Calgary’s success as an oil giant was not always well received by the East. Think about how regional differences often compete with national interests. The passage below describes the battle between Calgary and the federal government over control of oil and gas revenues.
Higher energy prices meant higher revenues in Alberta but higher costs in the big Eastern manufacturing provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The debate got ugly. As Stenson describes it, bumper stickers started appearing in Calgary that read: “Let the Eastern Bastards freeze in the dark”. . . while the Eastern dominated national press characterized Calgarians as “. . . rednecks who flew around in their own jets, who wore 10-gallon hats and cowboy boots made of endangered animals.” 1
Finally, in the fall of 1980, the Government of Canada . . . passed the infamous National Energy Policy (NEP) legislation which in effect gave the federal government what had previously been the bulk of Alberta's oil and gas revenues. The Alberta Government's response was to dramatically slash oil and gas production. Both events were a body blow to Calgary's economy and precipitated a sudden and dramatic “bust” which just happened to coincide with poor energy markets and very high interest rates in the early 1980s. . . . [B]y 1986 the price of oil had collapsed to $8 a barrel and thousands of jobs continued to be lost in Calgary. The decade of the '80s took a heavy toll in Calgary. People lost everything and suicides, divorces and bankruptcies were a matter of course. Thousands of houses were left empty as people who had lost their jobs and their investments walked away from their mortgages and left town – the ultimate in participant observation.
1 Stenson, Fred. The Story of Calgary. Saskatoon, SK: Fifth House Ltd. 1994. 48-49.
Source: Tyler, Dr. Mary-Ellen. “‘ Nice City: Wonder What It Will Look Like When It’s Finished:’ A Case Study of Calgary, Alberta – Past, Present and Future.” The University of Calgary. March 1, 2004.
1. What led to Calgary’s ‘bust’ in the 1980’s?
2. According to the passage, why were Canadians living in the East resentful of Calgarians?
3. Why do you think the Alberta Government responded the way it did to the NEP?