Alberta PM ready to work together on climate issues if Ottawa meets ‘non-negotiable’ terms
Alberta’s PM has written a letter saying she will work with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on certain climate and energy-related initiatives – if Ottawa agrees to certain terms.
The letter comes after a meeting between Alberta Premier Danielle Smith and Trudeau on February 7, at which Smith said the PM had expressed a willingness to work together to attract investment and workers to Alberta’s energy sectors while reducing net emissions of Canada and Alberta to reduce.
In the letter released Thursday, Smith said the province is ready to work with the federal government on a coordinated approach to a carbon capture, use and storage incentive program to reduce net emissions.
But that coordination comes with a “non-negotiable condition,” Smith wrote.
The Prime Minister wants Ottawa to refrain from introducing any new federal law or policy that would affect Alberta’s oil and gas resource development, management, or worker involvement without Alberta’s “full participation, consultation, and consent.” “.
Smith said the condition includes “just transition” legislation and implementation of targets and actions under the federal emissions reduction plan.
“Just Transition” is a concept that emerged from the 2015 Paris Agreement, an international agreement on climate change. The goal is to reduce the harm to workers caused by the transition from carbon-intensive activities to the green economy.
It’s not the first time Smith has written an open letter to the federal government — just a few weeks ago, prior to her meeting with Trudeau, Smith wrote to the prime minister on the same matter.
Lisa Young, a professor of political science at the University of Calgary, said Smith set out conditions in the recent letter that are quite difficult for the federal government to meet if it is to achieve its own policy goals.
“It essentially means that Alberta should have a veto on any action the federal government takes in this area,” Young said.
Young added that she doesn’t think trying to introduce a precondition is the best way to start a conversation, but it speaks to the fine line Smith needs to walk.
“On the one hand, there are voters in Alberta who want a more forgiving attitude toward the federal government,” she said.
“But at the same time having a significant portion of her base that wants to see her take a stand against Ottawa and draw a line in the sand.”
Lori Williams, associate professor of policy studies at Mount Royal University, said Smith has been vocal about her view of federal government involvement in areas she sees as provincial jurisdiction.
“Honestly, some of the concerns she raises are ones that Albertans, by and large, would share,” she said.
Alberta’s NDP energy critic Kathleen Ganley issued a statement in response to Thursday’s letter, saying the prime minister “should have been at the table months ago” to advocate for well-paying jobs.
“Instead, she has focused solely on ruthless and extreme ideas and has not prioritized the needs of the energy sector or the people of Alberta.”
Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley has also previously said she wants the federal government to abandon the “just transition” laws she plans to introduce.
Alberta appoints Oilpatch veterans to advise on energy future
Also Thursday, Smith announced the appointment of a panel of five Oilpatch veterans to advise her government on the future of Alberta’s energy industry.
The panel will be chaired by David Yager, a longtime author of The Oil Patch.
Yager was also a former political candidate for the Wildrose Party, one of the groups that merged into the United Conservative Party, which Smith now leads.
Other members of the panel include Hal Kvisle, who sits on the board of Cenovus Energy and has led several other energy companies.
Bob Curran is a former director of the Alberta Energy Regulator.
Carey Arnett is President of Arnett and Burgess Pipeliners and
Phil Hodge is President of Pine Cliff Energy.
The panel is scheduled to meet with government departments and industry stakeholders, although Smith mentions no public consultation or outside experts.
According to Smith, the panel is intended to advise the government on how Alberta can meet the world’s future energy needs, and a final report is expected to be completed by June 30.