Alberta and Saskatchewan are reeling from the estimated 100,000 lost jobs and the billions in earning, since the precipitous drop in the oil markets. The response was quick and bitter, evoking similar responses to the National Energy Policy of Pierre Trudeau in the 1980s ( which would set oil prices in Canada lower than world market prices, and which came at a time of depressed prices in the world markets).
The West have always felt that central Canada were benefitting from their resources; that manufacturing especially in Ontario was given preferential treatment by succeeding governments for political reasons ( which was reinforced when Brian Mulroney gave the CF- 18 contract to Quebec and not Winnipeg, even though experts, including the government's, said that Winnipeg was better equipped); that the West was central "milking cow".
The west felt left out ( there were 183 MPs from Ontario and Quebec and only 79 from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, and the West felt, largely justifiably, that their interests were secondary) and the shout went out that the "West want in".
The alienation of the West led to the formation of the Reform Party, under Preston Manning, and they would go on to win most of the seats to parliament from Alberta and many more from Manitoba, Sask. and BC, punishing the Liberal Party, which is still to recover from those losses. This would also herald the end on the Progressive Conservative Party when, after 9 years of Mulroney ( and the perception that he, even though they voted for him twice, 1984, 1988, he continued to favor central Canada, especially Quebec), the Party was reduced to 3 seats in the 1993 election ( that saw the return of the "despised" Liberals, to power), and the absorption of the PCs into the Reform/Canadian Alliance Party, under Stephen Harper ( one of their own, from Calgary, who had made a deal with the leader of the weakened PC, Peter McKay). The next 9 years saw the West flourish with a friendly government in Ottawa and rising oil prices. But then a huge slump in the price of oil and the ensuing economic malaise.
Oil has to transported to markets. It can be done by rail, by sea and/or by pipeline. The proposed extension ( the pipeline is already bringing gas to Quebec, so only the extension to New Brunswick has to be built), is what is causing the uproar, and which Alberta and Saskatchewan feel would be a needed boost for their economy and employment. Many agree and so do I, that the pipeline is far safer than rail and sea. Any further concerns about its efficacy can be addressed and TransCanada has shown a willingness to make changes to deal with those concerns.
Coderre's opposition has created a firestorm with the premier of Alberta and Sask. and the leader of the Wild Rose party and the mayor of Calgary all condemning him, calling his position "short sighted", " fear mongering and shaking your fists" , "threat to national unity" " return back their share of the $10 billion equalisation payment", getting downright personal and emotional.
PM Justin Trudeau, has a serious problem to deal with. How will he deal with it? Can he put out this potential threat to national unity ( and it is a real threat, given past history and real and imagined wrongs and neglects, felt out West)? The National Energy Board will meet and advise the government, but the final decision is with Trudeau. The first and very trying problem for this untested government.