A curious thing happened last week when it was reported that the convoy of truckers from Alberta (along with a few anti-immigrant xenophobes) skirted Winnipeg on its way to protest our supposedly anti-oil prime minister. This protest is doubly ironic, given that pipelines are indirect competition to trucks for moving oil, and that Trudeau bought the Trans Mountain pipeline in order to save that particular project, but I digress.
What’s interesting regarding this slight of the Keystone province is, by ignoring Winnipeg and viewing Manitoba as essentially an ally in its crusade to oppose all things Trudeau, it has ignored a potential future adversary in energy politics.
Manitoba is blessed with hydroelectric energy as Alberta is blessed with petroleum. The foresight of our ancestors to harness this energy has helped to make our rates among the cheapest in North America, while also supplying us with a surplus to sell to our neighbours.
In another sector, mining and exploration companies (including from Alberta) are prospecting various sites throughout Manitoba searching to mine lithium. Lithium is a major component of rechargeable batteries to power electric vehicles. This means that two of the main components for the production of electric cars are in ample supply in Manitoba, much like the oil reserves in Alberta are necessary to the internal combustion engine.
With the imminent introduction of a carbon levy in Canada and most major car companies looking to launch electric vehicles in the next two years (Ford just announced that all F-series trucks will have an all-electric option), we may soon be witnessing a rivalry between the Alberta energy sector and the one in Manitoba.
This creates an interesting dilemma for those folks who reside in Manitoba and who proudly pronounce that they "stand with Alberta oil workers." Will they continue to support the oil industry if Manitoba’s competing industry takes off? How about when it costs about $0.80 to charge your Ford truck? Perhaps the truckers’ fight is not with our prime minister after all.