Braid: Cameron is gone, but the battle is just beginning
After all that fuss, Alberta and the oilsands probably escaped James Cameron's visit with scraped knees rather than internal injuries.
The great movie man called for more regulation of the sands. Premier Ed Stelmach, the most regulation-friendly leader Alberta has ever had, can certainly live with that.
Most crucially, Cameron did not call for shutdowns or boycotts, although he wants a moratorium on new tailings ponds. That may be inevitable anyway.
Mostly, Cameron seems to want what the government already claims to be doing. You could sense the shudder of relief pass through the legislature.
All this might seem trivial, and maybe it is. But Cameron's views matter because his reach is so vast. A couple of good movies gets you a lot of airtime on this planet.
So Stelmach was right to race home from Ottawa to meet him (although his staff still insists the premier would have been back anyway.)
After taking a vacation pass on the Medicine Hat floods in June, Ed knows the acute political pain of missing a big one.
Cameron drew necessary attention to natives, water quality and many other critical issues. But he didn't give much comfort to the radical eco-groups, even though they immediately claimed him as a brother.
On that battle front, Stelmach finally dropped the gloves this week; not here, but in Quebec.
This development, although not nearly as public as Cameron's visit, might turn out to be just as important.
In a speech in Gatineau to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Stelmach referred to "sinister" opponents who "are not debating the issues; they are waging a mean and dirty PR campaign attacking Albertans -- and they get lots of attention from a media that thrives on confrontation."
Just getting warmed up, Stelmach added: "I don't believe in giving any person or group credit or time when they slander Canada or Alberta, our national parks and protected areas."
That's surely a shot at the San Francisco gang called Corporate Ethics International, which in July called for a boycott of all Alberta tourism, while airing a wildly inaccurate video about the oilsands.
"There are a very few in this country and elsewhere who have a political agenda of their very own," Stelmach said.
"They care not about Alberta, or Albertans, or our health care or seniors, or our contributions to the economic and social well-being of Canada."
This tactical escalation was apparently fuelled by the premier's own anger at false reports about boycotts of oilsands oil.
Eco-groups said three companies were boycotting: Bed Bath & Beyond, the Gap and Levi Strauss.
All the claims were untrue. The Gap and Levi Strauss even contacted the government to say so.
Stelmach said the government "cannot use the dirty tactics of those with extreme and unreasonable positions."
But he wondered when people will wise up and stop contributing to "cause entrepreneurs" who use sneaky methods to raise money.
The crowd in Quebec was a test market for the tough new line, which Albertans will be hearing soon enough.
So James Cameron may be gone, but the battle lingers.
And the premier, perhaps stung by Wildrose Alliance attempts to portray him as a weakling, intends to start fighting in the trenches.