Alberta Premier Danielle Smith extended the olive branch to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Thursday to develop “sustainable jobs” legislation together and abandon his pursuit for a “just transition.” Smith wrote to Trudeau that Alberta and Ottawa must work together because now they are at a “crossroads” over constitutionally-derived jurisdiction.
“Operating in political silos, as adversaries on this issue, is getting us nowhere, and I believe all Canadians are tired of seeing it,” pens Smith in a letter to the prime minister.
A leaked federal memo foreshadowed that transitioning to a low-carbon economy would “have an uneven impact across sectors, occupations, and regions and create significant labour market disruptions.”
They expect “larger-scale transformations” that would cost 13.5% of Canadians and 187,000 Albertans jobs in agriculture, energy, manufacturing, transportation and construction.
“According to your government's predictions, the federal Just Transition initiative alone will risk 25% of Alberta's economy,” Smith told Trudeau in the letter, adding that it would cost Canadians good-paying jobs at a time when they are struggling to afford the necessities.
“At a time when Canada's oil and gas sector offers some of the highest wages in Canada, which translates to strong business and community support across the country, threatening the national economy and the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of workers across the country at a time when good jobs are needed the most, creates a chilling effect on investors considering large-scale investments in the Alberta and Canadian energy sector,” she said.
“Prime minister, we are at a crossroads in Alberta's relationship with the federal government... with the endless court challenges, legislation to protect jurisdictional rights and inflammatory media coverage over our disagreements.”
Smith offered Trudeau a revived partnership to signal to Canadians and investors that both governments are cooperating to decrease carbon emissions, utilize and develop carbon capture facilities, increase liquefied natural gas exports and develop other technologies as resource-rich Alberta diversifies its energy economy without phasing out entire sectors.
Smith writes, “It would be premature and ill-advised to signal the end of a vibrant, thriving industry that can reduce Canada's and the world's emissions through technological innovation and increased exports of LNG and other clean-burning fuels the world so desperately needs.”
“Canada should be the world's greatest energy superpower. It can be if we come together collaboratively in pursuit of that objective. There is no limit to our nation's potential,” she claims.
“The world needs more Canadian energy, not less.”
Alberta's Premier pressed the importance of Canadian energy security and lessening the global dependency on “undemocratic” countries with “atrocious environmental records” to supply the energy demand.
“Simply put, the world needs more Canadian energy and technology, not less. As the owner of the world's third-largest oil and gas reserves and the most advanced environmental technology on the planet — we need to signal our intention to provide substantially more of both,” said Smith.
“The federal government must stand shoulder to shoulder with Alberta to reduce emissions and continue to responsibly develop our oil and natural gas and future energy sources while also positioning Canada as the optimal solution to global energy needs and security.”
Smith cordially invited Trudeau to meet with her in February on this matter and pass agreeable legislation by the end of Spring.
She urged him to drop the “just transition” rhetoric immediately and to rename the “Just Transition Act“ to the “Sustainable Jobs Act” as a gesture of good faith.
Smith also asked Trudeau to promise that the feds will set reasonable and meaningful emissions reduction targets and will not unilaterally impose such targets on Alberta's energy, agriculture and other industrial sectors moving forward.
Alberta's premier also warned of the dire consequences of missing this opportunity for the Canadian and Alberta economies, workforce and environment.
“Investments by Alberta's oil and natural gas industry are driving the creation of the clean technologies needed to bring emissions down both in Canada and around the world.”
“Oil and natural gas companies representing the majority of production in Canada are investing $24 billion on projects to help reduce annual GHG emissions from operations by 22 million tonnes by 2030 and have committed to emission neutrality by 2050,” Smith articulates. “Putting an end to or hampering this important work and continued tepid support for increased LNG export is the best way for your government to fail in its goal of reducing our nation's and the world's emissions.”
Smith claimed this “would be the ultimate example of scoring on our net.”
“The Alberta energy sector has grown and thrived through innovation, providing good paying jobs for thousands and contributing billions of dollars in tax revenue for all levels of government. They will continue to evolve and adapt to new technologies in search of new low to zero-emitting fuel sources like hydrogen and provide new, high-paying skilled jobs for decades to come.”