Alberta Premier Danielle Smith told a business conference on Friday that despite her concerns with the federal Liberal government, there are some cabinet ministers she can work with.
Smith has been at odds with federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson amid concerns over Ottawa’s climate-change policies and transition plan for a net-zero emissions economy.
Guilbeault intends to publish draft regulations this fall to cap emissions from oil and gas, then force them downward overtime. Ottawa has also set a target to have the electricity grid be net-zero by 2035, but Alberta says it’s unrealistic.
Smith says Alberta won’t implement the emissions cap, nor will it follow the 2035 target.
The premier told delegates at the Global Business Forum in Banff, Alta., that Wilkinson needs to answer for comments he made earlier this week at the World Petroleum Congress in Calgary.
Wilkinson’s call for the industry to work aggressively to get to net-zero was basically telling them to “pack it up, because the oil and gas industry is winding down,” said Smith.
“You could just feel the energy leave the room and you could just feel the investment dollars leave the room.”
Smith said energy producing provinces such as Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, can’t trust the Trudeau government to look out for their interests at international conferences.
“After hearing how the natural resources minister talks about our industry, after hearing how the federal environment minister talks about our industry, we can’t afford to let them carry our message,” Smith said.
“We can’t afford not to be there.”
Smith said she has been in discussions with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and intends to talk to Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey about joint presentations at conferences in the future.
Despite her disappointment with Wilkinson and Guilbeault, Smith said it’s not all bad.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is among the top allies, she said.
“Let’s give her credit for shepherding through all of the constant need to give more debt financing to Trans Mountain pipeline to get that to the finish line. That has not been easy,” Smith said.
She also praised Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc, Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan and Employment Minister Randy Boissonnault.
“I would say it’s not uniformly negative in the Liberal caucus. But for some reason they’re allowing Steven Guilbeault to be a maverick and a renegade and quite offensive to those of us who are trying to be reasonable and adult about this,” Smith said.
Smith said it’s time for the federal government to back away from setting “aggressive targets” in dealing with the provinces.
“Aggressive targets are not helpful. They’re not helpful to us. They’re not helpful to investors.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2023.
This is a corrected story; An earlier version incorrectly spelled Steven Guilbeault’s first name.
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