Alberta premier, Mulcair still at odds
CALGARY — Alberta’s premier says she’s not holding out hope that the federal NDP leader will change his tune on the oilsands and it doesn’t look like the two will meet during Stampede week.
“We are going to continue over the next three years to hear Mr. Mulcair speak. I don’t think that his tone is going to change in terms of his comments with respect to the energy economy,” Alison Redford told reporters Monday after she served pancakes, sang, danced and schmoozed with guests at her first Stampede breakfast as premier.
“Our perspective is very different. We believe that an energy economy matters for Canada and that it’s important for a national leader to take leadership and to talk about why that’s important, and I don’t expect, from every- thing I’ve heard, that his comments will change very much, and you certainly don’t need to expect that mine will.”
Mulcair has been critical of Alberta’s energy industry. The Opposition leader has said economic strength in Alberta, fuelled mainly by the oilsands, is jacking up the Canadian dollar and hurting manufacturers elsewhere in the country.
He toured Alberta’s sprawling oilsands mines near Fort McMurray in the spring and said he was surprised by how “massive” they were.
He’s also accused the main industry lobby group, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, of pulling a “con job” in promoting the safety of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — a method which uses pressure to release natural gas and oil through cracks in underground rock formations.
Mulcair is to visit Calgary later this week, one of many politicians to descend on Cowtown during the Stampede.
Redford said no meeting with Mulcair is on the books.
“Nobody’s asked me to meet with him and I’m quite busy Stampeding and speaking to Albertans about what matters to them.”
Redford met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper just before the Stampede started. They discussed their respective trips to China, she said.
“For us this time it was an opportunity to compare notes on China, which was very good,” Redford said.
The two also talked about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry Alberta oil-sands crude to Texas refineries. It’s been delayed by the U.S. government amid environmental concerns, but construction on the southernmost leg of the line is set to begin this summer.
As well, they talked about Northern Gateway, a proposal to ship oilsands crude to the West Coast by pipeline, after which it would be sent to Asia by tanker. It, too, has faced stiff opposition.
Redford has been championing the creation of a Canadian energy strategy, which would include, among other things, a focus on diversifying export markets for Alberta crude.