Ponds reopened just for the sake of the manufacturing jobs represented. 
        What I was getting at though is that even if the Western strategy doesn’t make sense for recruiting NDP voters in Alberta and Saskatchewan, doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense in other, seat rich areas of the country. The much lauded economic “Alberta Advantage” largely stems from natural resources that geology placed under the  province, not some work-ethic/political-model superiority of the Alberta body politic.  And, if the perception is that this geological advantage is ‘dirty’ (and the perception is there, even while we may argue about the relative ‘dirt’ per employment unit) then it is just that much easier to sell to voters elsewhere.  Resentment and economic uncertainty are a powerful combination, and oil & gas, coal and uranium industries make good candidates as scapegoats.
        BTW – Ebsenism is a very cute shorthand :)

        • Ebsenism is out of bounds on the grounds that (a) the presence of oil was necessary but not sufficient to the development of an oil industry in Alberta; (b) policy had an awful lot to do with it; (c) this is especially obvious with regard to the vast majority of the business that doesn’t directly involve drilling a hole in the ground; (d) it’s even more obvious with regard to synthetic oil from tarsands, which essentially had to be invented and commercialized, and cannot reasonably be distinguished in “naturalness” from any pharmaceutical product on your drugstore shelf. And, (e), it’s not clear that the fortuitous nature of the oil being here makes any difference, morally or with regard to policy.

          • This is tremendously incoherent.

          • Sure. I may be making it harder than necessary to understand why it’s absurd to say “God put the oil there” and then dismiss the issue of how it gets out.

        • Mike;

          Sask has probably more resources than Alberta.  In 1939 both provinces had about 1 million population and both provinces were reliant mostly on agriculture for their economic well being.  Sask kept electing NDP and their prequel party and they were able to keep their reliance on agriculture and their population stayed at 1 million.  Alberta opted for Social Credit and Conservative governments and they developed many of their resources.  Alberta now has a much more diverse economy and 3.7 million people.  My point is that with the same type of resource base one province trived and the other stagnated.  Sure resources were necessary for Alberta to succeed but not sufficient.

          The Sask No Development Please (NDP) got turfed a few years ago and it looks like they’ll be out for at least another term.  Good news for Saskatchewan and a lesson to the rest of Canada as to why they should keep that party in perpetual opposition.

          • Wow and a dozen or more years of federal govt support and subsidy of Alberta BEORE the first oil boom didn’t help at all did it?

        • “The much lauded economic ‘Alberta Advantage’ largely stems from natural resources that geology placed under the province, not some work-ethic/political-model superiority of the Alberta body politic.”
          Unlike Quebecois hydro or Ontarian proximity to US markets, created of course by the wit and will of Easterners instead of being doled out by God / the Natural Resource Fairy?  That’s pure Ebsenism; score another one for Colby.

    • Sorry Michael, but the same “accident of geography” put southern Ontario right next to the massive U.S. population centres and the Great Lakes. For that matter, the same “accident of geography” put the ocean conveniently alongside Halifax.

      Saskatchewan has tarsands, conventional oil, and more natural gas than Alberta has. Yet until the NDP were out of office, nobody seemed remotely interested in developing it. This changed due to a “vibe of economic and moral superiority”, where Brad Wall and company finally figured out that ruefully staring across the 110th wondering when their magical oil fairy would come was not the strategy to benefit their province.

  2. I would be nice if politicians here were capable of policy proposals (hell, even if they could spitball some) that were more nationally applicable rather than those that are clearly considered from a regionally-derived frame of reference. Nearly all of them do it and all it really serves to do is maintain and strengthen the regional divisions that we already find ourselves in.

    Sure, yes, as an Ontarian, I would love the province to return to the successes that it once had, but I’d also like them not to come at the expense of other provinces abilities to do so either. To add some granularity, as a Northern Ontarian, I can understand how being informed that your prime source of income (resource extraction that disrupts the environment) is dirty an awful and that you have to stop is more than a little rankling. It becomes weary when you’ve legions of people who don’t come from the same economic situations peddling the *one true way* when you know that your own region would be done for on conversion. If it’s a regional irritant for Northern Ontario, then the chorus being heard in Alberta is clearly deafening.

