Alberta UCP MLA Drew Barnes says Albertans will demand an independence referendum if the federal government gives the thumbs down to the giant Teck mine project.
The Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA – also a member of the province’s Fair Deal Panel – told the Western Standard on Friday afternoon that rejection of the mine would leave the province with no options for a “fair deal” if Ottawa kills the project, and that Alberta needs to build “leverage.”
Barnes pointed out that Alberta had lost another 18,000 jobs in January and said the economy is “moribund.”
“As a longtime Albertan & member of the Fair Deal panel it is clear that federal interference in approving Teck’s Frontier application will drastically heighten Albertan’s desire to hold a referendum on independence,” Barnes said in a statement issued by his office.
“During my three terms representing Cypress-Medicine Hat it is clear Albertans want and deserve opportunity, self-determination. Alberta should be the freest and richest place in North America. In fact, federal governance interference has done more to hold Albertans back than anything, ever before.”
“I ask Premier Kenney & the UCP government to turn down any comparative scrap of compensation offered to Albertans to negate Albertan’s opportunity to fully develop our best in the world oil and gas industry. Let us continue to work towards Alberta being the place with the most opportunity & best place to live and raise a family.”
He said federal rejection of the mine would “be a sign there is no Fair Deal to be had,” and that he expected to have some support in caucus for his position.
Barnes also said any aid package offered by the feds should be turned down.
“Ottawa needs to stop reaching into Alberta business. People may not realize the depth of despair Alberta is in but it’s a politician’s job to make sure all regions in the country are looked after.”
He said hundreds of people at Fair Deal hearing across the province have expressed frustration with Ottawa and wanted to have an independence vote, and that rejection of the mine would ramp up those calls.
Reports of an aid package for the beleaguered province appear to confirm that the federal government is seriously considering nixing the mega project, which Teck says will create 7,000 jobs and significantly add to the provinces GDP.
In place of allowing the private investment project to go ahead, federal sources say that direct government spending on infrastructure projects and well cleanup is in the mix.
EarlierThursday, Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs tweeted, “A political rejection of this project by the Liberal cabinet will be perceived by most Albertans as a final rejection of Alberta by Canada.”
Teck itself issued a statement this week saying it also hoped it would become a net-zero emitter by 2050.
Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
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