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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Back to the future on energy and the constitution

There’s a Trudeau in the prime minister’s office. National energy policy is hurting Alberta’s economy. Quebec is making constitutional demands. Sound familiar? It feels like the 1980s all over again, only this time Alberta has an NDP government that is complicit with Ottawa, leaving the province almost defenceless. Jason Kenney is channelling Peter Lougheed and trying to rally Albertans for another epic battle with the feds, but Lougheed had an arsenal of supports that don’t exist today. If the province doesn’t get ready, writes George Koch, it’s going to get run over.

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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

Despite all its booms and busts, for most of its history Alberta has outperformed the rest of Canada in investment, business creation, economic growth, employment, population gain, and most other measures of prosperity. Today, nearly three years after the last energy price downturn, and two-and-a-half years into the carbon-phobic mandates of an NDP provincial government in Edmonton and a Liberal regime in Ottawa, Alberta is enduring a crippling divestment of capital, jobs and wealth, and waning confidence that it will ever recover from the current bust. George Koch tours the ruins, searching for his province’s salvation.

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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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