    Of course, it does not mean that the claims are entirely incorrect. It just means that neither side is likely to offer up anything of mutual benefit as neither side is really listening to the other. Again, the dug-in intellectual positions, straight from the regional source.

  3. I think all NDP types are masochists, amongst other things, because Canada does not have a tradition of electing left wing loons federally. NDP types are very self centred, think it is all about them and their desires, and don’t really care about welfare of any one else. 

    Do NDP types have answer for where money will come from if we destroy oil sands? Canada doesn’t produce enough as it is, we don’t need to produce even less. NDP types want us all standing around with our thumbs in bums not doing anything except for thinking about how it sucks to be poor. 

    Virginia Postrel ~ One Best Way:

    The characteristic values of reactionaries are continuity, rootedness, and geographically defined community. They are generally anticosmopolitan, antitechnology, anticommercial, antispecialization, and antimobility. They draw on a powerful romantic tradition that gives their politics a poetic, emotional appeal, especially to people with literary sensibilities. With some exceptions, they oppose not only the future but the present and the recent past, the industrial as well as the postindustrial era. 

    The reactionary vision is one of peasant virtues, of the imagined harmonies and, above all, the imagined predictability of traditional life. It idealizes life without movement: In the reactionary ideal, people know and keep their places, geographically as well as socially, and tradition is undisturbed by ambition or invention. “The central concept of wisdom is permanence,” wrote E. F. Schumacher, the environmentalist guru, in Small Is Beautiful.

    Although they represent a minority position, reactionary ideas have tremendous cultural vitality. Reactionaries speak directly to the most salient aspects of contemporary life: technological change, commercial fluidity, biological transformation, changing social roles, cultural mixing, international trade, and instant communication. They see these changes as critically important, and, as the old National Review motto had it, they are determined to “stand athwart history, yelling, ‘Stop!'” Merely by acknowledging the dynamism of contemporary life, reactionaries win points for insight. And in the eyes of more conventional thinkers, denouncing change makes them seem wise.

    By personal history or political background, many reactionaries are classified as leftists. Whether cultural critics or environmentalists, however, that label fits them awkwardly. Their tradition-bound views of the good life make them true conservatives.

  4. Well now we know why some economists never saw the ‘Great Recession’ coming. Sigh.

  5. It is dirty, turning lakes, LAKES! into tailing ponds is an outrageous disgrace which will come to haunt us all in years to come.  It is also a needed resource, a money-making and job-creating industry and it DOES pay for a great deal.

    I’m not from Alberta; only even visited once, and so I know I’m sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong.  But I am worried that when the oil is gone so too will be the jobs and the beautiful landscape and the health of the ecosystem, and that absolutely nobody appears (from here, to be sure) to be planning for even economic sustainability over the long-term, never mind environmental sustainability.

    • uh…Jenn:  The oil in the oil sands will be there long after you and your children and your children’s children have lived their lives and passed on  2nd largest reserves in the world (possibly largest).  So this “worried when the oil is gone” stuff is silly hysteria at best.  Oh, and they are not turning lakes into tailing ponds.  Try reading some facts once in a while before you blather on.

      • Good to hear!  I had understood the oilsands had about eighty years in them, but of course you are right that new reserves and extraction techniques could have increased that level.  But I did read some facts, or so I thought.  Such as this, “It’s just in the last decade that Ottawa changed the law to allow companies to dump mine waste into lakes. Four years ago, the Harper government approved destruction of two Newfoundland lakes, setting a dangerous precedent. Since then, mining corporations have applied to use 11 lakes as toxic dump sites.Fish Lake and the other lakes across the country facing destruction raise fundamental questions about what we value as a society and what our laws should protect:
        • Why do our laws even allow fish-bearing lakes to be converted into waste dumps for toxic tailings?” http://rabble.ca/news/2010/08/fish-lake-bc-test-canadian-environmental-law

        I heard “tailings ponds” and thought of the oilsands, but it turns out it was other mines where lakes are already close by.  I read it awhile ago.

        • 2Jenn, an unsolicited tip:  if you’re going to cite a source that seems halfway credible, objective and non-partisan, rabble.ca ain’t the best choice.

          • Certainly ain’t up to the standards of the Bay St. Globe.

