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Group targets Ottawa’s ‘Just Transition’ from oil and gas

Canada’s missing a golden opportunity to be an energy superpower — and an Alberta-based lobby group is banging the drum for that to happen.

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The group Fairness Alberta is launching a campaign promoting Canada as the answer to global energy security especially in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

The social media campaign targeting Ontario and British Columbia in particular is called Unjust Transition. Although the group is officially non-partisan politically it’s clearly a none-too-subtle jab at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s hell-bent desire to go green at all costs and to stifle and kill Canada’s oil and gas industry. Trudeau’s government, with full backing of the NDP, is heavily pushing something it calls a Just Transition — a rapid reduction in developing and using oil and gas in Canada.

Fairness Alberta executive director Bill Bewick (@B_BewickPhD) said the timing is perfect to stand up for Canada’s ethical oil and gas industry. Albertans understand this, he said. But there’s still work needed to convince people in the populous provinces of B.C. and Ontario.

“We’re trying to get them to realize that with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the crazy prices escalating on energy right now… the world needs this energy and if Canada’s not producing it, there’s no such thing as a just transition if it mean Russia’s producing oil, not us,” Bewick told Rebel News at a gathering of his group.

“So we’re trying to rebrand this whole concept as the Unjust Transition and explain to Canadians, especially in Ontario and B.C.,” said Bewick.

He said most people in Alberta and Saskatchewan “get it” that Canadian oil and gas is vital but his group wants to “get a bigger coalition of the major centres in the country to understand that we need to use Canadian oil and gas.’’

Fairness Alberta was originally created to fight for a better deal in Confederation for the province, especially on the issue of transfer of wealth to Ottawa.

The group points out that Alberta has sent Ottawa $15 billion to $27 billion annually to be spent in other parts of the country.

In the complex formula of federal “equalization payments” Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan and Ontario have mainly been the biggest contributors and Quebec and most of the Maritimes are the biggest benefactors.

“Leading up to COVID, Albertans were sending about $20 billion a year in taxes to Ottawa that they were not getting back,” said Bewick.

“It’s staggering to think that every year that much wealth is being pulled out of Alberta and spread around the rest of the country. Equalization is the most notable of the programs that cause this but it’s not the only one.

“There are so many layers upon layers of ways in which Albertans and Ontarians and British Columbians are paying in far more than they’re getting back.”

Fairness Alberta member Greg Christenson said the current way money is collected from businesses and individuals “and funnelling to the federal government to disperse as they see fit really undermines democracy… it’s really about control and financial manipulation.”

Fairness Alberta’s key messaging in its social media campaign will be centred around this key message as outlined on its website:

“There’s been a lot of hopeful talk about a ‘Just Transition’ away from oil and gas where Canada shifts from oil and gas production to renewables.

“Proponents argue that we can find new jobs for today’s energy workers and meaningfully lower global emissions, thereby helping protect the world.

“This is dangerously wrong: Canada shutting in our oil and gas will make Canada much poorer, will not meaningfully lower global emissions, and actually endangers the world.”

(Reach Kerry at [email protected])

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