Notley: Ottawa still has work to do on Trans Mountain
Alberta is frustrated over record-low oil prices because of a supply glut and pipeline bottlenecks, but not so much that it poses a threat to confederation, the province’s premier says.
“I don’t think we need to start threatening confederation. We’re not quite at that point,” Alberta Premier Rachel Notley told BNN Bloomberg in an interview Thursday, responding to former Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall’s comments last week that alienation in Western Canada has never been “this intense.”
“I think, yes, people are very frustrated that we haven’t got this pipeline built. They’re frustrated with the delays, and they are worried and anxious about the future of the industry over the next couple of years.”
However, Notley said the federal government deserves some credit for stepping in on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
“At the same time, when investor uncertainty created by the province of B.C. and other factors pushed Kinder Morgan out of the TMX proposal, the federal government did step in, buy the pipeline, and they are working within the rules of the federal court of appeal to get it done,” she said. “I think that we have to acknowledge that that is happening.”
Calls have come both from within Canada’s energy industry and Notley’s political opponents to curtail production in the oil patch, but the premier said that this type of measure is now more complicated than when it was last imposed by former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed in the early 1980s.
“The industry itself is much more complex,” Notley said. “The construct of the individual players is very different and so the consequences can be a bit different. The way we approach it is going to have to be a little bit more nuanced, I would suspect.”
Notley has convened a panel of experts to examine how best to address the collapse of Western Canadian crude prices and vowed that “folks will hear from us on that in the next few days.” In the interim, Notley said Wednesday that Alberta is working to purchase rail cars to increase crude-by-rail capacity to help alleviate the production glut and told BNN Bloomberg that rail space “should not be a major inhibitor.”
However, despite Notley’s praise for the federal government’s decision to step in and literally take ownership of the Trans Mountain expansion project, she said there’s still a way to go before they can unfurl a “mission: accomplished” banner.
“They deserve credit for a job well-started. They do not deserve credit for a job well done, because it’s not done yet,” she said. “As I’ve said, this idea of us being able to participate in Canada with the appropriate moving of our resources from province to province and outside of the country to new markets – these are things that are in the bailiwick of the federal government.
“We’ve had many, many, many years – under both governments – of failure on this front.”