The first sitting of the Alberta legislature for 2012 opened today with Lieutenant Governor Donald Ethell delivering the speech from the throne.
With the provincial budget coming on Thursday and an election call expected in the spring, this speech was being closely watched for clues as to the government's direction under the new Premier going into its first election.
The speech made two specific promises on energy related matters.
First, the government stated that it would support the development of a "Canadian Energy Strategy", which would include support for the development of new markets for Alberta energy, support for a better understanding of Alberta's energy products, and expansion of infrastructure necessary to get Alberta products to markets.
While the speech did not refer specifically to any particular infrastructure, the Premier has in the past expressed a strong desire to see both the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines built. In particular , she has referred to Northern Gateway as being of national importance and critical to Canada's future economic strength.
The desire to lead in the development of a Canadian Energy Strategy is clearly very important to the Redford government. In addition to the references to the strategy in the throne speech, Energy Minister Ted Morton was in Toronto this week to seek support for the development of such a Canada-wide strategy.
Second, the government pledged its continued cooperation with Ottawa to defend Alberta's energy sector, and its continued support for the joint Ottawa-Alberta oilsands monitoring program.
More specifics on Alberta's energy strategy are expected in Thursday's budget.