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article imageAlberta Premier urges less dependence on U.S., more focus on Asia Special

By Andrew Moran     Nov 16, 2011 in Politics
Toronto - Newly-elected Alberta Premier Alison Redford delivered a speech to the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto Wednesday where she talked about the province's oil sands, Ontario's economic involvement and the Keystone XL Pipeline.
For the first time since being elected last month, Alberta Premier Alison Redford paid a visit to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty Wednesday where the two provincial leaders discussed a national energy strategy and an Alberta-Ontario business relationship.
Speaking at a lunchtime address at the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto, the Alberta Premier talked about the province’s oil sands, less dependence on the United States market, more of a focus on Asian markets and Ontario’s involvement in Alberta’s energy sector.
Alberta’s oil sands, which currently produces more 1.6 million barrels per day, has received both acclamation from various groups and intense criticism from environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs).
During her speech, Redford assured the Economic Club audience that the Alberta government and businesses are working with communities and First Nations who are affected by development to ensure that safety and concerns are met.
“Canadians are not subsidizing the oil sands,” affirmed Redford, “they are sharing in the profits.”
Throughout her remarks, Redford cited Ontario’s commitment. Ontario firms are playing a key role in the energy industry by providing “skills, expertise and materials” to the oil sands. She added that it also provides Alberta energy firms with custom steel components.
Over the next 25 years, Alberta energy companies will purchase approximately $55 billion worth of goods and services from Ontario. It is also estimated that over the next 25 years, the oil sands development will create 450,000 jobs across the country – currently, 23 percent of jobs related to the oil sands are outside of Alberta.
The premier also commended Ontario for its energy production. “You are building a smart grid and shifting to renewable like wind, solar and bio energy with incredible ambitiousness.”
Redford did explain that Alberta needs to shift away from the United States market. Last week, the U.S. State Department delayed approval of TransCanada’s $7 billion Keystone project, which would export 700,000 barrels of crude per day to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The State Department ordered TransCanada to find a new route for the pipeline.
Instead, the Alberta leader said that the province and the rest of Canada must focus its attention on Asian markets.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford delivers a speech to the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford delivers a speech to the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto.
“Our success is dependent on exports and the prosperity they bring, but U.S. demand is declining,” said the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General in Alberta. “Asia's star is rising and it will dominate the 21st Century. We can guarantee national prosperity for a long time to come by supplying them with the energy that they need.”
She added that strong ties with Asia are a primary component of any nationwide energy strategy, but noted that it must go beyond oil and gas in order for it to include energy technological advancements.
“Asian nations are moving aggressively in all these areas because they have no other way to meet demand,” said Redford. “We would be smart to ally with them and learn from their experience, even as we market our energy and technology.”
By the end of her speech, Redford iterated her province’s commitment in support of a national energy initiative. Alberta will commit to: listening to their partners, being truthful, speaking to international investors and policymakers, being honest and transparent and exerting confidence.
Following her address, the premier received a standing ovation from the crowd, which included former Canadian Liberal Prime Minister John Turner.
Redford spoke to reporters shortly after her address. During the press conference, Digital Journal asked if there were any disagreements between McGuinty and herself in regards to the energy strategy and Alberta’s oil sands.
“We didn’t disagree about anything, it was a very good discussion,” said the premier. “I have spoken with him on the phone before, and this is the first time for us to meet face to face. We talked about engagement; we talked about how it is important to ensure that people in Ontario and Alberta can have, perhaps, partnerships around renewables.”
She further explained that Ontario is “a very important economic engine,” similar to Alberta, because both provinces bring contributions to the oil and gas exploration that is based in Alberta.
“There is much more work to do, but it was a good conversation.”
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