          • The Globe is far from perfect, but at least it publishes dissenting voices.  For example, Jim Stanford from the Canadian Auto Workers Union is given a consistent and prominent platform on the Globe’s op-ed pages.  Rabble.ca provides no such dissenting platform for right-wing views, now, does it?  Rabble.ca is a partisan one-note symphony consisting of nothing but left-wing views.  If you don’t understand the difference, then I really wonder about you.

          • And it did give me pause.  It was just the first I came across on my google search.  I do know I read something about lakes into tailings ponds probably about four years ago, although as far as I know I only heard of rabble.ca about a year ago so I doubt it was there.  But as my google search did highlight, the lakes into tailings ponds was not necessarily in reference to the oilsands, which in the end was the point I was admitting to not being right on, so I figured it was good enough.  I mean, unless you don’t trust rabble.ca to NOT say it was oilsands if it was.

        • 2010-11-02  BREAKING NEWS! Environment Minister Jim Prentice just announced that cabinet rejected Taseko Mines Prosperity Project because of its adverse environmental impact and the damage it would cause to Fish Lake and its connecting streams.

          • Further breaking news – the govt is now reconsidering after the mine developers tweaked their plans, and after the BC libs applied some pressure. FN’s in the area say nothing has changed and they are still not onside.

          • Taseko changed their mine plan in an effort to address the objections that were set out in the original decision rejecting Taseko’s original mine plan (the one that would have used the lake as a tailings pond).  The new mine plan does not use that lake as a tailings pond.  So what’s being done — a new application and mine plan by Taseko — is perfectly permissible under the law and the environmental assessment process.  There’s certainly no guarantee that this new mine plan will be determined to be acceptable.

          • http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/natives-renew-their-fight-as-ottawa-weighs-revised-plan-for-bc-gold-mine/article2206680/

            The company prez has already admited the lake will die anyway – it’ll just take ten years longer. And no, apparently no federal EA process of this kind has ever been batted bck into court like this before.


          • The fact that it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it’s not permissible under the law.  Do you not grasp that distinction?

            I don’t dispute your point about the lake.  As I understand it, the lake that was slated to be turned into a tailings pond would no longer be used for that.  As to whether that or some other lake will die anyway, I defer to the experts on that.

            My original point was simply that the company, as any proponent of a project subject to our statutory environmental assessment process, has the ability to submit a new mine plan.  Why shouldn’t that be permitted?   Are you saying it shouldn’t be permitted?

            It seems to me that with all the jobs and other economic benefits on the one side of the ledger, if you can re-design a mine plan to acceptably mitigate or reduce potentially adverse environmental effects, shouldn’t that be allowed?  Isn’t that what we want?  To achieve an acceptable balance between economic benefits and any adverse environmental impacts?  Or is your position that no mining projects with any adverse enviromental impacts should be allowed at all?  Because if that’s your position, then you’re in fact opposed to all mining, period.  Because virtually all mining has adverse environmental impacts.

          • I merely point out as the article states[ assuming it is correct] that this has not happened before. I’d  appreciate the distinction more if i understood why this is the first time this has happened – lets remember liberal govts haven’t exactly always had a stirling environmental record either, Politics being what it is i smell something rotten here.
            I’m not opposed to mining per se. The question is can you trust the parties involved to craft a fine balance? The publically available evidence, such as it is, might not lead one to that conclusion. This appears to be a federal govt that values economic activity over such abstract concepts of biodiversity or a relatively minor bands cultural requirements.[ as indeed does the provincial libs] I’d need to know a lot more about the area to have a unequivocal opinion. I make no bones about the fact my principle concern is the environment[ there is a locally important grizzly pop to consider too] I’ve seen far too much needless destruction, in particular to pristine or undisturbed wilderness areas, in my time. Let’s at lest give an open and fair hearing to all the various values that are on the table, and not start tilting the table toward the the guy with the deepest pockets. The relevant agency has already said no; this smells like a backdoor attempt to reverse that decision, The consequences of this sort of meddling[ if that’s the case] will be a further undermining of public confidence in the fairness of our public institutions.

          • My sense of this situation (and I’ve been following it partly because I work in a related field) is that the new mine plan will be subject to the full environmental assessment process (as the original mine plan was).  If that’s the case, then believe me, that’s a rigorous process, it’s not some “back door” process.

