Author: George Koch

Standing Rock of the North

If you live in Burnaby, B.C., or are planning a visit in the next few months, consider taking some time to visit “Camp Cloud”, the ramshackle village created to protest the Trans-Mountain pipeline. Best to go soon, before it mutates into something like the massive, filthy, dangerous protest favella that grew up around a North Dakota pipeline project in 2016. U.S. President Donald Trump ended the “Standing Rock Resistance” with bulldozers and the National Guard soon after he took office in 2017. There are many similarities between the Dakota Access and Trans-Mountain pipeline stories, except we don’t yet know the ending of the latter. George Koch previews what may be in store for Burnaby with a detailed account of the anarchy that descended on Morton County, North Dakota.

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Alberta’s Groundhog Day Issue

The battle for control of Alberta’s energy resources has been going since long before the famous Leduc oil strike in 1947, predating the foundation of the province itself. Jason Kenney’s arrival as Alberta’s new premier portends more fighting with the feds. The political landscape may have changed radically since the epic battles between Peter Lougheed and Pierre Trudeau, but the underlying constitutional issues remain. As George Koch warned, storm clouds have been gathering around the heated topics of energy and wealth transfers, and Canadians are likely headed for another period of punishing East-West conflict.

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Jumbo defangs the Grizzly Bear Spirit

Oberto Oberti has been trying to build a year-round high-alpine ski resort in the Purcell Mountains of southeastern B.C. for almost 30 years. He has been obstructed every step of the way by governments, natives, environmentalists, NIMBYists, and competing ski resorts. This fall, Oberti’s Jumbo Glacier project finally caught a break, in a startling Supreme Court of Canada ruling against an aboriginal constitutional rights claim. But don’t break out the champagne powder just yet, cautions George Koch. His tale of institutionalized obstructionism shows how hard it is to build anything in Canada these days.

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The Undoing of Alberta

In the hothouse atmosphere of any election campaign, there is so much noise and mud-slinging and flat-out lying that voters can hardly remember what happened yesterday, let alone a few years earlier. So for Albertans, and anyone else tuned into this critical provincial election, it’s worth revisiting George Koch’s excellent 2017 story about the early days of the accidental NDP government and the impacts its initial moves on taxes and energy regulation had on the province. Before Premier Rachel Notley became a faux pipeline and oilsands champion, she advanced a very different agenda indeed, and the provincial economy has been reaping the bitter fruits ever since.

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Canada’s first post-Laurentian Prime Minister

Stephen Harper didn’t look or sound like a radical, but he was radically different than any of the 21 Canadian prime ministers who came before him. It wasn’t the far right radicalism his enemies accused him of – but simply his overarching western, conservative view of the functioning of the federation and the relationship between the state and the individual. His predecessors were all reliable servants of the Laurentian Thesis, the old paternalistic liberal, eastern elite consensus that prevailed until Harper. The essence of his legacy, write George Koch and Martin Grün, is that Canadians will remember their taste of liberation from the Laurentians and insist on more.

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