We're concerned about supply chain challenges in North America: Jason Kenney
The U.S. and Canadian governments should reinstate a vaccine exemption for cross-border truckers to ease supply chain snarls, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said as a protest convoy arrived in the Canadian capital.
Kenney, speaking Friday in Washington ahead of a meeting of U.S. governors, said he believes cross-border truckers are a low risk to spread COVID-19. The rules, imposed this month by both nations, will further fuel inflation and constrain shipping, he warned.
Alberta is “calling on the two federal governments to simply exercise a bit of common sense,” Kenney said in an interview with Bloomberg Television and BNN Bloomberg.
“This policy I don’t think makes any compelling public-health sense, but it will worsen what we know is a growing supply chain issue,” he said.
Kenney’s comments come as a protest convoy descends on Ottawa, with truckers and like-minded activists objecting to lock-down requirements, vaccine mandates and other COVID measures. They’re also calling for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a longtime political foe of Kenney’s, to be removed from office.
Kenney spoke as crude prices continued to soar. Alberta is Canada’s main oil-producing province and the benchmark Western Canadian Select price hit US$75 on Friday, its highest since 2014. Kenney hinted that could yield a balanced budget for his province shortly.
“Certainly, our fiscal situation is improving dramatically,” the premier said. “We’ve been restraining spending pretty significantly. That plus the big bump-up in commodity prices is putting us in the range of a potential balanced budget in the next couple of years.”
Kenney called on President Joe Biden to express support for Enbridge Inc.’s Line 5 expansion project, which would boost the ability of Canadian oil producers to ship into the U.S. but is opposed by Michigan’s state government.
“The U.S. government should stop its neutrality on Line 5 and come down on the side of U.S. energy security,” Kenney said. “We’d like to say to the Biden administration: while you’re begging OPEC to increase production and shipments, why aren’t you talking to the governor of Michigan about stopping the efforts to interrupt that pipeline?”
In the short term, “Canada will be able to ship and maintain record levels of production and exports” of crude, Kenney said.
Alberta has seen its peak of omicron cases but is only now at what it thinks is its peak of hospitalizations, according to the premier. If trend lines improve, the province will ease COVID restrictions toward the end of March, Kenney said.
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