            And bear in mind, because of jurisdictional overlap, there are two separate environmental reviews that occur, a provincial one and a federal one (and industry has rightly, in my view, expressed objections to this, ie., why can’t it be a single review, however rigorous).  In the first instance, it was the provincial process that gave the mine a green light, and it was the feds — the Harper government — that gave it the red light and nixed the project with the original mine plan.

            It seems to me if there’s a level of government you should be suspicious of if you’re a staunch environmentalist, it’s the BC provincial Liberal government, not the Harper Gang.  The BC Liberal government have clearly been pushing this project WAY harder than the feds have.  A cursory search of the news will tell you that.

          • Living on the west coast for a decade or so taught me to to be wary of any provincial govt, particuarly the liberals. That doesn’t however comfort me much as regards the Harper govt. The big battle to come is likely to be over the oil pipeline, which IMO if it must go through, should be routed through PR or Vancouver. This one may get really ugly. I’ve lived on the central coast and they definitely don’t want it to go through.

  6. I don’t read Duncan’s comments as contempt for Edmontonian voters, but rather as contempt for the FPTP system that skews results of our votes and allows the party in power to take us for granted, because they can win via their base and put in minimal effort on behalf of our city.

    • Should somebody who has won her seat twice because the Liberals strategically ran a dead cat and a fire hydrant in her riding really be complaining about that sort of thing?

      • But that the quality of Liberal candidate in Edmonton Strathcona reached dead cat/hydrant levels.  Mind you, as the party who got MPs elected who’d essentially never visited their ridings, it’s unsurprising the Dippers pay little heed when how Duncan gets elected is explained to them.

      • So, just out of curiosity, was Claudette Roy in 2008 a fire hydrant or a dead cat? I vehemently opposed many of her more socially conservative views, but it’s hardly fair to say she wasn’t a capable candidate.

        • She essentially hid in her house with the curtains drawn while the “Liberals For Linda” knocked doors and raised money for her opponent. Pick your own metaphor. They threw the riding.

          • That’s a shifting goal post. Yes, Liberal volunteers burnt out as volunteers tend to do when experiencing diminishing returns, but she wasn’t a paper candidate.

            It fair to say that Edmonton’s representation would look remarkably different under a proportional system, and certainly would be more active.

        • Then there’s the young fellow carrying their torch last time round, who prioritized his first year college exams over travelling a few km to the riding from the one he actually lived in to actually campaign.

  7. Oh yeah .. that Stephen Gordon .. he’s such a card ..

    • Gordon certainly spends a lot of time on twitter. 

  8. Too bad are != will be. Or that transitioning an economy isn’t instant. He’d have a decent point then.

    But that’s okay. I’m sure when China is finished buying it out at the fire-sale prices we’re offering, they’ll be more than happy to continue supporting us for nothing.

    • When exactly do you expect the “Sorry, we don’t need oil anymore” memo to arrive from China, Kreskin?

      • Did I say they’d stop buying? Learn to read

        • Just a suggestion—If you don`t want people to think you have said that China will stop buying, then you probably should not include the phrase ” when China in finished buying ”  in your first comment.

          • Except the phrase was “when China is finished buying it out”

            Which of those last two syllables was the hard one for you?

          • Oh yeah, that really explains your position.
            Stop digging. Put the shovel away.

  9. ULaval economist Stephen Gordon cracked me up on Twitter yesterday afternoon with his reaction to NDP candidate Paul Dewar’s “Western strategy”.

    Isn’t it ironic that the province where Gordon tweets and blogs from was where the NDP had its biggest breakthrough in the last Fed election?

    Seems like here (at Macleans)  he’s preaching to the converted.

    Btw, I asked him this question a couple of years ago when he was on his “We are all Albertans” kick.

    Q: Do economists have the equivalent of the Portfolio Theory in finance – ie don’t put all your eggs in one (tulip) basket [or in one bitumen pipeline]?

    A: Yes, but the best way to diversify is to trade for what you don’t make, not to try to make everything yourself.


    I hardly think the NDP is advocating trying to “make everything yourself.”

    • He was probably talking about a different variant of the Manufacturing Obsession—insisting that bitumen processing and other “value-added industries” be heavily subsidized in Alberta (or Canada) for the sake of “jobs”. In general, Gordon is antagonized to the point of apoplexy by almost any policy urged in the name of job creation as such.

