Albertans feel they're being discriminated against in this update: Perrin Beatty
Western Canadians are noticing one thing conspicuously absent from the fall fiscal update unveiled by Finance Minister Bill Morneau on Wednesday: Western Canada.
“Let’s start with what was offered to Alberta: Nothing,” Canoe Financial Chairman W. Brett Wilson told BNN Bloomberg in an interview shortly after the update was released. “It’s a waste of breath and a waste of paper.”
While the update had no targeted measures to address the widening discount Western Canadian crude faces against West Texas Intermediate, the prime minister is headed to Calgary on Thursday. The hope among some in Canada’s business community is that Trudeau is going to Alberta with something to give.
“I’m assuming you don’t send the prime minister [to Calgary] with nothing to say,” Perrin Beatty, CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told BNN Bloomberg on Wednesday.
“The government needs to recognize the fact that Western Canada’s hurting, it’s hurting badly and we need – something that’s important for all our country – to get our resources to market on an urgent basis.”
Beatty added that the update was not devoid of actions that could improve business conditions in Canada’s oil patch.
“There are elements that are positive,” he said. “The accelerated write-offs go beyond what was anticipated and the other area where there’s real progress that’s being made is in terms of regulatory reform.”
Wilson is less convinced.
“In fact, there’s a further dig,” he said. “They talk about ‘an export diversification strategy aimed at increasing Canada’s overseas exports by 50 per cent by 2025.’”
“One pipeline, and we’d be there. They can’t get their mind around the fact that energy is a critical element of Canada and its future.”
Beatty said it’s important for Trudeau to strike the right tone when he lands in Calgary in the interests of national unity.
“What you have is a rising degree of frustration and anger in Western Canada and a feeling that the rest of the country is being attended to but not the West,” Beatty told BNN Bloomberg.
“What will be very important is for the prime minister to say: ‘I’ve heard you. I’m listening. I understand, and we’re going to act.’”