Premier Jason Kenney signals direct investment in energy projects
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced Monday that the province is considering investing in energy projects in order to boost confidence in its ailing oil and gas sector.
At a media conference surrounded by roughly 130 staff, UCP MLAs and stakeholders, Kenney said the decision by Teck Resources to pull its application for the Frontier oilsands mine project is “part of a pattern” of energy companies drawing down their investments in Alberta.
Kenney said Teck’s decision had nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with “regulatory uncertainty, endless delays created by the national government, as well as the general atmosphere of lawlessness.”
“This should have been a straightforward and automatic approval,” Kenney said. (His government was in court Monday arguing for an extension on the approval of another oilsands mine.)
In a letter to the federal government explaining the decision, however, Teck CEO Don Lindsay explicitly cited societal concerns about climate change as one consideration for shelving the project.
Kenney said the content of Lindsay’s letter was different from what he told him by phone on the weekend. The premier contended Lindsay never mentioned climate policy — despite the fact it was mentioned eight times in his letter to the federal government.
The premier said he has spoken with investors over the past few weeks who told him they are pulling out of Alberta and its non-renewable energy projects “because of the massive uncertainty created by the appearance of anarchy in parts of this country.”
The premier doubled down on a forthcoming bill that would allow citizens to launch their own referendums, and said Teck’s withdrawal has bolstered the need for his Fair Deal plan.
“I’m describing reality,” Kenney said, when asked whether he was stoking separatist sentiment by calling Teck’s exit a national unity crisis.
As for details about how the province would finance oil and gas projects, Kenney said stay tuned.
Notley pushes regulatory reform over combative politics
NDP Leader Rachel Notley said Canada must create an effective framework to combat climate change that still allows companies to develop resources.
“International investors are looking for that framework,” Notley said. “They’re not a weird green lefty conspiracy. They’re international investors.”
Notley called Kenney’s move to blame protesters “cheap issue management.”
“As long as he continues in the combative, politically cynical position that he’s in right now, Albertans are going to be left behind,” Notley said.
In a statement, Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan called the Teck CEO’s letter a “wake up call for Alberta” — whereby a climate change strategy is no longer just an environmental imperative, but an economic one.
“It’s clear that the Kenney government’s climate belligerence is doing more to drive away investment and kill jobs than anything that’s been done by environmentalists or Indigenous protesters,” McGowan said.