A former Alberta energy minister says that Teck Resources Ltd.’s decision to pull its Frontier mine application is another example of the federal government’s infrastructure approval policy sending the wrong message to companies considering investing in the oil sands.

“Oil production doesn’t go forward without money and investment,” said Murray Smith, who served as Alberta’s energy minister from 2001 to 2004, in an interview with BNN Bloomberg Monday.

“We just continue to send up signals that say, ‘Your money is not welcome here.’”

Teck's Frontier mine would need $65 oil to be economically viable: Rafi Tahmazian

Rafi Tahmazian, director and senior portfolio manager at Canoe Financial, discusses the impact on investing sentiment after Teck's decision to withdraw its proposal for the Frontier project.

Teck announced late Sunday it had withdrawn its application for the $20-billion Frontier oil sands mine in Alberta and wrote down the proposal’s $1.13-billion carrying value as a result. The decision also comes amid mounting public resistance to the project.

“Look at the flight of capital from the pipeline companies. Enbridge, TransCanada; they put $30 billion into expansion down in the U.S.A.,” Smith said.

“You take a look at the other majors – Conoco(Phillips), Marathon, Shell – they’re selling out of Canada. Those signals are clear, apparent, and it’s real money. I think this just adds to it.”

Smith said that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the political climate in Canada played a role in Teck’s decision-making.

“It wouldn’t surprise me … that they got some pretty strong signals from the Prime Minister’s Office that said, ‘It’s a no-go in cabinet,’” Smith said.

“No commercial venture wants to be tied into a political imbroglio, and that’s exactly what’s occurred here.”