      • He also blogs and tweets with great disdain for NDP anything. And speaks in absolutes when it comes to policy.

        insisting that bitumen processing and other “value-added industries” be heavily subsidized in Alberta (or Canada) for the sake of “jobs”

        It’s basically labour costs that determine where the processing or “value added industries” locate. When out of control oilsands development sucks up all the available skilled labour, and results in local inflation, naturally these industries will locate elsewhere. Temper this development and you might see diversification.

        As an aside, lots of steel now being sourced out of Korea for Alberta. I bet the high C$ has a lot to do with this. 

  10. I’ll give the NDP credit for at least this much:  at least they have, or purport to have, a Western Strategy.  Unlike the Liberals.

    • The liberals have an AB strategy at least; i believe she’s premier right now. At least you might think so judging by all the grinding of teeth emanating out of the southern half of the province.

      • Yup. And currently assigned to the ranks of the Disappeared.

    • Oh, another believer in Peak Oil, the left’s answer to Young Earth Creationism.

  11. Glad to know at least one Edmonton Lib liked her – most of them were too busy attending the “Liberals for Linda” functions to give her any support or vote for her.  As for the young chap who carried the Lib torch last go round, I do hope his first year college exams went well, since they were the excuse he offered up as to why he couldn’t be bothered to travel to Edm Strathcona from the riding he actually lived in to participate in the campaign.

    • Yes, that pretty much encapsulates the current Liberal Party of Canada “Western Strategy”.  Doing everything they can not to win a seat. 

  12. “Vote NDP! We’ll make you stop doing the things that are making you rich!”

    It’s just a variant on the sincerest form of flattery for PET’s wildly successful and still revered Western strategy: “Vote Liberal! We’ll make sure the things that are making you rich make us rich instead!”

  13. The call by the NDP for a moratorium on oil sands development is hardly a radical one, when you consider that former PC Premier Peter Lougheed called for the same thing.  It was also hardly radical for Linda Duncan to call for the enforcement of existing federal environmental regulations; you’d think the party of law and order and not being soft on criminals would have been all over that.  But I suppose that when the law-breakers are your supporters the rules are different.

    Why not give the technology time to clean up its act?  The oil in the sands is just going to increase in value.  Or is there a rush to exploit it before nuclear fusion becomes a reality?

    • That’s a possibility. But doesn’t the Green dream future amount to the same thing?—if there’s a world of cheap, scalable alternative energy on the way, shouldn’t Canada take as much market share as it can while fossil fuels still have a market? (And if you’re certain the “oil in the sands is just going to increase in value,” are you personally using this information to outsmart the futures markets?)

    • “The oil in the sands is just going to increase in value.”

      That’s what they used to say about the housing market.

      There are a lot of new oil sources coming online in the future in the
      americas.  So this future increase in supply suggests a decrease in value.  But
      overall, nobody really knows the direction of oil prices.

  14. Investors in oil sands and their workers are heroes that raise the standard of living for themselves and the rest of the world.  Loopy NDPers (aka commies) would have Alberta and Sask. implode like the Soviet Union, their model command economy. 

  15. In yesterday’s debate, Bruce Hyer from Thunder Bay said “what I am really interested in, and we should all be really interested in, is proportional representation by party, whereas if the purple party gets 20% of the vote across Canada, the purple party should get 20% of the seats. Is the real issue a need to add more politicians to the House of Commons? That is a lot like adding deck chairs to the Titanic.”

    So if Edmonton had 11 MPs already rather than eight, great, but they should have been seven Conservatives, three New Democrats, and one Liberal, to fairly reflect Edmonton’s political diversity on the votes cast May 2. (A few more votes and the Greens would have deserved one too.) That would probably have been six Conservative local MPs, one NDP local MP, and four city-wide “top-up” MPs: two NDP, one Liberal, one Conservative. That could have been the four runner-up candidates who got the most votes, like Mary MacDonald (Lib), Ray Martin and Lewis Cardinal (NDP), and Ryan Hastman (Con).

  16. Can we please stop using “Peter Lougheed agrees” as a benchmark for not-in-far-left-field arguments? Peter Lougheed makes no other kind these days.