With Suzuki comment, Rachel Notley may as well drop NDP pretense, join Liberals, and run as a Trudeau candidate

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      It's no surprise that the University of Alberta has come under fire for planning to award an honorary degree to famed environmentalist David Suzuki.

      After all, its campuses are in what is still the most right-wing province in Canada.

      It's given birth to the political careers of Stephen Harper, Preston Manning, Jason Kenney, Ted Morton, and, good God, Rob Anders—the only parliamentarian to vote against awarding honorary Canadian citizenship to Nelson Mandela.

      Lawyer and polemicist Ezra Levant first became famous in Alberta. The Byfields ran their publishing operation from Alberta, giving a platform to Ken Whyte, the first but not the last right-wing editor of the National Post.

      And the University of Calgary has been home to several of Canada's most conservative academics, including Barry Cooper, who's been linked to the climate-change-denial movement, and Rainer Knopff, whose been slamming the Supreme Court of Canada for years.

      Alberta-based writers such as Kevin Taft and Andrew Nikiforuk have chronicled the grip that the Alberta oil industry has had on that province's political culture. 

      It's reflected in the daily newspapers. It's also demonstrated in Premier Rachel Notley's steadfast support for pipelines and expanding production of diluted bitumen.

      Today, Notley said that she disagrees with the University of Alberta's decision to give the honorary degree to Suzuki.

      It's another sign of how out of touch Alberta is sometimes with the rest of Canada, who voted Suzuki as the fifth-greatest Canadian of all time in a CBC poll.

      An NDP premier opposes giving an honorary degree to David Suzuki. Imagine that.
      David Suzuki Foundation

      Notley says she won't meddle in the university's move but the message is clear.

      The most powerful person in Alberta—who ultimately controls the provincial public purse—clearly disapproves of a publicly financed university recognizing the achievements of the greatest science educator in the country's history.

      And she calls herself a New Democrat?

      From my vantage point in B.C., it's clear that her allegiances really lie with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal cabinet.

      They both support a dishonourable National Energy Board pipeline-approval process, which didn't take upstream or downstream greenhouse gas emissions into account when giving the green light to Kinder Morgan's plan (subject to conditions).

      The NEB also didn't allow oral cross-examination of witnesses or accept a submission from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency because it missed a deadline. That's not a concern to Trudeau or Notley.

      Two other former NDP premiers have already cast their lot in with the federal Liberals: B.C.'s Ujjal Dosanjh and Ontario's Bob Rae.

      Both made this move after they lost provincial elections. And both revived their political careers in Parliament after abandoning their former party.

      Judging from the polls, it's pretty clear that Notley's NDP will likely be slaughtered in the next Alberta election, which must take place before May 31, 2019.

      The next federal election is likely to be held a few months later.

      So why doesn't she get it all over with, dispense with the formalities of leading her New Democrats into a provincial election, and just join the federal Liberals now?

      There are already nice images of Trudeau with Notley on the prime minister's office website.

      They can easily be recycled in time for the next federal campaign.