Jason Kenney: Ottawa needs to do more to help Alberta
Jason Kenney has a long list of complaints for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
As the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan ratchet up the heat on Trudeau to make the oil industry a priority at the upcoming First Ministers’ meeting, Kenney - Alberta’s official opposition leader - wants him taken to task.
“He is hammering this industry,” Kenney told BNN Bloomberg in a Wednesday interview, before criticizing Trudeau’s handling of four major pipeline projects during his time in office as well as legislation that has increased regulatory standards for major projects. “All of this together is the deliberate policy of a Prime Minister who said he wants to ‘phase out the oil sands.’”
While Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna and TD Bank deputy chair Frank McKenna both expressed optimism this week that the federal government understands the gravity of the difficulties facing Western Canada, Kenney said he would like to see more meaningful and targeted action.
“He could repeal Bill C-69, which is an existential threat to the future of the Canadian energy industry,” Kenney said, joining a chorus of opposition to the bill currently before the Senate that could add more layers to the approval process for potential pipeline projects.
While levelling criticism at the country’s top politician, Kenney struck a more cooperative tone for the leader of his own province and the decision announced Sunday to curtail production within the Alberta oil industry.
“We do have an important moment of political consensus here,” Kenney said of Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s plan. “This is not a natural thing for a free-market party or leader such as myself, who believes in limited government intervention, to support, but I came to the conclusion that governments broke the market by not getting pipelines built.”
He said the cuts are in the best interest of the people of Alberta, even if not to the benefit of some of the industry’s larger players.
“Some producers, a couple of them, anyway, have a significant interest in bargain-basement, fire-sale prices,” he said.
“All of that forgets that the owner of the asset is the people of Alberta, through their government. We have every right to protect some value,” he said.
“Finally, I was concerned that if we did not do this, if our prices stayed at $10-12 a barrel, we would have seen massive layoffs at the beginning of 2019 for an industry that’s already hard-hit,” he added. “We have 185,000 unemployed Albertans today. We can’t take more of that.”