Alberta: a Global Energy Leader

Climate Change Law Practice Group Blog

November 28, 2011

Alberta’s Premier, Alison Redford, recently completed a tour through Washington, D.C., New York City, Toronto and Ottawa. She punctuated the tour with a speech at the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto where she set out a national vision for energy. In the speech, the Premier stressed the importance of diversifying Canada’s energy exports to Asia, outlined a vision of Canada as a global energy hub and articulated a national interest in the success of the oil sands.

In the midst of the delayed decision on Keystone XL, Premier Redford noted the need to have more customers for Canada’s energy products and the potential to “guarantee national prosperity for a long time to come by supplying (Asia) with the energy they need.” Moreover, she noted that stronger links with Asia need to “extend beyond oil and gas to include technology for all forms of energy and its sustainable and efficient usage.” This statement reflected her theme of Canada as a global hub for all forms of energy.

Premier Redford noted Canada’s abundance in energy resources, while emphasizing our human resources consisting of a “skilled workforce capable of expanding production in an environmentally, socially conscious and economically sustainable manner.” She set out a vision of Canada as a “preferred international supplier of both energy and innovation” and called for the provinces to start a “dialogue about the outcome we want, not taking any source off the table” and to “put old antagonisms behind us.” Premier Redford noted Canada’s leadership in the development of nuclear power, hydro and renewables, while identifying Ontario’s current expertise in smart grids and renewables.

Critically, Premier Redford articulated a vision for the oil sands as a national resource that benefits from all provinces’ contributions and continues to innovate environmentally. The Premier noted a past investment made by the Ontario government in the oil sands during a troubled early period in the oil sands’ development. She then outlined the skills, expertise and materials Ontarians supply to the oil sands, highlighting spin-offs from the oil sands which create jobs across Canada. The Premier cited projections that, over the next twenty-five years, “the oil sands will fuel 450,000 positions country-wide” and “Alberta-based energy companies will buy $55 billion worth of goods and services from Ontario.” She then highlighted innovations occurring in the industry such as reduced greenhouse gas intensity, reduced water use, successful reclamation of tailings ponds and electricity cogeneration. Premier Redford recognized criticism and disagreement over the oil sands and called for a “meaningful dialogue” between stakeholders. Her speech may spark such a dialogue.

Premier Redford concluded that Canada can achieve “a truly national vision for energy that we can take to the rest of the world” which contributes our “variety of energy sources, the innovation and technology to supply them sustainably and best practices on how to use them efficiently

Jennifer Cleall and Patrick Stratton, Student-at-Law