Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said Wednesday that the federal government would show Canadians its plan to transition to a net-zero economy by early spring.
Despite outcry from Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Trudeau Liberals have ramped up the ante in tabling "just transition" legislation.
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith condemned Ottawa's support for an energy transition that she said would significantly impact employment in her province.
"According to your government's predictions, the federal 'just transition' initiative alone will risk 25% of Alberta's economy," Smith penned to Trudeau in a letter.
"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.
Per a leaked federal memo, 'just transition' legislation could affect upwards of 187,000 workers in Alberta from the agriculture, energy, manufacturing, and transportation sectors.
Smith extended the olive branch to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to consult the provinces on that legislation by cordially inviting him to meet with her in February.
Smith is offering 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.
"Operating in political silos, as adversaries on this issue, is getting us nowhere, and I believe all Canadians are tired of seeing it," penned the premier in a letter to the prime minister.
But Wilkinson said the 'just transition' bill would be secondary to the action plan listing what the feds intend to do. He said that plan would likely become public by the end of March, though it may "slip into the next quarter."
"The legislation will guide future efforts and create a governance structure, but it's the policy statement that I think will be the most impactful," he said. "And, as I say, we will release that in the coming few months."
He added that the plan is based on lengthy consultations with provinces, labour organizations, businesses, and Indigenous communities, which he claims would contain no surprises.
In her letter, Smith urged the Trudeau Liberals 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.
"To use that terminology, they're virtue signalling to an extreme base that openly advocates shutting down oil or natural gas," she said.
But the federal government amusingly responded to her request, stating several federal ministers had already signalled their intention to use the term.
"I think I've been pretty clear I don't like the term 'just transition,'" said Wilkinson on Wednesday.
"I prefer 'sustainable jobs.' It speaks to a future where we're looking to build economic opportunities for all regions of this country, including Alberta and Saskatchewan," said Smith.
The "just transition" emerged from the 2015 Paris Agreement, a divisive international climate change treaty that advocated economies move from high-carbon industries to green economies to combat climate change.
Smith will be in Ottawa next week as part of a first ministers meeting on health care, but there is no sign she will get a one-on-one meeting with Trudeau on sustainable jobs.