Smith says despite difficulties with Liberals, Alberta has allies in Trudeau cabinet

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith told a business conference Friday that despite her concerns with the federal Liberal government, she could work with some ministers.

Smith is at odds with federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson over concerns about Ottawa’s climate change policies and plan to transition to an economy to net zero emissions.

Guilbeault intends to publish a draft regulation this fall aimed at capping oil and gas emissions, then taxing them downward over time. Ottawa has also set a goal of having a net-zero emissions electricity grid by 2035, but Alberta says that’s unrealistic.

Smith says Alberta will not implement an emissions cap nor will it meet the 2035 target.

The prime minister told delegates at the World Business Forum in Banff, Alta., that Wilkinson must answer for comments he made earlier this week at the World Petroleum Congress in Calgary.

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Wilkinson’s call for the industry to work aggressively to achieve carbon neutrality essentially amounted to “packing your bags, because the oil and gas industry is slowing down,” Smith said.

“You could just feel the energy leaving the room and you could just feel the investment dollars leaving the room. »

Smith said energy-producing provinces like Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador cannot trust the Trudeau government to defend their interests at international conferences.

“After hearing the Minister of Natural Resources talk about our industry, after hearing the federal Minister of the Environment talk about our industry, we can’t afford to let them deliver our message,” Smith said.

“We can’t afford not to be there.”

Smith said she has had discussions with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and plans to speak to Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey about presentations joint conferences in the future.

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Despite his disappointment with Wilkinson and Guilbeault, Smith said it’s not all bad.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is among the key allies, she said.

“Let’s give him credit for responding to the ongoing need for more debt financing for the Trans Mountain pipeline to get it to the finish line. It hasn’t been easy,” Smith said.

She also congratulated Minister of Innovation François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Public Safety Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Labor Seamus O’Regan and Minister of Employment Randy Boissonnault.

“I would say it’s not uniformly negative within the Liberal caucus. But for some reason they allow Stephen Guilbeault to be a maverick and a renegade, which is quite offensive to those who are trying to be reasonable and adult about it,” Smith said.

Smith said it was time for the federal government to move away from setting “aggressive targets” in its dealings with the provinces.

“Aggressive goals are of no use. They are not useful to us. They are not useful to investors.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published September 22, 2023.

&copy 2023 The Canadian Press

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