New business council looks to promote Alberta’s interests
A former chief executive of TransCanada Corp. is heading up a new business group aimed at increasing the “long-term prosperity and attractiveness” of Alberta, but he’s not lobbying for international investment on behalf of the province’s major players.
“We have many powerful and influential CEOs in our membership and they will speak to international investors on behalf of their own companies. At this point, we don’t intend to be a lobbying organization with international investors or anything like that,” said Hal Kvisle, chair of ARC Resources and Finning International, and will also be chairman of the newly-formed Business Council of Alberta in an interview with BNN Bloomberg on Thursday.
“We think that the kind of policy recommendations we would make to the federal and provincial governments would set the stage for better business environment here in Alberta, and really would make things more likely that that international capital would come back to our province.”
The council, which was unveiled on Thursday, is made up of more than 40 initial members, and is co-founded by Kvisle alongside four other business leaders, including TransAlta Corp. CEO Dawn Farrell and ARC Financial president and founder Mac Van Wielingen.
The group published a paper titled AlbertaBETTER as its first order of business, a manifesto aimed at improving environmental commitments, governance, innovation and focusing on the province’s future among other goals.
Kvisle said one of the group’s top priorities will be to increase global access for Alberta’s businesses, an issue he says has plagued the province since the fur trade.
“We would try to elevate the discussion to something more around access to market and what kind of moves that the federal government and provincial government should make to improve a very difficult regulatory process,” he said.
“Focusing on the regulation of pipeline applications will be one interesting topic for us.”
The business council’s launch comes as Alberta’s economy struggles as its energy sector faces pipeline bottlenecks and regulatory uncertainty.
Kvisle expressed disappointment in the recent passage of Bill C-69 by the federal government, which threatens to greatly expand the regulatory approvals process for major infrastructure projects in the country. He said that the actions of Environment Minister Catherine McKenna flew in the face of recommendations he and other industry execs made to help modernize the National Energy Board that were endorsed by the institution itself.
“Unfortunately, Minister McKenna rejected all of our proposals, went in a very-much-different direction, making things enormously more difficult with C-69. Personally, I didn’t really care whether the amended Bill C-69 went ahead or not, because even in an amended form it’s going in the wrong direction,” Kvisle said.
“Bill C-69, in any form, is bad news for the Alberta oil and gas sector.”